I’ve read a lot of posts and comments lately which seem to have stemmed largely from the unfortunate Brit Mums/ Netmums incident. Let’s call it Blogger-Gate. It seems that many parent bloggers are now beginning to question their place in the community and Blogger-Gate may be the straw that tipped a few camel’s backs. Negative comments, gripes and rants are flying across blogs, Facebook and Twitter, whilst apologies and positive views are being trampled on. That’s human nature. We’re fiercely protective of our blogs and we don’t like being told what to do with them. Perhaps that’s why Sophie King went down like a lead balloon at Cybermummy? Perhaps this has all been simmering for a long while? How easy is it to maintain relationships online, when the written word can so easily be misinterpreted and a stray piece of puntuation can change the whole tone of a comment? Whatever the reasons, I don’t really like the atmosphere at the moment. That’s why I thoughtI would tell you about the virtual sisterhood.
I was lucky enough to share my pregnancy journey with a group of amazing women, all of whom I met online on a well known parenting forum. I had already met few of the ladies before I fell pregnant. We shared each niggle, each kick and each gripe of pregnancy. Of course, there were fall outs and there were women who rubbed others up the wrong way. That’s going to happen in any walk of life, online or not. The difference between these women and the women I know already in ‘real life’ is that we were all going through the exact same thing together, to slightly differing outcomes. We bonded because of that.
As our due dates crept closer, our pregnancies began to playout differently. Early births, late births, complicated births, long labours, quick labours, SCBU, Neo-natal care, c-sections, home births. We each had a different story to tell and forty or so women to listen to it.
For me, these women make up the virtual sisterhood which actually means a lot to me. No, I’ve never met these women, but they were the first to hear about the traumatic birth of my son. They were the first to offer a shoulder to cry on, solid advice and gentle support. They were the first women to put aside their own troubles, sleepless nights or colicky babies. They were the first women I turned to recently. They were the first women I thought to turn to, in fact.
Since blogging, I have made more virtual friends and there are some who I would consider good friends. These, I also consider part of my virtual sisterhood. Of course there will be disagreements and yes, they are upsetting, but in the end those differences are always put aside.
Today, there are around 20 or so of us in the virtual sisterhood. That’s probably around half of the original number of women who eagerly counted the days until their loved ones were due. Some naturally drifted away, no longer needing online support. Some stomped away, some just disapeared. Those that remain are in touch most days, thanks to Facebook.
Perhaps the reason I felt the need to blog about this has a lot to do with pointing out the precarious nature of virtual friendships. Maybe I get on with these women so much because they have never had to meet me in real life and are quite within their rights to ignore my typed words. They’d never get away with that in real life. Perhaps we are more tolerant of each other’s flaws simply because we have revealed our own flaws too? I think that is the difference with the virtual sisterhood and many other online relationships. Many are business related or the result of networking to get your blog read, ranked and liked. Nothing wrong with that. The difference is that the virtual sisterhood exisits because we aren’t trying to sell stuff to each other. We all share motherhood- just the same as parent bloggers- but we aren’t in competition.