Those of you who follow me on Twitter, and happened to be around last night, may have seen two things. Number one, I was having a totally f**ked up absolute bi-atch of a day. Number two, someone decided to take offense to take something I said. And I, of course, took offense back.
And the thing that smarted the most, about this whole encounter? This chick was right. There is nothing more infuriating than having someone call you on something, make you feel like a d**k, and then have them be correct about it.
Anyway. Let’s rewind, and I’ll fill you in.
I’ve spoken about my experiences breastfeeding my children before. I wouldn’t call myself a lactivist- what happened last night showed me I certainly can’t wear that badge. But I think I’d call myself a Huge Breastfeeding Advocate With Unlimited Empathy. I spoken before about how, from my humble POV, this is a societal problem, with so many different causes and roots and we have a freaking long way to go before breastfeeding is the norm again. Before no one thinks twice about it.
Before we don’t even have to have those conversations on Twitter, or write blog posts about it. Because there is no issue there to talk about.
Sorry, I’m waffling again.
Point is, in my Twitter stream last night, a few people were discussing a show on Foxtel (cable, for the Americans- which I do not have because I am a loser) called Extreme Breastfeeding. Oh, my. Shock horror. Women breastfeeding four-year-olds. You can imagine the discussion, I’m sure.
So I Tweeted this.
Cause… that’s how I roll. I don’t pick at people personally, it’s none of my bloody beeswax. But I did think it was important to put an open discussion out there. I wanted to see, in my Twitter stream, at least, as many people talking positively about breastfeeding as there were talking negatively.
And for a few short minutes, it worked. Conversation was respectful, views were aired, there was no narkiness. We’re all adults here.
Or at least we are, in my little chunk of the Twitterverse.
But it seems, for all the good I did, I used the wrong bleeping word to do it.
Some of you may have read this article. My homegirl Holly has blogged it before, and I came across it on a parenting forum quite a while back, and it was Tweeted to me again last night. It’s brilliant. It’s truth. It is a bit more hardcore that what I will ever be. But, really, it’s a must read for any new mum. Any experienced mum. Any mum.
And here in lies my conundrum. Did I do more harm than good, Tweeting what I did? Would it have been better to Tweet nothing, than to errantly use the phrase “extended breastfeeding” to imply feeding a child older than, say, twelve months?
The funny thing about all this is, the Tweep that called me up on this is not a Follower of mine. She never has been, I don’t think. For those of you who are not on Twitter (Hello? The dark side is waiting…), that basically means that, to see my Tweet, she would have done a general search for the word ‘breastfeeding’. And then picked my Tweet out of that stream to respond to.
Which is curious. Because if she saw my Tweet in that stream, she no doubt would have seen a dozen or so bagging a show called ‘Extreme Breastfeeding’. Why didn’t she respond to them?
Because it would have been too difficult to take that on, in 140 characters or less?
That’s the problem with Twitter. It’s the beauty of it too. The brevity. The relative anonymity. It’s a regular occurrence, almost offending someone on Twitter. I think I did that with the lovely Carly last night, during the fall out. And we all remember what happened with our good mate Joe.
The key to Twitter is the same as any social media- never take things too seriously. Sometimes, when you have to be so succinct, you can use the wrong word, in the wrong context.
For the right purpose.
Is that any excuse to be rude?
We, as bloggers and Tweeps, speak to our audience, yes? We use the colloquial language of a technological generation. Do we sometimes use phrases that appeal to the lowest common denominator? Of course we do.
The intended audience for that particular Tweet was the people in my stream who were obviously not so accepting of the very natural act that is lactation. I used a phrase, a language, that would resonate with the current conversation.
I wasn’t Tweeting to the choir. I was talking to the uninitiated. Surely, I can be forgiven for using slightly imperfect language, if the intention is respectable? If my intention was to be an advocate, to illicit an open flow of conversation? Is it the intention, or the effect that speaks louder here? Was the effect of my Tweet more positive than any potential negatives that come from that phrase…?
So..that’s it. Thanks for listening. I’m not even sure why I’m writing this all down, except for the fact that what I do here is to document things that happen. To speak. And I feel better now. Kind of.
I am slightly in shock over the fact that the first time someone told me to ‘watch my language’, it was over the phrase ‘extended breastfeeding’ and not the word ‘c*nt‘. And I am slightly terrified of the response I’ll get when I tag this post ‘boobies‘.