My Arena (redux)

Every so often a post fails so spectacularly that it makes more sense to address it in a separate post than try to wade into the comments section. The My Arena post was one of those. I frequently have issues with tone, and I read that one out loud to myself several times in an attempt to target that, but it’s a blind spot that I need to keep working on.

Let me try to clarify: I found a strategy for coping with the large volume of feedback that is communicated to me through various channels. This involves relying on people I have formed relationships with. Previously I was attempting to take in everything and I was overwhelmed, and sometimes sad. I wanted to share that strategy with others who might be struggling to handle harsh comments or process feedback as well. Ironically, I wrote a post about relying on the feedback of those close to me to help me make better decisions, but I didn’t run the post past that very circle. Following my own strategy more closely would have helped prevent this mess in the first place.

Learning about the viewpoints and experiences of other people is one of my favorite things. I listen to a lot of podcasts because the format allows a variety of opinions to be shared. Trying to understand other people has changed me into a different person, and I couldn’t be happier about that change. But I need a method to help me process the opinions offered about  choices in life (remember how I used to have a centralized source for this sort of thing?) and My Arena is the best I’ve come up with so far.

Your comments made me realize that we are viewing the situation through a very different lens, because I’ve been screening the information submitted that doesn’t deserve a platform. All comments with new usernames or email addresses get put into moderation automatically, and I have a filter set up to automatically moderate any comment with foul language. The comments I’m moderating look like this:

(click to enlarge, the worst language has been partially censored)

blogger harassment anti-feminist disgusting vile hatred comments trolls

These are the people jeering in the stands, and it is them I am attempting to ignore. When I said “Those people, and their feedback, do not matter to me. The only power I have over them is to deny them any power over me,” that is who I was referring to. How could you know that though, since I make sure they are never visible in my comment section? Something gave me the idea that I’m never supposed to let all of you know this is happening behind the scenes, and this post is the first time that I’m challenging that idea.

My Arena brought up something that I have obviously forgotten over my blogging lull – I need to focus on responding to comments made by people who have shown a commitment to sharing their thoughts with me in a respectful manner. That’s my target audience.  It’s a fair approach and leads to a stronger relationship over time. I should not respond to comments that irritate me when I’m feeling snippy, even though it makes me feel better in the moment. I also need to stop responding to comments in the same period that I moderate comments. When I delete a disgusting comment and then immediately respond to another my tone often reflects the way I feel about the deleted one, which comes across as hostile. Adding in a time buffer will help me address that.

As I work through this experience I’m working hard to remember that I’m human and will make mistakes, and worse than making a mistake is denying the lesson they can teach. I’m not going to let shame prevent me from admitting my faults and working to address them. I wanted to address some misconceptions that I admit I caused or exacerbated with my last post:

  • I do care that you are here and that you read.
  • I appreciate and value 95% of those who read and especially people who take the time to converse with me.
  • I don’t mind when people don’t agree with me, and I know you have seen the changes some of opposing viewpoints have had in my life. It may not always seem like I consider them, but I do, sometimes over multiple discussions or a period of time.
  • I struggle to know how to handle people who have preconceived ideas about me and use my writing to find evidence that prove their assumptions. I know we all do this as humans, but I have a hard time dealing with people who are mean or snarky. I am working on this.

In fact, I am working with a mentor to have some difficult conversations and develop a plan to address these issues so I can present well-written posts that invite fascinating discussion (that is my overarching goal, after all). I’m not ready to share details yet, but I wanted you to know that I’m glad you’re here and ask for your patience as I work through the things I’m hearing from you.

While proofreading and editing this post I realized that there are probably going to be a lot of comments asking why I continue to write if I’m getting such virulent blowback. I write here because I enjoy the process. I stay in the game because it makes me a better person. I blog because I like meeting new people. I don’t give up because I want to believe that I can push through this and become better.

Interesting side note: I thought bolding a sentence added emphasis, but TH said it is likely interpreted  as “Jenna yelling at her audience.” Noted.

88 thoughts on “My Arena (redux)

  1. It is awful to see the kind of hateful words that get thrown your way by unproductive readers. It is no wonder that you could find yourself questioning the intentions behind some commenters! Anyone would get impatient and frustrated by that.

    This is a great post that begins to address an embaressing problem for adult women — how can we expect children and teens to be mature enough not to cyber bully, when some of their mothers/aunts/babysitters are so hateful as to do this to others?

    Those people use fake names to avoid their employers and friends from finding out about their hateful online activity; yet their language oozes a false confidence and moral superiority over bloggers who choose to share their stories openly. Bullying of any form is childish at best and all forms should be outlawed.

    Kristie Reply:

    ^^^ Agreed!

    Christie Reply:

    YES. Certain people feel entitled to project their misery onto the world, one vitriolic comment at a time. Women are sometimes the worst culprits, constantly judging the merits/choices/appearances/lives of other women. I don’t always agree with you Jenna, but I admire your ability to keep challenging yourself in a public forum (even constructive criticism can still be painful!). Thanks for writing this post.

  2. Your post the other day does make a lot of sense now, given the comments you just shared, but forgive me, I must be bold here. I’m sure it’s not at all fun getting vulgar, mean-just-to-be-mean comments like this. But these are the comments you shouldn’t even be spending an iota of brain power even considering. This shouldn’t even be going through your “areana.” Lots of people get comments like these and you see examples of these low-level kind of comments from everything from a random news story to someone writing a blog about vacuum cleaners to more thought provoking or controversial posts like you might write. Those kind of people just exist and I don’t imagine them to even be people, but machines that randomly select profanities to hurl at anyone going by. OF COURSE you shouldn’t regard these comments – this should be a non-issue, and if you have actually been letting obvious random troll comments like this bother you, then of course you’d be bogged down in the negativity.

    I thought when you’d show an example of a difficult comment, it would more along the lines of something scathing, but at least intelligible, as an actual contribution type comment. THAT is what I’d have a hard time with, real people being brutally honest with me and not sugar coating it whatsoever. That’s hard to hear. But someone stringing so many profanities along it’s more swearing than non-swearing words? If you’ve devoted more than 5 minutes actually considering what those comments say, you’ve wasted a lot of time. This were I have to be bold: I worry of your ability to move forward trying to interact with others on here if you’ve lumped anything that a half-intelligible, even just somewhat well-meaning person has added with “trolling” like that. That you would even consider those type of comments as adding anything and letting it get to you for more than the mere seconds it takes to read is showing that you don’t know the difference between obvious throw away comments like that (that lots of people get) and real comments (whether loving and supportive or not). I know I’m not even attempting to be gracious in this reply, I’m just a little bothered that well-intentioned ones (not always happy/supportive, but well-intentioned) have been treated as even remotely like the ones you shared and that you’ve let obvious stupid ones bother you that much, but I’m glad to hear that you are going to work on separating them better. This is when interactions can finally get interesting and even, fun:)

    Michelle Reply:

    Completely agree with Beth. Every post/video/story that has ever been posted to the internet has comments with strings of vulgarities like this attached. I wouldn’t even consider these for a second.

    I thought you meant in your previous post that you were getting harsh comments about your life and your family. These comments aren’t about your life. They aren’t about you. They’re just stupid curse words that could be thrown at anyone.

    If these are what you’re worried about, you need to let it go. These are “critics” these are just silly. Are there actual critical posts you’re hiding, or do you let all of those through? If you’re letting those through then I really don’t see much trolling.

