the Jenna thing

NOTE: I know that for most of you guys, this is a big pile of no1curr, dealing with stupid Internet drama going back years. It is incredibly dumb, I am aware of that. But I need to get it out of my system, so thanks for your patience. 

A few days ago, a blogger I follow but dislike immensely ("hate read") posted a photo to Instagram of her young children that was, by all accounts, ridiculous. Ridiculously inappropriate, ridiculously lacking in boundaries and common sense, ridiculously attention-seeking. The blogger's name is Jenna.

Jenna's photo received several dozen critical comments, some of which were crass and themselves inappropriate. Many comments, however, were politely worded, thoughtful and reasonable objections. These comments respectfully explained the ways in which the Instagram post showed questionable judgment and violated her children's privacy, and urged Jenna to reconsider her decision to keep it up. Some of these responses were written by long-time readers and Internet friends.

Jenna deleted nearly all of them, and blocked the commenters who'd written them.  

She then edited the original caption she'd written for the photo, backpedaling on what had obviously been a deliberate attempt to incite scandal (for one thing, the photo depicts her toddler little girl and young son playing with a sex toy; for another, this blogger is notorious for trying to stir up controversy-for-clicks). New criticisms poured in, pointing out how absurd and classless and hurtful these mass deletions and story-changing were.

Jenna deleted those, too.

One of the last comments she made on the post, after her deleting frenzy, was an invitation to discuss the matter further on Twitter. I took her up on the invitation, tweeting directly to her, but she didn't respond. 

For the past few days, I've been trying to decide whether I wanted to write a post about all this, and about her. Not because this particular incident bothered me so much, but because I am so desperate to be done with her, once and for all.

I've followed Jenna for the better part of five years. It's hard to explain why, though I guess if I only had two words to do it, "morbid fascination" would get the job done. (Well, to actually back up a bit - she and I had some Internet overlap for a couple of years, having both contributed to the same website. That's how she initially ended up on my radar. Had it not been for that overlap, I doubt I would have heard of her, much less taken an interest in her life.)

Virtually everything about Jenna's lifestyle, values, character, and choices repels me. Occasionally I've responded to things she's said and done, either here on my blog or on Twitter. Unlike Kelle Hampton (who already has established a massive following), I've never (until now) used Jenna's name or linked to her blog. Her following is relatively tiny, and while mine is even tinier, I wouldn't want to send her a single click. What's even more frustrating is that at times, I have been a fan of hers. She's written some posts that contain, in my opinion, some impressive self-reflection, particularly considering her sheltered background. But those are the exception, not the rule; for the most part, I find her simply odious. Her treatment of her children in particular upsets me greatly, though her smugness, entitlement, and narcissism all irritate me as well. 

The obvious question: why on earth would I read her blog, then? Why on earth would I willingly subject myself to such annoyance? 

I'll try to explain in a moment, but first, a pair of anecdotes:

1. This past weekend Terence and I were walking through the very busy shoe department at Nordstrom on our way to the men's section. As we passed a cluster of seats where several women were trying on shoes, we heard, very loudly, one of them say in an extremely snotty tone: "If you're too busy to help me, I can find someone else." We glanced back to see a red-faced, harried-looking shoe salesman, boxes stacked three deep in his arms, assuring a sour-faced, well-dressed forty-something brunette that he could help her, that he was so sorry, that he'd be with her in just a moment. 

"Wow," Terence said under his breath, as we continued walking. "What a bitch." And if it had been up to my sweet, non confrontational boyfriend, that would have been it. If he'd been alone, he wouldn't have even said that, though he might have thought it.

He wasn't alone, however. He was with me. 

Long story short: I made a bit of a scene. I turned around and said some things. Loudly. And I kept saying them until the woman looked right at me and I made good and sure she heard what I was saying. I don't remember exactly what that was, but I know it included the phrases "chill the fuck out", "little bit busy", "Christmas season", "entitled brat", and "first world problems."

Someone I cared very much for once worked in women's shoes. It is not a dream job. Low hourly, pittance commission, demanding and overprivileged customers. It is not cush job on which to easily support a family, and the salesman we saw? I'm willing to bet he has a family. 

Anyway, even though the moment had nothing whatsoever to do with me, I jumped right into it. And if given the chance, I'd do the exact same thing again. This isn't bragging. I know it's a little bit crazy to be confrontational like that. This is just me saying I yam who I yam. 

2. Last year - or, Christ, maybe it was this year? now I can't remember - a travel blogger I'd been net-friendly with wanted to meet up. I'm coming to LA! she said. I'd never met her, but I agreed to hang out. So how had I gotten net-friendly with this travel blogger? Well, she'd been a reader of mine for a while, and we'd exchanged a few emails. And at some point in that correspondence, being aware of my animosity towards Jenna, she started writing about her dislike of Jenna. Knowing my feelings, I guess she felt free enough to say some extremely unkind things of her own. We also discussed internet-ish stuff in general, plus travel and a few other common interests, but the point is, in multiple emails, she trashed Jenna, big time. 

