This is a birthday card that Mr. R gave me a couple years ago.
It’s my favorite. It has a prominent place in our home office.
Many have asked me how I deal with negative info written about me on the Internet. In fact, as though it was foreshadowing, I was featured in an article over at Mom It Forward that touched on it the day before some ugliness unraveled.
Like I said in the article, I used to cry about it. But then I realized that if you let it effect your mood, then they win.
We all have different experiences in adoption–some good, some bad, some pretty, some pretty ugly. Whatever our experiences are, they color the lens through which we see and experience adoption.
Just as it is impossible for me to fully understand adoptions that took place half a century ago, it also seems impossible for those individuals to understand the experiences of adoption as they are happening and evolving today. If you remind yourself that you do not know the past experiences of a person writing the negative post about you and that you don’t understand the lens through which they see adoption, then it takes the sting out of their words and you usually end up feeling sad for them or even pitying them.
In that way, you just take each comment with a grain of salt and let it roll off your back. Then, you enjoy the increase in your stats and page views. After all, even “negative” attention is attention. :)
Then there is my Internet Troll Handling Strategy derived from Clear and Present Danger.
Against my better judgment, let me share with you my theory and strategy behind handling personal negativity online. It is based on a scene in Clear and Present Danger:
The President of the United States just found out that a friend he had for the 40 years (Harden) was involved in some illegal activity and was murdered because of it.
His advisers tell him that they need to downplay and diffuse the situation so that the press won’t have a field day with their relationship. I imagine they were thinking something along the lines of reporting that the President wasn’t that close with this criminal.
Jack Ryan, on the other hand, thinks just the opposite. This is the part that I LOVE. He says,
I would go in the other direction. If a reporter asks if you and Harden were friends I would say, “No, we’re good friends.”
If they ask if you were good friends, I would say, “No, no we were lifelong friends.”
Give them no place to go.
Nothing to report.
For example, when someone mocks you for liking sunsets and running you say, “I LOVE sunsets and running!” (And maybe even throw in a couple smiley faces for good measure.)
Or when someone does not like that you celebrate the fact that you won a contested adoption with your son’s birth father (without bothering to get the facts right), you say,”We absolutely cannot celebrate that enough! But, his birth mother was the real winner in that the judge backed up the life she chose for her son, saving him (and her!) from a history of emotional and physical abuse by the birth father. Plus, her testimony at the trial was dyno-mite!”
Or when BYU beats SDSU and SDSU fans chant, “You’re still Mormon!” You respond by cheering, “We’re still Mormon!” (True story.)
Or if someone tries to make you feel badly for not obviously posting your name and where you live on the Internet, you say, “Thank goodness you couldn’t find that information easily, ever since that one talk at Stake Conference, I had been really worried that I was sharing too much identifying info about my fam! This makes me feel much better!”
See what I mean? Jack Ryan (errr, Tom Clancy?) is a genius. It leaves them nothing to argue. Nothing to report. No story.
What if you don’t want to leave a comment on a negative post about yourself?
That doesn’t happen to me often, but when it does you need to pause and remember. Take a moment and remember the miracle of your story no matter where you fit into the adoption triad. Look at photos. Remind yourself of the feelings you have felt. Let your story sink into your soul. Remind yourself of the spiritual nature of adoption.
Some of you may be thinking, “Well, what if there isn’t any beauty in your story?” My response is to look harder. I know and have featured several birth mothers on my blog that had horrible experiences in adoption and yet still choose to see the beauty in their stories. I admire people like that. People like Nie Nie. They give true meaning to Come What May and Love It. I want to be more like them.
I am trying.
If that still doesn’t work for you, there is always one last thing: Service.
In my case, that meant sending off a package to one of kids’ birth moms, writing a letter to Tyson’s birth dad serving his last few weeks in his 4 year prison sentence and sending a text message to the two birth mothers I love the most telling them how much I think of them, how the boys pray for them, how they are family and always welcome in our home. An open line of communication with those two women and a love fest of texts always brightens my day …and according to them, it makes their day too.
As my great grandma used to say, “If you are feeling sorry for yourself, do something for someone else.”
There is opposition in everything that we do and the online world is no exception. We can, however, do our part to help people choose to have a HOPEFUL experience in adoption.
As Mr. R and I mentioned in our keynote address at the Second Annual Adoptive Couple Retreat, most of the people in the adoption community who have a negative view of adoption have had an experience with dishonesty as it relates to adoption–from birth parents feeling lied to by adoptive couples who do not keep their promises to “adoption advocates” saying one thing on one adoption website and then changing that opinion on another site to adoptive families misrepresenting themselves to dirty rotten adoption scammers to people not bothering to do the research about you when they write about you on the Internet.
Dishonesty does not foster hope.
We can make the world (especially the online world) a little brighter by not allowing trolls in all their negativity to get us down and being as honest as we know how to be. (It’s one of the reasons why I don’t moderate comments that disagree with my opinion. Never have. Personal attacks of me or my guests will not be tolerated however and will simply be deleted. Case closed.)
Take the pledge to blog with integrity.