Why does the internet bring out the worst in people?
I wasn’t going to post today because I am hosting the All About France link up tomorrow (hope to see you there), but the response to a blogger friend’s recent critical post on life in France has left me unable to stay silent. I am angry.
Oui In France is a place where I share my perspective on what it’s like as an American in France. It’s my life and my story and not the only experience one can have. Fellow bloggers share their own stories on their blogs and one in particular that I’d like to focus on here is a recent post from Dana of As Told By Dana titled When the Grass Isn’t Greener: Falling Out of Love with France.
I admit, if you have idealized notions of France and have never lived here, it may rub you the wrong way. But keep an open mind while you read.
“But over the past six months or so, I’ve seemed to have replaced my rose-colored glasses with jaded ones, and can’t help but to have found a touch of grey in the silver lining. I feel so torn, because even though I still want to love France, I seem to have fallen out of love with her and everything I once loved about her. Perhaps I am finally embracing the phrase, “The grass isn’t always greener.” I used to think it was greener in France. “
She wraps up by saying:
“I realize that I’ve come round full circle- from hating the USA and loving France to completely hating France and loving the USA, to finally having a bit of a love-hate relationship with both.”
Done reading? OK, good.
There’s no question the thought-provoking post was extremely well written and isn’t the tired cliché you’ve read 100 times, so I shared it on my FB page. It got a big response and a few other bloggers shared it, including Veronique of French Girl in Seattle. Her online community was overall very positive toward it. Even those who disagreed remained respectful.
But then The Local France ran the blog on their site, and if you’ve ever read The Local’s comment section, you know what happened next.
Discussion turned ugly and opinions shared were anything but respectful. The trolls attacked Dana and her writing. They’re continuing to do so.
Why? Because it’s so easy to hide behind your keyboard and be a dick when there are no repercussions.
(Since writing this, The Local has published another piece addressing the issue of foreigners being critical)
The way we engage in critical discussion says a lot about a person and I feel is a marker of one’s intelligence and respect toward the human race. You can disagree — and do so vehemently — and still not piss anyone off if it remains respectful. Civility is something we should all strive for online. It’s not OK to name call, attack and threaten.
What have we become?
No one has to fawn over a piece of writing if they don’t personally relate to anything being said. Just the opposite. Be the voice of dissent. Get into a lively discussion. But be civil. The golden rule still matters.
A real person is on the receiving end of the mean-spirited and downright ugly comments and sometimes words cut deep.
Personally, I could relate to a lot of what Dana wrote about. Why can’t homosexuals adopt children in France? Why can’t women freeze their eggs? It doesn’t seem right.
Anyone who has lived in France will find at least part of what Dana said to be true, and if they don’t, they haven’t lived here long enough.
No place is perfect (I wrote my own piece on that here) and you can still enjoy where you’re living and be critical toward it. Let me say that again. You can still find fault with a country’s culture, law, society, whatever and still feel it’s the right place for you. I can love the USA but acknowledge that we have a racism problem and that Trump and Hillary are far from ideal presidential candidates. Just like Dana — or anyone — can point out France’s shortcomings and still make a home here. If we don’t acknowledge issues, how can we ever work together to make them better?
To wrap this up…
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a regular reader of Oui In France, so thank you for being here and being respectful. You’re all wonderful.
When everything else in life is stripped away, it’s our character that people will remember. It’s how we make others feel. It’s how we conduct ourselves when times are tough. Let’s collectively let civility win.
(and again, see you back here tomorrow for the All About France link up!)