I’m trying to work out whether I’m a fan of discussion or not. I like a good old chinwag, and brainstorm. But discussion? There is a strong tendency in me to want ‘efficiency’; So a part of me kicks in with ‘seriously, isn’t it obvious?’, but clearly it really often isn’t!
A ‘healthy’ discussion to me is where both sides learn things; either to understand other perspectives, or to shift theirs a little. It’s where all parties are confident enough in themselves to be open to new ideas, and to not need to convince other people of their ‘right-itude’ (you know what I mean – the fact that they are more right than anyone else in the conversation).
To me an ‘unhealthy’ discussion is where no one hears each other, everyone is stuck in their ‘right-itude’ so it starts to descend quickly into a personal attack.
But I’m seeing as I write this that if there’s to be discussion, there is bound to be a bit of both ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ in it. I wonder whether my concern over this has sometimes limited my blog, because I’ll often cover all aspects, rather than leave it to be discussed in the comments?
There have been a lot of incidents over the past few months that have got me thinking, in particular about discussion amongst Mums:
There was a big spat when someone called ‘Real Mum’ (great right-itude name) had a go at one of the newer bloggers, Mammasaurus. It was just plain old nasty ‘Mums judging Mums’ stuff, quickly descended into bullied victim + persecutor scenario. But if we all learnt to control our outbursts, would the mummy blogging community literally get bored?
There’s bitching behind the scenes in the mummy blogging community about ‘blagger’s as well. A number of people commented on a post I wrote called ‘I’m a blagger blogger, fancy joining me‘, without actually reading it, just desperate to not be associated with the term; so not much discussion there.
It’s not just Mummy Bloggers, celeb Mums love to have a good go to; Sally Bercow insulted Kirstie Allsopp in the Daily Mail: which to me felt like a complete waste of time. Plus publicly slagging off another mother, in a society where Mums aren’t regarded with deep respect anyway, is surely going to just make matters worse?
Twitter is full of spats between celeb mums taking umbrage at someone else using a different parenting technique. Half of them ended up in the big brother house together, where they realised surprise surprise ‘she’s actually quite nice’! Perhaps the short written word like Twitter, Facebook or blogs isn’t ideal for discussion?
There’s been some neighbourhood incidents where Mums bitterly fell out mainly due to a lack of empathy for different scenarios, ages, relationship lengths, no’s of children and financial situations. There was absolutely no discussion which is probably why it went all tits up. Perhaps ‘pastures new’ will be good for the Mums though?
Whereas there was another little spat in the blogging community back on Mammasaurus’s blog (she must be the lucky one heh!), which seemed to be respectfully resolved in the whole discussion/commenting process between the parties, with the slagging off commenting well controlled. Perhaps that was a good example of where it’s wise to get things out in the open and discuss them, otherwise it could have become really gruesome in a few months time?
I experienced being involved in a blogging community discussion after launching my ‘Mums Standing Up Together‘ campaign. I’d approached all the mummy blogging communities, but was more obviously supported by Britmums in their blogging prompts. Blimey do these women know how to press buttons and get the discussion going. Initially I was disconcerted (not upset) by the feeling that there were people writing about what I’d said and misunderstanding it. After lots of tea I decided it had been useful to ensure that I was really clear about what I meant.
At home there are plenty of ‘discussions’ between me and the hubby. Over 22yrs I’ve tried all sorts of things, like raising issues every couple of months (a bit like the big blow ups in the blogging community), or just compromising and keeping my opinions to myself which isn’t so good for my own identity. A constant regular stream of little discussions before they blow up seems like the best compromise for us. It’s unrealistic to not expect misunderstandings between the southern cheeriness of me and the hairy northernness of him.
Finally I saw a conversation on twitter where a mum took umbrage at Kelly Rose Bradford’s article in the Daily Mail and was pulled up for publicly criticising her (the joy of twitter!). Kelly didn’t reply to all the nasty comments on the Daily Mail and said that ‘I wrote it purely to spark a debate‘, plus that all her family and friends understood her job. This was a HUGE eye opener to me, because she saw the debate as the objective, whereas I see the resulting consensus or agreement to differ as the objective. This is potentially where I’ve often been going ‘wrong’. She didn’t feel the worry that I had about being misunderstood. What a huge revelation!
I blogged recently about setting Life Priorities for the chinese new year, maybe I need clear ‘people priorities’, so that I can be clear on who it matters understand me?
Oh and it definitely convinced me that photo’s are massively important, because that is one bad photo of you Kelly! Anyone fancy doing a photo shoot for me in return for a blog post, because mine looks a bit too ‘nice’ (back to the blagging!).