    Michelle Reply:

    Meant to say “These *AREN’T* ‘critics,’ these are just silly.”

    Jenna Reply:

    These are personal attacks, not spam. The blacked out portion in the second comment is full of very personal information. It’s not just unhappy commenters, it’s a campaign devoted to bullying me. Those participating in that campaign stalk me all over the internet, digging for information in every location, with people sharing information out of private groups over the last few years. They then take that information and mock me, harass me, and discuss ways to negatively affect me in the offline world as well.

    Spam filled with profanity would be much more welcome.

    marcie Reply:

    People are not trying to negatively affect you in the offline world. They see the words you write, the persona that you put out to the world, and they are concerned for your children. Everyone that reads your words wants you to get the help you need to become the best mom that you can be. No one wants you to fail, Jenna, they want you to succeed.

    Put aside the hateful comments, but read the criticism that comes from a place of caring and interest in your children. All anyone wants is to see you put forth an honest effort to love and care for your children. If you do, then the websites will have nothing to say about you and the negative comments will fade away.

    MissPinkKate Reply:

    “No one wants you to fail, Jenna, they want you to succeed.” – I think that is totally true. I also think that people don’t just care about your children, they care about you as well. Nobody wants you to be unhappy, nobody wants you to be lonely, nobody wants you to feel resentful of your children or unfulfilled, and yet it seems like you keep displaying scenes of these things over and over, like you’re stuck in a hole and you can’t get out. And it can be frustrating when you dismiss advice after you’ve asked for it, like when you asked about monetizing your blogs and you got a lot of feedback from long-time readers who thought your efforts might be better focused on finding paid employment outside the home.

    Suzanne Reply:

    Marcie, if you think that “no one wants [Jenna] to fail,” then you haven’t been paying attention. Unfortunately there are plenty of people here making rude and unproductive comments like yours, trying to bully her into feeling badly about herself and an entire hate site forum devoted to rooting for her failure. Unfortunately, Jenna is not being paranoid about people trying to negatively affect her life.

    Who are you to say Jenna doesn’t put forth an honest effort to love and care for her children? Do you talk to her every day? Do you see her with her kids? Are you part of her inner circle? Obviously not, or you would know what you are saying is BS.

    Stephanie Phillips Reply:

    I’m going to have to argue with you- you have deleted MY comment and I certainly wasn’t trolling you. I’ve engaged with you in past comment threads and I’ve been reading you since I clicked your link on the sidebar of OMGMom.

    I’d commented on a post where you made a comment about T1 that made me uncomfortable as a parent and I (very nicely!) said that you should consider your words. You let it go live, let somebody reply to it, and then you deleted it because I wasn’t playing by your rules.

    You are not fighting trolls, you’re fighting your dedicated base. How is that going to work with this blogging-as-career goal? It certainly doesn’t seem to support your assertions in this post, either.

    Beth Reply:

    Your response lends a few questions, that I hope you’ll ponder and hope will help you figure out what kind of presence online you want to have. Is this personal information that only those extremely close to you would be privy to? How do these random commenters have access to such private information in the first place? Either it’s knowledge you’ve already shared on this blog before or you even mentioned people sharing information from private groups you/they were part of. If it’s the former, perhaps you need to rethink how much you divulge of your life that is used up for ammo against you. I know that sounds against what most bloggers want to be – and that’s free and open – but perhaps a line you’ve already drawn needs to be redrawn. If people were bothering me with information that is personal and using it for spam attacks, I would want to reevaluate what indeed I’m sharing online. There is no rule that you must share it all with the blogging audience. (or as some people say “If I don’t blog about it or put in Facebook/twitter, did it really happen?:) If you choose to, I’m sorry to say that comments like this will come. I’m sure every blogger and online writer on earth has people that send them profanity riddled stuff like this that hurts. You aren’t being singled out in this issue, believe me. To remain online AND divulge a great deal means you have to be ruthless about tossing aside **vicious, mean-spirited attacks** on their face. Don’t spend time agonizing over stuff that has a ton of curse words in it and sounds like something you’d hear on Jerry Springer. It’s hard to define what I’m talking about without making a rubric or something to define it, but basically, you should know what that is when you see it and that above ^^^ is it. Don’t agonize and “send it through the arena”, move on.

    Now, as for this information coming from people once in private groups with you. That’s tough. No one likes to feel like their private words weren’t as private as they thought. Has this happened more than once? One time, and I guess that person just had an axe to grind or wasn’t very nice. But if this has happened more than once, this is where you do need to analyze what it is about you and/or the way you are coming across/treating others, etc that invites such disloyalty and breaking of trust. It’s hard to look at oneself in these matters but it’s important to remember that a) no one can hurt you with personal attacks that you don’t first give them the info to do it with (unless they are breaking into your home and going through your journal, yikes!:) so share accordingly and b) take great care in personal relationships off and online if such information *is* at stake. Every blogger gets hateful comments, that will sadly never change, but what every blogger has control of is what they present to the world and the amount of time they let it get to them. Don’t give people any more than ammo than you are willing to have thrown back in your face. If it means scaling back what you share, so be it – it sounds like in the long run you’ll be much happier not having the attacks over it.

    Tiffany Reply:

    I’m sorry, Beth. But, your comments on here to Jenna are not supportive and loving — actually they are probably just like the ones she was referring to. I have seen more of your comments on any of her blog posts than anyone else & they are normally borderline aggressive. You don’t KNOW Jenna (And I don’t either) but give her the benefit of the doubt. I highly doubt that everything that comes out of your mouth is perfect but you aren’t putting it up on the internet for everyone to see.

    I rarely read this blog and there are things posted I don’t agree with but that’s human nature. You aren’t going to LOVE everything that someone does and you’re MUCH more likely to post something when you don’t like it. Do everyone a favor and please stop posting comment to provoke Jenna.

    Beth Reply:

    “your comments on here to Jenna are not supportive and loving — actually they are probably just like the ones she was referring to. I have seen more of your comments on any of her blog posts than anyone else & they are normally borderline aggressive”

    –Really. Please reread those comments above that are riddled with expletives and sound like 9th grade locker room speak and then reread mine again. Perhaps you also struggle with the difference between hateful, cruel comments and those that are well meaning from an outside party meant to give the reader something to think about.

    ” I highly doubt that everything that comes out of your mouth is perfect but you aren’t putting it up on the internet for everyone to see.”

    –You are completely, 100% correct. I am in no way perfect in any way, shape, or form. You are also 100% correct in your assessment that I don’t put it up on the internet for everyone to see. Thank you for precisely nailing down my point. Last I checked, no one has to blog or die. So until that day happens, yes, I am very specific in what I share online so as to not over-indulge things I wouldn’t want people to bother me about. Blogging about one’s life details is a choice. It should be a very well-thought out choice.

    “Do everyone a favor and please stop posting comment to provoke Jenna.”

    –If Jenna thinks my comment is anything remotely like the one she gets that she’s been spending way too much brainpower on, then I really should show myself the door once and for all. I would hope what I have to say is thought provoking and giving her something different to think about in relation to this topic, but if its treated by you (and Jenna? I don’t think so, but I don’t want to talk for her) as if I just called her every name in the book then obviously all those many, non-vulgar words I just typed out were completely useless.

