Mean Spirited

by anna on May 13, 2010

meanspirited

Recently somebody told me my site served an important purpose, but that I had to be careful not to be “mean spirited.”

This is a recurring theme.

Be nice.
Why are you so mean?
What does “ABDPBT View definition in a new windowmean?
Why can’t you name your site something normal?
Rude
What gives you the right
Too big for your britches

These are just the latest variations on the same complaints that I’ve heard for my entire life. My best advice to people is to either ignore me or to endeavor to get used to it.

Because you are preaching to the choir. I’m not the kind of person who is a total pain in the ass but thinks that their shit doesn’t stink. I’m well aware not only that my shit stinks, but of the exact notes of its odor and — what’s more — exactly how offensive it really is. In fact, I’m so intimately acquainted with it, that I could lecture you on the ins and outs of it to the point of making you throw up.

Now, on the matter of personality disorders: for me, the most upsetting thing of the past few weeks is not so much the fact that I’ve been internet diagnosed, because to be honest I was a little flattered to finally have reached the point where somebody took a stab at doing this. No, it was to see that the diagnoses have been so egregiously incorrect.

Fake Psychiatrists of the Internet, you disappoint me: I am not a narcissist, I’m a major clinical depressive and an alcoholic, with tendencies toward masochism and self-obsession. Not only should you have been able to easily discern this based on my writings, but the professional diagnoses are actually spoon-fed to you on my blog! I find this kind of neglect for detail disappointing and shall expect more of you in the future.

Now what else? Oh yes, I just wanted to say that, as usual, the turmoil of the past few weeks has strengthened my affection for my usual group of readers, without whom I would be lost. It is they who keep me coming back here and writing, day after day, — even when it is just a little silly post like this — to see what they will say in response, what witty quips they will have, the back and forth, because that is really what makes it all worth it for me in the end.

{ 77 comments }

deb@birdonawire May 13, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I love you. Cogent, engaging, truthful and clear. Some people say they want the truth, but they can’t handle the truth (in my best jack nicholson voice)! Thank you for your many moments of brilliance!

I do still wonder about ABDPBT..just sayin ;-)

anna May 13, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Thanks, Deb. Everybody wonders about the name. I know. It has its issues. But it also has its strengths.

kitchenMage May 13, 2010 at 9:39 pm

“It has its issues. But it also has its strengths.”

The same could be said of most of us.

anna May 14, 2010 at 10:17 am

true.

kalisa May 13, 2010 at 1:40 pm

I notice a similar recurring theme in my life too — I keep being told at work (a few different jobs now) that I’m not *nice* enough. I’m all, “Why should I have to be nice to someone WHO’S NOT DOING THEIR JOB??” But no one seems to see my side of it. I think I should’ve made a career in New York, where everyone’s rude, instead of the deep south, where niceness counts.

anna May 13, 2010 at 2:15 pm

I’m just saying, do men get told to be nice, I don’t think so. Even when they are being, um, cruel. And even when they are just plain old crazy and getting to the point where they might need to have the authorities called on them, nobody comes out of the woodwork and tells them to “be nice.” Yet I get it like every other day.

Kalisa May 13, 2010 at 2:24 pm

I’M NICE!! Just today I saw Drum Eatenton at the Piggy Wiggly and I *smiled* at the sumbitch before I could help myself!!

Jenny May 13, 2010 at 2:28 pm

OMG Kalisa!!! I haven’t laughed this hard in MONTHS. Not even at my own stuff!! Great work.

Eliz May 14, 2010 at 7:50 am

As a transplanted Yankee, Kalisa, I ask with bated breath – are you anywhere near upstate SC?

jonniker May 13, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Kalisa, come to the northeast. We’re direct and kind of dicky up here. I like it.

pamela dayton time May 13, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Kalisa, we’re sort of bitchy and direct in Western New York, too, but we have better scenery.

