I’m a very non-confrontational person. That being said, I’m often surprised by how easily I could abandon my inability to confront people when I’m hiding behind a computer screen reading blogs and Facebook status updates. There have been many occasions when I’ve read something online and instantly felt the need to insert my own opinion, sometimes in a not-so-kind, knee-jerk reaction sort of way. In other words, something I read really pissed me off and I had a few choice words to share with the world.
But as I wrote in a post last month, I’ve learned the art of shutting up. I’ve learned how to take a step back before responding. I’ve learned that status updates on Facebook and comments on blogs can go viral in the blink of an eye. Anger snowballs until such drama has been created that feelings are hurt, respect is lost, and the bigger picture is forgotten or ignored. I’ve seen it happen before, and sadly it happened again last week. Drama reared its ugly head, and I’m sad to say that we mil spouses didn’t step up to prevent it. In fact, we created it.
I promised myself I wasn’t going to get involved in this particular drama, that I was going to stay out of it and wait for it to pass. But I can’t seem to get this episode of Mil Spouses Behaving Badly out of my head.
If you’re a mil spouse blogger, you probably already know about the “Stirring the Pot” post. If you don’t know about it, honestly it’s not worth repeating. Let’s just say that a young, newly married mil spouse wrote something that, well, stirred the pot. Did I strongly disagree with the post? Yes, I did. Did I have an instant negative reaction to it? Yes, I did. Did I think her opinions were naive and thoughtless and unkind and offensive and better left unsaid? Yes, I did.
But as much as I was bothered by this mil spouse’s post, I was equally as bothered by the drama that unfolded over the next couple of days. I read nasty status updates and even nastier comments on the blog itself that seemed to get progressively hateful with each comment posted. The more people talked about their outrage, the more other people shared their anger, and it was all mil spouses could talk about. I did read a handful of toned down responses that refrained from using accusatory language, but for the most part, the reactions were harsh.
Because of this drama, within 24 hours the blog was shut down, the blogger’s husband was given “a face-to-face counseling session” (presumably as a result of his own comment in defense of his wife’s post), and his unit issued a formal apology. All. Because. Of. Drama.
A similar incident happened about a year ago. A young mil spouse blogger wrote a post declaring that she refused to follow OPSEC (Operations Security). She didn’t actually violate OPSEC, she simply said she wasn’t planning on following it. Oh the drama that ensued! Just like this time, fellow mil spouses lashed out with mean status updates and comments on her blog. How did we not learn from that and behave better this time around? I didn’t understand it then, and I don’t understand it now.
We mil spouses are all on the same team. Or at least we should be. That feeling of membership, commaraderie, encouragement, support, friendship, and unity is one of the reasons I love blogging so much. We’re all going through the same emotional roller coaster being married to a service member. We need to know we can lean on each other, offer advice, and ask for help. We’re all in this together.
So my question is: Why did we attack a fellow member of our team instead of trying to educate her?
Instead of lashing out at her, we should have reached out to her and offered advice. She’s been a mil spouse for all of 6 months. 6 months!!! When my marriage to the military was only 6 months old, I knew NOTHING about military life or how to be a military spouse. But we didn’t reach out to her. We attacked her because we thought she should know better. Well, maybe she doesn’t know better. Maybe one of our jobs as experienced mil spouses is to give new mil spouses that knowledge. And if we provide advice and she chooses to ignore it, we should just let it go, move on, and not allow the opinion of ONE person to bring out the worst in us. She’s certainly not the first mil spouse to feel superior because of her husband’s branch or rank. And she’s not the first person to disparage the military. So why did HER words anger us so much? Why did SHE cause so much drama.
The drama started with one little blog post called Stirring the Pot. And stir the pot this blogger did. However, we the readers stirred the pot too, only in the opposite direction. But instead of stirring, maybe we should have just added some mild seasonings and let it simmer on its own. Because in the end, that pot was stirred so much that whatever was in it exploded in our faces.
I only hope that the next time this happens, and I’m certain that it will eventually happen again, that we can learn from this, that we stop and think before creating unnecessary drama and blow something completely out of proportion. I hope that we mil spouses can redeem ourselves and prove that we truly are the amazing group of women that I know we are. From now on, let’s leave the drama for the Academy Awards.