    I admit that this phenomena of bloggers acting powerless to their urges to overshare and treating what they do on the same level of being a fireman or saving the whales (the courage! the selflessness!) is something that gets my goat. It shouldn’t, but it does. And comments like yours only add fuel to that burning fire of entitlement for bloggers struggling to put the validation and criticism they get in it’s proper place.

    Sarah Reply:


    I’ve read through a few of your responses. (Disclaimer: yes, I did find this blog through GOMI, but I have absolutely no investment in “hating” or “trolling,” and I’ll probably add this site to my will-read list). I happen to think that you are one of the most rational individuals I’ve seen posting in her comments, at least within these two posts.

    I think Tiffany is confusing “thought-provoking” with “provocation.” I sincerely hope the author of this site takes what you’ve said into consideration. Holding onto a completely non-biased opinion affords me the opportunity to really appreciate feedback like yours, and wish that you also had a blog to share!

    Eva Reply:

    “Do everyone a favor and please stop posting comment to provoke Jenna.”

    But in fact the point of this entire post by Jenna is that she is NOT bothered by comments like this. Isn’t it? She wrote this second version of the post to clarify what sort of comment she will be ignoring – and it’s not comments like Beth’s.

    I think you’re just adding to the confusion. First Jenna appears to say that she wants supportive comments or nothing. People ask her if that’s what she meant and she says no. She then clarifies that what she doesn’t want are mindless troll attacks (and good for her!) and dissenting opinions are fine. But here you come saying that dissenting opinions are NOT okay because they are not “loving” – the opposite of what Jenna said. You’re not helping.

  3. Good for you! I think it is fantastic that you are always trying your “best”. Isn’t that what we should all strive for each day? It ususally is never easy and always uncomfortable to “change’. And admitting to “fauts” in a public forum isn’t something that I have the guts to do. Keep being you, Jenna! I think it is great that you care about dialogue. I for one, don’t agree with you a lot of times. But, I keep reading because you callenge my perception and above all else, I read that you have a big heart.

  4. I admire your willingness to keep trying. I have thought from early days that you have spirit. That’s why I, a middle aged liberal atheist, stuck around as a reader. And I trust that spirit will help you grow, to understand yourself, and to do what you are capable of in the world. Finding values having left a faith must be an enormous task. I wish you all the best.

  5. Erf. Some people are the worst. Can you hire someone just to weed through the comments so that you don’t have to even see it? Sometimes it’s about removing the negativity completely, rather than hearing it and trying to cope.

  6. When I commented on that last post, I apologized for being so harsh in some of my comments …. but I would never say anything like what was posted in that picture. Yikes! I appreciate this post, and the fact that you took the time to clarify your thoughts in that previous posts shows that you have changed and that you care about your audience. Thank you!

  7. I’m new to your site, although I’ve read a great deal of your archives as well as some of the sites which criticize you in an attempt to glean an understanding.

    What I truly do not understand is why you continue to blog – are you teaching anyone how to live with more integrity, more beauty, more style or more thoughtfulness or do you present an original point of view? I don’t think so. It just seems like an exhibitionist way to live your life seeking validation from strangers. Blogs should have an original point of view: yours, frankly, just isn’t interesting enough to learn from or follow. I also don’t understand why so many women spend so much time vilifying you – why on Earth spend time criticizing you under the guise of concern for your children when your life just isn’t that fascinating?

    It’s a depressing symbiotic relationship. I would advise getting help for your Internet addiction and focus on living your life away from the spotlight.

    Andrea Reply:

    I agree with this! I would stop blogging under such scrutiny. I bet your life would be much better if you just stopped all of this cold turkey.

    Alexis Reply:

    What a ridiculous comment, Amy. Would you approach Jenna in real life and tell her you think she adds nothing helpful or interesting to the world? Is there some sort of requirement that in order to blog you must be “worthy”? What is your big contribution to the internet – hate-reading peoples’ archives and then lending your opinion about whether their lives are interesting or not?

    Isn’t it helpful enough if some people who read this blog find something to relate to, or to think about? Just because you don’t find something interesting doesn’t mean the same is true for everyone else. Obviously many people do find what Jenna has to say worth reading – how many people would have this many comments on a post (many of them nice comments, too) after rarely making posts for such a long time?

    Of course you are entitled to your opinion, but this comment just rubbed me the wrong way. If you really don’t understand what the hype is about, why leave a mean comment? As far as I know, Jenna was not asking you for personal funding, so your opinion on whether or not she has a marketable blog is really besides the point here. Why not just move on to a blog you DO find interesting? Are you sure Jenna is the one with the internet addiction?

    Erin Reply:

    I totally agree with Alexis. Who are you to tell Jenna that she is “uninteresting”. Than go to another blog and troll them !

    I hope things work themselves out Jenna.

    Erin Reply:


    I see your comment as critical of not only Jenna, but also her blog readers. “…your [blog] just isn’t interesting enough to learn from or follow..”

    First, this contradicts your opener, sharing that you “have read a great deal of [the] archives.” But whatever–I just want to answer your question of why people read Jenna’s blog. Like many, I’ve been reading TW since her Weddingbee days. When I first read her posts, I was fascinated because her life, her values, what she believed were very different than what I believed. Like hangs out with like, and most of my friends were agnostic feminists, career women, who supported gay rights and wore bikinis. While I knew that my friends and I were technically a minority (most people identify with a religion in our country and at the time Prop 8 had sadly just won), my friends and I were such a homogenous group that I’d never seen the other side.

    And thus I was fascinated when I began reading TW; I was finally seeing the other side. I found her to be a great writer, there were great discussions in her comments section, and while we disagreed on many things, she made an effort to thoughtfully share her point of view and let others do the same.

    Tangent: I think it is also worth mentioning that while I work with children and am a mandated reporter, I have never had even an inclination that Jenna is harming her children. I have left a lot of critical comments on TW over the years, and I completely agree with you Amy that people are “criticizing under the guise of concern for [her] children.” I agree, her kids are fine. People can hate read if that’s their thing, but their self-righteous pretense that they are concerned about the kids. BS. They are hate reading and being judgmental for sport; own it.

    I’m going to try to wrap this up. As someone who has strongly supported gay rights (with my money, with my time, with my votes), I was very interested after Prop 8′s passage as to how we convince people to change their votes. How do I convince someone that two men or two women, having a loving relationship (or casual consensual sex) does in no way hurt their family? And that is when I really dove into TW (late 2008 early 2009)–how does someone like TW, who has been raised both by parents, in a community, and in a church to believe that gay marriage is wrong–how do people like that come to change their minds? Why do they believe what they believe? Is it even possible for them to see things from another viewpoint. There were lots of fascinating posts and discussions in the comment section, and I became hooked. I tried to treat Jenna and her writing with respect the same way that I want people to treat my ideas with respect. Over time, what was a fascinating ethnographic experience, became a mutual respect and friendship.

