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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Please Tell Me I'm Wrong

This afternoon, Murray sent me a link to a post in When Eggs Go Bad about how she had turned off the comments section on her blog. She wrote: "When I found myself worrying at 2.30 this morning about the dearth of comments, and feeling angry and hurt that the only time I get a lot of them is when my heart has been ripped out by a miscarriage, I knew I had fallen into the trap of letting this blog be for other people instead of for me." She was frustrated by what she deemed the popularity contest taking place within blogging.

My initial thought was that she was commenting on the idea of a blogging heirarchy. There are certainly "celebrity" bloggers--even within the IF world. Which is...frankly...great. Because I like the idea that we're tuned into other people's lives outside our own. And I've learned many things from reading blogs--things I was able to apply to my own life (reproductive immunology a case in point). And frankly, the celebrity bloggers have not only been at this for a long time, building up a fan base, but they're also damn good writers.

Then I stepped away from the computer for a few hours, but I kept thinking about this post. And a terrible thought hit me. About the fact that people pop out of the woodwork when there is a miscarriage in order to comfort. And is the comforting entirely empathetic or is it like looking at the charred remains of another person on the ground and thinking, "this time, the lightning hit her, therefore it can't be hitting me."

Please hit me for thinking this way.

Please tell me that this commenting phenomenon is not a case of shaudenfraude.

Please.

I haven't experienced this phenomenon yet (having not had the ups and downs during the course of my blog--seeing that it is only three months old), so it was really off my radar EXCEPT that Thalia mentioned something like this in a post about why infertile bloggers stop writing once they become pregnant. She wrote: "The demotivation of losing your audience is hard, too. I know that my audience has gone from about 800 a day when I was about to miscarry, to more like 350 a day now - just above where I was before this last cycle." Which also touches upon When Eggs Goes Bad's other point--that people are around when all is terrible, but they scatter once the person becomes pregnant.

When I returned to the computer, Murray wrote this in the comments section: "It's not the popularity thing that bothers me (though I do think that's super weird - do you blog for comments or to work out your problems in a written way?). It's more the support being there for her when she was hurting and now not so much. I understand it of course. If you're doing well then presumable you don't need the support as much. But what it probably feels like is kind of being abandoned now that she's pregnant... I don't know. It's all just so complicated sometimes."

It is complicated. Do you stop reading someone once they become pregnant? Do you think you're more inclined to comment if someone is discussing something upsetting like a pregnancy loss or a failed cycle? And please tell me that my dark thoughts are entirely wrong and that when you're comforting a fellow stirrup queen, it is entirely out of trying to remove some of their pain in order to lighten their load rather than penance as you wipe your own brow for having the loss happen to someone else that day other than you. Please please please tell me I'm wrong. What drives you to comment on the loss and withhold on the happy pregnancy updates? A lack of words beyond a head nod? Frustration that your neighbour in the Land of If is currently packing up to move to the mainland?

Like Murray said, it's complicated.

22 comments:

~r said...

I'm a comment-on-the-bad-stuff kinda gal.

For the good updates, I can smile right along while I'm reading 'em, but I never really know what to say... and honestly, it never occurred to me that people would need support in a good situation the same way they would in a bad one.

For bad updates, I still don't know what to say, but I feel like I should say something. Those are the updates that speak to me, that remind me where I've been (or am) and how awful it felt to be there. I can't not say anything. As far as "glad it's not me" - I have yet to read a blog where I didn't wish it wasn't happening to the other person either.

megan said...