Noemi May 13, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Oh dear god, please, please, please don’t start being “nice.” No one ever tells men to be “nice” and every time I hear someone exhort a woman to “be nice” it essentially makes me want to kill them. This idea that women should all be sweet and fluffy with each other is such a load of bull, and I keep reading here ‘cuz there’s none of that shit happening, AT ALL. Keep it up.

anna May 13, 2010 at 2:16 pm

I’m actually nice to people who don’t tell me to be nice. When I like people, I’m nice to them. It’s weird how that works, huh? :)

Jenny Motley May 13, 2010 at 1:41 pm

The only thing I hate worse than reading a blog that has a name that I don’t understand, is when the blog’s OWNER and AUTHOR has the AUDACITY to write about whatever HE OR SHE wants to all the time and also if he or she doesn’t ask ME what words and/or voice that I might want them to use to write those posts on THEIR VERY OWN BLOG.

The nerve.

anna May 13, 2010 at 2:17 pm

I think what you’re looking for is “big for her britches.” Or “I’d never heard of THAT WOMAN before a few months ago and now she’s everywhere.”

You’re welcome.

Kerry May 13, 2010 at 1:45 pm

This post would be better if it had a picture of a playing card stuck in a lemon.

Don’t you know anything about blogging? Geez.

Jenny May 13, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Hey, how did Kerry get that cute little wagon brand-y thing-y next to her byline? I smell favoritism. Mean-spirited favoritism. UNLIKE.

anna May 13, 2010 at 2:18 pm

It’s a gravatar, there is no favoritism, Jenny. As such.

Kerry May 13, 2010 at 2:59 pm

It IS Gravatar. Re-like, or I’ll say you’re not nice.

I’m thinking of changing it to the lemon with the playing card though.

(That is never, ever going to get old. Never.)

Jenny May 13, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Fine, fine. RE-effing-LIKE, Kerry. Even if you did beat me to the lemon-playing-card-Gravatar joke.
Sorry for the hijack, Anna. Oh by the way, commenting here on ABDPDQROFL.com gets me about as many hits as commenting on The Bloggess’ site. So SOMEONE must be reading you too. That should cheer you up.

anna May 13, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Yes, but they’re only clicking so that they can mark you down as a fellow traveler.

anna May 13, 2010 at 2:17 pm

That remains one of my favorite all time photographs, I have to say.

jessica May 13, 2010 at 1:49 pm

been there, had that done to me. Get in line.

anna May 13, 2010 at 2:18 pm

You mean there are a bunch of us?!

beta dad May 13, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Did we used to date in college?

anna May 13, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Depends on how you define “date.”

beta dad May 13, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Hang out with the same group of friends. Get drunk, hook up. Hole up in your ratty apartment for a couple months trying to avoid your gay roommate who used to have a crush on me, alienate all our friends, drink forties and watch Rugrats until it all gets too intense and we decide to “see other people” which means break up but then we can “still be friends” which means we can get drunk and hook up every now and then until one of us starts dating someone else and the other of us freaks out in public pointing and screaming like the holocaust survivor in The Marathon Man when she sees the Nazi doctor on the streets of New York and then one of us can’t go to that bar anymore for fear that the scene might be repeated and the other of us can’t go there because the management asks them not to return. You know, “date.”

But back to the “nice” discussion. I have rarely been asked to be nice, but that’s because I’m a totally non-confrontational pushover most of the time. For the same reason, I haven’t asked others to be nice. I love it when people are direct and sharp when I agree with what they are saying and expedience is necessary and some dipshit needs to be shut down; but I don’t like it when people act like assholes just to intimidate others, which is something I’ve seen more in men than women. It’s true–men get away with it more.

Michele May 13, 2010 at 2:11 pm

I think you should have had a lemon stuck in a physiatrist couch–AND TYPED THE TITLE IN CAPS.

anna May 13, 2010 at 2:19 pm

I would prefer to balance the lemon on my cat’s head.