    And then, something that I didn’t really see coming, happened. Jenna’s beliefs became separate from that of her church, she started supporting same sex marriage, she now felt differently about mom’s working outside of the home. Wow! And that is why I continue to read. I don’t often encounter people that are as introspective as Jenna who have had the courage to fundamentally change the way they see the world. Note: none of my friends have undergone such a radical change in their beliefs. And yet, this is what ALL of my friends want–for people who oppose same sex marriage to become in support of it. For people to not judge their decisions to work outside of the home while also being moms. And here Jenna has made those changes. And I read because I want to understand why and how she changed, because I want more people to have the Awakenings she writes of. And I read because I want to challenge myself–am I as introspective as she is; I like to think that I’m openminded, but I recently realized that I was judging SAHMs as much as I feared they were judging me for working. I read because I want to support her, because I hope that more people who were raised in the LDS community can give some of their beliefs a second thought. I read to cheer her on, because it must be incredibly hard to undergo the change of identity that comes with leaving a church or taking a different path than one’s parents. I read because I do find her interesting and inspiring and I do see her point of view as original. Can you think of anyone else who has blogged from being a fervent believer in LDS to questioning the church? Dooce doesn’t count–she’s always blogged as someone who hated the church. We’ve been able to read as TW went from explaining LDS (I once referred to her as an online missionary) to someone who is speaking out against the tenets of the church. Has anyone else blogged, in real time, from strongly opposing (and judging) mom’s who worked outside of the home to becoming a mom who longed for a career?

    I think it is possible to criticize nearly everything that gets posted on the internet by anyone. TW is no exception. But I think that there are a lot of reasons to read TW and to cheer for Jenna. I find it fascinating that there are a handful of feminists, who heavily criticized Jenna for many of her previously held beliefs, that have chosen to ignore the personal growth that Jenna has undergone. Instead of cheering her on as they now agree on truly important things (marriage equality, mom’s working outside the home) they instead are complaining about her shaving her son’s head 4 years ago or him sleeping in the bathroom (like the majority of urban babies). I know people who hate watch Newsroom or hate read the Real Housewives blogs (guilty)–but I wish they’d just call a spade a spade; they are not concerned about Jenna, nor her kids. There is nothing Jenna can say or do to change the fact these people dislike her. I don’t know how she puts up with such cruel things being said, and I’m glad she has her Arena metaphor to help her.

    *I’m electing to not edit this, and I know this isn’t a well worded comment, but I trust that you understand what I attempted to communicate.

    K Reply:

    Fair point on the fact that people dislike Jenna and that the concern for her children is just an excuse, but perception is reality and rightly or wrongly, they base their feelings on what they know about Jenna and what she chooses to publish on her blog and on her social media accounts.

    And Saying that the majority of urban babies sleep in a bathroom really is a bridge too far! From my recollection, T1 slept in the bathroom so that the second bedroom could house the computers, not because the apartment was some sort of shoebox.

    On a different note, I’ve often wondered what drives people to have such open and over sharing blogs. Is it the attention? Is it show off how rich / poor / happy / sad / hard etc etc life they have? The desire for Internet notoriety or infamy? The validation for one’s life choices? And when the criticism inevitably rolls in, is it some sort of victim or martyr comples that keeps them posting? I guess I can’t help but feel that sometimes we’d all benefit from getting on with living and experiencing life rather than blogging about it or taking pictures of it and that we all need to take responsibility for the “energy” we let in to our lives.

    And one last point (not directed at Jenna in particular), how will the children of bloggers feel when they read what their parents have written on these blogs? Do the most vulnerable family members not deserve some consideration for their privacy and dignity? Do they not deserve to grow up without having their flaws and growing pains plastered all over the Internet?

    Kate S Reply:

    Time is short (art and wine event tonight, yay!) but I just wanted to quickly note that I really appreciated this comment Erin. Think you articulated this very well, and there are likely many people that share this view. It certainly resonated with me.

    Lindsay Reply:

    Great comment Erin. I’ve read since 2008 and keep reading for (mostly) the same reasons as you.

    Laura Reply:

    Yes. Yes. YES.

  8. I hate that you’re receiving such terrible personal attacks! I certainly don’t agree with every blog post that I read on the web, but I can’t imagine ever leaving such hateful responses. Anyway, I think you’re doing good work in learning to ignore them. I think it’s good for all of us readers to keep this sort of thing in mind — those of us who read blogs (but don’t actively write a blog) can’t really know about the super painful comments bloggers may be receiving (which may be affecting your tone in responses or new posts).

    Also, I always appreciate how diligent you are at working on yourself (and being so public about it) — you are a good role model!

  9. Is there no legal recourse to seek with these deranged and absurd individuals? Also, are you unable to block certain IPs from accessing your website, just to add another layer of discouragement?

    These attackers are not really critics, since they have no desire to see you improve yourself. The only things you could do to satisfy them are probably activities in which you have zero interest.

    Your actual readers are interested in your point of view, as well, even if you sometimes tick us off with tone or diction. I’ve stuck around since you were pregnant with T1, though I was aware of you while you wrote at WeddingBee (did not care for much of your topics or writing voice then). You’ve come a ways, as I hope most people do over the course of several years.

    Keep writing about the hard stuff, but I do miss your posts about lifestyle.

    Tessa Reply:

    what sort of “legal recourse”? The fake interwebz lawyers to sue over hurt feelings? Sharon, you need to educate yourself on how the legal system works.

  10. I for one appreciate this post. I think many bloggers underestimate the power of admitting they’ve made a mistake. There were many blogs I stopped reading because they refused to take any responsibility for how they were coming across and put all the blame on readers for misunderstanding them. That type of approach to readers got old really fast (at least to me) and I don’t read those blogs anymore. I’m also glad to see you get the difference between truly trollish comments and the kind that visibly appeared on your blog in the last post. A lot of bloggers don’t and seem to lump both types of comments together. I’ve seen blogs where anyone who didn’t offer effusive praise was labeled as a hater. Personally that makes me sad about what a lot of comment sections are being reduced to on blogs – which is merely a way for some bloggers to fuel their own narcissism.

    This mentor sounds like a good idea. I also thought that the person who mentioned bringing this up with your therapist had the right idea. This is the kind of thing a good therapist can help you with. Mine has been great for helping me sort through this kind of stuff as well as addressing any underlying issues that might make me more prone to needing affirmation (in an unhealthy way). I think part of being able to deal with this kind of stuff without going crazy is reaching a point where you are secure enough that outside influence (positive and negative) doesn’t hold too much weight in your self perceptions.

    Jenna Reply:

    Yes! This is exactly what Brene Brown talks about. Not basing my self-worth on the opinion of others. Or at least, not letting everyone have a hand in defining my self worth.

    Clare Reply:

    I think this is a HUGE lesson and something that can be difficult for so many of us to take to heart. Self-worth is (by definition) something that should be defined from with-in. I know (from my own experience) how difficult this can be to not let others influence that – hearing criticism from a boss or co-working or even just worrying about how others view you can impact you in so many ways. That acknowledgement of at least being aware that you shouldn’t be so concerned about this is really the first step in truly taking this to heart.

    Lisa Reply:

    I think the highest level point, about needing affirmation, and focus from others, is probably one well worth thinking about. For all bloggers it’s something we have to face up to and understand what it means or doesn’t mean to us.

  11. I am so glad you clarified. I am not a huge commenter, I am mostly a reader, but it is nice to hear that my comments do matter, that I and others like me, matter. As for those comments, well they are trash. The people who write such hateful things are trash too. Those are not comments for consideration but crap that no one should have to endure. Also, no one should interfere with your personal life in such a manner and I am sad that people wish to do so. I hope that you will learn to separate the trash from the rest of us. I think for many of your readers here, our goal is to help you, to share with you and to enjoy the joys of life with you and hopefully we can continue to do so!

