Last week I published a post on LinkedIn about how people decide how many hours to work. The arc of the post will not surprise you: I worked long hours, I regretted the time I missed with my kids, I cut back on work, then I started homeschooling. It’s the story of connecting with my kids, more than anything. To me, it’s a nice story.
People on LinkedIn went nuts. They castigated me for thinking I would like working more than being home with kids. They told me I should have my kids taken away because I worked such long hours. They told me that if I want to know how my kids will turn out, I should listen to Cat’s In the Cradle.
At first I responded to them, picking them off one by one. Like, it’s a video game where I have to destroy the comments fast enough to win.
I finally stopped that with the thought, “Fuck all those people.” Fuck all those people because maybe they didn’t get all the way down to my byline, which says that I now homeschool my kids. Or maybe they didn’t realize that I had a husband who was a stay-at-home dad. Or maybe they just couldn’t follow the story. So I will give them the benefit of doubt that they think I’m working 100 hour weeks still, with nannies raising my kids. And always will.
But what’s more is that I’m writing for LinkedIn as part of their group of influencers. Other people in this group are Richard Branson, Jack Welch, and Evan Williams. None of those people ever saw their kids. Do you think Richard Branson was building an airline and coming home for dinner? Why are people on LinkedIn telling me I’m terrible? I’m the one who is writing because I now understand that 100-hour work weeks mean you are not being a parent.
I’m sure that no one on LinkedIn would ever post these comments to a male CEO’s article. It’s so much easier to pick on women about parenting because clearly if I’m writing about it, then I care about it a lot, so I’m vulnerable to their shitty comments.
What I really want to tell you is how the next generation of asshole commenters on LinkedIn will find joy in shaming people who send their kids to school. I know because already they are willing to shame me for working instead of being there for my kids, so it’s only a small step to shame someone for working because they think they wouldn’t be able to handle homeschooling.
I can’t wait until the day I see this comment on LinkedIn: “Stop pretending that you need to work to put your kid in an expensive school district. You really just don’t want to be home with your kids. You should never have had kids.”
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that nasty comments will be acceptable because they will align with my agenda. What I am saying is that you can tell when an idea has gone mainstream: the trolls on the Internet come out screaming, using their real identity. For trolls, there is no shame in shaming those who are not mainstream.
It’s good, I think, that people are up in arms that they don’t think I spend enough time with my kids. Maybe they will reconsider sending their kids to school next.