In the early days of Kate’s diagnosis, I found solace in internet friendships with other parents in the same situation. Having no real-life friends with a child on the spectrum, I felt very alone. Reaching out, electronically, to strangers was my best bet, and for a long time, it worked for me. I’ve made internet friends that I still keep in contact with today, (though, if I am being honest, I would probably only ever want to meet one or two). Those would be the two that would have trepidation about meeting me, because I find that ‘fear of strangers on the internet’ thing, is a great trait to have.
My point is that I have taken a giant step back from ‘online friends’, because I felt overwhelmed at the level of commitment some of these friends expected. I didn’t really know these people, though I felt a solidarity in many ways. In some ways, I was sure they were all lovely, and kind and in no way, secret serial killers, but in other ways, I was always questioning why, my inbox was full of messages that demanded immediate attention, and my notifications were full of comments needing to be acknowledged. The pressure was mounting and that wasn’t the worst of it.
Online communities have a level of drama that can rival any middle school clique. They thrive in the comment sections of articles and blogs, where people feel the sharp pains of a passive aggressive comments or worse, aggressive-aggresive comments . It’s childish and boring and the worst part of online relationships.
When I first noticed that people would actually expend energy arguing with someone they knew only as a profile picture of a sleeping dog, I was ready to move on. I slowly stopped commenting, and replying to emails. I had my husband teach me how to turn all my notifications off, and I felt zero guilt about it.
I still browse all those pages, to keep up to date on the kiddos, but I don’t have the bandwidth for anything more.
I didn’t leave anyone specific. I left it all, and I’m much happier for it.
Happy Mail to:
27 Wellington Row
Saint John, NB
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Grace and Kate's mom. (Shanell)