  12. I’m sad that it seems like no matter what she does, some commenters are going to be unhappy with anything and everything.

    Those, too, are obviously people to ignore. I think this post is great, and I loved the original quote by Brene Brown. It’s a good idea for everyone to keep in mind. There’s a difference between constructive criticism and hurtful takedowns, and I think it’s a spectrum. Brava to Jenna for learning what to listen to and what to ignore. It’s not easy to do. I know I struggle with criticism myself, and I would not be as strong as she has been to withstand all of this.

    It’s so strange to me, though, that people seem to forget: this is Jenna’s blog. If a blogger wants to delete comments or filter comments or disallow all comments, that’s their right. Allowing us to comment is generous, but certainly not required.

    Jenna, I’m glad you’re still blogging, because I’ve loved following along with your life for so many years, and ‘m glad you’ve gotten so much out of it as well, and are still able to put a positive spin on things.

  13. I still think we’re talking about different things – or rather, the previous post and this one are talking about different things.

    Those screencaps you posted? I think everyone would agree that you should not give them even five seconds of your time. Press ‘Delete’ and move on with your day. But that’s so obvious that it shouldn’t need defending. It doesn’t need a long, carefully constructed post. Those comments are worthless and, sadly, we all get them. I completely understand that you feel hurt by them, because I’m quite thin-skinned myself, but I don’t think anybody would expect you to analyze this type of comment to see what you can learn from them. They’re trash and they deserve to be ignored.

    What I (and I think almost everyone else) was talking about in my reply to the last comment is completely different. What I took from your previous post was that you had decided you were done with comments that challenged your opinions/practices, but were otherwise respectfully worded. That’s what I take issue with. Because frankly, if what you’re saying is that I can only comment with praise or agreement and nothing else, then I don’t see a lot of reasons to stay, and I imagine most people feel the same way.

    Eva Reply:

    Sorry, I meant *in my reply to the last post, not comment.

  14. Just wanted to comment on your little sidenote at the end. General Internet rule is to read bold text as important/highlighted information and to read all caps text as the writer yelling at the reader (or is very excited). Generally, bolded text has a positive connotation while all caps has a negative one (depending on context).

  15. I don’t think anyone has a right to harrass you, speak hatefully, or just in general be a jerk, but I do think that people have the right to post opposing viewpoints (as you mentioned in your post). I know that a few months back, I attempted to post a somewhat critical (but not trolling or hateful) comment and it never made it through moderation. Honestly, I don’t even remember it being an especially critical comment (more along the lines of “that’s not what I would choose”). To be honest, that really turned me off. Obviously not enough that I’ve quit reading, but it is frustrating to be a regular reader (who has followed you for years) and be lumped in with others.

    I agree with your post above that you can’t base your self-worth on the opinions of others (certainly not on the opinions of trolls), but if you are opening yourself up in a public forum such as this, I do think you have to be willing to accept some back-and-forth. Constructive criticism is one of the best tools for growth out there (though it can be painful to receive–and i speak from experience!)

  16. I think this is a great follow up to your previous post. I understand what people are saying that “those comments shouldn’t be given a second thought” but I think that might become harder and harder to do if you are receiving them constantly (I’m making an assumption here). I also want to point out what should be very, very obvious to us all. You aren’t perfect. I am most certainly not perfect. Neither is Jenna. Do I agree with EVERY SINGLE parenting choice she makes? No, but I’m willing to bet that there are a few things that Jenna wouldn’t agree with that I do and I’m positive, given the way people criticize her, they wouldn’t agree with me either. Do I think this should stop positive, critical conversation? No. But I do think it gets harder and harder to hear the “positive” when everything you do is put down as hateful or selfish. Honestly this is the thing I hate about the motherhood community the most. I have enough of my own motherhood guilt that I create in my own mind without others putting their opinions on me. Should she go offline? Maybe. But that’s her call, not mine and I certainly wouldn’t presume to tell her what to do.

    Jenna it sounds like you are working towards the person, the wife, the mother that you want to be. Continue that work. We all should be striving daily to be better versions of ourselves. Bravo to you for doing that.

  17. One other thought, one which I admit is completely drawn from my own experience. In addition to learning to ignore the trolls, or even the blatantly hostile, learn to recognize your friends and supporters. Do you notice that you respond more to the hostile comments than the good ones? Someone pointed out to me that I did that, and I’ve changed my behavior. And you’ve found a mentor IRL, why not reach out to commenters for online mentors? Or perhaps you’ve done that – in which case, applause.

  18. I just thought I’d stop in and say that I love reading your thoughts and your point of view. I can’t imagine dealing with such negative comments.

  19. You know Jenna, I usually like to read comments because I am always curious to see how other people respond and what I’ve seen is that because of the animosity that the internet provides people are mean and negative more often than not. I have enjoyed your writing on this blog even though I haven’t always agreed with your views. I really think you have grown a lot and I hope you continue to do so.

  20. Jenna, I have never commented on your blog before, but I have read off and on for several years. After reading this post, I’ve had it on my heart to comment; if you want to delete it, fine, but I hope you at least read it before you do so :)

    I used to blog. It had a modest following, and a lovely group of people who commented. I never had anyone say anything negative or destructive about what I wrote – which was mostly funny little stories about my kids, my opinions on various things (like books I was enjoying, recipes I’d tried)…that sort of thing. Nothing different to a hundred other mommy blogs out there. But eventually, it started to become…too much. I would snap a pic thinking “Is this blog-worthy? Let’s try a nicer pose. Let’s try better light”. I would pin a craft to do with my kids and think, “That would look great on the blog!” The comments – essentially validation and praise from strangers – became addictive. I loved the rush of getting a new comment and got bummed out when nobody had anything to say. It made me feel important, and powerful, that people were talking about me, and my life. I joined Instagram, made a FB page for my blog and even had a stab at Twitter. My thoughts became consumed with monetizing, growing my audience, all that jazz – even though I wasn’t sure that was what I actually wanted. What I wanted, at the core of it, was to be heard.

    It seems to me that you continue to blog in the face of incredibly difficult odds. You have admitted you struggle with tone on your blog (and I would have to agree). You also speak, often, about your “haters”, “stalkers”, “trolls” and so on. The thing is…nobody would be hating/stalking/trolling you if YOU didn’t put it out there. Every time you sit down behind your keyboard (or phone) and put something out there, YOU are inviting the stress and negativity into your life. If you know people are going to consistently find ways to bring you down, why are you enabling them to do so? You say that you continue to blog (or stay “in the game”) because it makes you a “better person”. I would have to STRONGLY disagree. Writing about your life on the Internet does not make you a better person. Having hundreds of people patting you on the back and giving you virtual high-fives doesn’t make you a better person. And having hundreds of people picking apart your every word and tearing you down doesn’t make you a better, or stronger, person either. This was a lesson I had to learn as well. You may be seeking to evolve through your interactions with others, but evolution is an internal process. The rewards may blossom into external fruit, sure, but that should only really be a by-product of the process. There is nothing anyone on the Internet can say to you, good, bad or otherwise, that will get the same results as the little voice inside your head.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, when you are in your arena, why do you NEED an audience? Why DO you blog? Does it make you feel important? Powerful? Supported? Loved? I rather think that the last two options are redundant by now. If I had the amount of horrible things written about me on the Internet that you do, I would have crawled into a hole and never emerged! Here’s a hug…and here’s some honesty, coming from a place of genuine concern for you. I would recommend giving up the blog and other online pursuits. If you don’t put it out there, they can’t comment. Find some people in REAL life who will uplift you, laugh and cry with you and understand you. Seek a job outside the home and embrace that experience (I think you would flourish). I truly don’t think that someone who has a reputation like yours on the Internet is able to “come back” from that. Whatever you say, whatever you do, only adds more fuel to the fire. Sadly, at this stage, I don’t think your voice will ever be heard over the chorus of dissenters. Perhaps you need to accept that and gracefully move on.

