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I’ll Take All The Blame, I’ll Proceed From Shame

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.

Comments (49)

  1. Katherine
    Dec 15, 2010

    People cannot stand to be called out on their shit, and that’s what you do. That’s all there is to it. It always amazes me what thin skins people have about stuff they themselves have broadcast to the world. If you can’t stand the heat then get off the internet!

  2. Rachel
    Dec 15, 2010

    I love you. Not in an OMG I hope she comes to my party kinda way, but in a “this is an important voice for our corner of the internet” kinda way. I think the negativity comes from the personal side of ‘personal blogging’. The ‘hot’ mommy bloggers are so integrated into their websites, that every criticism of business decisions feels like an attack on thier persons. When you are paying for your iphone with your blog money it’s a business and should be open to respectful critique.

    Go you!

  3. Dec 15, 2010

    I second this: “I wanted to make sure that you did not feel like everybody hated you or that everyone was against you” — I am so sorry you feel that way. I think you are awesome.

  4. Dec 15, 2010

    This is probably going to sound very condescending to you, but I’m going to say it anyway and it is totally not meant to be condescending.

    You sound just like me when I was younger. I engaged in so many pitched battles online, I had people stalk me viciously more than once, I spoke my mind and called out every “injustice” and championed the underdog and took on the evildoers. All in the name of “truth”.

    You know what? When I look back, so much of that was wasted time and emotion. Why? Because it just is. Very many of the people we interact with online just DON’T MATTER AT ALL in our real life. They are not worth tarnishing your own reputation over, to call out some silly bitch who baits you. I am not talking about anyone in particular, just saying there are silly bitches online just like in face-to-face life, and they will drag you down to their level and beat you with their ignorance. And you will be left all “But! what? wait! it’s not me! she said! why aren’t you pissed at her?!?…” Not worth it.

    So if I were you, or rather if I could give any advice to my 15 years younger blogging/online self, it would be chill out. Enjoy online life, enjoy the connections, and walk away from the assholes and passive-aggressives and anyone who isn’t of benefit to your experience here. They are not worth fighting with or over, and they are not worth “calling out”, and nobody will ever appreciate you for calling them out.

    Don’t feel like everyone hates you. It’s not true.

  5. Dec 15, 2010

    Your voice is so very important to this community. As the Australian Mummy Blogging Saga grows, you’re here, reminding me what shit I need to not be doing, in order to ride the waves there instead of drowing.

    Mummybloggers have a culture of silence and passive aggressive remarks, which drives me mad. “ignore her, she’ll go away” And then they claim that there is room for criticism, but only provided that no one criticises them – which is the biggest load of bullshit.

    Keep on keeping on. Trust me, we need a voice of reason here sometimes and every time I see drama in the US blogs, I’m always waiting to see what you’ve got to say about it.

  6. Dec 15, 2010

    As I mentioned to you, I don’t think Angella was talking about you because of the context of my conversation with her that was happening at the time. It seemed quite strange that you got upset over the idea that she was (and publicly called her out), being as how I can only assume people unfollow you all the time.

    I often appreciate the conversations you start, but you do strike me as someone who thrives on negativity. To the point of manufacturing it if there isn’t something in the works to criticize. Do you hate it when people dislike you? Or is that, ultimately, your intent? It’s hard for me to tell.

    Nobody likes it when someone says something crappy about them. But your Twitter actions yesterday seemed fueled by paranoia and/or a random desire to have an argument. To me, it seems like if you want to be taken seriously for the topics you raise, you need to be a person worthy of listening to. I know you can be controversial and fearlessly tackle the tough things without, well, being an ass. I don’t think you’re an asshole when you take on conflict . . . that actually exists.

  7. oregoncoastgirl
    Dec 15, 2010

    HUGGERZ?

  8. Dec 15, 2010

    I think it’s great that you put yourself out there. At this point, I have no intention of monetizing my blog but I do see myself as a “mommy blogger” so I like to know what’s going on in the space. Your recent post about how crap it is that style lush and all those sites make money and have the writers work for free really got me thinking a lot. I used to wish I would be asked to write for one of those sites then I just realized what a crock it is and how it’s hard enough to write my own blog for free let alone give someone else content for free (or very near to it). It’s the hours and minutes of our lives and it’s not worth it. I am glad you bring these things up even if you get called out for it. Clearly everyone doesn’t hate you because I don’t! I like you and I like your blog. So there.

  9. Dec 15, 2010

    Honest questions, based on your third and fourth paragraphs: Does/will increased traffic make up for the negativity that does/might/will come your way as a result of being both higher profile and (in my opinion) an increasingly harsher and more reactionary critic? Is feeling like everyone hates you the sort of thing that will bother you less (or not at all) if you’re making a living off of that reputation? Will your actions be worth the consequences?

