It’s pretty typical that, in the weeks following a big kerfluffle in the mommyblogosphere, we will then have a backlash of a few days or weeks where everyone acts certifiably insane. Apparently the backlash to the New York Times article (which was a BIG DEAL for reasons that are still unclear to me) is going on right now. A bunch of people have dramatically quit the internet, others are publishing their hate mail on their blogs, prompting others to retaliate by publishing their own hate mail on their blogs, then the parents of bloggers are being enlisted to get into their hate mail, more people are quitting the internet, people are guest-posting on the blogs of the internet quitters to alert everyone to the fact that somebody has quit the internet, Twitter postings are continuing in the face of that internet quitting, home addresses are being published on the internet for everyone to see, and people are cheering. At least, the people who are actually commenting. The rest of us, presumably, are at home rocking back and forth in the fetal position.
Phew. That’s a whole mess of crazy to deal with at one time. I have a theory about bloggers, and you’re not going to want to hear it. But I’m going to tell you anyway. My theory is this: many bloggers, particularly those bloggers who started their blogging early, before the masses descended, pretty much have to be narcissists. Here’s why: there’s just no other reason to have started blogging back in the day, unless you are an artist or a photographer who wanted to share your work. I’m talking about a long time ago, before people even realized blogging could be a business, or before people realized it was a way to keep in touch with people. Because why on earth would somebody have thought, “Yeah, I’m going to just start saying what I think out into the ether, and see what happens?” You wouldn’t! Unless you were a narcissist.
Now I’m not saying that YOU are a narcissist, or that I am a narcissist. I’m saying that some of us must be. And when I’ve witnessed some of these stunts lately, so many of them are akin to screaming out “EYES BACK TO ME” that it’s starting to make me wonder. Maybe you are a narcissist, and you’re cool with everyone knowing it, I don’t know. But if you aren’t one, or if you are one and want to keep it on the D-L, here’s an thought: how about we all relax for a bit? How about we all take a few deep breaths and NOT DO ANYTHING for a while?
Last week somebody asked me if I had Asperger Syndrome on my blog. Did I fly off the handle? No. And before you ask — it’s not because I have Asperger’s (at least, I don’t think so). I didn’t fly off the handle because there’s not a lot of good that can come from flying off the handle on the internet. I’ve done it many times — even here on this blog — and every single time I’ve regretted it. Even those times when I was writing about something I truly believed, allowing myself to vent my anger about an internet issue ended up being a mistake. It messes with your credibility, and it almost never leads to anything positive. That’s why you don’t see me screaming “taint-face!” at people in comment sections (usually), not because I don’t think, “WOW WHAT A TAINT-FACE!” or worse, on occasion, but because I don’t want to be that person, the one who dropped the taint-face in the comment section for all to see.
Other things I don’t want to do: publish somebody’s home address on the internet, regardless of who that person is, unless they want me to do it. Because, umm, why? Why? What good is going to come out of that for anybody? And don’t tell me it’s a crazy person or it’s somebody who deserves it, because guess what? Even if that’s true, why are you poking the crazy? Step away from the crazy — that’s what sane people do. They see crazy people, and they cross the street. They don’t go looking for trouble, unless there’s a really good reason for it. (Note to self: make sure there’s a really good reason for it next time.)
Internet quitters: I know some of you might have legitimate real-world concerns that require your immediate absence from the internet. Understood. Here’s a thought: how about you just . . . go . . . next time? How about we dispense with the dramatic departures? We’ll be here when you come back, no need to worry.
About the hate mail pissing contests: listen, I understand the impulse. Getting hate mail sucks, and you want to have people reassure you that you’re not as much of an asshole as the hate mailer would have you believe. But the problem is, readers hate reading that stuff. They hate being forced to give you HUGGERZ. Even more, they hate reading 502 comments that are all HUGGERZ. And, worst of all, the publishing of the hate mail lets the hate mailer know that they got to you, and encourages them to continue, because what they want is attention, more than anything, that’s what they need even more than for you to stop exploiting your children for Disney. I know we all know this. I’m just reminding everyone for posterity’s sake.
To the new bloggers who are wishing they had hate mail to publish: don’t worry, you will. It might take you a year or two, but eventually somebody, somewhere will decide that you’re an asshole and, what’s more, that you need to be told so. Why rush things? Try to enjoy the prelapsarian blogging bliss in which you now reside. Once you get your first IP-address-stripped email, you can’t go home again.
Now, if you’ll all excuse me, I have some lemonade to drink on my porch. So get off my lawn.