Well, a few days before this travel blogger was to be in LA, a picture popped up on Jenna's Instagram: a selfie of the two of them, together and smiling. Apparently she had stopped in SF and spent an afternoon with Jenna - the very person she had gleefully dumped on, in emails to me. 

My head about exploded from surprise. It was so unexpected, so incongruous with what she'd expressed feeling towards Jenna, that I half anticipated some kind of explanation from her, like Oh, I just figured it would be a good networking move, or She cornered me when she found out I was in her city. But no explanation came. (Which is not to say I deserved one, just that I couldn't believe she'd carry on as if nothing unusual had happened, considering her behavior.)

I wasn't going to say anything, at first. I was going to leave it alone. Just walk away. Not my problem. I knew for certain I wanted nothing to do with this travel blogger, not because she'd hung out with Jenna, but because of her brash, carefree two-facedness, which disgusted me. When she texted to confirm our plans, I lied and said something had come up, that I wouldn't be able to make it. And I sat on my hands.

But then. But then Jenna made some comments about her Internet friends being so great, so loyal and trustworthy that I couldn't stop myself. I - you guessed it - made a scene, this time on Instagram. On my own account, commenting on one of my own photos (an older one, where the chances of anyone else seeing the conversation would be slim), I called out this travel blogger. I told her I was totally grossed out by her behavior, and that's why I didn't want to meet up. 

And I cc'd Jenna on the exchange. 

Yo, I said (or something like it), this? This is your Internet community. Make friends offline, Jenna. These people you think are your friends? They are not your friends. And I'm happy to show you the proof. (The travel blogger panicked and scrambled, writing then deleting comments in which she begged me to delete my comments, to take it to email, etc. Basically she refused to own her shit-tastic behavior and told me I was being unfair. Jenna herself didn't comment back or say a word to me about any of it.) 

So, why did I use the plural, in my comments to Jenna? Because, sadly, this wasn't the first instance of two-facedness I'd been privy to, where she was concerned. 

Why did I bother telling Jenna, if I dislike her so much? For the same reason I made a scene in Nordstrom: I can't keep my mouth shut when I see someone being unfairly shit on...even if it's someone I can't stand. Jenna probably thought (thinks) I was gloating. Haha, your supposed friends hate you. I wasn't. I was genuinely devastated for her in that moment. I considered how much stock she puts into her Internet friendships, saw what that emotional investment was netting her, and my heart broke a little bit for her. I was rough in my wording, I let the drama escalate a bit much, but my sentiment and intent were sincere: I really, really hoped that would be the moment Jenna realized how important real-life friendships are. I really, really hoped she'd scale back on social media and go cultivate private, offline relationships. 


There's something that happens to me when I see vulnerabilities being exploited. When I see the weaker, helpless party being bullied or taken advantage of by the more powerful. I get worked up. I can't help it. I mean, I don't even know if I want to help it. I'm not convinced it's an entirely bad way to be.  

But that's why I get so angry about Jenna: I see her children as the helpless parties. Yes, her personal, Jenna-centric stuff bugs me (i.e., her choices regarding school, the Mormon Church, the condescending tone of her posts - her whole personality, really). But I don't get really riled up until her kids come into it. And those of you who know what I'm talking about - well, you know what I'm talking about. 

But I'm done. I'm fucking done. At long last, I realize how utterly pointless my anger is. Nothing I write, whether I'm direct or passive aggressive, whether I'm sincere or satirical, will make one bit of difference in those kids' lives. I see that now. Jenna made that crystal clear this week. She is absolutely immovable in her self-assurance, in her refusal to be challenged or truly self-reflect. And my choices are a) continue to bang my head against the wall; b) accept the wall; c) avoid the wall. I wish I was a Zen and mature enough person to accept the wall, but I'm not. So I'm going to do my best to just, once and for all, avoid the wall. 

I've "quit" Jenna a couple times before (stopped reading her blog, social media, and snark thread) and it's astounding how much happier I am when I do. Like, disturbingly so, because it says loads about what is clearly a really unhealthy addiction. So I'm going to try again, for my own sanity, and for the tons of better things I could do with that time/mental energy. There's a quote that says when you hate something, you chain yourself to it. It's true. And I want out of this chain. 

Part of me feels like I'm abandoning her kids, walking away once and for all - crazy town, right? I mean, for a long time now I've felt really proud of the posts I've written that call out child-exploitive blogging. And I might continue to write those sorts of posts, because Kelle Hampton, my other favorite source of WTFery, is still going strong. But I cannot with Jenna anymore. I just cannot. It's too aggravating, and she absolutely thrives on the attention. 

I see there's now even an article about her Instagram brouhaha. It's a joke. Poorly written and a complete misrepresentation of what actually went down. Either the author didn't bother to read the full extent of "the Internet's" reaction or she just doesn't care, and is happy to publish a lazy pile of clickbait shit.

But whatever. I'm getting off this crazy train. I have about 3,492,692,018,081,583 better things to do than waste one more minute on someone who, at the end of the day, is her own punishment.

Jenna, if you're reading, you "win." Best of luck with life, online and off.