I agree with the pp. I am less likely to comment during the good times, because I don't know the people, and I always have more to offer when they are hurting from a loss or a "down time". I have never felt "thank god it's not me this time" when I post comfort on someone else's page. I think you need to have more faith in us infertiles! ;) we know, we've been there too!!!!
as for reading someone else's blog once they get pg, I think we tend to not read them as often, cause most of us stuck (or just beginning) in our if journey are needing to hear that someone else is there too, and while it's great to hear that they finally got pg, it's not what we need support for. I think that when I finally get pg, I will start reading more pg blogs because that's what I'll need support for. you know? does that make sense? it's not because we don't support that person anymore!

hope that helps.. I hope you are also having a better day. remember that in the real world, and in the non-IF world, it's the opposite. people pay more attention to you when you are pg, and seem to forget all about you and your troubles when something goes wrong. (at least that's how it's been with me!)
-megan

The Town Criers said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Town Criers said...

Thank you ~r. You're reaffirmed my belief in the world in that last sentence.

And I do have faith, Megan! Just a temporary freak out, a temporary freak out!

Anonymous said...

I think people tend to comment on the negative because they have been there. They understand that pain and that no one else will really GET what you are going through. So even though you know that no words will help, you try anyway.
As far as not commenting so much on the positive, I think it has a little to do with jealousy (why isn't it me?) and also you suddenly don't have as much in common with this person anymore. They want to complain about heartburn or swollen ankles and you are still looking for the right RE, the right procedure to get you that heartburn and those swollen ankles. I know on the bulletin boards I post on, once someone becomes pg they tend to drift away. And honestly, it makes me angry. I was there to support them during their difficult times, but now that good times have come to them they are abandoning me when I still need them.

lisalou said...

I got into reading blogs on a positive level. My friend was pregnant and I was excited. I started reading links off of her blog and so on and so on...

I like commenting all over town. The good, the bad, the silly and the sad.

I don't think bloging is about popularity. I think we're all looking to express ourselves out here in blog land and it is comforting and fascinating to see little pieces of ourselves reflected back at us in the writings of strangers.

I follow the blogs that resonate within me.

And, because I would get fixated on it, I do not put a counter on my blog. Comments are fun, but writing, writing is what it's all about.

zhl said...

I don't comment as much once women become pregnant because I don't have much to offer in terms of assvice or support. I think I comment more on the bad stuff because I know there's really nothing I can do except offer support.

And it's never been because I dodged their bullet.

C said...

I'm with the previous posters that it's sometimes hard to know what to write (or that the blogger still needs supportive comments) when good things happen. I have yet to stop reading a blog because the blogger got pregnant, but since I know nothing about being pregnant or parenting, I no longer comment. What would I say?

This has given me a lot to think about...

Lisa P. said...

I read Lola's blog, through Bloglines. I've commented on occasion but was going through some bad times (depression, anxiety) when she first got pregnant, and stopped blogging myself for a while. I would have liked to be able to tell her I'm still reading, but her comments are off. I don't often know what to say re: the pregnancy since I didn't know her well before she got pregnant. It's not right, but it's where I was/am.

Also... it's apparently not just pregnancy that slows people down from commenting. I'm lucky if I get a bunch, and always have been, even after being added to Julie's big list. I see lots of people stop by, but that's all they do, really. I try not to worry about it (as Murray said, it's not supposed to be about getting comments, right?) but it still sometimes stings to see others getting a great reaction when you get none. It's human nature, I suppose -- we all want to be liked, we want to feel like there's a community, etc.

Reading what everyone else has to say makes me feel like there's something wrong with me for wanting people to listen, respond, acknowledge, but hopefully it's just that everyone blogs differently. (Or that I'm needy.) :)

Sparkle said...

Speaking as a 'non-celebrity' blogger - I love it when I get comments, but my writing a blog has been about helping me with my sanity while I'm going thru IF!

I make comments on the bad posts because I feel that's when the support is really needed - not because I'm glad it's not me. It's genuine, and if I'm moved or feel sad for someone I do want them to know that there are bloggy people out there for them.

I'm sure there is an element of jealously involved with the preggy posts - but I really don't have much to say - one first trimester miscarriage really doesn't qualify me for much.

Here's another one for you - how about visiting previously IF blogs that now have babies? I still visit my favs - but again will probably not comment on the 'baby' posts.

