- Other bloggers aren’t your friends. They are competition. Never read their posts and especially never ever comment on them. They are the pigs of this blogging farm- don’t get too attached. You don’t want to actually feel something when you slaughter them in one of your posts. And you will…keep reading.
- Transcend your niche. Don’t just write about things you actually know about. Make wild assumptions about things that have nothing to do with you. Judge people harshly when they dare to point out that you might not be a reliable source of information in that area.
- Assume that you’re going to be HUGE immediately. When you’re not, be pissed as hell. Take that rage out on bloggers who have spent years writing, networking, and contributing to your own blogging community. Call them names.
- Sanctimony goes a LONG way. It’s a dish best served with a huge helping of passive aggression. For instance, instead of simply writing what you do and the results you got from whatever method, make sure that you add something to the effect of, “I’m not saying all mama’s should feed their kids only organic, just the ones that want kids to be healthy.”
- Make your blog virtually unreadable. The easiest way is to use a font that is tiny, scrolly, and preferably bright purple or yellow. Less obvious, but almost equally annoying is to use a white font on a black background.
- Never ever proofread. Give the grammar nazis something to bitch about. Interchange the homophones. Use apostrophe’s to make thing’s plural.
- Not getting enough attention? Pick out a blogger to go after that you want to hate. Write posts about them. Twist their words into something that they CLEARLY are not. It works great for a temporary boost in stats, and if you keep doing it enough, NO ONE will come back to your miserable blog!
- Rip off other blogger’s biggest posts and then spin them in a way that makes you look SO MUCH BETTER THAN THEM. For example, if the post that speaks honestly about something they’ve struggled with, write a parody post that talks about why you’re so much better because you don’t struggle with that same thing. Like I said, sanctimony goes a long way.
- Do whatever you have to to make yourself appear bigger than you really are. Like when you’re fighting a bear, but also not like it at all. Buy likes for your blog’s Facebook page. It’s super easy to tell who does that, so it won’t be long until someone notices your bullshit and inevitably thinks less of you as a blogger and probably as a human.
- If all else fails and your blog survives these tips, just rant a lot about religion and politics. Be as condescending and pious as possible.
I got an email asking me why I don’t write as much about Down syndrome as I do about autism. The answer is simple: I know more about it. We started the process of getting Casey diagnosed 8 years ago this month. As much as I wish I could say that there have been days that I didn’t think about Casey having autism, that’s just not true. It’s always there. We’re always planning around it, building it, and trying to use it to Casey’s advantage.
I’m still relatively new to Down syndrome. Abby turns three this week, and while I can tell you ALL about infancy and toddler-hood with her, I still feel like I’ve scratched the surface of what life with Down syndrome is really like. I see Down syndrome so differently from how I saw it when she was born, when she was 1 and even just a year ago. I can’t imagine where I’ll be 5 years from now. I hope by then I will have a better understanding and could write more about it than just our own personal experiences. Really though, with autism or Down syndrome, this blog is mostly just our personal experiences.
Instead of using this space to hear my own pontifications about Down syndrome (which I do, don’t get me wrong, just not all of the time), I’m listening.
I’m listening to the parents who have children older than Abby. I’m listening to adults with Down syndrome, too. There is something about life experience that says so much more than anything I can find in a textbook. I love reading books, blogs and articles by people who have children Abby’s age, too. It’s great to have people I can identify with.
But to be honest, I have a really hard time when someone with a young child with Down syndrome openly says that they know as much as parents who have been doing this for decades. I would never want to be seen like someone who thinks I know beyond what life has taught me. Who thinks that I truly understand what life is going to be like even five years from now, much less ten or twenty.
It works that way with autism, too. I’m listening to the parents who have been doing this for a long time. I stumbled across a fantastic post written by a mom whose son is older than Casey. There’s a clarity in her voice that I don’t have with Casey right now. The post is here: What’s Your Name?
So, I hope that answer suffices. With all things with this blog, I will write our experiences, but I can’t write beyond what I know. I’m still new to all of this really, and I’m grateful for people who take the time to help teach people like me when I get the chance to be quiet. To just listen.
Having a child with disabilities really shows you how great people can be. Unfortunately though (but thankfully far less often), you get to deal with truly horrific individuals. There are people out there who simply have no conscience. They are out to get a laugh and don’t care who they hurt.
