Somewhere along the way, be it the cloth diapering blogs I frequented or the many cloth diapering Facebook pages I subscribed to, I realized that there was more to this cloth diapering thing. It’s not just something you do to catch pee and poop, I realized, it’s a whole community that embraces many of the same parenting philosophies. I see this philosophy, in a nutshell, as a gentler, more nurturing and more eco-conscious way of parenting.
from Cloth Diapering: Am I Nuts? ~ February 2013
After seeing yet another rude exchange in a cloth diaper group, I feel compelled to speak out about the drastic turn I feel the cloth diapering community has taken over the past few years.
When I began researching and buying cloth diapers three years ago, I was incredibly struck by how tight, welcoming, and helpful the online cloth diapering community was. Emphasis on was. I was able to post questions about cloth diapers, baby carriers, breastfeeding, natural childbirth — anything related to natural parenting, and would be inundated with several people offering to help assist me. Simply put, I trusted these people, these strangers, to guide me to products and practices that had both my and my baby’s best interests at hand. These strangers went out of their way, got out of their own way, to help myself and countless others.
Fast forward a couple of years. Last summer I began seeing in-fighting in my cloth diapering circles. Name-bashing, witch-hunting, and we are right, you are wrong attitude-throwing. It kept building, and building, until things came to a bit of a head last month. If you belong to any large cloth diapering group online, then you know what I’m referring to (I do not wish to name names and rehash the whole nasty business). What I witnessed with the ‘takedown’ was some of the worst adult behavior I have ever encountered; grown women banding together, women not even involved in the so-called ‘scandal’, to bash, threaten, slander, a single person who had, somehow, risen to and been given insane cloth diaper klout and authority. It was the definition of herd mentality and was one of the finest examples of cyber-bullying I’ve ever seen. Way to go ladies, way to go (insert slow clap).
What I witnessed was disgusting. The language these women used, they way that they began turning on each other and attacking each other over…diapers. That’s right, all of this over cloth diapers. I’ve been seeing this bad behavior for months and months, and to be honest with you, it has turned me away from taking part in any cloth diapering groups, apart from the small cloth diaper blogger group I belong to.
Maybe it’s the fact that we’re all anonymous people behind our computer screens (and some people feel emboldened by their anonymity). Maybe it’s just that the written word doesn’t contain the nuances that verbal communication and body language does and miscommunication arises. Maybe it’s due to the passion that many feel about cloth diapering. Maybe it’s due to stay-at-home-moms feeling territorial about the groups they’ve founded and the small space they’ve carved out for themselves. I don’t know what it is, but it really needs to stop.
One would think that things would die down [after the ‘scandal’] and we could all be one happy family again. But no. Just today, I witnessed an exchange in my local cloth diaper buy-sell-trade group. One group member, who happens to own a local natural/attachment parenting center, suggested that the 5-7 B|S|T groups in the area consolidate to form one large group [to simplify and make a much larger cloth diaper resource]. The ‘founder’ of one of the groups chimed-in with increasingly combative and nasty responses, when all was needed was a simple, I’m really not interested in combining groups. The behavior was childish and uncalled for. Rather than entering into the battle, I sought to diffuse it by posting a Keep Calm and Cloth Diaper On graphic in the thread. Because, you know, it’s really just pee and poop catchers we’re dealing with here. This, unfortunately, is just one of the many examples of the rise of bad behavior in cloth diapering circles.
There is the ongoing battle regarding diaper laundering methods, which has created some all-out wars. It’s just laundry people, just laundry. There is even a dedicated cloth diaper scammer group, which I’m sure was created under a great pretense. These days, I see woman crying wolf (read: scammer) if their email isn’t responded to in 24 hours, or screen shots posting postal tracking with their finger hovering over the button to submit a dispute. It’s sad, really, and lives up to the beliefs about stay-at-home-moms (because, you know, we have nothing better to do all day than find cloth diapers to buy and then continually refresh the postal tracking information). I really feel for those women whose names have been unnecessarily thrown out in the public with a scammer label (who aren’t scammers, but just women busy with work and family).
I used to be proud to be a part of the cloth diapering community; these days, I cringe when I see the bad behavior. It’s so similar to the mommy wars we’re witnessing more and more, and seeing it written about with frequency. Why is it so darn difficult for us to uplift each other and support each other? Instead of using the internet to take out repressed aggression, use it as a way to raise your children with a virtual village.
We are on the cusp of potty training, and I’m kind of glad to be moving beyond diapers [for a bit]. I’m saddened by the turn the online cloth diapering community at large has taken, and welcome the opportunity to not be so personally involved. I’ll still be in my Median Mommy bubble, sharing with those new to parenting, and fielding the questions that are sent to me…maybe this is where I’m meant to be hanging-out after all.
I’ll leave you with a few things:
1.) Let’s just be nice to each other, okay?
2.) Check out The Inquisitive Mom’s 5 Dos and Don’ts of Cloth Diaper Forum Etiquette (and leave the link whenever you witness mean-spiritedness)
3.) Keep Calm and Cloth Diaper On my friends