    If the answer is yes, then by all means keep on keeping on, but if the answer is no, it might be time to rein it in or at least reassess. There are certainly gains to be made in what you’re doing, but at what price?

  10. Lauren (carterbiosea)
    Dec 15, 2010

    Bravo.
    I do agree with Rachel, in that so many of the bloggers that you reference are so invested in their sites that any criticism at all, from constructive to pure trolling, is taken so personally that both the intent and the content is lost.
    Small statements get overblown and soon enough you have tempest in a teapot situations. This happened with Sundry recently, when a comment that said that Sundry’s bangs weren’t the commenter’s favorite hairstyle on her became elevated to “someone making fun of Sundry’s bangs.” Granted, there may have been more pointed emails that we didn’t see, but the commentary I saw on her site was not mean-spirited.
    I don’t know what the solution to this is, apart from continuing to critique and observe in a constructive manner until people see that critique does not equal attack.
    I do agree with you that the tactic of ignoring something/someone that you don’t agree with or like is not a healthy one, it’s how the whole penis texting thing lasted as long as it did. Certain things flourish in the dark, and none of them are good.
    I seem to be rambling, but the gist of this is: I think you are doing good things, but I would also agree with Kathryn in that perhaps you should pick and choose your battles, rather than going all Don Quixote on every little thing.

  11. Lauren (carterbiosea)
    Dec 15, 2010

    Having reread my comment again, I do want to be clear that I am not implicating Sundry in this overblowing (heh) behavior, only that it was a recent example that was fresh in my head. It tends to happen, and some of it is simply due to the shorthand of others referring to it.

  12. Dec 15, 2010

    And in the personal blogging community in general. Say something remotely negative about someone and you get jumped on and torn to shreds by their legions of ‘fans’. *le sigh*

    unfortunately, I think the Australian blog community needs to go through it all ourselves V 🙁 even though we can see how it will work out by the US going through it a couple of years ahead. It’s like being the younger sister, and still havgin to go through the same year 8 crap big sis went through 😉

  13. Dec 15, 2010

    You know, I was just thinking that, if you were Dooce, you’d have minions falling down to defend you every time someone accused of you of something (whether or not the accusation held merit). But you don’t have those kinds of readers, not because you aren’t popular or likable, but because what you write (your whole brand, really) doesn’t attract the sort of folks who would blindly run to your defense.

    I’d count that as a win, I think.

  14. Dec 15, 2010

    I’ve told you time and time again that I respect your big brass balls for saying what you really think and not pussyfooting around the big issues in this community. Even when I disagree with you, I still appreciate that you write posts that make me THINK. I still stand by that statement.

    But in this case, I do disagree with you. I saw a bit of what went down last night and it did seem overblown. It did seem that you were over-reacting. And frankly, if I was over-reacting to something in such a public manner, I would want a friend to tell me. However, I don’t think people should hate you or be vicious about it. And I certainly don’t think you’ve deserved some of the monikers thrown your way in the past.

    But yes, in this particular case, I do disagree with your stance. Take care of yourself Anna – maybe you need a break from The Tweetle? 🙂

  15. Socks
    Dec 15, 2010

    Ok, I’m ashamed to admit I read the Sundry bangs posts as research.

    Angella D. seems to have appointed herself mean girl hunter in chief. She’s clearly big into this “you hate me” and “I’m against the haters” stuff.

    Probably because she’s a secret/un-self aware mean girl herself who gets her kicks from making her very won mean girl comments on Twitter and then even more passively aggressively proclaiming she dislikes drama.

    But, really, who cares?

    IMnotsoHO it would have been better to just let this one go.

  16. Dec 15, 2010

    I’m kind of torn on this. I see both sides. I’m new to your blog & twitter streams and sometimes it does seem you want to carve yourself a place in that mean girl niche or get recognition from Babble for the most controversial blogger. But then again maybe those aren’t your intentions. And then again maybe if they are who cares? Just like sex sells controversy sells to, but sometimes I think it can make you out to be a fire starter and a fire starter for no reason.

    As someone who used to be relentlessly bullied & stalked by a group of women back in the day on The Knot I hate to see people “call people out” especially when you don’t know that person & you don’t know their intentions.

    But nevertheless this is just the internet and if your comfortable in “your role” then be comfortable in in, if any of this makes any mistakes.

    Not everyone is going to love or like you. So just do it for you.

    And for what its worth I do like reading your “drama” or “bullying” drama is interesting! All of the “I love you BFF” shit gets on my nerves sometimes.