Hey I'm having all kinds of trouble leaving a comment - after upgrading to blogger beta :o(

Suz said...

I received a lot of comments when my first cycle failed and when I got a negative pregnancy test from my second cycle. However, I've also gotten many comments when I announced good news as well. I think that most folks comment during the "big" moments in an infertile's life - to lend support. And although I know many folks, myself included, who left a "congratulations" upon a pregnancy announcement feeling "I wish it were me," I don't remember ever leaving a comment when someone confesses their loss or failed cycle and being glad that it wasn't me. I'm just sorry that it happened to anyone.

I don't know if I lost many readers when I became pregnant. I know that folks didn't comment as much, but that's okay. There was a period where I deleted anyone who became pregnant from my bloglines, only to seek them back later. On the few pregnant blogs that I did read, I never commented because I felt that I didn't really have anything to say.

aah0424 said...

I started reading blogs to relate to other women going through the same thing as me. I'm fairly new at blogging and have steadily been adding to the list of blogs I read regularly. I've used your blog roll to find some of them, but the ones I've focused on visiting are ones that I can relate to or feel a personal connection with. I try to respond to all of those bloggers no matter if it is a happy situation or a sad situation. Not many of the bloggers I follow have gotten pregnant, but the ones that have I've continued to visit and will continue to visit throughout their pregnancies. I may not have much to comment on regularly since I can't relate, but I plan on sticking to watching their blogs through the good and bad times.

And, I would like to add that when times are tough for my fellow bloggers I always feel a sense of sadness, wishing they weren't having to go through it. It is really weird how I don't know these people personally, but I do become effected by their personal situations.

Bea said...

I have a series of blogs I read and I read every post. Mostly every day.

But.

I am more likely to comment when things go wrong.

When things are going right I feel like they don't need me to comment as much, and I guess I'm more self-focussed. If things are going really right, especially if I'm having a bad day, I read and walk away rather than type out an insincere, "Oh, how niiiiice!" Sometimes I come back later and make a genuine comment.

If things are going wrong for them, I feel I should say something even just to let them know I'm there, and hoping for them.

I've never felt relief that someone else is having a problem. I guess I don't believe it couldn't happen to me, just because it happened to them. I can honestly say this.

I have noticed the trend even on my own little blog, though. But I don't write to get the most comments, and I'm fairly sure I have readers who don't comment on every post, just like I don't comment on all of theirs.

Bea

serenity said...

This is a good and VERY thought-provoking post. I try and comment on everyone's blog as much as I can - good bad or ugly, pregnant or no. I'm mostly equal opportunity - on my bad days I am most definitely less inclined to comment on a happy post. But if you are on my blogroll, I try and comment as much as I can.

I also absolutely 100% agree with ~r- my heart physically constricts when I hear of someone's misfortune and I wish with all my heart I can take their pain away. Or make it so it didn't happen. For me, there is no "better them than me" at ALL.

The one thing I have been thinking about lately - and again, it's only my opinion - is that in general, I feel like the IF crowd can sometimes be a pretty negative bunch. I have been having a hard time with my IF board lately for this very reason - to me it feels like everyone is focused (wallowing maybe?) on the pain and the heartbreak. And the anger. The "us" (infertiles) versus "them" (fertiles). The unfairness of it all.

It's not always a bad thing, when someone is in pain or something negative happens they have a place to go to vent and kick and scream. Empathy for people's situation is easy because we've all been there.

But when something positive happens? I feel like we're sometimes so focused on the bad stuff that we almost can't even see the good stuff. Or focused so much on conserving our energy for our own fights that it's hard to stay involved in someone's happiness.

Mind you, I am sure that I am guilty of this too. But I have been starting to force myself to see both the positive AND the negative.

Because it is SO easy in the Land of IF to just focus on the bad stuff.

Sami said...

I comment both when good and bad things happen, but I feel I HAVE to comment when bad things happen. It's not because I'm whiping my forehead and going - phew glad that wasn't me... it's because I would want others to comment to me if something bad was going on and they do. I tend to post a link when bad things happen so that those that do read my blog go and tell that person they are sorry that it happened.