Case in point: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/tenn-family-sues-alter-images-son-syndrome/story?id=19050815#.UYpR_8pvA-w, To summarize, Adam, who has Down syndrome took a class at Vanderbilt University, where this photo was taken of some artwork that he did and was obviously proud of. A radio station somehow obtained that image, and photoshopped it to say “Retarded News” where the drawing once was.
Can you imagine the pain the family felt when they saw their son being used in such a derogatory manner? I would have sued the hell out of whoever owns the radio station- and they are. I hope they win.
With this as a backdrop, someone alerted me to the fact that again, Abby’s pictures are being stolen and used on websites that have no right. Here’s the tricky thing. I don’t mind people “sharing” her picture from my facebook page. The “share” button makes it so that when people see the image and comment on it, it comes back to the original imagine on my site. It gives me some feeling of control. I can see where it has been shared, and I can see if people start saying nasty things on it. What some pages do, and it’s really quite brilliant and terribly sneaky all at once is instead of “sharing” the pictures, they download them and re-upload them to their own pages. They do this so that when they are shared from their own pages, the shares and likes come back to them, and not to the owner of the page. Sometimes they’ll give the copyright holder a shoutout, but it’s not the same as “sharing” the work.
These pages know exactly what they are doing. They are not doing this by mistake. If they were, you think they’d apologize and just take the picture down. But they don’t! Instead, they delete all of your comments and the comments of anyone else who state that the image is stolen. Then they ban you or anyone who commented. They have to keep those pictures up as long as they can because the longer they’re up, the more traffic they drive back to their own page. This is why these shady pages have huge numbers of people who “like” their page. The easiest thing for any person or page to do is simply click “share” rather than going through the trouble of downloading then re-uploading the image. The following pages are among the worst offenders. They have not only stolen pictures of Abby, but of Casey and artwork that I made for this blog:
If these sites are really out to promote autism and Down syndrome awareness, why not “share” the pictures from the site they originated from? Why not work to share the stories of other members of the community? Instead, they take the pictures and the credit that goes along with them. It’s unethical at very least, and worst, it’s shifty and illegal.
And it puts pictures out of control of the owners. These pictures get stolen and used by trolls who are vicious in their need to tear down people with disabilities. The three sites above have shared a bunch of my stuff. Combined, the shares amount over 10,000 from their respective sites. I’ve lost control. And honestly, it makes me want to shut it all down right now.
I started writing this blog as catharsis dealing with a very unique family situation. It’s helped me work through so many things. A side effect of that is that I feel like I’ve helped people see disability a little different. I hope that I have helped other mothers to not feel so alone through this journey. I hope that I’ve done some good. This blog has helped me find my own voice. But I wonder if it’s worth the cost. I shudder at the thought of running across a picture of Abby used for something as terrible as the story above. Last night as I saw things getting out of hand, I was ready to just shut it all down. I took down all of the pictures of my kids off my facebook page, and I’m wondering if I should do it here, too. A number of you have mentioned to watermark the photos- which I need to get in the habit of doing again, but that doesn’t stop people from sharing the photos as their own, and people rarely search out the photo’s true owner by the watermark. It’s just a sad fact of Facebook.
It makes me so sad. I think my daughter is so beautiful. I want the readers here to see how beautiful she is. I want them to read about her life and how she’s changing me, and how she will change the world. I know, honestly, that if I keep putting pictures of her up, I need to just make peace with the fact that this is going to keep happening. The more this blog grows, the more visible we become. I hadn’t thought this through.
I don’t know what to do. I feel so defeated.
If you’d like to help me out and report the pages, that would be great. If nothing else, make sure you don’t “like” them or share the work they’ve stolen. If you are a blogger or if pictures of your children are in a public arena, you might want to check these sites and others to make sure your work hasn’t’ been stolen, too.
So I’ll tell you what I’ve told those who have said this to me:
First off, I should make it clear. I don’t REALLY have it that tough. It looks like it on paper, but it’s really not horrifically hard every minute of every day. Casey can be tough. But he’s not all of the time. Not even half of the time now that his meds are working. Not even close. And have you met him? That kid is FANTASTIC! I adore him to pieces. He’s a good kid. He really does try hard. He has his issues, but for the most part, we can predict when it’s going to be tough, and work around it. And it gets better every single day. Plus, even when he’s going through his funks, he’s at school for 7 hours a day.