  17. Sheila
    Dec 15, 2010

    You didn’t ask for input but since others are already giving theirs I will do the same. I am not a blogger but I am a mother, and I have read a lot of mommyblogs for several years. I am a very interested observer in the way the blogging landscape is changing, so when I found your blog (while you were looking into issues with the BlogHer ad network) I appreciated your analytical look at what was going on. I’m sure it’s difficult (or impossible) to give your own blog the same disinterested analysis you can apply to others, but I wonder if you’re facing your own trust capital issue here?

    What I mean is that your readers value your willingness to ask difficult questions and put hard work and thought into what you do. You DON’T just act like a bully; you do research and find sources and apply critical analysis to the subjects you’re investigating. But if you are PERCEIVED as someone who is just “manufacturing negativity” to increase your blog traffic, people won’t trust you as much. When you talk about how lately you haven’t seen growth corresponding with the criticism, I read that as a straightforward observation: in the past when people called you a troll, you also saw more traffic on your blog, but now that isn’t happening. However, someone who hasn’t read your blog as much or who is upset with something you said might see that statement as you admitting you’re being negative just to increase blog traffic and you’re disappointed that it hasn’t been working lately.

    What’s interesting to me is that I don’t think you are given credit for all the POSITIVE content on your site. You do all kinds of interesting posts (and the free e-book as well) giving advice to bloggers who want to find creative ways to monetize. You don’t have to share everything you’ve learned, but you do. And you’ve done some interesting pieces where you’re very positive about examples of how people are making money – for example, I was very interested to read about your take on Design Mom’s deal with Mayflower. Even Dooce – some people would say you are a major critic but if anything I read you defending her at least as often as you poke fun at some of what she does.

    So what am I saying here? I guess that I think anyone who objectively looked at everything you do could not say you are a troll or even someone who just likes to criticize and cause conflict. But you can’t count on people being objective, especially when you are taking on some very popular bloggers/websites. The perception that people have matters more than reality sometimes, which is why I was saying it was a trust capital issue. I’m not on Twitter so I have no opinion about the latest controversy and whether or not it was worthy of getting riled up. But if people perceive that you are being negative just to get attention, that will take away from your trust capital even if that isn’t the case.

    I will stop now because this is getting out of hand. Just know that you still have a lot of fans who appreciate your work!

  18. snarkoleptic
    Dec 15, 2010

    I read so few mommy/personal blogs anymore. There’s just so much noise out there, it’s like being at a cocktail party in a marble rotunda with thousands of people yammering. But I love your blog. Really! I will admit that sometimes I like to figure out who you are talking about or what the latest drama is all about, but mainly, I wish I had known about your blog when I blogged. It would have been a welcome refuge from the din and the smarminess. Now I just read it because you’re smart and funny and have balls of steel.

  19. Dec 15, 2010

    I admire your stomach for controversy. I’ve been through a lot of it, and frankly, I just don’t have it in me so much anymore, and lately, I only fight with people I really like, and I know that sounds so stupid, but I figure if I care about them, I’ll fight. If I don’t, I’ll just smile, nod and walk away. Because it’s EXHAUSTING, and I don’t have that kind of energy for people I want to punch in the face ANYWAY.

    The few internet dramas I’ve been in suck me DRY and before I know it, my whole day is gone, my husband’s pissed at me for being glued to Twitter and for what?

    That being said, I don’t think what you said yesterday was untruthful. My reasonable guess is that it probably was you who was referenced, but I’m not sure all the fallout from it was worth it, because it opened up an entire line of questioning that was uncomfortable and at times, unfair, likely because what you did appeared petty to them, even if it wasn’t to you, for a variety of reasons.

    For me, I find if I fight with (or call out) people I didn’t want to be friends with anyway, it forces me to try to some kind of peaceful resolution when confronted, when … well, sadly, sometimes I don’t want a peaceful resolution. I just want to sit in my stew of dislike.

    (That aside, sometimes peaceful resolutions ARE good, but sometimes they really aren’t. I’m guessing in this case you weren’t looking for one, which then begs the question of what you WERE seeking, which isn’t a question I’m asking YOU, but one you probably asked yourself anyway.)

    I’m not criticizing you here, but rather making this about me and how I’ve been reacting to things lately. Because I’m a selfish douche, I guess.

  20. D
    Dec 15, 2010

    I love your blog. I first found you through some Dooce-related thing (maybe Maytag?), and it was refreshing to see someone cutting through the bullshit. That said, I could not agree more with what Sundry wrote, particularly about you thriving on negativity lately. It feels like you’re constantly looking for a fight, and that’s getting a little tiresome. You’re either criticizing someone a bit too harshly (in my opinion) or looking for “proof” that someone else is out for you. It’s making the blog less interesting, and that’s fine if that’s where you want to go….it’s just going to turn some people off, is all.

  21. Dec 15, 2010

    Aqua seafoam shame.

