Growth and change — two hallmarks of our last couple of years here at TME — are, ultimately, a good thing. But they both come with side effects. More readers also means that many people no longer know who we are, they don’t know our stories, our thoughts. We are strangers. And our changing world is making many of us feel…well…some kind of way. And that uncertainty can come out in the comments, often as anger.
There’s also a level of vulnerability associated with writing in a public forum like The Mom Edit. The contributors, the team — we are not anonymous authors, we are all real, actual people, writing about our lived experiences under our real names, sharing our journeys, our thoughts.
In the last few months, we have fielded comments by readers who were angry that we weren’t ‘staying in our lane’ (which, apparently, is supposed to be fashion without conscience or thought), AND by readers who thought we weren’t doing enough to combat racism or climate change. We’ve had readers upset because we are showing “so many moms with tattoos”, readers who were upset because they thought we were “hiding Kat’s posts” (Kat being both black and someone who wears plus-size clothing) and other readers who accused us of “making Kat’s posts front and center”. Not only have we fielded racist comments, but we’ve also had readers erroneously claim that we only started talking about racism since last June (a fact that can easily be disputed by doing a quick search on TME for the word ‘racism’), and readers who have told us that our ‘boobs look tired,’ or pointed out that it was time for a salon visit because — gasp — I had some gray hairs showing, and readers who called my chipped toenail polish “disgusting” during the pandemic. We’ve had readers declare that whatever we are wearing looks “terrible” or “cheap” or “ugly” or “hideous” and readers who think appropriate responses to articles about our most-loved, most-worn items include “hard pass,” or “sorry but that’s unflattering” or “not buying that you think this is stylish.” We’ve had readers upset that I put flax seeds in my kids’ Rice Krispie treats, and readers who were upset because Meredith, upon learning that she typically wears a size 10/12, doesn’t look “big enough.”
Part of this, I know, comes with the territory. This is the job we’ve chosen to do, and it’s always come with a certain element of public criticism. I get that. What’s changed, however, is the frequency, the amount of anger, and the growing expectation that not only do all comments deserve a response, but they also deserve an immediate one.
Personally, I have spent every weekend over the last three months (and many weekday nights) crafting responses to all kinds of comments. Some of the issues we’re talking about are emotion-filled, complex and nuanced, and any thoughtful response requires research and discussion. And yet, while we’re taking the time to do the research, have the necessary discussions (often with the entire team), the same commenters, unhappy with the speed at which we’re moving, comment again: “YOUR SILENCE SPEAKS VOLUMES!!” Or there’s a piling-on effect, as other commenters (who all get to be anonymous if they choose), add their voices to the fray.
I am very protective of my team, and, quite frankly, very protective of my family time. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been able to stay in this business for more than 13 years. And this issue of comments, the expectations of timely responses, and the mental load of processing everyone else’s anger is very quickly becoming a mental health issue for myself and this team.
I am not willing to sacrifice anyone’s mental health (including my own), to give strangers a platform to say anything they choose.
Starting today, blog comments will no longer be published in real-time. All blog comments must first be approved by someone on the team. And the speed at which they’ll actually be read and approved (or not approved) will depend, quite frankly, on how busy we are and how much research and discussion is required.
As I mentioned above, we’re making these changes to protect our mental health, to allow us to re-focus on our content, and to give ourselves some space to breathe and think before we respond (if we choose to respond at all).
Our social media accounts (FB and IG in particular), will be handled a little differently. Comments will still be allowed on our FB and IG posts, but, as always, any comments that are mean-spirited or disrespectful will be deleted. Furthermore, we are now implementing a one-strike policy: if you leave a mean-spirited or disrespectful comment on any of our FB or IG posts, we will not only delete your comment, but we will report you to FB/IG. Repeat offenders will be blocked from our social media accounts.
To those readers who have supported us, offered us the benefit of the doubt, who have found ways to respectfully hold us accountable, or make us laugh, or offered us love, insight, or shared your own experiences and wisdom — we cannot thank you enough. We do hope that you’ll continue to reach out. We do think that this passionate community is one of the best parts of TME, and we hope, going forward, these changes will help to create a welcoming space for everyone.