Mary P May 13, 2010 at 2:33 pm

It is my personal experience that women who speak up for themselves and ask questions immediately get tagged with more negative titles than a porcupine has quills. If people in my work environment weren’t actually scared to speak to me I’d probably get more grief than I do now.

All you can do, or rather speaking in the first person, all *I* can do is keep being the person I know I am. As you have, are and I assume will continue to do. Its a given that not everyone in life is going to like you, fewer people are going to “get” you and among those who don’t like you will be those who hate you. The challenge is responding with equanimity, and I think we all have times were we succeed at that and times where we fail.

I guess what I really like about you Anna, is your self-awareness. Maybe its just the way you are, but I suspect from my own experience that it is a result of your addiction recovery too. People in recovery eventually grasp the knack of getting straight to the point on just about everything. People who prefer to dance around the elephants don’t understand, can’t accept, often outright HATE this tendency.

There have been bloggers I’ve read who’ve touched a nerve with me that I didn’t appreciate, but even then I think it forces me to look at myself and my actions/beliefs and evaluate. Is there truth to what is being said here? Does it bother me? WHY does it bother me? And go forward from there. Sometimes I walk away and I still don’t really like that person, but sometimes I gain a liking for them because they made me think. You do that for me.

anna May 13, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Thanks, Mary. But what you’re saying is . . . you didn’t like me at first? See what I did there? That’s what is like being in my head.

Mary P May 13, 2010 at 6:13 pm

No, actually I didn’t know if I liked you. I think I first discovered you on Twitter…wondered “who is this woman and what is she about?” Came to your website, read it and liked your writing. My last paragraph was less about you directly than more of an in general thing. Off the top of my pointy head.

anna May 13, 2010 at 6:20 pm

I figured, but I had to make it about me anyway. You know how it is. :)

Becca May 13, 2010 at 2:51 pm

I go through this on a regular basis. It isn’t that you are mean, it IS that people don’t understand forthrightness. My CCA at work calls it military, but I think of it as an ability to see what needs to be fixed and get it done with a minimum of bullshit. Don’t change, I love your writing and the fact that someone else with major depressive issues still functions.

anna May 13, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Hi Becca — I was wondering where you were! I’m glad you’re still around. I’m definitely not from a military background, but I guess I can see what you’re saying, like there’s not a lot of time to mess around with formalities. I’m just impatient. In day to day life I don’t dispense with politeness, but I can only take so much before it’s like, “Well, if nobody else is going to say it, then I guess I will.”

Penny May 13, 2010 at 3:30 pm

It is only a matter of time before a woman who speaks her mind on a regular basis is told to be nicer, smile more, stop whining, be happy, or is pleaded with as to “why can’t we all just get along”.

Inevitable.

anna May 13, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Penny, yes. I think it would still annoy me if it were done with gender neutrality, but the fact that it isn’t just makes it that much more infuriating. It’s like it’s going to make me (gasp!) unattractive.

HM May 14, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Why do we all have to get along? I’ve never understood why we as women need to be friends with everyone. If I don’t like you, I don’t like you, I’ll be civil but you’re not my friend.

Love the blog Anna, and I think you should keep being true to yourself, otherwise how will I know it’s you ;)

anna May 15, 2010 at 8:51 am

Thanks. It means a lot to hear this.

Alison May 13, 2010 at 4:11 pm

I am someone who complained about some of the content in the lawyer’s letter. I had no idea at the time that you were getting it from all sides. When someone here mentioned how you’d been getting shit thrown at you all over the internet, I did some googling and … oh. I don’t read the mommyblogs, just yours, and had no idea. I think I inadvertently piled on at a time when you really didn’t need it, and I’m sorry about that!

I’ve seen nothing from you to indicate you’re mean-spirited, but after what I read on other sites during that little research expedition, you’d be entitled to throw a little meanness at people right now if you wanted to. Sorry you had to deal with that.

