**A little disclaimer…this is just me getting my vent on…I don’t normally “go there”, but I just really feel like I need to get this out. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming of inspiration, hilarity and baby pictures in the next post!
I used to have a circle of friends that consisted of mostly geeky, charming guys. There were only a couple other girls besides myself, and that’s the way we liked it. Why would we want girls around when guys were so uncomplicated? Girls have the ability to engage in a serious slap fight without having to ever actually touch their opponent. It’s the type of smack-down that is done with words, and these girls are fantastically skilled at tearing each other apart. And of course by “these” I mean “most”.
The sad part is that these Mean Girls are supposedly friends. These types of friends like to feign sweetness and concern for their “friend”, however get them into the nearest secret meeting or private email and they are anything but. Needless to say, I didn’t want any part of the Mean Girls world.
Once I got married, my young marriage needed my attention as young marriages are wont to do, and it pretty much put the kabosh on the “guyfriend” part of my life. “My” friends evolved into “our” friends while I watched the Mean Girls evolve into Mean Wives. No different than their high school alter-egos (except for the addition of wedding china), the meanness soldiered on. They’re nothing if not two-faced, because one minute you think you have a friend for life, the next you find out that same friend is making fun of you to her other Mean-ettes and doesn’t really care about you all that much after all. Without some kind of traumatizing event, most Mean Girls stay that way. Mean.
The journey of moving into motherhood didn’t change these mean stripes, and OH! now they have parenting skills to judge and analyze as well. If you’re lucky, you don’t ever hear their opinions on your disciplining strategies, how you feed your child or what clothes you put them in. If you’re unlucky, you find out the nitty gritty through the grapevine (or an unfortunate forward), and the truth is laid bare. Bottom line…it’s a lot easier to find frenemies than friends these days.
Jumping into blog-land I knew I’d have to have a thick skin. I even avoided the “community” and left comments off when I first started my blog 4 years ago. Because you know what? The Mean Girls have now evolved into “writers” with an audience. Even if they don’t publicly write about you or your shlumpadinka self, they’re now emailing back and forth with at least 10 other Meanies they met through their blog.
And guess what? The nice people are the first to get thrown under the bus. Every word we as bloggers put out there, that springs forth from our hearts for a variety of reasons (creative expression, journal, portfolio, business) is now somehow the topic of snarky discussions and “can you believe what she WROTE today???” type discussions. It’s all just SO uplifting.
To be clear, I’m not talking about non-friends or trolls–those people almost have a right to be less than nice. They’re just having fun or have found themselves completely bored and want to go make fun of some people. They won’t remember the snark recipients, and they really don’t care about what they’re saying. For them, it’s sport. And besides, who cares what they think anyway?
What I’m talking about are FRIENDS who engage this behavior. Women who you’ve told your secrets to, who you’ve given your heart to, who you’ve let your guard down with and allowed them to see your freak flag. They will act completely simpatico one second, loving you to pieces, thinking you are hilariously witty–and the next second they’ll shoot off an email telling a fellow Mean Girl how incredibly selfish/annoying/shallow you are. Or maybe they’ll talk about how THEY would never do what YOU are doing. How precious of them! Comparing their life to your life and presuming they know what your shoes feel like to walk in. OH TO HAVE THAT MUCH FREE TIME.
The problem is, one little comment about how “so and so is soooo annoying, don’t you think??” might not seem like a big deal. However, these kinds of conversations, added up over time, chip away at reputations, opinions, and impressions of people. Pretty soon there is a bad impression formed and no one really knows how it happened or where it came from. It seemed to come out of nowhere. This stuff is DIVISIVE and I’m just really freaking tired of it.
I suppose I’m still working on that thick skin, because even witnessing a “virtual” cat fight depresses me, never mind being a part of one. I’m sure one day I’ll find myself in the cross-hairs of the Mean Girls, because who hasn’t? I try to remember that the source of their meanness is likely some profoundly low self esteem, combined with some serious parental baggage, but that doesn’t seem to protect my heart from feeling the nasty vibes.
I hope that we can pause, if even for a moment, and evaluate if what we’re talking about among friends is helping someone or working out a problem, or if it’s just plain gossip for miserable’s sake. Maybe then we can turn the frenemy trend back into a sisterhood trend, and be proud of what we are teaching our daughters and nieces.