    I closed my blog and social media down and it was more freeing than you could ever imagine. My arena is no longer a constant battle – internal OR external. My wish for you is that one day, yours won’t be either. :)

    Cristin Reply:

    Jenna has gained plenty from blogging. Her world view has evolved. She is healthier (and so are others thru TWLC). Its unfortunate that blogging has its negative externalities but it has also been positive.

    Beth Reply:

    I think this is a beautifully written and I pray that no one jumps all over this one decrying it as “mean spirited” or “aggressive” just because it doesn’t tell Jenna what she might not want to hear. And I also think this is great advice for anyone, including myself. Two-dimensional, internet support and communities will always lack in comparison to friendship in real life with people you can actually talk to.

    Kim Reply:


    That is sage advice and beautifully written. I think it applies to all of us on any type of social media. We have to examine if the use of our time aligns with our values and what is the purpose for all of the posting/sharing. Thank for expressing it in a positive way. I know you meant it to help Jenna but it helped me too.

  21. You say things about yourself, your life, and your attitude towards your children that leads many to believe that you are a terrible person. Why not share that feeling in your comment section if it is there. If you get so many people telling you that you are terrible then perhaps you should evaluate whether or not they may have a point. I cannot think of another blogger who is as resentful and negligent towards her children as you are. I cannot think of a single mother I know IRL, including ones who are dealing with poverty and hardship, that have ever contemplated what ifs like their children dying. You have. That’s pretty terrible.
    You are selfish, and self centered. You are lazy and greedy. The thing is that you don’t need comments…. in the end your life will be exactly what you are making it. When your hubby finally leaves your rear end, and your kids reject you you’ll end up old and alone and poor. What goes around, comes around. Have fun while it lasts b/c it won’t. :-)

    Lisa Reply:

    This is a horrible comment. You simply don’t have enough information to say something this awful.

    Alexis Reply:

    Yeah, oh my goodness. If what comes around, goes around, then the rest of your life is not going to be a lovely rainbow picnic either, Teresa. There are plenty of flawed people in the world – not all of them are providing safe homes for their children and making sure that they are healthy, warm, cared-for and have enough to eat. I have not seen any tangible evidence that either of Jenna’s children come anywhere near being “neglected”. Even if Jenna is lazy and greedy and selfish, at least she has not managed to come across as rude, arrogant, abusive and judgmental all in one two-paragraph comment.

    Tessa Reply:

    for starters it is Tessa, not Teresa. Secondly I don’t think that the presence of other people not providing a safe home for their children means that I could provide an unsafe and neglectful home for my children and be justified in doing so. The “their abuse is worse than my abuse” defense is heavily flawed. Jenna HAS come across as rude, arrogant, abusive, and judgmental! Her neglect is not as severe but to publicly talk about not wanting your children, resenting them, and even wanting them dead is disgusting beyond belief. Some day those children will grow up and read this, even the scrubbed stuff (b/c she scrubbed A LOT) because it lives on in commentary regarding this site and screen caps. Taking your children’s toys away, ignoring them for hours on end to the point of not even changing their diaper for 12 hours straight is neglect. Imagine the poor little bottom of a child who has been sitting in his own filth for 12 hours while triple diapered and tell me that isn’t neglect.

    Erin Reply:

    There is a group of you that always complain about the same 7 things (that all happened several years ago)–and usually it doesn’t bother me, and maybe it’s because I just had my second baby, but for the love of sleep, you have no idea what you are talking about with the 12 hours of diapering. Babies sleep A LOT. They need to for their health. They also need what is called “consolidated sleep.” Think about it, if you slept from 10pm-6am…8 hours, but were awoken every 90 minutes, you’d say you had a crappy night of sleep and wouldn’t feel nearly as well rested when compared to having 8 consolidated (uninterrupted) hours of sleep. Same is true of babies. The goal is for babies to sleep 12 hours at night. My kids, all of my friends kids, they sleep 7pm-7am. (Some are shifted slightly.) That is what the kids NEED. No one, in their right mind, sets an alarm for 1am and wakes up in the middle of the night to change their kids diaper. NO ONE. You spend the first months of your kids lives hoping for the day they sleep 12 hours straight. Once that day comes, you do NOT go and wake them up for a diaper change?! Marc Weissbluth, MD — pediatric sleep researcher at Northwestern University

    Read the research. Or ask any parent. But to answer your last line, No, allowing a child to sleep for 12 hours without changing their diaper is NOT neglect.

    Eva Reply:

    Erin, nothing of what you said applies. That’s not what Tessa is talking about (if I’m guessing correctly). If we’re talking about the incident I remember, Jenna clarified that it wasn’t that he was sleeping for 12 hours at a time, it was that she was waiting 12 hours for a diaper change when he was awake.

    I don’t have kids, I don’t want kids and I couldn’t care less about the frequency with which a blogger changes diapers. I might start worrying if the child’s butt catches on fire, but that’s the extent of it. But you’ve misunderstood the issue here.

    FM Reply:

    Oh man, when my baby stopped pooping all the time and I figured out I didn’t have to change her diaper every time she woke up in the middle of the night, it was a glorious day for all of us. Nighttime is for quick and quiet wake-ups, boob/bottle and back to bed. Getting back to sleep faster is a win-win for everyone! Babies have different needs at night vs. day, long before many of them are sleeping all the way through that 11-12 hour night.

    Snarksites are fun to read because people go crazy over the silliest things!

    Natalie Reply:

    I’ve been a reader of her blog for awhile … when did she ever say she wanted her children dead?!?!

    Eva Reply:

    Never. That’s bullshit. She said something along the lines of “sometimes when you nap for a long time I think maybe you died”. Maybe what threw people off was that this was followed by something about how if he died Jenna would be free to do whatever she wanted again, but it wouldn’t be worth it.

    It could have been worded better, but it definitely wasn’t “I wish my children would die already”.

    Christie Reply:

    That’s what I remember too. Seemed like stream-of-consciousness journaling, albeit poorly worded, posted on the internet, and incredibly damning without context. But it’s a big leap to say she actually wanted/wants her children dead.

    Cristin Reply:

    And you are picking on a complete stranger!! Hopefully your children, coworkers, neighbors, parents and partner (today or eventually) don’t learn that you are so unkind when you can be faceless and unaccountable for your words. That would actually be terrible.

    Tessa Reply:

    Yes, a complete stranger who publicly posts (and then often scrubs when her family realize that she went over the line) horrid things about the way she treats her children. Posts about taking away T1′s toys and how she prefers her second child over her first. How she denies T1 therapy because the highly trained and educated therapist wasn’t doing therapy right (as if a barely educated english major from a second rate school would know what proper therapy is). Jenna was more concerned about saving a 15 dollar copay so she could stuff her face at Alinea more than she cared about her child’s development and the therapy he needed. She posts horrid things online about her children who cannot defend themselves. You too Cristin are “faceless” and “unaccountable”. If I had to guess Cristin you are nothing more than Jenna posting.