  22. Dec 15, 2010

    You know it’s “aqua seafoam shame,” right? Although I still always hear “I’ll proceed from shame.”

    Anyway, I didn’t follow the latest drama, but I always do when I get the chance. It’s pretty fun and exciting and easy to get wrapped up in. I guess it could get tiresome, as some of the other commentators have said, but I appreciate having a bullshit patrol out here.

    Even if I don’t always agree with you, or even understand the nuances of the latest controversy, I’m glad there’s someone smart and brutally frank to create some interference in the echo chamber.

  23. Dec 16, 2010

    I love your blog. Truly. It is one of my favourites. I appreciate your analytical approach to things, your generosity with sharing what you’ve learned, your advice to others and your titanium balls in taking on topics others do not want.

    Personally, I don’t have the stomach to do what you do – I’m very good at analysis but I just can’t stand confrontation. It makes me really anxious to try and cope with the fallout and the defensive reactions which is why I end up writing a lot of posts that remain in my head. I have a small but pleasant internet life (like a tea party!) and I don’t have the constitution or the energy to carve out my more controversial views on the matter for public eyes. So I appreciate all that you do, I really do – and I don’t think you are a hater.

    So to wit, three things with advance apologies if this gets really long because I can only write at length when I’m trying to be thoughtful (and explain my thought processes so as to try and avoid misunderstanding). I’ll start by saying my own personal context so you know where I am coming from.

    I’ve been keeping an online journal since 2003 – so I fall into the group of old bloggers, but I only very recently discovered the wider blogging world. I write primarily on livejournal – which is its own, much more closed community. The people on my friends list (whose journals I subscribe to) are primarily people I know in real life (some of whom I have met through livejournal, but now consider genuine friends) whom I like and trust and whom I feel liked and trusted by. It’s small, but it is cosy – like a nest. It means my writing is stress-free but it is also hidden and small-time and that I also feel very separate to the larger mommyblogging thing – more like an observer than a member.

    I’ve also spent the last six years training to be a systemic therapist, and that very much colours and shapes my perspective – I see patterns and systems within systems – and I know the whole psychologist thing can sound really condescending, which is not at all my intention.

    I hated high school. I had terrible experiences of it – always feeling like the outsider, which means that I have been pre-set to not feel like I belong to social groups and which makes me very very cynical about cliques and inauthentic friendships. When I see the blogging community (particularly mommyblogging) – high school is what I see replayed over and over and over – whether it is always there or not.

    1. The whole idea of online friends – like Facebook friends – really, really, really bugs me. Friend is a loaded word for me, especially when it is used to denote inauthentic, self-interested/superficial relationships. If I would want you at my wedding – then you’re a friend. If we make each other laugh, and dig each other’s thinking and our relationship is driven by mutual pleasure rather than any party’s self-interest or brand-promotion – then you’re a friend.

    But it feels like the lines around this really get blurred in internet/mommyblogging world. I’m a social constructionist, so I think language is powerful – it creates the world we live in, so the moment people start throwing down words like “community” and “friendship” – well, it sets up a lie and false and clashing expectations in which the inner circle know who they are but the outer circle keep twirling around like hopefuls at American Idol auditions, queing and performing for their shot at getting in. Meanwhile the cliques are closed but pretend they are open and it drives me absolutely raving mad with exaperation(quite possibly because I spent a large chunk of my tender years at the mercy of the whims of immigration authorities).

    There also doesn’t seem to be a language for measured reflection or debate within the community – from what I have seen it is all “attack!”, “defend!”, “sweet innocent!, “mean girl”/”bitter foe!” – which is also a reflection of how easy it is to project and to misinterpret intent online – particularly twitter. One person’s glib is another person’s hateful attack.

    2. It’s my belief that people are prone to project. When you start messing around with communities and when you become a loud and prominent voice – that’s the moment when you set yourself up as a hook for other people’s hero/devil projections.

    As a species and as social creatures I think we are predisposed to two-dimensional relationships. It’s hard to see humans as rounded humans – with flaws and accomplishments – and not just “sweet and awesome!” or just “viscious and negative”.

    That’s my problem with brands really. The more we mindfully match our brand/craft an online persona – the easier it can be to lose dimensions as a person and become hook/projection fodder. All humans have selective attention spans. Your critique of the blogosphere/bloggers posts jump out a lot more than your commodite fetishism ones for example, and if you are not presenting round portraits of a person (appraisal through critique and appreciation) then I think it is easy to see you as negative.

    That’s not how I see you personally, bu then again you’ve never critiqued anyone who I know personally/feel I have extra information about regarding intent.