And I couldn’t agree more that that charge gets leveled at women way more than men.

anna May 13, 2010 at 4:21 pm

No big deal, Alison. I’m a big girl. And even if you had known, it’s not your fault. There’s really only a few people that I’m legitimately upset with and you’re not one of them, in fact, none of the people from that day who expressed annoyance over the letter were. I may have disagreed with them, but that’s not what I was upset about. That was just an added distraction for the real targets of my ire. Now that that’s out of the way, I can rage against those targets with the full force of my anger. No worries. :)

Kader May 13, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I’ve said this a few times now, but I find your approach to be nearly perfect. That’s meant as flattery–but not just to you. I love your approach because it reminds me so much of my approach. Though you’re a better writer and a much, much better blogger.
Anyway, my life has been spent being told I’m “too negative” or “too political” or “too confrontational” or “not nice.” I think we should start viewing those comments as the highest compliments.
Also, it did take me a few weeks to be able to remember the order of the letters in your blog/twitter handle. But, given my innate brilliance, I have finally memorized it.

anna May 13, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Thanks, Kader. Yes, we can live vicariously through each other each time we get knocked down for taking on the causes that nobody else seems to want to because, well, nobody else seems to want to, and we feel like somebody has to. It’s a noble calling, I guess, after a fashion.

Perpetua May 13, 2010 at 4:30 pm

I said it a long time ago, and I still maintain, that you have the best looking teeth on the internet. Also, good hair.

Someone didn’t actually use the term “too big for your britches,” did they? That’s a little bit embarrassing.

anna May 13, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Oh yes! I think you know by now that I index and catalog any and all insults leveled against me! Especially the new and embarrassing ones.

Perpetua May 14, 2010 at 9:57 am

I maybe should have clarified: embarrassing to have been the person who said it, unless that person is roughly 80 years old and hikes his britches up to the breastbone. Then he’s allowed to britch away.

anna May 14, 2010 at 10:19 am

No, I understood. But I think the person was somebody who had started reading me back when I had advertised on Dooce, and as such had made an objection that I dared question any move El Duce had ever made. Because . . . uh, having paid money to advertise on Dooce means that I owe her allegiance forever, I guess?

monkey May 13, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Questioning an idea/school of thought/commonly understood arrangement isn’t mean-it’s just a questioning of the common assumptions behind convention.

Personal attacks, however, *are* mean. And I think there is a crapload of difference between the occasional pettiness/snarking you indulge in here at times, and entire posts devoted to calling you sexist names under the guise of humour.

anna May 13, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Well, my main thing is — is it funny? Because, yes, it’s harder to laugh when you’re the butt of the joke, but I can still usually do it. But when I cannot even see a punchline or follow the line of the humor, then I’m guessing it’s not funny. And if it’s not funny, then it’s definitely not going to excuse the nastiness. Because a lot of humor borders on cruelty at times, there are times when you are balancing, always. But if there is no laughing, then that is a bad sign. And that is true even when you are the target, you should still be able to see at least what the humor is supposed to be. The first comment to a humorous post should not be, “Stupid bitch,” if it is a funny post. I’m just saying.

monkey May 13, 2010 at 4:48 pm

I was using the word “humour” very loosely-sorry I didn’t specify that.

Personally, I think there’s a difference between gentle teasing and unfunny stupidity. Good-spirited ribbing generally involves picking up on a quirk/trait that’s semi-endearing as much as it is annoying-it’s almost universally enjoyable, especially when the ribber has some genuine affectino for the ribbee. Mean-spirited funny can basically be summed up by laughing at developmentally disabled people (the person can’t help it, it very seriously and directly impacts their life). Yes, it can be funny but if you have half a consciensce you’re probably feeling guilty at the back of your mind. And unfunny is anyone who writes for…oh, I’ll let you fill in the blank. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Yes…I went there!

