MOST women couldn’t live without their friends, who support and support them through good times and bad.
While many face misogyny in their daily lives from men, women are known for being each other’s greatest cheerleaders and closest confidants.
So why online often seems the opposite to be true?
In the digital world, a dark undercurrent of women turning against each other is on the rise, creating an increasingly toxic environment.
The lies and death threats are aimed specifically at moms who dare to make a living thanks to sites like Instagram.
Could the reason behind this toxicity be that women on social media are seen as an attempt to portray themselves as perfect role models? Or is it simply envy?
Research from Priory mental health clinics found that half of parents think social media sites fuel mental health problems and can trigger depression.
And a survey by the organization End Violence Against Women found that nearly 50% of women have been abused online.
Moms who were trolled include Sun columnist and blogger Deborah James – aka Bowel Babe – for “sulking” and mom-of-three Jemma McGowan, of Omagh, Northern Ireland, who suffers from terminal ovarian cancer. and was fiercely reprimanded for “looking too good to have cancer”.
And model Emily Ratajkowski was ashamed of the way she held her son Sylvester Apollo Bear, Lydia Bright for giving her daughter Loretta a pacifier and Dani Dyer for using a babysitter for son Santiago.
In her bestselling novel Underbelly, Heart Radio writer and presenter Anna Whitehouse raises the lid on this toxic environment that pits women against women.
Anna, who posts online as Mother Pukka, knows all about the problems women face on social media. She addressed these distressing issues in her own book, which was adapted for the screen.
Anna, a 40-year-old mom of two, who has nearly 350,000 Instagram followers, has faced her own downfall as a result of social media.
She says, “I wrote the book because I can’t watch women tear themselves apart online anymore.
“If we’re not careful, more women will suffer or lose their lives from social media. They are predominantly female, as 84% of hashtag ads on Instagram are posted by women.
“Social media can be a dark place and I elaborate on that in my book. Trolling is a very extreme thing that happens to a lot of people.
“I’ve had experiences of people saying they disagree with something, which is human nature, but when it’s an anonymous avatar with thoughtful opinions based on fiction, it becomes something.”
Anna began using social media as a means to get by after leaving a job that was not flexible with childcare.
However, he explains that his mental health was affected.
Social media can be a dark place and I elaborate on that in my book. Trolling is a very extreme thing that happens to a lot of people.
Anna White House
He says: “Working online almost destroyed me, even though I was 40 and two kids.
“I had a nervous breakdown in 2019 which was a perfect storm of factors: postnatal depression, psychotic moments when people on the internet would take my baby, and social media addiction.
“I was destroyed by the Internet. I faced this problem, sought help and have been on the road to recovery ever since.
“My fear is: what will happen to someone who is less prepared, less robust, less experienced in juggling good, bad and ugly?
“When you become a mother you feel an immediate weight of judgment and as soon as you take all the judgment that is online about the personal, it is amplified.
“Anyone who makes a mistake online gets ridiculed: it’s like a witch trial.
“You’re always walking a tightrope: one misstep and the Internet goes down.”
However, Anna continues to make a career out of social media, which has given her a forum to campaign for flexible working for parents.
“It is also important to look at the positive aspects. I wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t balance, ”she says.
“Social media is giving people a voice that otherwise would have remained silent.”
- Underbelly is available now, published by Orion, £ 14.99. The new Anna Dirty Mother Pukka podcast series is now available.