    We also all project from our own exepriences and understandings of the world. I tend to see things from a perspective of outsider and need extra reassurances that I am welcome somewhere. I’m sure you have your own share of experiences which colour your viewpoint – and that is fine and doesn’t necessarily make you wrong. I just find it useful to also employ an inner ombundsman whose job is try and make me self-reflexive and less prone to feeling like I’m right, much as I enjoy that sort of thing. (I am shaped by my experiences, so I shape my experiences with others because those are the patterns I recognise and know how to operate which includes seeing what might not be there because it’s what I have been trained to see).

    3. As we learned from Mikael Blomquist – the difference between libel and investigation is analysis backed up by evidence. I think when you show links so that all can see what you are talking about and how you drew those conclusions – you are an analyst. When you react emotionally to something on twitter – then it is easier to be seen (or dismissed) as a reactionary.

    Anyway. Best wishes and all that. I always enjoy reading your stuff and value the perspective and how it makes me think.

  24. Dec 16, 2010

    well, i don’t hate you. don’t even dislike you. even when i vehemently disagree with you. even when you were mean to me personally. i’m not much for hanging on to bad feelings though.

    i do think that sometimes you needle things on rather than work to resolve. and that’s fine, it’s your style. but it does come with consequences.

  25. Dec 16, 2010

    But its a really good question, Jonniker. When someone unfriends you, is it worth making a stink about? If someone doesn’t like you, do you really want to take it to a public forum and have it out? I have the right not to like people, for whatever reason. So does Anna, so do we all. And I’ve had people unfollow me on Twitter – it doesn’t feel good, but I try not to dwell on why or what it is that I’ve said. Clearly I just don’t resonate with them and that’s fine. They’re entitled to choose who they read and follow.

    My question is, having only seen what was played out on Twitter, is “what’s the backstory?” Did you call her out, Anna, because there was some other point you needed to make, or was it simply to point out someone being unkind? I guess if there was something else going on, it wasn’t clear from what I could see (granted I don’t follow all of the people who were contributing to the Twerfuffle), and so I was left wondering why you were out there swinging away and then being in a position where you seemed to be just taking body blows with no one to defend you. Yeah, you’ve been there before, more than once, but you’re usually hoisting yourself on your own petard with a purpose.

    It was uncomfortable to watch, from my POV. But you know me and conflict. People can say anything they want to me, it doesn’t bother me in the least, but to watch people I respect and/or like have it out just makes me cringe.

  26. Dec 16, 2010

    On the personal finance section you offer so much value, especially to new and/or clueless mommybloggers. Your content there is SO useful and generous. But the mommyblogging powers-that-be often don’t seem to need or want that information; many of them know (or think they know) it already. And they’re the ones you sometimes seem to tick off–so you’re taking them on here, on the abdpbt section, criticizing and “calling them out” here or on Twitter without necessarily networking with them or offering THAT audience something of value.

    As you said you’ve seen from your attendance at conferences, your traffic tends to go up when you attend BlogHer, etc. Maybe you need to do more traditional networking–making actual professional relationships with mommybloggers you do respect and admire. Because without connections, it seems like it’s going to be much tougher for you to build an audience. Similarly, if you’re interested in sponsorships or some ongoing and public relationship with a brand, you have to demonstrate that you CAN build (not just tear down). As someone above mentioned, your own trust capital is at stake when you go off half-cocked.

    And in spite of your insistence on understanding the context, you sometimes assume a vague Twitter conversation refers to you, when (in bafflement as to what you were up to), I’ve looked up the whole thread among all the relevant @replies and found that, lo and behold, the conversation and reference and perceived insult had nothing to do with you. (Not THIS business with Angela and Sundry–about which I know nothing–but a previous calling out you did.) I think you might ignore context and assume a conversation is about you more than you care to admit.

    So, yes, I’m joining the chorus: Pick your battles. Why alienate people for no reason at all–just because you haven’t got enough impulse control to stop yourself?

    I think you’ve shared enough about yourself and your struggles here that I and many of your readers are rooting for you–we want you to succeed. We want you to be big. And it’s frustrating to me, anyway, to see you keep shooting yourself in the foot.

  27. hannah
    Dec 16, 2010

    Yes, that was my question- what was the bigger point? It’s one thing to point out when the Emperor has no clothes, whether that Emperor is the BlogHer pay structure or sites that earn their money of off cheap labor or whatever. But just calling out someone for calling someone a bully doesn’t seem to be worth it-

  28. Dec 16, 2010

    Okay, well, maybe I’m in the minority, but it drives me CRAZY when people passive-aggressively tweet stupid shit like this. And then when you ad on the irony of saying “I unfollowed someone for being a mean girl” when by tweeting this you are being a mean girl…oh my goodness. It’s too stupid.

