thoughts on GOMI

Well, I hauled myself out of the little depressed hole I felt into. Although "hauled" makes it sound like I put forth some Herculean effort when really, all I did was sort of wait it out and distract myself for a day or so. (I really think in this case it was coming off of so much Vicodin.) Also, I felt like a bit of an asshole when the messages of concern/care started coming in, because it's really selfish and shitty of me to make people worry. Not that there were a ton of such messages, but, you know. Enough to make me feel sheepish for wrinkling the brows of People Who Give A Shit. And Christ am I blessed in that department.

I don't want to seem like I'm attention whoring when I write out my heavier thoughts, or when I'm feeling depressed, I really don't. God I hope I don't. Sometimes putting up a quick post to just describe those feelings is enough to relieve the pressure, like bleeding myself of poison. It's therapeutic for me, but I can see how it might come across as fishing for attention. I'm really not though. I'm just talking my way through it.

Anyway, I'm better now. I rearranged my furniture last night, which, not to claim that my place is so OMGspecial, but rearranging furniture in a 600 square foot apartment is intense. There are only so many places things can go. You have to be flexible and creative, and you have to make sacrifices. Weigh pros and cons. For instance, I can open things up and have more space for Chaucer and I, but my bed has to float in the middle of the apartment, partially blocking the windows. Or, I can move my desk against the wall, where I want it to be, but then my stereo is smack against my complain-y neighbors' bedroom, and I'll have to be careful about the volume of my music. Stuff like that.

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I'm in the midst of a mini blogging identity crisis. I'm asking myself questions like Why the fuck do you think you're so special, anyway, Ellie? and Who do you think cares about your life? and It's rather rich to dish relationship or emotional wellness advice when a) you're single and b) you suffer from depression, no?

Lighthearted stuff like that.

And since I don't have comments enabled, I really have no way of getting feedback. I have no idea what sorts of posts, if any, are entertaining or helpful. My day-to-day life isn't nearly fascinating enough to warrant nightly summaries. And even when I do things that are theoretically interesting, like go to parties, I don't know who'd want to hear about that either. I went to a party. I drank and ate and danced and laughed and got into an argument with a woman who thought I was trying to steal her opera gloves (true story). So I try to save my blogging energy for things that I think make for good reading.

But I have no idea. Sometimes it all strikes me as so grossly self-absorbed that I come close to canning the whole enterprise.

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I couldn't sleep tonight; I was too wired/jazzed about the new look of my place. I read for a while, then messed around online. I paid a visit to the GOMI forums because, yes, I read GOMI.

So, GOMI. Depending on your perspective, your motive, and what, if any, axe you have to grind, GOMI is either a mega hot blogworld topic or the elephant in room that you wish would just get poached. Here are my thoughts on it:

1. Some of it is spot-on, much-deserved criticism that the bloggers featured would do well to read and learn from.
2. Some of it is mean-spirited and petty and unfair.

I've read some incredibly insightful things on GOMI that make me want to yell Yes! Exactly! and high-five the contributors or commenters who wrote them. And I've read some things that have made me uncomfortable and even alienated me a little bit. For example, I start to feel uneasy reading threads which criticize bloggers with admitted and demonstrable mental health issues, because I myself know all too well what sorts of stupid stuff I'll do/say in the throes of depression.

Where I find myself cheering the GOMI community on the most is when it calls bloggers out for shitty behavior. Bloggers are only human. Humans make mistakes. But when humans put themselves on display on the internet, sharing the details not only of their own lives but that of their families and friends - well, then they should damn well expect to be held accountable for that. There is nothing heroic or inherently laudable about "putting yourself out there" for criticism and judgment. No one is holding a gun to our heads, saying Blog or I'll shoot.

And no, your critics do not need a blog or a Twitter account or an Instagram account of their own in order for their criticisms to be valid. That's a bullshit argument.

Have you been an asshole, either on your blog, or on social media?  Expect to be called out. Have you been rude, or sanctimonious, or condescending, or smug, or entitled, or hypocritical? Expect to be called out. Have you been a know-it-all, yet proven wrong, and refused to admit it? Have you censored or deleted comments, or - worse, IMO - been one of those bloggers who childishly only sides with commenters who agree with you all the while ignoring the very good points that dissenters have brought up? Expect to be called out.

Dismissing GOMI as the realm of "trolls" or "jealous haters" is neither mature nor accurate. It's not mature because, for one thing, it's an ad hominem. Call someone an asshole or a loser all you want - that doesn't address the argument she's making - which could be quite strong, for one thing, and something you could learn from, for another. It's not accurate because it doesn't take into account that while, sure, there are occasionally some very harsh comments made on GOMI, there are also pages and pages of level-headed, well-reasoned, and quite justified criticism. If you're a blogger who thinks you've unfairly earned an entire forum thread dedicated to you just because a bunch of "bullies" want to pick on you, well, grow the fuck up and face the fact that you must have done something to earn it.

And if you're a blogger being criticized on GOMI and you haven't read every single comment written about you to make absolute sure that it IS all just a bunch of unfair bullying, well, then you have no right to dismiss it as such. Because how do you know? Some of the smartest cultural criticism I have ever seen has appeared on GOMI. I've also seen some unduly nasty comments pertaining to issues that shouldn't even be up for discussion in the first place (IMO, anyway). But for the most part, what I read on GOMI are the thoughtfully expressed frustrations of readers who've grown disillusioned with bloggers they once liked, for various reasons - reasons they list in no uncertain terms. In other words, for the smart blogger, GOMI is a neon-lit path back to likability and profitability.

No blogger gets it right all the time. Lord knows I've written stuff that absolutely makes me cringe, when I revisit it. Every single one of us could do with a fat dose of humility and gratitude that anyone is giving us the time of day. So if someone visits my blog, or my Twitter stream, and reads just one post, or one tweet - just one! - and decides, based on that small bit of my writing, that I'm an asshole, well guess what? I completely deserve that judgment. None of this, Oh, well, you don't know my whole story! You shouldn't judge me because you only know a little bit about me!

Horseshit.

Because you're right. They do only know what we share. But again, no one is forcing us to share it. If we're going to make the decision to selectively share parts of our life with the world, then newsflash - conclusions about us will be drawn from those selectively shared parts. That's the consequence of our sharing. And for us to complain or name-call our critics when those conclusions are drawn? THAT is the height of absurdity and childishness.

And here's another newsflash: As bloggers, there is actually no limit to what we can share, if we want to. Afraid your readers are getting the wrong impression of you? Afraid you're coming off the wrong way? LOG ON, START TYPING, AND FIX IT. There is no limit to the amount of posting you can do, to illustrate who you are, and what you believe. Twitter only allows 140 characters, but your blog? No limits. No excuses. If you've fucked up and made yourself seem like an asshole online, it falls on you to change that. Get writing. Show your readers why they're wrong about you. Clarify. Expand. Explain. Apologize. Share more of yourself and your story, so that the conclusions drawn about you can shift and change - can be dropped altogether, even.

Don't have time? Don't have the inclination? Don't care to? Fine. Then don't complain when there are a couple hundred pages of GOMI dedicated to criticizing you. And don't wave your hand with faux unconcern and claim you don't care.

Because of course you do, and no one believes otherwise for a second.

You're a blogger, after all. If your writing was all just for personal expression, it'd be offline, in a private journal somewhere. But those of us who choose to share ourselves and our lives with the world have some thread of exhibitionism in us, and some need for external validation. It's why we do what we do. Of course we fucking care what is said about us, in the various corners of the internet.

And we'd do well not to hide from it, because that certainly won't make it go away.