My first encounter with the Internet Mom Force came in the form of a comment on a blog post. I was naïve. I started a blog called “Enjoy Real Food” thinking that maybe people out there would like some tips from a dietitian on incorporating more whole foods into their diet. What I didn’t know is that the interwebs are teaming with people who don’t want fun little tips about healthy eating in moderation. They want extremes. They want crusades. And if you enter this world unawares, you just might end up on the wrong side of a battle you never thought needed to be fought.
So, while writing my cute little blog, I decided to write a post about soy. I was getting lots of questions from people. Is it good for you? Bad? Does it prevent heart disease or cause cancer? Lots of confusing news reports out there. So, I combed through some great systematic review studies. You know, the ones I was telling you about in part 2 that look at a bunch of studies and not just one isolated study. Then, I wrote a little blog post about soy. Should you be scared of it? Not really. Should you try to eat 100 servings a day? Probably not. It wasn’t exciting. It neither vilified soy nor made it out to be a miracle food, it was just a short post on the facts as far as we knew them to that point. I posted my blog, pretty sure it would get like 3 views. Because seriously, who actually reads someone’s blog on soy?
A week or two went by and it didn’t get much attention. I did, however, notice that the top way people got to my blog that week was by searching “man-boobs soy?” in google. So that was kinda a win. Then, one day, I got a comment. I was thrilled. Not only did someone read my blog, but they took the time to comment! My joy was short lived. According to her, I was propogating the “blind and rampant digestion of soy products” and that I needed to get over the fact that soy is not the “everything-I-want-it-to-be health food.” She was irate. About soy. That’s when I realized something had gone amiss on the interwebs. Because nobody should be passionate about soy. And if you are, you should probably keep it to yourself. I had my first internet enemy and it was over something I had no desire to fight about.
Over the years I’ve wisened up. You see, there’s a force out there. It’s imperceptible to the naked eye but it’s powerful. The Internet Mom Force (IMF) is lurking, waiting to write scathing comments on your blogs, post frightening article links on your Facebook page and scare you into avoiding your doctor, the grocery store and that cute little play place down the street (do you even know what they’ve found in those ball pits?!). It’s hard to define the IMF because their causes are vast and varying, but they have one general goal: To make you feel like you are the worst at everything, all the time and you need to stop enjoying life and be scared already. Or you’ll ruin your kids.
There’s really no way to avoid the IMF because these mommies use their internet alter-egos when online. The mom with a kid in your kid’s preschool that you just invited over for a playdate? There’s no way of knowing if she’s the type who posts cute little memes on her feed or if she runs a Facebook page dedicated to moms who only eat organic foods harvested by workers wearing conflict free cotton in fields where puppies rescued from puppy mills frolic with tons of extra energy thanks to their non-GMO diets. You just don’t know. So, to help you, I’ve made a list of the different kinds of IMF members you’re likely to encounter out there and how to protect your family against them. Your first line of defense is to always to ignore. But if you just can’t help yourself, I’ve given you a second IMF defense tactic that will help you in case of a virtual encounter. Study up my friend, because if log-on unawares, you may become their next victim.
The Article Linking Super Fact Mommy: This IMF member scours the interwebs day and night for articles that back up her ideas on parenting, food and everything else. Remember how I said (in part 2) that you can find a study that supports anything? Well, so can she. And she has. And she’s posting it on her facebook page and tagging you with cute little comments about how she so glad they’ve finally “proven” her pet theory.
IMF Defense Tactic: If you just can’t help yourself and must click on the link you better put on your best pseudoscience radar. If it doesn’t pass, please don’t share, tweet or comment.
Sanctimommy: She loves to post cute little pictures of her kids eating breakfast with captions like “I’m so glad we took the plunge into a raw diet” and “feeling blessed that little John-John loves his kale so much he asks for it first thing in the morning!” Don’t be fooled by this IMF members more subtle approach. Because if you are caught unawares, you’ll end up force feeding your family spinach at 6am just to keep up with sanctimommy.
IMF Defense Tactic: If you just can’t ignore and you have a little extra time on your hands (ha!), you may want to fight fire with fire here. For every sanctimommy post, feel free to post an equally awesome post of your own. But maybe use actual pictures of real things that your kids really do and you actually feel blessed about. Take a picture of your kids faces covered in gluten and chocolate and write “I’m so glad my kids like chocolate chip pancakes more than chia seed smoothies and they’ll eat them with me. Every day.”
Perma-Diet Mommy: She’s done them all. The thirty day cleanse. The super tea detox. The one where you pretend like pills are actual meals. The one where you post pictures of every meal you eat on Facebook along with random pictures of Tupperware full of chopped up veggies in your fridge for some unexplained reason (I can’t keep track). And she wants you to be her buddy. Join her in her latest diet. You can be digital diet buddies!
IMF Defense Tactic: It’s easy to start to feel like you should be joining in on these diets. But remember what we’ve discussed about dieting? It doesn’t work. And that’s why Perma Diet Mommy is literally always on a diet. Because the results don’t last. Don’t join her and resume ignoring.
Cause of the Day Mommy: You gotta hand it to this IMF member, she’s got a big heart. And she’s gonna use her big heart and the interwebs to save the world. She has a reason for why you shouldn’t do anything. Ever again. Shop at your favorite grocery store. Do you know who they buy their apples from? Eat at your favorite restaurant. Did you know they have GMOs in their salad dressing? Eat a cracker. Did you know that what cracker boxes are doing to the penguins in the Antarctic?
IMF Defense Tactic: You really should care. About a lot of things. But here’s the thing I have to remind myself. I have one short life with just a little bit of time to do the things that God is calling me to do. I have to be laser focused. And while I really do care about the penguins and the quality of our food supply, I can’t jump in with everyone’s pet cause of the day. Find what you’re passionate about and jump in fully and give yourself permission to allow other people who are passionate to take on their causes.
One Star Mommy: Now this IMF member is just plain not nice. OK, I might be that I’m being a little protective of my sister here. My sister had her first encounter with One Star Mommy upon the release of her second book. She decided that she didn’t like my sister’s book and went on an internet rampage against her. She stalked her Facebook page, leaving nasty comments for anyone who dared write something nice. She left scathing one-star reviews at every internet retailer who sold my sister’s book. She wrote blogs. Really mean blogs. And here’s the thing, my sister’s book was written for first-time moms navigating their baby’s first year. It was a sweet book that read like getting advice from your cool bean-there-done-that big sister. But this IMF super mom was angry because she didn’t like my sister’s advice for introducing solids. I’m not making this up.
IMF Defense Tactic: If you’re trying to write a blog or selling something on the internet, you’ve most definitely encountered her. Take a deep breath, then google “one-star reviews of classics.” These IMF members have literally gone onto Amazon and given horrible one-star reviews to books like The Great Gatsby and The Odyssey. You, my friend, are in good company. Read the reviews, have a good laugh and carry on with that awesome thing you’re doing.
The bottom line is that the internet, the news outlets and the carpool line at your kid’s school are teaming with constantly changing, confusing and often false information about food and your diet. Really good information generally takes a while and lot of good studies to come by. It’s usually not exciting or post-worthy. Don’t believe everything you hear or jump onto every bandwagon. Don’t let you or your family get tossed around by every new diet wave and “study.” Eat what you like, follow good basic nutrition guidelines and hold your head up high. You’re doing great.