    So whoever this chick is, I don’t have much sympathy, because if you are going to passive-aggressively type out negative crap and send it off into the world, you might get called on it. Duh. It doesn’t even matter who the tweet was about, because it was about SOMEBODY. Don’t like it? Don’t tweet passive-aggressive nasty crap. Simple fix for those folks who allegedly don’t like drama.

    On the flip side, it can be hard work calling out every passive-aggressive or stupid or hypocritical thing people do…and it doesn’t pay well at all.

    But if I won the lottery, I’d be sorely tempted. Because damn, there’s a lot of hypocrisy out there.

  29. Dec 16, 2010

    To be honest, I agree with this too. If you’re going to announce that you’re unfollowing someone for being a mean girl, you might as well go whole hog and say who it is and be prepared to stand by it. That bothers me, a lot, and it happens, a lot.

    And yes, it’s a mean girl thing to do, even though it doesn’t seem that way on the surface. But it is and I don’t even think the people who do it realize it. I know I’ve done it on occasion, and this is a good lesson for me not to do it again.

  30. Dec 16, 2010

    That’s the thing, though. People need to start realizing it.

    Because if you tweeted right now, “I’m unfollowing Kerry and I feel so free! I mean I try to be nice to everyone, but geez,” I’d feel bad.

    But if you tweet, “I’m unfollowing someone and I feel so free [blah blah blah], you would make 20 people feel bad. Because at least 20 people would think you were talking about them.

    So the first method is actually 1/20th as mean. And I’m sick to death of people pretending they’re not being mean when they do stuff like this.

    (This is totally NOT directed at you Jonna, because I like you and I’ve actually never seen you say anything like this on Twitter or anywhere else. And I don’t know this Angela person; I never heard of her before this. I’m just sick of this trend, and I’m sick of people acting like they’re innocent and someone else is a big meanie when they get called on it. If people don’t want to be called out for this kind of behavior, they shouldn’t engage in it.)

  31. Dec 16, 2010

    Oh please! I can take it regardless, but yes, I don’t think I’ve done exactly this, but I have definitely made a passive-aggressive comment or two on twitter, and I think the lesson here is that yes, don’t say it unless you’re prepared to be called out on the whole thing. And for me, and everyone else who pulls this kind of shit, to knock it off.

  32. JD
    Dec 16, 2010

    Am kind of late to this party, but will comment anyway.

    Loved Sheila’s comment about trust capital. I agree that that’s one of the core issues here. Trust capital can be spent not just on pushing products but also on recruiting supporters for various battles. That’s a significant energy expenditure on the part of the reader.

    Seems like things are at their very best here when Anna’s exploring poorly-articulated or half-formed concepts that are floating around on the Internet and are simply following them wherever they lead, controversial or not. A better tagline than “the mommyblogger who says what the other mommybloggers only wish they could say” might be “the mommyblogger who says what the other bloggers have kind of been mulling over but haven’t been able to express coherently” – much less catchy, but more accurate. That’s what draws me in, at least: chasing down the ideas and giving them shape. You help un-muddle our thoughts.

    But there are lots of internet behaviors that are already well-described and so, though loathsome and infuriating, aren’t really worth your consideration. Passive-aggressive behavior, for instance – people are well aware of it and know what they’re doing when they choose to display it. At that point, it’s the responsibility of each individual to make a deliberate choice not to act like an asshole – it’s not like they fall into it by mistake – and the only people who can successfully influence their behavior are their own friends or, perhaps, an exceptionally famous blogger.

    I do love this blog, by the way – it’s one of the few that has anything interesting to say anymore. But please take care of yourself, Anna. Lightning rods lead wretched lives.

  33. I am sharing this because, as you said in your post, you don’t like the conflict avoidance of the bloggosphere. So rather, I am going to be honest with you.

    I haven’t been reading your blog or your twitter stream for long. I started because quite of few of my online blogger friends, whom I very much trust and respect, read and seem to really like you and so I added you to my twitter and Google reader. I very much respect how you don’t dance around issues. You have the confidence to say what you want to say.

    That being said, from a very outsider perspective, some of the things you have said on twitter have been off putting to me. You seem to sometimes be calling someone out because you don’t like them and not because you have a valid point or are providing commentary on the world of blogging. Or if you do have a valid point I have missed it. I have wondered a number of times if something has happened to cause you to have a chip on your shoulder.

    I think this can really turn new readers, who are just getting to know you, off. We don’t get the background story or long term history. Say what you want to say, say it clearly and say it boldly. But my advice to you would be to consider ‘why’ and ‘what is my purpose in saying this’ first before you do. Is it providing value or meaningful commentary or initiating good discussion? Does it help people connect with you and understand you? If what you feel the urge to say still fits, then go for it. But it may help you screen out those things that just aren’t worth it.

