Recently, I moved to a new city. Shortly after, I birthed my first child. Motherhood can be extremely lonely and isolating. Your life becomes centered around caring for a small human being, and much less about caring for yourself. I am sure this on its own is extremely daunting, but with the added pressure of living in an unfamiliar city with no friends in sight, it can at times feel almost unbearable. I started looking around for any support I could grasp at. With the assistance of a friend’s aunt, she was able to locate a mother’s support group on Facebook that was in my local area. I was ecstatic that I might finally find some relief, and possibly even make some friends.
I guess I was naïve in my thinking, that I should expect to find a group of females, supportive of each other both as women and as mothers. I quickly learned that this group was not about supporting each other and lifting each other up. I realize that I may just sound like an angry person who is only angry because I got burned, and I just want to make my voice in the situation be heard. In a way, yes, but in many ways, no. I do want to share my side of the story, because I feel it shows the absolute inauthentic attitude of the women in the community of which I live. And I also feel it shows the complete coldness that social media fosters.
A few months ago, I joined a closed group on Facebook called the Danville, Alamo, San Ramon Moms Group. The premise of the group seemed quite simple: a safe space for moms to share recommendations, resources, advice, community things, etc. The primary rules of the group were: 1) No selling/advertising of business, fundraisers, and the like (not even school fundraisers); and 2) No “classified-style” ads to give or receive services — only generic/non-detailed posts to request recommendations were permitted. There were a number of other rules, but those were the primary rules and the rules that were most often broken.
Some time after gaining entry, I unwittingly broke the second rule. I made a semi-detailed post about my need for a mother’s helper or babysitter in the local area. I briefly described my situation and what I was looking for. My post was almost immediately removed and the admin referred me to the “rules of the page.” Even after reading the rules, I was still a little unclear on my wrongdoing. So I messaged the admin privately to have a more productive conversation, to see what I could have done to have improved my post, and made it compliant to the very unclear and wordy set of rules.
My conversation with the admin was quite pleasant. I made sure to articulate right away that I was not trying to argue or challenge the rules, but was merely asking how I could make my future post(s) acceptable and compliant by the page standards. She informed me that I offered too many personal details in my post, and I needed to make a more generic and less detailed request for my information. Before re-posting, I ran the verbiage by the admin to verify it was okay, and to ensure I was clear on the rules.
That was then. Now, here I sit, a couple of months after this initial incident, stewing over the events of the day. My initial post, which was deemed acceptable, never turned up any productive leads for me. As the stress and pressure have continued to pile on into a compacted ball of tension for me in the days since, I have been reminded of my need for help. I decided I would try to use the community page to reach out again and see if any new leads turned up. I wrote out a simple post stating, “Still in search of any leads or recommendations for a mother’s helper. Thx!”
Later, a few people commented, and I finally had a moment to check up on what was said. I clicked on one of my notifications. Instead of leading me to my post, it lead me to the main discussion page. I scrolled down to find my post had been deleted. I left a comment on the rules section of the page, asking why my post had been removed or what rule I had violated, as my post met the criteria from my initial discussion with the admin. Minutes later, I found that I had been banned from the group entirely. I sat there, staring at my laptop screen in disbelief, feeling disoriented and angry. My only connection to the community, gone, with zero warning or explanation.
Hours later, I am still feeling a bit disoriented as to the what or why of what happened. I attempted to message the admin to see if I could have a conversation about it. She read the message, but I was met with no response. I find it incredibly disheartening that people actually treat people this way. With the click of a button, you can simply discard someone from your bubble, whether warranted or not. I feel actions such as this speaks volumes about the callousness of our society today. It speaks volumes about the overall disconnection between people, and their lack of humanity or common courtesy. This is the type of “human connection” that social media has stimulated.
In the current state of things, the last thing I personally needed was an act of uncalled for coldness and rejection. The Danville, Alamo, San Ramon Moms Group boasted almost 2000 members, and was an extremely vital and precious resource to me. One person’s decision sliced off my connection to nearly 2000 mothers in the area. My first question is: Why even run/lead/admin a group like that if you have such little regard for people? Why place yourself in such a position of power over people who truly need that support, if you are too incapable or incompetent to do so?
My second question is: What happened to women supporting women? As women AND mothers, we should be supportive of each other and lift each other up. We should not spread toxicity around like butter. We should not judge and shame each other. We need all of the authentic support we can get during this complicated and challenging period in our lives. So why is that so hard to find? Further, if we cannot expect to find that kind of support from our group leaders of women’s groups, then who can we expect to receive that support from?