Trying to establish yourself on social media is hard enough. But trying to do it while battling negative comments flying your way– brutal.
I follow a number of writers, creatives, and mothers on Instagram. Most of these individuals I admire or love to learn from. Others I seek out for inspiration, a little daily motivation to spark new movement in my professional or spiritual life. The rest are simply entertaining…who doesn’t need a good laugh now and then?
But every once in a while, someone comes across my feed that makes me think: Why am I following this person? This isn’t my scene. I guess I never thought people might be doing the exact same thing to me, nor did I think that I would be so affected by someone who indirectly (but passionately) disliked accounts like my own.
Are they talking about me?!
A few days ago, one of the influencers I follow was making it clear she didn’t support accounts that only spat a negative image of motherhood. She didn’t enjoy reading about depressing posts or seeing reel after reel complaining about kids, putting the mothering experience down as a whole. It appeared she was looking for real mothers, mothers who loved being mothers and (while poking fun at it sometimes) were genuinely happy about being a mother. Her goal was to encourage others to unfollow negative accounts to reduce the spread.
My first thought: Oh no…is she talking about me?
I immediately scanned my account and content to see if I fit the bit of this oh-so undesired mother on Instagram. Was I saying enough about how much I loved my kids? Were my posts too negative, too dark? Did people believe that I loved being a mom, even though my poems are about struggles? Did I live up to the image I was trying to portray? Wait…do I even know what image I’m trying to portray?
When I first started my author Instagram account, I posted under four different names until I found the one that fit. I’ve taken a few social media breaks to regroup, refresh, rethink. There’s been ample mulling over what writing genre I wanted to leap into first, what I wanted my accounts to feel like, how much information I wanted to share. And up until this mini panic session, I thought I had it all figured out.
At first, I was convinced this was a wake-up call. That despite what I thought, I still wasn’t secure enough in my own image– but, no, that wasn’t quite it. The truth was, I have been working A LOT on my inner self recently. Defining goals, manifesting dreams, figuring out what my life was meant to look like. I’m more confident and proud now of the person I’m becoming than ever before. So why was this mom on Insta getting to me?
In reality, I’m still new to the social media game. I hadn’t prepared myself for what negative responses may come about, no matter how proud of my image I was. I was still locked in the idea that if I was representing myself ‘correctly,’ there would be no haters. Sorry ladies…that just isn’t possible.
Negative comments are a part of social media…period.
Was this mom really talking about me? Probably not, but it brought about an important lesson I needed to learn. There will always be people on the other side of your table who just don’t want to like you. They never will, they never plan to, and the reason why is of no consequence.
When you’re a writer who publicly shares your work, negative comments are inevitable. The more that people like your work, the more trolls that will come out from under the bridge. They can smell your success from miles away. They may not want what you’re building, but they just don’t want you to have it either.
Sticking to your goals, your tribe, and your supporters are priceless steps you can take to reduce the stress of online bullying and shame. It is how you stay true to yourself and your values. After reading what this individual had to say about mothers who show the darker side of motherhood, I second-guessed myself. My work, my craft, my entire poetry collection. I started doubting my own message and the words that were naturally spilling from my mind. Maybe there wasn’t a market for my words after all, and I was the only one who connected to them because there was something wrong with me.
ENTER WRITING TRIBE SUPPORT!
Situations involving online trolls, smear campaigns, or just your occasional negative commenter are exactly why your writing tribe is so important. After tapping into my writing support group, it was an instant relief to talk to other mom writers who were going through the same challenges. These are mom writers I feel comfortable enough with to share anything: truths, successes, failures. We all see the value in reading the words of other struggling mothers, however unhappy they may be.
One of my favorites, Jill Robinson, recently shared how she manages the negative feedback online. When talking about a repeat hate commenter, who always has something negative to say about her articles, her response was this: “Jokes on her, I get paid per view. Keep reading grumpy pants.”
I understand that my writing and content are not for all mothers. Some mothers really need an abundance of positivity in their lives to be the best they can be. Negativity may feel infectious, and reading too many stories about the hardships of motherhood, without the happy ending, can feel defeating– that’s not me.
I love to hear the dark and gritty, traumatic and dramatic, raw and unfiltered, trial and tribulations of other women. These accounts ensure me that I’m not alone in this crazy modern world of motherhood. We are in a time unlike any other, where the opportunities for mothers are endless but the expectations are crippling. It is only because of these dark and powerful stories that I have come far enough in my writing career to reach the amazing minds of all of you.
Stay true to your image.
I don’t believe in coincidences. I’m someone who believes that everything happens for a reason. The same day I was convinced I was not a real mom online was also the same day I caught a live broadcast about dealing with negative comments online on TikTok (as soon as I find the account again I will link!) This user’s message was clear and simple: stay true to your image, because your supporters are more important than your haters.
Talking about the darker moments of motherhood does not mean you don’t love your children. It doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy motherhood. Certainly, it doesn’t make you a fake mom…which would be the opposite of not being a real mom I suppose? It all sounds so silly. Some writing moms you will jive with and others you don’t. The ones who get you are your tribe, your audience, your inspiration. The ones you don’t are just other moms in the world in other tribes you can still respect but not feel drawn to.
Suffice to say, I unfollowed the aforementioned Insta account that sparked this whole revelation. I’m just not that mom’s cup of tea, and that’s okay–I’m a coffee addict anyway.
About the Writer: Shell Sherwood is a poet, fiction writer, freelancer, and creator of silly children’s stories, who could live on coffee, pastries, and romantic tragedies. She lives in Hudson Valley, NY with her fiancé and three boys, and aspires to own a small writing getaway in every climate. Learn more about Shell and follow her writing journey via her author blog, Instagram, and TikTok.