  34. Dec 16, 2010

    I think you hit the nail on the head, Socks (although I’m a little sad that you did it anonymously).

  35. Socks
    Dec 16, 2010

    Hi Kate,

    I comment anonymously but leave my real email address so Anna could find my name very easily if she were interested.

    It’s not because I’m ashamed of what I say but because I don’t want a permanent record of a conversation where I’m working out my thoughts. I view many blog comments as a kind of dinner party. I’ll say things that I don’t necessarily want to stand behind forever just like I wouldn’t want dinner party conversations searchable in the great Google databases.

    Anyway, that’s my story for what it’s worth.

    Socks

  36. Snazzy Susan
    Dec 17, 2010

    Socks, I have now learned that lesson the hard way.

    I agree with you 100%. What I have witnessed in the Mommy-Blogosphere is a circle of women who are not only cliquey, but are so thin skinned, you can see their vital organs. Even the most constructive criticism is seen as “hate” and their Twitter Army rises up to pummel whomever said “Hater” is.

    I used to get a real kick out of calling them out on their BS, however, this group of ladies are about as self aware as Camille Grammer. They don’t see their hypocrisy and Trainwreckiness. They don’t get it and for them to get it, they would have to whittle away at their enormous egos, and that could take forever.

    In the meantime, there are better things to do and much better blogs to read, or books…. By actual writers! With talent! And not just a sycophantic Twitter Army.

    The MommyBlogosphere is lamer than the Rants and Raves section of Craigslist. My advice? Ignore them and fuck ’em? They love the attention you give them and it only fuels their dumbassery.

  37. Dec 17, 2010

    Seconded.

  38. drhoctor2
    Dec 17, 2010

    Many people take these cheap shots at others expecting it to sit out there and shame the target. It is bad manners to hold a person accountable in these circles ..I watched this unfold on Twitter and I think you handled yourself very well. I get the sense that you think you over reacted and feel ashamed somehow. I am a fellow rationally intelligent debater and I assure you..you don’t need to feel that way.
    This is pretty simple..If “I” had thrown out the ‘I unfollowed ..blah blah..mean girl ” thing and not meant it for you..I would have told you SO …like immediately..via the next twitter or DM or singing telegram..A simple heads up would have avoided the ensuing thrashing you were expected to lay down and take…right ? I think people are trying to trap you up with the passive aggressive BS ..I think the little voice you hear telling you..’they are talking about me” is RIGHT and I think you are being baited..
    Why isn’t anybody cracking on Avitable for that stupid accusation of bullying a dead baby mama ? Why hasn’t anybody cracked on Dad gone Mad for his assaultive behavior ? What was Her Bad mothers problem with you on Jezebel and WHY didn’t anybody beef her up for pulling the focus off of that perverts actions and subsequent cutesy post from Karen ? Because they blog ? WTF.? Any and all of those behaviors and statements coming from any other media would have been torn UP by these same bloggers. Why are you being told to play “nicer” while these shots ARE being fired at you ? I’ve been watching this since you called out the blogher ad nonsense and I’m here to tell you this..YOU ARE NOT WRONG. Really. .I have no dog in this race other than my usual commitment to not letting that sort of thing go unchallenged in my own life. I do have several more years of experience in dealing with these kinds of faux intellectual traps tho and I’m telling you..stop feeling bad about this , right now. People don’t throw in stupid put downs or introduce off topic tantrums in a debate unless they are losing factual ground.
    Disengage if you feel you must but don’t disengage because you think you are doing something wrong.

  39. drhoctor2
    Dec 17, 2010

    I meant to add this..I have a lot of respect for Tanis ‘ non reaction reaction to the accusation..she was funny and blew it right off…THAT”S how real people are supposed to act.

  40. drhoctor2
    Dec 17, 2010

    I have to say this ..I’ve dodged it twice but it’s just sticking in me..Sundry’s comment ? Hella mean and aggressive – aggressive…don’t take it to heart.

  41. Dec 18, 2010

    I’m loving these comments, especially this one. It’s like an early Christmas present to me.

    You know how everyone says these imbroglios are so high school? I wonder sometimes whether all the blow-ups in the mommyblogosphere are based on geeky girls’ basic lack of social skills. In high school, they didn’t know how to get along with the popular girls. And now they’re emulating them. (They definitely don’t know how to lose their high school social issues and act like professionals. Anyone who sics her twitter followers on anyone else–even a major corporation–actually especially a major corporation–needs to step away from the twitter.

    To use an old-skool Buffy comparison, it’s like the Willows of the world are going Cordelia on your ass.

  42. Snazzy Susan
    Dec 18, 2010

    Of course it’s mean and aggressive, consider the source.