    Alexis Reply:

    Ok, sorry, TESSA (I should have been wearing my glasses I suppose).

    I completely agree with your point above that we should not justify abuse because it is not as severe as other abuse… however you have to draw the line somewhere. Not everything a parent does to cut corners, get more sleep, or says without thinking about all the potential ramifications can be counted as “abuse”. In this case, almost everyone has been “abused” as a child. Hmm… I remember my mother complaining more than a few times about how having a child made it so much harder for her to stay in shape, etc. She also was completely honest in telling me she never wanted kids before my dad convinced her they should have one. Once I even asked “Do you wish you never had me, mom?”. This is not abuse. I am perfectly well adjusted, perhaps more so than some of my friends who were raised thinking they were entitled little angels sent from heaven so their mommies and daddies could dote on them.

    It seems like you are extremely concerned about Jenna’s children being neglected, though. Why not notify child services, then? Maybe because you know you’d sound ridiculous?

    “Hello, child services.”
    “I’d like to report child neglect.”
    “What’s the situation, ma’am?”
    “Jenna took her child out of therapy because she didn’t think it was working!”
    “….That’s completely the parent’s decision, ma’am, we can’t protect a child from their parent’s decisions about what is right for them.”
    “That’s not all. She also posted on the internet about what her life might be like without a child! And once she posted about how she put her child in two diapers so she wouldn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night!”
    “Ma’am, we can’t take a child away for that.”
    “OK how about this… In addition to all that, Jenna abandoned her child for a summer in order to finish her English degree. She didn’t even need her degree!”
    “She abandoned her child? Where is the child, ma’am?”
    “At its grandparents’ house! The father wouldn’t even take care of it by himself!”
    “But, but, she also made the kid sleep in a BATHROOM! A BATHROOM for god’s sake!”
    “Goodbye, ma’am.”

  22. Thank you Tessa for so elegantly proving the point of the previous post. I think it’s easy to screen out the comments like the ones screen-shot in this post, but there are many that don’t use profanity and instead rely on emotional manipulation to be hurtful. There were none left in the “Recycle Bin” to screenshot for this post, but yours comes a little closer.

    Tessa Reply:

    You are welcome. I assume you are “that husband”. Why don’t you go and get your child back into therapy instead of letting your wife deny him the proper help so that she can continue her lazy and greedy ways. Then again it isn’t like you bother to be home more than five minutes at a time. Unlike your children you can escape the nightmare that is living with this woman full time.

    Michelle Reply:

    Seriously, who are you and what gives you any right to talk to people this way? I hope your perfect mother is proud for having raised you so well!

    Tessa Reply:

    I did not say that my mother was perfect, nor am I a perfect mother… not by any means. But, my mother IS proud of me. I have a great education, fulfilling career and beautiful children who I do not neglect. I am far from perfect, but I am also not a narcissistic and neglectful individual who posts horrid things about her children online. I will never be caught calling my child names and accusing them of being a bummer or a creep online.

    Cristin Reply:

    Nope you aren’t “caught” calling your child names because you aren’t blogging. Again, you are finding a virtual stranger to accuse of abuse and at whom you can hurl insults. Its unkind and ineffective. Jenna is not neglectful. She clearly parents different than you, as I am sure a lot of people do, but that’s not an sign of negligence. Children reflect the parents they have, so you might check in to see if your kids are bullying peers and calling them names on the playground.

    Are you a parenting vigilante, running down bloggers who don’t follow your recipe for motherhood? Do you write to Octomom and David Hasselhoff to tell them that they are “selfish, self centered, lazy and greedy” or that their children will hate them? I mean, give me a break. There are FAR worse parenting examples in the public eye for you to offer advice.

    If you really wanted to help Jenna’s kids, you would find a way to reach her that wasn’t so hostile and full of personal attacks.

    Tessa Reply:

    Also what gives Jenna the “right” to take her child out of necessary early interventions, neglect her children, and call them names online? Pointing out someone’s bad acts when they have posted them online for the world to see is well within my rights. If they don’t want me posting them then fine they can delete them. I am sure Jenna will scrub this entire post and all the comments as soon as TH gets mad at her again. If anything I commented in hopes that she’d someday get an iota of a clue that her little act isn’t cute nor funny and it only fools the dumbest of individuals.

    Bree Reply:

    TESSA. Just stop. You are not contributing to any thoughtful conversation. You moved the conversation away from helpful or constructive a long time ago.

    Tessa Reply:

    Neither are you. What have you contributed that is thoughtful?!

    Glass Houses Reply:

    Tessa – pathetic. My wish for you is that all those around you judge you with the same graciousness you extend to others (and complete strangers). My how proud your children would be of their brave and perfect mother.

  23. Jenna, I think the tone of this post was spot on. The responses also go to show that good people do not like to see someone else bullied. Supportive readers will sniff out bullies.

    Another thing I wanted to say along those lines – I think Lisa mentioned this above – but maybe it would make sense to try responding to all positive comments, and not devote energy to the negative / emotionally manipulative ones.

    Young House Love does this (responding to up to 500 comments/day). I only comment once in a while, but I will admit I have been a little disappointed when I have left what I thought was a very thoughtful comment and it received no response, but later saw you spent several comment threads interacting with detractors. I feel like I’m a supporter but I’ve received far less interaction in the past than those “jeering” . It does encourage disengagement.

    Particularly, I don’t see the point in interacting with those who offer emotionally manipulative attacks thinly veiled as attempts to offer “advice” – I think ignoring the bait and supporting your actual supporters is the best thing to do.

    This was what I read as the point of “My Arena”. Why give any satisfaction to those who enjoy baiting and pushing buttons?

    Eva Reply:

    “I will admit I have been a little disappointed when I have left what I thought was a very thoughtful comment and it received no response, but later saw you spent several comment threads interacting with detractors. I feel like I’m a supporter but I’ve received far less interaction in the past than those “jeering” . It does encourage disengagement.”

    Actually, I’ve had the opposite experience. I’ve seen some people leave really long, respectful and carefully worded comments and go completely ignored because they were posing hard questions or uncomfortable facts. And you’re right, that does cause you to think “next time, I won’t bother commenting”.

    I remember having interesting conversations here years ago, about religion, politics, etc., and they usually stemmed from a “dissenting” comment. They didn’t necessarily involve Jenna, either – sometimes she didn’t reply, but conversation grew among commenters. Now there’s nothing of that to be seen – it’s mindless agreement, or the dissenter gets told by other commenters to be loving or GTFO.

    Laura Reply:

    I completely agree with Eva on this. The comments section used to be a interesting part of this blog for me, and largely the reason I read That Wife. I really liked hearing differing points of view, and thinking about things from new perspectives.

    Now when I come here, I feel…uncomfortable. Even though I know I’m not up to anything nefarious, I feel that any participation here has to be at the level of Caesar’s wife; above suspicion. It’s making me less and less keen to stay, and certainly I wonder if that’s why so much of the once intriguing discussion has been silenced – because others now feel the same way.