And then there’s Abby. She has a lot of therapy. She has a constant river of snot that she hates having wiped. She’s given us a couple of scares. But other than that, she’s as pleasant as can be most of the time. She’s my little friend. She’s with me most of the day. I love it. I love being with her. She’s joy wrapped up in a tiny little girl.
So we’re good, yes? No. There are times when it’s tough. Really tough. The lack of sleep sucks. Especially when it’s because Abby’s sick. There’s time where the stress does wear at me. Mornings are tough. Getting Casey ready and out of the house in the space of time between when he wakes and when I get the meds finally in him is a feat. I hate therapy with Abby with all of my heart. Because I don’t have the attention span for it. Because my house has to look somewhat presentable when the therapist comes because they are mandatory reporters… So on top of the regular mom crap that I hate SO MUCH (I hate cleaning. HATE IT) I’ve got all of these little extra things that sort of chip away at my resolve.
That’s where the antidepressants come in. OOOOOh hiissssss. Is this something I shouldn’t be talking about? Meh. I really don’t care. Why? Because I think it’s important that women, especially mothers of children with special needs, know that it’s not wrong to need a little bit of help.
Being a mom by itself is super tough. Add to it all of the little extra things that come along with having a kid with special needs and you’ve got a very depleted mother. For me, that depletion meant that I didn’t have any emotional reserves. None. When things got too tough, I hid. It’s like I couldn’t take anything ELSE on besides the load that’s on my plate. I didn’t FEEL depressed so I didn’t think I was. But I was lashing out at my husband, I was angry. I was sad. It was unlike any depression I had gone through. I was used to the “teenage” depression. Where you’re tired all of the time and you hate your mother. This was stress-induced and probably has a lot to do with my hormones, too. So I take prozac. And it helps. A LOT.
Then there’s my husband. He is the very reason I can do everything that I have to. It’s like sometime in Heaven before we were born, God said, “Okay, I’ll give you this dude, and he’s THE BEST, but in order to have him, I’m going to have to throw in some tough stuff” and I signed right on the line. I can handle anything because I have Lance. He’s a walking talking Valium pill. He is my very CALM. Have you been around him? It makes you sleepy. And it’s just what I need. He isn’t crazy. He doesn’t really care about getting out and seeing the world or being overly active in anything besides sports and food, but he’s CALM. He’s happy to do whatever I ask of him and he follows me down whatever crazy path I want to go. I’m a lucky girl.
Then, the outlet. This blog is my outlet. I feel better after I write, and even better after I hear that something that I’ve said or done has helped someone else. It’s like freaking crack to me. I used to have hockey as my outlet. It was the very best of times. But no one out here wants to play with someone who sucks and refuses to play on Sundays. Because Sunday is a special day. And a special person. Have you met Sunday? She’s fantastic.
And that’s the other thing that’s been SO helpful about blogging. I’ve met some of my new most favorite people because of it. Like Sunday. And Holly. And Deanna (their blogs are linked on the side) And this other dude. His name is Jim and he’s my Blog Nemesis. When I first found his blog I wanted to LASH OUT. Break things. Because his writing is so good and he’s so funny that I was sure the minute anyone found out about his blog they’d go ahead and abandon me and my stupid blog. But then I came to terms with it, sort of. There are going to be better at this than me. There are MANY others who are (most. most are). But instead of being okay with it, for some reason, I’ve decided to make him my nemesis. I’m not sure what that means for him, but I’m sure it makes him tremble in fear. Like a girl. So, go visit him at his blog. You’ll be as thunderstruck as I am that his blog isn’t huge with thousands of adoring followers who do his bidding. If you decide after being there to join his army and leave mine, I’ll understand. I’ll hate you, but I’ll understand. You CAN join his followers without having to leave me.
Don’t leave me.
Sorry about lack of crappy pictures. I just wanted to write to write. I wanted to add some pictures, but then that would mean I’d have to go upstairs and find my camera. And in order to do that, I’d have to clean. And I REFUSE.