I Am Not Disappearing

I did something really naughty the other night.

I told someone to bugger off. Actually it was worse than that, but my mother reads this blog which she then prints out for my Father so we’ll just pretend I said bugger.

It wasn’t my intention to be so vocal, but listening to a man who began so many of his sentences with “the problem with women” or “you women” had taken its toll.

It was a conversation about social media, it was about websites and commenting, about how a local women’s forum had become a nasty space. “It’s women – women just get like that when they’re online, they’re the worst ones for bullying”

And that’s when I told him to swiftly go and make love to himself.

There’s no doubt in some cases, commenting online has become a blood sport – but please don’t try and tell me its gender specific. We all know why and how it happens, we all mourn the loss of the intelligent commenter who’s had three days to prepare his/her response. Gone are the days of searching the house to find a decent piece of paper and pen allowing you time to ponder your eloquent and well thought out response. Anger that was once soothed by the time it took to riffle through the kitchen cupboards looking for a spare stamp and making the walk to the mailbox, has now been replaced by an instant, enraged “you suck”. 

We all get it. We know it, and surely we know both men and women are guilty of it. When it comes to social media behaviour are men and women all that different? 

I began reading Katie Roiphe’s article in the FT  “disappearing mothers” and was surprised to read her theory. Mothers who have their children’s pictures as their Facebook profiles are “disappearing mothers”. Really? That’s why we’re disappearing? Not because we continue to be paid less? Not because we’re trying to keep up with work force trends while taking time to slip out of the office and give birth before anyone’s noticed we’ve gone? Not because the media continue to pitch advertising to women who stay at home as brainless, cleaning obsessed, halfwits? Not because women who have chosen to stay home with children, are still wondering how exactly to answer that “so what do you do?” question after being ignored at dinner parties?

I had to go and check for myself.

Out of 384 friends, four have solely children as their profile shots. Two women, two men. Do I warn the men that they too are disappearing? And what about my friend Dave, he has a stuffed kangaroo staring forlornly out of the window. What does that say about him? And my friends who have pictures of other peoples children? Is that okay?

“the whole idea behind Facebook is to create a social persona, an image of who you are projected into hundreds of bedrooms and cafés and offices across the country.”

Is it really Katie? I thought Facebook was about staying connected and sharing news, ideas and information? 

If life is a series of stories, my current chapter is overloaded with paragraphs on motherhood – and although the motherhood component will never stop, my life with toddlers, tweens and teens will. At this point in my story I am knee deep in soccer schedules, trombones, piano lessons and shit I forgot to sign the consent form. I text guitar teachers, sit on small chairs in classrooms listening to presentations on math homework, and negotiate whether we will do swimming lessons or tennis. I also read books, write articles, have breakfast with girlfriends, watch marathons of Downton Abbey and think about going to the gym.

This chapter is moving much faster than I’d hoped, the next page appears to turn before I’ve really had a chance to savour the last sentence of the previous one. I gave birth to my twelve year only two weeks ago – seriously, its gone that quickly. I cling to each paragraph, knowing that this story will finish and I will begin a new one.

This is a chapter I should be proud of, one I should be able to share with my friends without judgement. I am a feminist, a mother, a writer, and I have dreams for both myself, and my children. 

I am not disappearing.

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