Since you’ve chosen to read an article titled “14 Questions Every Mom Should Ask Herself Before Commenting On That Parenting Article,” let me first compliment you on your willingness to even consider perusing such a list. There’s already lots of articles out there telling moms what to do, but on- and offline, so you are a brave soul for approaching, reading and willingly digesting another. Speaking of which, I hope you’re only reading this while your kids aren’t in the room because what kind of mom reads the internet in the presence of her kids?
Kidding! I’m kidding. That was just a joke to break the internet ice since I know comment sections can be a sensitive subject. To be clear, I’m not prescribing any specific set of actions in response to the following questions, or trying to say that a yes means to proceed with your comment, or a no automatically doesn’t. I’m also not trying to say that every mom should consider all questions in all circumstances, because, hello, we’ve all seen those articles with misleading titles that are simply designed to stir up responses. Or, those articles that blatantly express an offensive view in a not-so-productive way, in which case you don’t owe the offending party the emotional energy behind some of these courtesies.
Still, under normal circumstances and in the messy world of motherhood and the internet, in my experience it almost never hurts to pause and consider a few key things before you take the time to comment (and essentially engage) in what is sure to be a passionate conversation.
"Have I Read The Actual Article?"
A headline can be a saucy minx. Sometimes it’s coy and designed to tease, sometimes it’s straightforward and clear. Either way, it’s usually safe to assume that there’s some information in the piece that’s not in the headline, and you might look just a little bit silly if you comment without considering all the facts.
"No, Seriously. Have I Read The Actual Article In It’s Entirety?"
I’m betting that everyone has seen pieces with a crazy twist ending, or that hold off until the end to express balanced views, or that include super-important details in the final paragraph. I would hate to see some of you miss those mic drops and feel lame after commenting.
"Am I Adding To The Conversation, Or Simply Humble Bragging?"
I know, I know. What are comment sections for if not for the subtle art of humble bragging? Seriously though, let’s say you’re reading an article about breastfeeding challenges, and many of the comments support the idea that, yes, numerous women have challenges with breastfeeding. To swoop in to say, “I don’t know why this article is here, some of us don’t have any trouble breastfeeding ever,” could hurt a lot of your fellow commenters and invalidate their experience.
"Am I Adding To The Conversation, Or Am I Hijacking It To Bring Up My Own Topic?"
I agree, sometimes it’s funny when random, off-topic things are blurted out. I love walking into a room and shouting about cows or spaghetti or other ridiculous stuff just as much as the next person. But please trust me that this usually works best when toddlers or other young children are the culprits, and not adults interrupting an otherwise civil discussion online.
"Does My Comment Shame Other Parenting Choices?"
Serious question: as long as the choices in question aren’t endangering a child, should we really be judging? Yeah, of course, we all have our own opinions about what’s best for our kids, but given the fact that we’ve never walked in the shoes of other parents, how can we really understand everything that goes into their choices?
"Does My Comment Imply (Or Simply Say) That The Author, Or Other Commenters, Don’t Love Their Kid(s) As Much As I Love My Kids?"
Anything that begins with, “I could never do that…” and ends with “...because I love my child,” deserves a second, careful read-through. Also, know that every time you say this, a baby otter dies.
"Have I At Least Made A Minimal Effort To Use Proper Spelling And Grammar So My Fellow Internet Denizens Can Understand The Point I’m Trying To Make?"
Spelling and grammar not your thing? Honestly, fair enough. However, if you post something without reading through it and fixing the typos, be forewarned that other readers might be distracted and, as a result, miss the points you’re attempting to make. Also, do you really want to give them the satisfaction of catching your mistakes? Nope.
"Have I Had My Coffee This Morning?"
This one has saved me so many times. It’s the least I could do to offer it up to everyone else.
"Have I At Least Skimmed Other Comments To See If My Points Have Already Been Brought Up, And To Get A Feel For Where The Conversation Currently Is Headed?"
Of course, you may want to chime in to merely add your support, which is totally cool and probably very appreciated. However, I promise you’ll look even more informed if you merely mention that something’s already been said, and you’re intentionally signal boosting.
"Does My Comment Otherwise Overstep Any Established Norms For Conversations And Debates Around This Specific Topic?"
Again, there are circumstances when you don’t owe it to the other party to stick to norms, and I get that. And, of course, norms are going to vary based on the setting and the topic. However, if everyone else is civilly talking about the benefits of disposable vs cloth diapers, and you start dropping fiery f-bombs everywhere, you may raise some virtual eyebrows. (Everyone knows that f-bombs only belong in conversations about pacifiers anyway.)
"If I’m Disagreeing With The Author, Or With Other Commenters, Am I Still Treating Them Like Humans?"
Please remember that the person you're talking to, while behind a computer (or on their phone) is still a human being. They're not unfeeling robots devoid of emotion. I promise.
"Am I Coming In Hot? And If So, Am I Prepared For The Consequences And Debate That Will Ensue?"
As previously mentioned, sometimes discussions get heated and the passion you’re bringing to the conversation is valid and important. However, there are questionable times when you might want to gird your loins or crack your knuckles or do whatever you need to do to prepare yourself for the onslaught of responses you may or may not (but probably will) receive.
"What If Someone Saves This Conversation And It Follows Me Everywhere I Go For The Rest Of My Life?"
Likely? No. Possible? Yes. Yes, it is. You’ve been warned, Trisha.
"Is This Something Regina George Or Lord Voldemort Would Say?"
And of course, I mean mid-movie Regina George, not Lacrosse Regina George. The exception is if you’re intentionally quoting her. If that’s the case, then by all means, please proceed.
When you’re done commenting, get in loser, we’re going shopping.