When good things are going on - what else is there to say but - glad things are still going well?

As for the "phew glad it's not me" I can't say that that thought has EVER crossed my mind. Especially since well bad things tend to happen fairly frequently in regards to cycles with me. I'm okay with that and would never wish/want/or even think that if something bad happened to someone else that it meant that something bad wouldn't happen to me. Primarily because I know better.

Ellen K. said...

Great post, Mel. I don't think I've ever commented out of a "whew, glad that's not me" feeling. I just feel sorry for the blogger and want to express that. As far as reading/commenting on pregnancy- or parenting-after-infertility blogs... yes, I do hold back a bit. Mostly because I don't know what to say. I've never been pregnant; I have zero experience or advice to offer. (Probably, there is a tiny bit of envy there too.)

I know that I have a larger audience than reflected in my comments -- a lot of friends who aren't dealing with IF tell me that they read my blog, but they don't comment, probably because they feel that they don't have as much to offer. Sometimes I wish they would post, but I'm glad that they're lurking.

mandolyn said...

I think that Blogland reflects Real Land. My SIL was all over the communication lines when we were going through the miscarriage process. "You haven't returned our phone calls. We just want to make sure that you know that we're here for you in the good and the bad times." Uh-uh. When we were trying again...crickets.

I'm sure that most of it is whether or not you feel like you can relate, but I think now that we are aware that support is really needed through ups as well as downs, we can do a better job of supplying it. I know I will make more of an effort.

Rachel Inbar said...

I see there being 2 main reasons - First, we sometimes think we're so powerful that we might jinx something good or that we may end up eating our words if G-d forbid soomething goes wrong and second - for me it was the opposite of the real world - when I miscarried everyone disappeared or didn't know what to say & when I had good news everyone wanted to talk to me about it but I was very hesitant until very late.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your very thought-provoking post, even though the source of the post comes from someone who feels the way she does.

Most of my comment writing is when I have the time to do it - regardless of good or bad news. And, really, most of my commenting is to people I know right now - within my own little blog circle (not that I don't read the other blogs I see linked here). I am new to blogging (6+ months now), so I am really just getting to know the blog-world and the people in it.

I post when I feel I can either help (regardless of the reason for the help or support needed), or share a funny story to match a funny story, or say Yeah! on something good going on.

Sometimes, though, it is easier to share on the bad-stuff, especially if you have "been there."

Tina (who has to post as anonymous until Blogger allows Beta users to post to non-Beta blogs...)

seattlegal said...

I still read the blogs of those who got pregnant, but when they write about being pregnant, I just don't know what to say having never gone through pregnancy myself. I will comment on a post if there is something I can relate to in what they wrote.

With the non-pregnancy blogs, it's the same thing. I'll post a comment if there is something I can relate to in the post. Sometimes that might mean commenting on the bad stuff, but it isn't always like that.

At the same time, I tend to post more, like Tina, when I have time to do so. Sometimes I just have time to read, and other times, I have time to comment.

Anonymous said...

I comment if, and when, the writing hits a chord. I blog because I want to reach others and share a bit of healing... as I write I release a burden, as well.

Since I suffered so much loss in so little time, I don't want to spend time reading about the very thing I want so badly for myself.

I'll comment on a blog if someone needs a word of encouragment, but if they are happy and thriving ... they probably don't need my kind of support.

SusanG said...

I am mostly a lurker. I rarely comment on any blogs. However, when something bad happens to someone, I almost feel like I have a moral obligation to send a supportive message to them. Otherwise, I feel like a voyeur.

And as someone else has mentioned, one reason I think that readership goes up during bad times is that other bloggers tell their readers about the situation, because they know the person needs support. To some bloggers, I think this may seem like people rubber-necking a trainwreck, especially if they drop off after a while, but I don't think that's what's happening for the most part.