Sunday, February 12, 2012

Stirring the Pot in the Other Direction




I'm a very non-confrontational person.  That being said, I'm often surprised by how easily I could abandon my inability to confront people when I'm hiding behind a computer screen reading blogs and Facebook status updates.  There have been many occasions when I've read something online and instantly felt the need to insert my own opinion, sometimes in a not-so-kind, knee-jerk reaction sort of way.  In other words, something I read really pissed me off and I had a few choice words to share with the world.


But as I wrote in a post last month, I've learned the art of shutting up.  I've learned how to take a step back before responding.  I've learned that status updates on Facebook and comments on blogs can go viral in the blink of an eye.  Anger snowballs until such drama has been created that feelings are hurt, respect is lost, and the bigger picture is forgotten or ignored.  I've seen it happen before, and sadly it happened again last week.  Drama reared its ugly head, and I'm sad to say that we mil spouses didn't step up to prevent it.  In fact, we created it.


I promised myself I wasn't going to get involved in this particular drama, that I was going to stay out of it and wait for it to pass.  But I can't seem to get this episode of Mil Spouses Behaving Badly out of my head.


If you're a mil spouse blogger, you probably already know about the "Stirring the Pot" post.  If you don't know about it, honestly it's not worth repeating.  Let's just say that a young, newly married mil spouse wrote something that, well, stirred the pot.  Did I strongly disagree with the post?  Yes, I did.  Did I have an instant negative reaction to it?  Yes, I did.  Did I think her opinions were naive and thoughtless and unkind and offensive and better left unsaid?  Yes, I did. 


But as much as I was bothered by this mil spouse's post, I was equally as bothered by the drama that unfolded over the next couple of days.  I read nasty status updates and even nastier comments on the blog itself that seemed to get progressively hateful with each comment posted.  The more people talked about their outrage, the more other people shared their anger, and it was all mil spouses could talk about.  I did read a handful of toned down responses that refrained from using accusatory language, but for the most part, the reactions were harsh.


Because of this drama, within 24 hours the blog was shut down, the blogger's husband was given "a face-to-face counseling session" (presumably as a result of his own comment in defense of his wife's post), and his unit issued a formal apology.  All.  Because.  Of.  Drama. 


A similar incident happened about a year ago.  A young mil spouse blogger wrote a post declaring that she refused to follow OPSEC (Operations Security).  She didn't actually violate OPSEC, she simply said she wasn't planning on following it.  Oh the drama that ensued!  Just like this time, fellow mil spouses lashed out with mean status updates and comments on her blog.  How did we not learn from that and behave better this time around?  I didn't understand it then, and I don't understand it now.



We mil spouses are all on the same team.  Or at least we should be.  That feeling of membership, commaraderie, encouragement, support, friendship, and unity is one of the reasons I love blogging so much.  We're all going through the same emotional roller coaster being married to a service member.  We need to know we can lean on each other, offer advice, and ask for help.  We're all in this together. 


So my question is: Why did we attack a fellow member of our team instead of trying to educate her? 


Instead of lashing out at her, we should have reached out to her and offered advice.  She's been a mil spouse for all of 6 months.  6 months!!!  When my marriage to the military was only 6 months old, I knew NOTHING about military life or how to be a military spouse.  But we didn't reach out to her.  We attacked her because we thought she should know better.  Well, maybe she doesn't know better.  Maybe one of our jobs as experienced mil spouses is to give new mil spouses that knowledge.  And if we provide advice and she chooses to ignore it, we should just let it go, move on, and not allow the opinion of ONE person to bring out the worst in us.  She's certainly not the first mil spouse to feel superior because of her husband's branch or rank.  And she's not the first person to disparage the military.  So why did HER words anger us so much?  Why did SHE cause so much drama.



The drama started with one little blog post called Stirring the Pot.  And stir the pot this blogger did.  However, we the readers stirred the pot too, only in the opposite direction.  But instead of stirring, maybe we should have just added some mild seasonings and let it simmer on its own.  Because in the end, that pot was stirred so much that whatever was in it exploded in our faces.



I only hope that the next time this happens, and I'm certain that it will eventually happen again, that we can learn from this, that we stop and think before creating unnecessary drama and blow something completely out of proportion.  I hope that we mil spouses can redeem ourselves and prove that we truly are the amazing group of women that I know we are.  From now on, let's leave the drama for the Academy Awards.