anna May 13, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Yes, there is a lot of inside humor, and the cat speak which is kind of a version of developmentally disabled humor under a PC veil I suppose. Sometimes when I am making satire I figure it is “not nice,” and have a sense that I am supposed to feel bad about it, but I don’t really feel bad about it until somebody comes in and makes me feel bad about it.

monkey May 13, 2010 at 4:44 pm

By the way, the reason I haven’t been commenting lately is that I’ve quit my job in L.A. and am back home learning calculus/stats/econ for business school-not because you’ve mortally offended me with your tight britches.

anna May 13, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Hah! I knew you had quit your job but didn’t know you had left. When do you go to BSchool?

monkey May 13, 2010 at 5:05 pm

At the very end of August. I have such a talent for picking hated professions :)

anna May 13, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Yes, I cannot wait to hear the stories from inside the hallowed halls of investment bankerdom after the fall from grace.

andrea May 13, 2010 at 4:49 pm

u will never rid yourself of the faceless fuckwits who gratify themselves with judgmental conclusions of others. congrats in being cool enough to have the asshats care to send their very best. i’m totally jealous. & don’t ever edit your writings for concern over others opinions, for they are only that:others opinions. or just punch them in the face. whatever makes you feel better on the inside. <3 andy

anna May 13, 2010 at 5:17 pm

I don’t think you should be jealous. Really. You can have them, they’re all yours. :)

Alexis May 13, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Being the “asshat avenger” is hard work and a thankless job.

“Too big for your britches” is hilarious. Like what? Is there some kind of blogger code where where we all respect the hierarchy and check with our feudal lords before we post anything? Will taking an honest look at life anger the blogging gods?

Whatever, keep calling it like you see it because otherwise, why bother writing at all?

anna May 13, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Alexis, yes, I think that was the complaint. That I was stirring up trouble by saying things about how things were done, and I hadn’t been around long enough to do this. Because, I guess, it takes years to really understand the ins and the outs of the blogsophere and be qualified to question things. ???

jonniker May 13, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Here’s the thing: I think you ARE nice. (And Kader up there is one of my very best friends IRL, so apparently people who are perceived as negative and confrontational are my thing?) I like honest, straightforward people who think about things. You’re not a douche, you’re not mean, you tell it like it is, you’re thoughtful and you’re honest about what you’re motivations are. Since we’re in a love fest here, I’ll tell you that your honesty with yourself and others has really made a positive impact on me and made me look hard at how I interact with others, and how honest I am with myself. Really. No joke. I like myself a little more because of it. It’s also made me hyper-aware of people who are NOT this way, and made me want to junk-punch people more often, but that’s OK.

And finally — true story — I think you’re gorgeous. Really! And I don’t throw compliments around like that unless I mean them.

anna May 13, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Thanks, J. I am nice to people when I like them and respect them. And generally, in real life people usually think I am nice because I don’t always say everything out loud to everyone because, like I said, I’m not as outspoken IRL as I am online, though I will still feel obliged to say things, in a group, if nobody else does and there’s something absurd going on, which is what happens in the blogosphere, and how I often land myself in trouble.

Please note that is still a picture that omits the bottom half of me. But thank you anyway.

pamela dayton time May 13, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Maybe you should bring a case of lemons with you to The Big Show in August and when faced with actual mean-spirited bitchy, you could say, ‘WAIT! JUST! A! MINUTE! I have a gift for you. Here. Suck it.’

And on the off chance you think that is a terrible idea, don’t swing by my place and say so because it is my birthday, and on one’s birthday, everyone must do exactly as directed by The Birthday Girl, and there is no such thing as Coming Up With A Terrible Idea. Also, I will hand you a lemon.

