Posted on May 3, 2010
Mumsnet. A online website for parents – full of bullies?
Sometimes a well intentioned act can go terribly wrong.
This morning I read an article in the Times Online about the 40 best bloggers. One of the blogs was amusing and I linked to it on Mumsnet, asking if the blogger was a Mumsnetter. Turns out that she is not, and not everyone liked her blog. She quickly took offence and accused MNetters of bullying her.
For a while, as some more people agreed that her blog was indeed funny, she seemed to calm down and started a lighthearted banter with some other posters.
No idea what happened next, she suddenly realised that MN was not for her, too unkind, to bullying. Ok, each to their own, if that was the impression that she got then I am sorry for it.
Instead of letting it go, she then proceeded to tweet up a storm, ranting about “hagsnet”, suggesting that we were all suffering from PMT and needed a “good shag” and a job. So far, so misogynistic. When her followers joined in and told stories about the terrible time they have had on MN, and the bullying they have injured, the whole thing took a slightly surreal turn.
At one point she tweeted that if any journalist was reading, that she could put them in touch with many followers who had been bullied on Mumsnet.
Yes, MNetters can be direct, honest and sometimes for the unsuspecting that can be a bit offputting. Bullying? Seldom, and normally the bullies are taken to task by other MNetters. It is not a website for the faint hearted.
The other side, the less combative side of Mumsnet and the side that does not hit the press very often, is very different. We have seen the support that posters who have been bereaved receive. We know that if a MNetter is in need that she will be helped, often far beyond the normal assistance that would be expected of a member of an anonymous online forum.
One memorable thread was the story of the teddy bear lost at a London airport and reunited with the Mumsnetter’s daughter in Scotland. A MN-husband worked as a baggage handler at the airport and was able to locate the bear and put it on the next flight.
There are dozens of posts like this. I have been sent Bakewell Tarts and HSM/Ben 10 chocolate advent calenders from a poster in England when I mentioned that I could not get them here in Switzerland. On another occasion I was sent tea bags, when mine ran out. This was not from particular friends, just posters who had chatted for a while and offered so send something.
Recently dozens of Mumsnetters came together to assist those stranded abroad by the volcanic ash plane grounding. Local travel websites were consulted, contact numbers found for bus companies who were organising coaches to travel across Europe. One Mumsnetter was able to save the cost and hassle of a hotel room when she went to Brussels to pick up her DS when she was offered a bed for the night.
On a slightly more serious note, several times in the past couple of years lives have been saved by Mumsnetters recognising a serious situation and imploring the poster to get help. I am not exaggerating here. There have been posters who, without MNetters’ advice, would have died.
It is a shame to see the website maligned like this. I hope that the followers of the blogger (who I shall not name as I do not want to get into another argument with her) go and look for themselves and see what a fantastic website MN is.