I’ll Take All The Blame, I’ll Proceed From Shame
It used to be, back when I was sort of a new blogger, and I was kind of a pest, and I would say something that pissed somebody off, as I tend to do, and then somebody would call me a troll. Nobody really knew me back then so that was usually the end of it.
Now, there are enough people who know me that it does not really work as well to call me a troll as it used to, and so the growing rumblings I’m hearing are coming from people that seem to think that I’m doing something more akin to bullying. There are a couple reasons for this, most notably the fact that bullying is so goddamn popular to write about and talk about and just generally go on about right now. But also, there’s some kind of sea change afoot, and maybe it has to do with a change in my position in the community or perhaps it’s just that you cannot call somebody a troll anymore once people know they aren’t anonymous mythological creatures who live under bridges.
I’ve known that as I got more successful things would get harder, the criticism more intense. I’ve accepted this and even anticipated it as part of what would have to happen in order for me to grow. The thing that is frustrating for me lately is that the criticism seems to have increased without the growth — I don’t see that I have increased in popularity or influence, and in fact traffic to my blog is less now than it was one year ago (though this is only because I no longer host the New York Times crossword puzzle on my site).
So, while I have seen a marked increase in criticism — and on several different fronts — I have yet to see the upside. And whereas before the criticism was usually in the dismissive, “what a nasty troll” bent, now it is more of the “You have turned into an awful human being, the dregs of society” bent. None of this is your problem: it’s just sort of where I am today. Somebody said to me this morning, “I wanted to make sure that you did not feel like everybody hated you or that everyone was against you.”
And I said, “I do feel that way. I feel like that often. I try to just accept it.”
Songs have a way of creeping back up in your life when they are appropriate. Last week I heard the old Nirvana song, “All Apologies,” on the radio. I hadn’t heard it in a while. It seemed apt, not so much for the lyrics, which are largely nonsensical (though perhaps this is Cobain’s point) but because of the concept of it — all apologies — in general.
He was all apologies.
When I saw her, she was all apologies.
There is an inherent insincerity in the notion of it — that somebody would lead us to believe, temporarily, that the whole of their identity is concerned with apology, or with gaining forgiveness. It carries impossibility within itself, this notion of “all apologies.” When I saw him again, he was all apologies. It is as if to say, “The person knew they fucked up and were trying to cover their tracks with superfluous apology.”
What else could I be? All apologies.
And yet, we live in a world where the apology is expected and craved. Adored. Sacred even. Everybody who is old enough remembers the time Hugh Grant went on The Tonight Show to apologize for having been caught with a hooker — if for no other reason, they remember this because it marks the time forever after which Jay Leno’s Tonight Show always beat David Letterman’s Late Show in the ratings. (And not for nothing, but where’s my apology for that?)
Why do we crave insincere apologies from people we do not know, for acts for which no apology can truly be given, nor really be deserved?
I absolutely accept responsibility for bringing flack on myself as a result of what I write here. Sometimes I don’t understand the manner in which the flack manifests itself, the peculiar ways in which the fallout mutates and I am held responsible for things. I accept that I am to blame because somebody has to be to blame. But I don’t always understand the process through which I got from here to there.
I go back and forth about whether to even publish this post. There is part of me that wants to just move on, mostly because I feel like my pattern of blowout and then self-flagellation is stupid and cliche, and I hate that. Oh, do I hate to be predictable and cliche! I do not want to be the blogger with the blowout and the self-flagellation pattern.
But more than that I hate the silence.
I hate the old skool mommyblogger method of dealing with conflict, wherein you just ignore it and hope that it goes away. That is not me either. That is the whole reason why I do things the way that I do. That is why I do things like see somebody referencing the glorious freedom they felt after unfollowing a “mean girl” on Twitter, and then link to it, and say, “I am the mean girl she is talking about here.” I see things like that and they annoy me on a molecular level and I act immediately — it is like a fight or flight response for me. It is as if somebody is saying, “Oh I just cannot stand the drama!” while popping popcorn. I really feel almost powerless to not respond.
I do stuff like that because, I don’t know, because I think people who do shit like that will hate it. I think they are acting like douchebags, and that they are counting on me not saying anything about it. That’s why I do it.
I’m not always happy with the choices I make. Sometimes I make really bad choices. No worse than yours. I’m not suffering under the illusion that I am perfect, which I think is pretty clear to anybody who reads me regularly. Still, I feel compelled to point this fact out, again, pretty sure that it doesn’t make any difference at all.