That is all.

anna May 13, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Ah! Happy Birthday! I will swing by and wish you one at your place, Pamela. I’m not sure that I should use that particular catch phrase, though, as I think it is the favorite of . . . someone else of note who might object to me using it.

snarkoleptic May 13, 2010 at 8:23 pm

What I learned along the way is that the people of the internet never want to feel dumb, and if in some way you make them feel dumb,(even if you REALLY TRULY DON’T MEAN TO, at least not most of the time) they will diagnose you with any number of psychiatric affllictions from the DSM-IV.

anna May 14, 2010 at 10:20 am

I’m definitely guilty of internet diagnosing people. However, I do try to take a more scholarly approach and consult their archives and my texts before doing so, at the very least. I mean, I feel like we can at least check Wikipedia or something.

Ginger May 13, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Too big for your britches? Seriously? What, is my grandmother lecturing you? Next thing you know, someone will be telling you not to put your elbows on the table, to cross your legs at the ankle, and dearie, don’t raise your voice–it’s not ladylike.

Oh, wait, that’s basically what they’re doing.

anna May 14, 2010 at 10:22 am

That’s right. And right now I’m sitting with my feet on top of the table, too. So they’re probably right.

beth aka confusedhomemaker May 14, 2010 at 6:14 am

You would think if people were going to diagnose you they’d gather a proper case history first, you know comb over your archives to show you all the ways you fit. I mean come on people! Get with it! If you are going to do it, do it right :)

anna May 14, 2010 at 10:23 am

But Beth, then they’d have to READ my archives, and it’s easier to just say, “Stupid Bitch.”

always home and uncool May 14, 2010 at 7:36 am

You need to add that penultimate paragraph to the top of your FAQs, bee-yatch. Keep on, keeping on, Anna.

anna May 14, 2010 at 10:25 am

Do you know that nobody reads the FAQs? Well, maybe they do and I just end up having to send less people there than if I didn’t have it listed. Still, I get a lot of questions on Formspring and on Twitter that are answered on FAQ. Do I sound entitled yet? Good.

Eliz May 14, 2010 at 7:48 am

I decide to take this week and focus on the job that puts food on the family table because, you know, it’s a good idea to do that every once in a while and there’s this whole lemon meme I am completely ignorant of. Not that 2 seconds of Internet research wouldn’t uncover it, but I feel like the middle school girl left out.

Speaking of middle school and beyond, I straddled the line between being nice when it was necessary but a mean girl the rest of the time because you know what? The mean girls are funnier, smarter and better respected. And most of them, deep down, aren’t mean at all but only a little insecure and trying desperately to overcompensate. Which is why *I* think you’re the bee’s knees and why if I had to chose any historical figure, dead or alive, to come to dinner, and what would I serve, I’d probably compile a list of people, mostly smart-ass women, and then proceed to sit my fat ass between you and Liz Lemon and we’d ignore everyone else the rest of the night.

anna May 14, 2010 at 10:28 am

The lemon thing is just from that ridiculous stock picture from She Posts that was used with the Ace of Spades sticking out of it because WTF? WTF was that? But yeah, the fact that Liz Lemon’s name has Lemon in it makes it even better. You know the thing is with mean girls is that there is always a different read on them. I have always been called a mean girl of course but I’ve always had a different take on who the real mean girls are. I think the mean girls are the group that you’re not in, right? I mean, just watch any episode of Real Housewives, they’re all fucking mean, it’s just a question of which one is your friend. We’re trained to hate each other from birth. That’s what patriarchy is.

hannah May 15, 2010 at 8:49 am

Speaking of RH, I thought of you this week when Kelly was telling everyone not to make lemonade out of lemons. I half expected her to stick a playing card on the table.

anna May 15, 2010 at 8:51 am

HAH! Never gets old. And do I have a beating a dead horse graphic for you guys on Monday. Oh boy.

patois May 14, 2010 at 2:06 pm

This is the kind of “little silly post” I desire.

anna May 15, 2010 at 8:52 am

Well, good. Because these kinds of posts? I can hammer these out in like twenty minutes. So you know, I can become super prolific at this kind of blogging. i can become the PW of the snarky set if this is what you guys like.

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