Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Damned Mobs of Scribbling Women

Addiction or Adaptation? There's been a lot in the news lately about the "problem" of mothers who spend too much time on line, who have developed what the DSMV is apparently going to call internet addiction. Rachel Mosteller wrote about it on parentingdotcom and the New York times picked up the story.

I do know what they mean. There have certainly been times when I've surfed the web rather than getting down to work. There have indeed been occasions when I've wondered where the hours went. On the other hand, I tend to think I might well have spent quite a few of those hours crying into my shoes if not for the existence of the internet and its ready-made community of women going through just what I was going through at just the same time.

Mosteller quotes experts who advise that one should chart: "what was going on each time you decided to sit down at the computer. Was it right after a fight with your husband? Were you bored? By figuring out the triggers that send you seeking refuge online…you can come up with alternative activities that help you deal." I seriously wonder if there is an activity that could better have "helped me deal" with infertility and loss than writing, reading, and commenting on blogs. I have just one real-life friend who has gone through the level of difficulties I have. We're very close, but frankly, sometimes we like to take a break from ruminating on reproduction and remember the aspects of our friendship that first brought us together. I joined an in-person grief support group for those with pregnancy loss at one point and it was very helpful. But, none of our experiences were as closely matched as the self-selecting community of bloggers. For one thing, none of them went on, as I did, to cap primary infertility with secondary infertility.

Here in the online world, the support is infinitely customizable and instantly available. Primary infertiles can skip the whining of secondaries like myself when it gets to be too much. Those who would give anything just to conceive don't have to read the miscarriage memos. Having a black day? Log on. Feeling sunny? Skip it. There is a flexibility and immediacy to online contact that can't be matched in the real world.

People have been complaining that "America is now wholly given over to a damned mob of scribbling women" since Hawthorne. But I for one am proud to be a cyberscribbler. I don't plan to give it up--especially not at the suggestion of scolds who are themselves posting their warnings on line!