    I can’t imagine what it’s like to have groups of people watching everything you post and scanning for anything even remotely suggestive of imperfection to pore over and criticize elsewhere. If that was happening to me, especially if some of the participants were people I once trusted in private groups, a couple of things would happen. First, (being human), I would certainly think about whether there was even a small kernel of truth to what was being said, and if so focus on those kernels and change things accordingly.

    But – especially if I received the level of attention Jenna does – I would also unavoidably start to wonder about the motive behind every comment left here – is this person being genuine? What do they want? Are they just trying to get closer to me so I will feed them information that can be used against me? That kind of thinking could snowball and distort how I viewed anyone who tried to interact with me. And if things got to that point, I could see someone sharply replying to people who were in fact being genuine but simply disagreeing or asking questions, because the sense of persecution had become so overwhelming.

    And maybe that’s also why some people are overly protective of Jenna in the comments. I don’t think Beth was being unreasonable in what she said above, and made points worth considering and discussing, even if they were ultimately disagreed with. Isn’t that what Jenna said she wants, to see conversation and differing viewpoints? But now what we’re getting are people shutting promising conversations down by accusing others of being aggressive, trolls, bullies, etc. It’s frustrating and disheartening.

    FM Reply:

    I agree so much with this post. I think there are certain commenters who mean well but aren’t helping when they jump on reasonable comments – it totally kills any actual conversation. I would think that most of the readers here can tell the difference between Beth and Tessa, in terms of who is contributing to discussion and who is acting hateful. Personally I prefer the commenters who aren’t afraid to say something bluntly (which contrasts with “you’re a horrible person” mean), and I think we used to have some conversations like that around here. I think to get back to having good conversations in the comment section, if that’s a goal of Jenna’s, it would help if Jenna sets that tone by how she engages with commenters. The way she has been commenting in the last day or so has been the type of engagement that I think is helpful.

    FM Reply:

    I meant, I agree so much with this (Laura’s) comment.

    Steph Reply:

    I think there is a lot of insight here.. I agree with you, Eva. My comments have not always been “ra ra go Jenna”. My point to Jenna is simply it seems not worthwhile to engage defensively with the people who are obviously snarking, while not responding to those who are interested in thoughtful discussion or outright support. In my view, anyone interested in thoughtful discussion on here is a supporter of the blog.

    I also think Laura’s comment is very insightful – this can be a weird space – but I can sympathize with Jenna – there are sometimes comments on here whose tone can be a little difficult to decipher – not obviously constructive, but also not obviously “trolling” or “aggressive”. To my way of thinking, a comment written with the subtle intent to hurt feelings is not worth engaging, but it can be tough to distinguish. Sometimes constructive criticism will hurt feelings no matter how objectively worded. For me as a blogger it would be worth the time to draw those distinctions, and to respond gracefully and eloquently to those people, like Beth for example, who seem to want real debate.

    How to respond to comments is of course the personal choice of any blogger, and I get that time in the day is limited.

    I just thought of this because I just started reading Young House Love a few months ago and it occurred to me that one way they’ve majorly built their blog is by responding constructively to almost every single comment – whether dissenting or not.

    It’s one way of fostering a very positive community in the comments section…

  24. I haven’t read any of the comments on this post yet so I’m sure it’s been said — why are you even spending time thinking about comments like that in the first place??? Why are you writing entiere posts about dealing with them?? They’re not trying to interact with you at all! Delete without a second thought and move on!

  25. Blogging is sometimes such a hard place to be. I get a whole lot of weird/mean comments, but I pretty much just hit delete. If someone has something constructive (pointing out ways I can improve something in a helpful way) I will post it, reply to the commenter, and try to incorporate their advice and see if it works for me.

    I don’t really post a lot of personal stuff anymore- mostly diy/crafts/recipes. And if someone gives me a negative comment on those- it definetely bugs me, but I try to just shrug it off. People like different things, and it’s incredibly hard to remember sometimes, but they aren’t really being against me- just against my idea. That is much easier to deal with than blogging more from my heart, because that IS me, you know?

    I thought about this a bit since your first post … and I wonder if you shifted some of the blog’s focus to less personal posts to something like recipes, photo tips, or something less personal it would help. I think it would stop some of the negativity, and bring in an expanded audience and a lot more revenue.

    I am not in any way saying you should not write from your heart- I think it is unquestionably an outlet you enjoy exploring, developing your writing skills with, and sharing ideas and observations outside of the “rainbows and unicorns” facade many women spew about motherhood. It’s tough, it’s sometimes too much to handle, and I personally have benefitted from reading other mothers saying it is tough for them too- and it wasn’t some odd defect of mine. I think some time and resolution would help people realize your intentions and the way you are processing things more clearly.

    For example, I worked on a post about my son’s developmental issues and sensory processing disorder over the course of a few months. It was so raw, and hard to talk about- but I had an incredible outpouring of love from it. If I had posted during the toughest period- where he was going in and out of horrifically intense fits where he would bite himself until he bled and slam his head on the floor, doors or any other hard surfaces- it would have been a very mean sounding post, even though I had the best intentions in mind. I waited and waited (and kept blogging about ANYTHING else- it helped me feel successful in something… anything… ) and when I felt I was clearly failing miserably as a mother. It gave me time to heal and divorce myself from the situation, and helped me realize I was doing my best. I didn’t post about it until we had found some solutions and he was in a much better place- I talked about what we had to do to help him, and how powerless and weak the whole situation made me feel, and how we worked to heal him. It made it a much stronger post, and I was able to delete the very mean and hurtful comments without taking them to heart.

    Sorry- kind of a long, drawn out thought process. Your blog is YOUR place to discuss what you’d like, and I know from personal experience that my blog has helped me improve my confidence and self work after I gave up my career. I know your blog is another baby and you shouldn’t give up what you truly care about unless you want to, no matter what anyone says.

    Courtney Reply:

    Sorry, so bad at typing on my phone. That should read self-worth, not self work.

    Courtney Reply:

    Sorry again… I type faster than my brain takes to form articulate thoughts- none of that is a reflection on you necessarily- in this format, people often think they know a blogger because of a few interactions online. Showing a process through time might help readers see where you are coming form more than forming an opinion of you based on one moment in time.

  26. Are you bowing out of the comments already, Jenna, or choosing to ignore mine? I’m *trying* to meaningfully engage with you- that’s what you want, right?

    Why did you delete my constructive comment in the past? Why do you choose to let through Tessa and then screen cap the ugliest while disregarding the well-intentioned comments of actual readers? I’m at a bit of a loss.

  27. I’m really glad you posted this. I rarely comment here but have been reading you since weddingbee. Those comments that you showed examples of made me want to cry for you. No one deserves such hatred. Although I don’t always agree with you or your parenting decisions, I enjoy reading about your life and your views, and will continue to read here. Thanks for continuing to post and continuing to engage your readers.

  28. love this follow up post! i didn’t have a problem with your previous post, but i can see how some of your readers (not the obvious trolls) would take it differently than how you intended. i continue to look forward to your posts.

  29. Jenna, like others I am sorry that people talk like this to you. It is sad that they feel they are justified and they are good enough to say things like this to another human being. I have been following you for a long time, even though I rarely comment and I enjoy your journey and have learned a lot from you! Keep up the great blog!

    Emma Reply:

    I’m 100% with Jamie. The saying “if you don’t have anything nice (or constructively critical/respectfully opposing) to say, don’t say anything at all” should come into play. There is no need for all the hate and disrespect.

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