  43. drhoctor2
    Dec 18, 2010

    I read her blog fairly regularly and this did surprise me some becos she doesn’t come off as a sniper most times.
    I just didn’t want it on here, uncommented upon as I think Anna is really smarting over all this and i believe it to be very unfair…so the hell, might as well put it out there.

  44. Listen Up Doc
    Dec 19, 2010

    Anna keeps getting called direct. BULLSHIT! Listen up, Doc. The post she linked to from twitter regarding picking on people with dead babies was NOT the one she originally said Tanis might be lying about having a dead kid. Anna is just as passive aggressive as the next person. Read her twitter stream sometime. Or the many others she uses: @hugh_blowgotes, @c_w_a_a, @true_insolence..and more. They are all her – they all light up when she is around, and usually when there is drama going on! Her own twitter account is full of p/a behavior. There is no way that the attitude behind this post will last long. She owes quite a few people sincere apologies for the way she has filled in her ‘research’ with complete falsehoods. Just because she uses big words, doesn’t mean she has solid arguments. The woman can barely read and comprehend. Notice the many differences in her arguments to her sources in so many cases where she claims to be doing her own warped form of investigative journalism?
    The woman needs a lesson in reality and a ton of therapy. She’s just another bored housewife with a toddler who thinks she knows a lot about life. Wait until you have had two kids, lady. Or three. Or had a tragedy in your life. Or seen anything remotely interesting/tragic/meaningful beyond dissecting the lives of others for profit of your own. YOU TRASH YOUNG MOTHERS AND VICTIMS OF TRAGEDY, FOR MEASLY AD DOLLARS. How do you sleep at night, Anna??? Clearly this is a sport for you, which makes you a very very ill person. Get help.

  45. Snazzy Susan
    Dec 20, 2010

    I think you need some medication, Mayopie.

    Also, I would suggest you edit your own posts before you accuse anyone else of not being able to read or comprehend.

    Also, so many people are accused of being those Twitter accounts on a daily basis, however, the people screaming “J’ACCUSE!” never seem to consider that maybe more than one person thinks the precious A-List Mom-Bloggers are assholes? Because the Mommyblogosphere is chalk full of assholes, trainwrecks and people who really need a lesson in self awareness.

    Also, just because someone suffers a loss of a child, doesn’t mean they still aren’t an asshole and have carte blanche to pollute the internet with their despicable behavior.

  46. drhoctor2
    Dec 20, 2010

    Dear Mayo…I would be absolutely FLUMMOXED if it ever came out that Anna authored any of those accounts..FLUMMOXED, I say. I do not believe for a minute that she has ever trolled anyone and I have been reading these sites and twitters for years, guy. She has no need to set up a trolling persona to begin with, the woman can’t write any sort of business based post without half the blogosphere screaming for her blood…It kinda chaps my fanny, honestly, as they drown out the GOOD debates. I LIKE the good debates. I LEARN stuff from the good debates. I LIKE to learn stuff. It is a GOOD THING to debate.
    I understand you have a personal rage on for Anna , HOWEVER..that has NOTHING to do with me or this topic or these behaviors or any other wild ass accusation that has been thrown at her or anyone (SLYNRO !! savagely set upon over @ jezebel, poor thing..) who tries to make any sort of calm, rational, incisive observation on the topic at hand…
    People FREAK out over the slightest, most rational critique of their work and I do not understand it..what kind of intellectual discussion can we enjoy if everyone is compelled to stick to fluffy bunny love fests as topic or commentary or risk the kind of mobbed up incendiary character attacks we see daily when anyone dares to voice a differing opinion ? The personal attacks are nonsensical defenses thrown out by the intellectually lazy. People who don’t bother to research thier opinion before they throw out an easily disproved non fact based statement are first to fall in any debate I’m in…and I do not get emotionally crazed if I’m proved out to be wrong. I’m a grown up so I ACT like one.
    Please don’t assume that I’m too gullible or lazy to have offered my opinion on any topic that I haven’t thoroughly researched before coming to my own conclusion. I haven’t done anything that foolish in years.

  47. drhoctor2
    Dec 20, 2010

    And ALSO…PEOPLE…I spent a lot of energy back in the day stomping out the use of mysogonistic social characterization phrases demeaning women..for example ? Housewife. The job is called HOMEMAKING. Nobody marries a house. Not even in Vermont.

  48. drhoctor2
    Dec 20, 2010

    How much do I regret hitting publish before removing the rogue “o” from mysogynist ? SOOOOOOOOO much.

  49. Dec 24, 2010

    Im going to reiterate what I said in that email – I don’t want you feeling like everyone hates you, because it’s not true.

    PERSONALLY, I wouldn’t have started that very public conversation with you if I didn’t respect you.

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