It’s been a long week. It’s been a long few weeks. It’s been a big couple of months.
My book came out in March which was very hectic and fun and good. Then TIME magazine came out and a whole new set of publicity was thrust at me. CNN and NPR Affiliates and Anderson Cooper came calling, and there were all of these amazing opportunities to talk about my book, about the natural physiology of mammalian parenting, and breastfeeding. It’s good. But it’s also led to a tremendous amount of negative comments and insults being hurled at me through articles written about me, or referencing me. I wrote about it here, because it’s kind of been intense in my world.
However, much of the intensity has come from social media and my choice to be actively engaged with the discussions about things I post and things others post. I want to use Facebook for so many reasons but in the course of one day, I get a variety of messages that would make anyone confused and overwhelmed. Here’s a sampling (some direct quotes, some combined):
Our community is proud to have you as our representative for parents deciding what’s best for their children.
Without you, I would have given up on breastfeeding.
You are uneducated, dumb, and a horrible threat to our children.
You have fallen off of the altar.
You should be ashamed to call yourself an Attachment Parent or any kind of parent.
Mixed bag, anyone?
I’m told to laugh it all off, it’s all good publicity. It’s the way it works. It’s okay.
Yesterday, in an attempt to try and return to my purpose as a celebrity and simply stick to show business stuff, I posted a picture of myself from a red carpet event. I mentioned I was happy to be wearing a “tznius (modest) shell” under my sleeveless dress (meaning it in the most generic way since it simply was a way to cover my arms in a sleeveless dress in a way acceptable to a Hollywood stylist, a struggle I wish on no religious woman). What unfurled on Facebook was a lengthy debate (I have stopped reading past the first comments but did notice one towards the end from a very indignant man disparaging me and my immodesty to no end) about how I can’t call myself modest if my shell is sheer.
In addition, I found out amidst the “sheer shell” debacle that one of my prominent Orthodox friends has been advised not to post positive things about me if I am not a “true” representation of “true” Orthodoxy: opaque sleeves, quitting my job if need be, what have you.
The lack of “normal” dialogue in social media has been disturbing me for some time now, and I think this week has really shown me that it might be better for me not to use social media to interact and respond and have discussions anymore at all. I took a lot of pride in running my own Facebook page and for the almost 40,000 people who are my fans on Facebook, I have enjoyed our interaction. But I simply can’t do it anymore.
Why? Because it’s not working for me. It’s stressful and upsetting. I can’t simply “ignore all of those comments” because I know deep down I’m a great person and “who cares what people think anyway?” It’s about not feeling comfortable being a part of such a discourse anymore.
For those of you who may not think of me as a real person, I want to remind you that I am. Even the least sensitive person would probably start to crack under this kind of week. And I want to as delicately as possible remind you that I–and all celebrities–have an entire private world that no one sees. We get frustrated with our kids, we feel like we are not enough, we don’t have time to take care of ourselves properly, we earn love and sometimes we lose love.
I will continue to write faithfully for Kveller and I intend to start to post more frequently on Kveller. I intend to continue using Twitter (@missmayim) since the character limit will reign me in and prevent me from oversharing and going back and forth with angry people saying things to me they would never say to anyone in person. I will continue to post things on Facebook, but I won’t be able to answer questions like I used to or comment on things. Mayimbialik.net will continue to have contact information for speaking engagements, updates, and photos.
I think it is really sad that social media has beaten me down, and I wish I was more resilient. Maybe someday I will be. But for now, please know that I’m still here, and it’s still me writing and feeling and thinking and trying to do my best to be a kind and compassionate person living according to the faith that has sustained me. I just need to protect myself a bit and I hope you’re cool with being along for the ride no matter how it shifts. God only knows what my derech (path) will be, and I–like the kosher hot dogs I have not eaten in 30 years and will never eat again–answer to a Higher Source.
I will end with a quote from this Jason Mraz song that really struck me today as I drove around thinking.
And when you’re needing your space
To do some navigating
I’ll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find
‘Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We’ve got a lot to learn
God knows we’re worth it
No, I won’t give up.
I’m not giving up, I’m just taking a step back to protect myself. Sound ok? I hope so.