Life is about lessons from mistakes, and believe me, I have learned a few over my 40 years. After my job as the Communications Director of the Velux 5 Oceans wrapped up, I scored a ghostwriting book deal with Penguin this took 18 months. In this time I also conceived, gestated and birthed a second child – The Menace. As part of the promotion process it was suggested to me, by the commissioning editor, Rowland White, that we pimp the battlefield memoir out on a forum called ARRSE. Like a lamb to the slaughter, a very naive, and stupid, me entered the forum with the user name: ARRSE Bandit. I thought it was very funny. They thought I was a twat. They still think I am a twat.
In this time, a new digital communications platform evolved ‘Twitter’, and also blogging became more prominent. The world of digital was becoming relevant. As a professional practitioner of communications I realised that in the 18 months that it had taken to birth child, and a memoir, the communications landscape had changed rapidly. In order to stay abreast of the changes I needed to explore these formats and understand the operating procedures and cultures.
To cut a long story short, Bad CO, the owner of ARRSE, and I got chatting and we struck a mutually beneficial deal. During this time I also decided to grow my own blog. I began blogging as Clare Macnaughton but it wasn’t very well received as the blogosphere prefers the unwashed writer to have some sort of handle, or tag, and so this blog, A Modern Military Mother, was born. To me the blog was always about building a brand and using it as platform to write freely and honestly about my own experiences. The first rule of writing is to write about what you know and I know what it is like for ME to be married to a serving member of the military.
I have never said that I am the perfect military wife. In fact, I would say that I am a very flawed military wife. In fact, I am a wife, who doesn’t think she has a ‘place’ or a ‘role’ within the military. I don’t accept that being a ‘wife’ is a job. I hate the word ‘wife’. I think it is derogatory. I think misogyny is rife, especially in the military but also across the world. I am unashamedly and unapologetically a feminist. I consider myself, and all women, equal to men. I am delighted that I don’t live in military quarters anymore, although I did enjoy the years that I did. I love that I have the freedom to conduct my life away from the community but my experiences and my voice is valid. I don’t represent the spouse community and I speak for myself.
PT Barnum said ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’ not me. The quote that I have referred to is Oscar Wilde’s ‘the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.’
In the end I threw in the towel. They beat me. They won. I no longer visit these forums. I only know about these threads below because they were picked up on a ping back that was sent to my email address automatically.
The lesson that I have learned the most from working with forums on the Internet is DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS – no matter how tempting it is to engage with them you absolutely must not. These places where folk hide their identities behind anonymous user names while communicating are like ‘crack cocaine’- it’s highly addictive; but very bad for you and not worth it.
Here are two shining examples of forum conduct and behaviour:
[This thread has now been removed by the site owners]
I dare you to read them but I warn you – ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!