news item: “the lying disease” by cienna madrid

We are all here, reading this article, because we have some connection to a specific type of hardship. We come to this gathering place from all over the world to be together for support, conversation, and sometimes just cute photos of babies. We have that in common, and sometimes not much else, but grief, loss, suffering and tribulations that sometimes give way to great joy are all strong platforms from which to make connections with others.

The internet is a funny place like that– anytime you open up a widely-accessible form of communication and the general exchange of information, you cast a wide net. You could catch a whole boatload of fish one day and a hundred scummy old boots the next. Of course, there’s a screening process– when you make friends online, you usually check them out, even if just subconsciously. Does this person seem rational, kind, helpful, intelligent? Are you getting the “too much drama, do not engage” vibe? Are there any other red flags popping up, even ones that can’t be explained?

We check each other out a bit, of course, but the truth is that if you’re here or in any other online topical group with a focus on friendship and support, you’re looking to like people and to trust them. We may not all use our real names or identify ourselves and our children with photos in our blogs, but we engage in a lot of automatic mutual trust with our emotions. I could blog under a pseudonym but I’d still be telling you about Crinone tablets going up in my you-know-where and what it felt like to give myself injections for the first time, or some unflattering thoughts I’ve had about people I love who had children when I still didn’t, or how I still have leftover expired medication in my fridge that for some reason I can’t throw away… all these things I need to keep separate from the people I know and love in my daily life for a variety of reasons end up on the screens of strangers (many of whom, of course, have become great friends).

We can wrap ourselves tightly in the love and support of distant friends, even when we haven’t yet met in person. I have some great, lifelong friends who I met online three, five, even up to fourteen years ago, and I’ve met almost none of them in person. But of course, it has to be said– we have to be careful with our hearts and our personal information.

The inspiration for this post? An article that came across my Twitter feed last week called “The Lying Game,” written by Cienna Madrid.

I’m not going to post excerpts from the article here like we normally do in news item posts. This article is skillfully written, it covers a range of really intense, in-depth and complex situations, it makes some poignant and sobering points, and it is long. There’s no way to do it justice in fragments here. All I can do is strongly recommend that you sit down and read this article when you have time to really think about it, and I promise it will pay off because it is fascinating and reads like a great and terrible tale.

I also don’t want to cast too many shadows here. I love our community. In the beginning, myself and the other PAIL mods had a brief conversation about comment moderation given the new-ness of the site and the sensitivity of the topics of infertility, loss and parenting, but we quickly decided against it, hoping instead to take a chance on people being kind and supportive and generally behaving themselves. Do you know that we’ve never once had to delete a comment here for content? Not a one. We’re really hoping that tradition continues, because in the midst of all of the myriad ups and downs of parenting through adoption, infertility and loss, and all of the personal highs and lows that any number of us are experiencing at these different places in our journeys, everyone has remained at the very least cordial and, far more often, incredibly helpful and supportive. My intention here is not to scare anyone away from embracing what we’ve been trying to build this space for and what you’ve all been cultivating here– but as bloggers, it is imperative that we be alert to the potential draw of a community like ours for someone who might be seeking a different sort of experience than the rest of us all together– it’s happened once before.

Okay, I know I just threw a heavy one at you, and a long homework assignment to boot in that lengthy article. So before you get around to reading it, or after, please join in our conversation below because I bet we all have a few things to say about online support, safety, anonymity, friendships and connections.

Share. Visit. Read. Comment. Support.

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