By E.R. Catalano of Zoe vs. the Universe
It was one week ago today that 33-year-old Mary Louise Murphy’s life was irrevocably changed, all owing to an unlikely source: a rant from another mom on Facebook.
Ms. Murphy says, “I don’t even know her IRL.” (In real life, for those who may have one.)
“This woman was a friend of a friend of an acquaintance I sort of knew in college,” Ms. Murphy continued. “I’m embarrassed I sent her a Candy Crush request. I wouldn’t have if I’d known she was busy being Passionate about Parenting Issues.”
As Ms. Murphy had long been aware, discussing parenting on social media can be a minefield. From breastfeeding or bottle-feeding to co-sleeping or Ferberizing to the amount of screen time you allow your child, if the strong disagreements on Facebook played out in the local Outback, more than one Bloomin Onion would fly.
It was in this virtual environment that Ms. Murphy came across Ms. Pendergast’s Facebook rant last Monday about taking her child to a birthday party whose hostess was “a real c-word,” for various reasons, outlined in great detail. It didn’t take long for the comments to get out of hand, and Ms. Pendergast’s replies to her detractors grew lengthier and more scathing.
Previously, Ms. Murphy had thought of herself as a “live and let live” sort. This was about to change.
Though most commenters only mildly disagreed with Ms. Pendergast, the mother of three “unleashed the fires of Facebook-Thread Hell” in response. (At time of publication, Facebook is seeking to monetize said nether region.) At one point Ms. Pendergast cited as evidence for her point of view a study called “Mores and Milk Duds: A View from the Ground at Chuck E. Cheese,” from the Journal of American Juvenile Behavior, that posits, among other things, that children require goody bags for proper social development.
Ms. Murphy says that at first she was stunned at Ms. Pendergast’s excoriating personal attacks on her critics, leaving virtual scorched earth behind at each reply.
But then something happened.
Apparently, as the thread grew to over 100 comments, Ms. Pendergast was somehow able to transcend truth and reason. It was then that Ms. Murphy found herself agreeing with everything Ms. Pendergast said.
“I mean, I’d never felt anything that strongly myself, not even the day I gave birth. So if she was that furious, she had to be right. Right?”
While this reporter maintained her neutral expression, Ms. Murphy checked her phone to see if anyone had yet “Liked” the photo of her lunch she’d posted more than two hours before.
Ms. Murphy then delivered one final thought. “All I know is, next time she gets angry beyond reason, I’ll be there taking notes.”
About the Author
E. R. Catalano is a writer and mother of one evil mastermind living in Brooklyn, NY. She blogs about her daughter at Zoe vs. the Universe. She is a contributor to The Bigger Book of Parenting Tweets, and her humorous essays have appeared on Scary Mommy, In the Powder Room, and HaHas for Hoohahs. You can follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.