I’ll admit that I am a message board junkie. I have managed to limit myself to just 3 message boards that I frequent on a regular basis, but every now and then I find myself reading others too. It all started when I found the Runner’s World forums back in 1998 or 1999, I quickly became addicted. I was a very regular contributor to the Women’s forum back in the day, even managed to meet some of the women I “talked” to in person on a couple of occasions. On my quest to have a baby I had a miscarriage which led me to Fertility Friend (FF). I learned more than you ever wanted to know about BBT, how to chart it, and what fertility signs I should be on the lookout for. Thankfully The Boy was conceived fairly quickly, because all of that charting surely would have driven me mad if it had dragged on for months.
I discovered a new set of message boards on FF, and formed attachments to the women in my Due Date buddy group (a group of women all expecting babies in the same month I was). We talked each other down from various forms of pregnancy paranoia, and obsessed over the number of weeks along we were, all counting down to meeting our new babies. The babies arrived one by one, and those of us with due dates later in the month kept checking in obsessively hoping that reading about someone else’s impending labor would send our bodies into labor as well (that tactic never really worked). Eventually we all had our babies (more proof that despite how you feel when you are 37-42 weeks pregnant that nobody is pregnant forever, even though it REALLY feels that way sometimes), and some of us stayed in touch. Some of the women in that original buddy group drifted off, and sometimes I wonder what happened to them. Of course I realize that we had a strong bond while we were all pregnant together, afterwards, just having kids the same age isn’t enough to keep people together…especially in an online forum. I still wonder what happened to the home birthing mama, who went well overdue with her 3rd baby. I suspect she was just too busy chasing after 3 little kids to be online much anymore!
Anyway, I’m no longer frequenting FF, but it did lead me to the 3 boards I do read today in one way or another. The boards that are more public spurred me to write this post today (as I felt like somewhat of a back story was required before jumping into it). Do you ever read posts from a person (or blog entries for that matter), and use them to diagnose the posters with a variety of problems? Some people are always complaining about their spouse, others always complain about their in-laws, but the complaints tend to led me to want to suggest the person go to therapy to solve her own issues. She can have a perfectly legitimate complaint, her husband might be an ass, or her in-laws might be miserable, but I keep thinking maybe if you were able to focus on yourself the issues wouldn’t bother you so much, or maybe you would be able to stand up for yourself so these things don’t happen to you anymore. I mean we only have the power to change ourselves, and how we view events in our lives, we cannot change anyone else, no matter how much we want to. Yes, we can influence others, but from my very limited experience I’ve found that I see much greater results when I work on myself first.
I don’t think it is inexcusable to complain about things, I think it is a natural and beneficial thing to do. I only find it exhausting when the same people are always complaining about what I view to be similar things. It becomes clear to me (as I read about one tiny aspect of that person’s life) that if she only changed her perspective she wouldn’t be irate the majority of the time. Of course I don’t even respond to such posts, because I don’t feel like the advice I would give would be appreciated. I mean who wants to write a long vent about how her husband doesn’t appreciate her and get a response other than “yeah your husband is an ass?” I realize these types of posts are a way to feel validated, and a way to vent without risking a divorce. Heck, I’ve posted similar things myself. I’m still not sure why I feel compelled to put on the therapist hat when I read such things, just wondering if I am the only one who does it I guess. I think this tendency is forcing me to participate in public online forums less and less, my therapist hat is telling me to “live your own life.” It is likely good advice, but I still want to talk to my buddy group friends…just need to find a good balance.