Yep – I heard it. All the fuss about mumsnet.com and how terribly they treated newcomers and people who didn’t shop at Boden or how great they are and what a fantastic network they provide for parents. I’d never been there though, the mysterious land of mumsnet, so how did I know who was right or wrong? Only one way to find out…
…so I joined. Oh yes, feeling like some kind of undercover spy I signed up (with all my actual details of course – we do transparency around here) and started browsing the forums to see what I could find. Well, I am a mum so felt perfectly within my rights to join, although I did wonder why it’s not called parentsnet, or if indeed the dads have a dadsnet all of their very own! I later discovered dads do have their very own ‘thread’ named dadsnet within the forums of mumsnet but from what I read it is going to take a brave man to post anything on there!! Particularly if he’s unhappy with/doesn’t understand/criticising his wife in anyway!
For example one poor fella was asking some advice regarding his wife sleeping over at a male friends house. Before he could get any help though, he first had to deal with the barrage of comments querying his use of the word ‘let’ when asking should he ‘let’ his wife stay over at her friends. It was almost funny how quickly people got their backs up but also concerning. That people being asked to reassure the poor guy, ignored his plea for help, instead picking on his choice of words! I mean, really had a go at him. Obviously he meant ‘let’ as in ‘should I let it happen without making a fuss’ right? Maybe not. Point is though, how unfair was it of them to make assumptions like this about someone’s intent. How easy would it have been to just ignore that one word slip-up and actually show some compassion and help the guy out? Have none of these people heard of ‘if you haven’t got anything nice to say then….zip it?’
My own experience on mumsnet was similar. In that people assumed my intentions and wasted no time in having a go at me. Even though they’d actually got it completely wrong!
I had only been a member for about 3 hours. In typical style though, managed to get myself in trouble almost immediately!
After browsing for a while and seeing some questions on topics that I felt I could be helpful on, I decided to look at ‘unanswered questions’ to see if I could help anyone who hadn’t already received some. I don’t think everyone does this on mumsnet. In fact, I think some people intentionally go on threads where there are lots of comments already, purely so that they can set about telling everyone where they got it wrong….or criticising their spelling/grammar!
Having immediately come across some questions on topics I have quite an in-depth knowledge of, I answered one. It was about allergies I think. Anyway, when I sign off….from anything, I write my name and a link to my website. So I did. This was for a few reasons.:
1 It’s habit, I do it and most people I receive emails/messages from do it too.
2 It’s honest and transparent. Let’s face it I could be anybody, this way I was thinking anyone in any doubt could check the source of the advice I’d given.
3 It’s networking. Which is what social networks such as mumsnet are all about right? ‘Nuff said.
4 It’s optional. Noone is forced to click on the link unless they want to. NOT putting it there though, doesn’t give anyone the option!
Well…I immediately got told off for that! Not – asked if I was new here? Did I know that it’s not really how they like things done round here? Would I mind not doing that?
No, I got told off in a very IMpolite way by one person who was then followed by a few more jumping on the bandwagon and who all made complaints to the teacher….oops, sorry I mean mumsnet HQ!! Even though I had given the first complainer my clear explanation of the above points AND an apology AND told them I was new! I was being accused of promoting my website for profit. What absolute rubbish. I don’t make any profit whatsoever from people visiting my website, it’s purely for pleasure because I love writing. Mumsnet HQ messaged me to let me know there had been complaints and would I not do it anymore. They also said my ‘comments to date had been well received though and we hope you don’t leave the site’.
I think it’s safe to say I won’t be going back there again. Not just because of some people kicking up a fuss about my ‘blatant advertising’!
No, it’s because of the other things I kept finding. Bullying, lecturing, self-esteem-shattering ‘advice’ is NOT what parents, especially new or expecting ones need. Ever! If I had been using this site when I was pregnant or a new mum it would have absolutely terrified me. I felt so sorry for some of the genuinely concerned people who were being pulled this way and that, followed by people starting their own arguments about whose advice was best/wisest/most grammatically correct! Like a crowd of people all jumping up and down screaming ‘ME! ME! LISTEN TO ME!’
I feel tired now just thinking about it!
It was an experience though I’ll say that and I had no idea how intense it would be. In my opinion it’s nothing more than a playground, with it’s various stereotypical groups….the bullies, the gossips, the whiners, the competitive ones, the bitchy girls. Why anyone would want to go back there after 13 or more years of it I don’t know!