14 comments:

  1. Great post! I was angry and I will admit I still am a little miffed, but I now can see it with a clear mind. I won't forgive her for being young or pregnant because guess what? I am too! But I will say that she has no experience whatsoever and we should all be there willing to help and educate each other. I was one of those people who was going to respond to educate her - not bash her. But unfortunately she shut the comment section down and I was not able to reach out to her.

    It is sad to see such a small community lash out at each other instead of sticking together, we love and we learn. I hope she learned something from this and as mad as I was and still am, I truly wish her and her husband the best in this military life. I hope they can open their eyes and escape the ignorance that is that post.

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  2. Hadn't heard of the blog! How does it seem that everyone has heard about this but me?

    I agree with you about the whole drama thing. I don't do it, either. However, I do sometimes put in my two cents to educate people. I never get emotional, but I do prove my point. Sometimes I wonder whether or not I should say something sometimes when I see such things. A lot of times I don't say anything. But if I'm in the right mood I definitely do. I just look at it as using my freedom of speech in an intelligent manner to educate someone who is misusing that freedom.

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  3. I couldn't agree more. She was wrong to say what she did. That said, wat happened afterward was also clearly out of line and it deeply offended me. We should have explained our position with kindness. She's so new and so far away from "real military life". I bet it is all a little scary and overwhelming for her, just as it was for me and she lashed out in an inappropriate way. I hope she comes around and that the milspouse community forgives her very public, very embarrassing mistake.

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  4. Very well said. You're such a voice of reason. =)

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  5. I was very disappointed in how people responded. I am glad you didn't get involved. I didn't either as I have bigger fish to fry :) Glad you posted this!

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  6. AMEN, sister. I was just sitting in my office with a coworker talking about how HORRIBLE it was that someone felt the need to shut down their blog for exercising their right to free speech. I agree that the post was in poor taste, but I also believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion. I recently decided to go anonymous with my blog for this very reason. While I would have not chosen to write something like this on my blog, I want to be able to do it without worrying about it affecting my husband's career. Shame on the military spouses that chose to participate in the drama, for not supporting one of our own, and helping her understand that comments like that might get her in trouble, and for not educating her in the ways of the military. Shame on them.

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  7. I was bothered more by everyone's aftermath. I was embarassed for the military spouses community and that we (I know I'm not married but never the less) could be so hateful and nasty. It honestly broke my heart and I looked at a lot of blogs I loved reading, differently now. Over the past year, I myself have learned a lot about "shutting up" with certian posts and comments I personally made. The reality is NONE of us are perfect. She messed up...and she KNOWS it now. For people to get on their high horse like they have never made a mistake or said something that was not "politically correct" about the military is just a flat out lie. We all start not with a lack of knowledge and I think more than her inaccuracy, the real crimes are the malicious responses.

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  8. Very good point!

    By the time I heard about it her site was no longer available for comments otherwise I would have used her comment space to give her some constructive criticism in a polite manner. I admit I posted on another MilSpouse's blog who posted about the "Stiring the Pot" post.

    The basic gist of what I said was that even though these are our personal blogs and we do have a right to say what we want, we need to make sure we have correct and factual information before we put it out there.

    And we are all in this together and we need to be proud of all our military men and women in the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy and the Reserves.

    I also said that it was sad that a military wife would attack another branch instead of working to support each other.

    I appreciate you saying what you have and reminding us to think with our brains as much as we do our hearts. Sometimes emotions get the best of us and we spout off before we think. I think we are just so fiercely loyal to fellow military spouses that when one group is attacked we take it personally.

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  9. Very well said and I couldn't agree more. Being a NG wife I was irritated when I read that post, but I avoid as much drama as I possibly can (I even had "No Drama" sign like the pic at the top of your post on my college room door). I made one comment on a well-written response to the blog, and even then I wasn't sure that I should have written it. I didn't need to say anymore than had already been said. Both sides of this instance showed poor choices (although some responses were very respectful and just pointed out the facts that were wrong in her post). It's amazing how quickly things can spin out of control. This is such a wonderful community of spouses and I love how we all tend to stick together, but we also need to be supportive and teach each other the ropes when one doesn't know any better or goes astray.

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  10. Idk why people even RESPOND to the ignorance and stupidity she posted. If she wanted to get a reaction, homegirl got her wish!

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