Showing posts with label the internet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the internet. Show all posts

in which I set a porklord straight

The view count for my last few posts has been approximately ten times what is typical. I tried to dig around and find out why, if maybe my blog had been mentioned somewhere big or something. But I'm not seeing anything. So I have no idea what's driving all the traffic, but hello to anyone new!

I did, however, see that someone had added to the SOMI thread about me on GOMI. And I tried to log in and just reply there, but for whatever reason, clicking the "Click Here to Post A Response" button doesn't do anything.

Which leaves me two options. Ignore the post, or reply to it here. Here's the post:


It is of course entirely possible that Headpat Junquie knows someone that knows me IRL. The world is small. But I haven't really socialized a ton in LA, other than with my small, long-standing group of friends. Also, I only started working outside of my apartment early last year. So I dunno. Possible but improbable, from where I'm standing. Then again, who knows.

But oh man. The idea that at my age I could still be dancing? I mean...thanks?

Alas, those days are over. I do have a job, which is what I actually logged on tonight to blog about, until the curiously high numbers distracted me. But it is not dancing. Far from it.

Re: the "pretty disastrous choices" - really not much I can say to that. Indeed I have made some lousy decisions. Dancing for way too long. My marriage. The abusive relationship in Tucson. Moving in with Terence. Not working for years. Lots of big lessons in those mistakes. Lots of compassion and gratitude and perspective gained, too.

Anyway, just wanted to set the record straight. The only dancing I do these days is in front of a stage, not on one. Fully clothed.

Way less profitable, but way more fun.

the enveloping warmth of self-delusion (a how-to)

Step 1: Construct your narrative. Think carefully about the role you want to cast yourself in. Victim, hero, iconoclast, and martyr are all popular choices, but don't feel limited to these. Get creative!

Some questions to consider: How am I being wronged? In what ways am I innovating or inspiring, that others fail to appreciate? What personality flaws and intellectual shortcomings are preventing them from recognizing my greatness?

Step 2: Ignore any answer that does not lend itself to your established narrative.

Think of your self-deception like a cozy fur coat, shielding you from the harsh winter wind of reality. You wouldn't let it get wet and dirty, would you? That's what challenging outside opinions are: dirt. Brush them off and keep going.

Step 3: Surround yourself with enablers. It's important to experience routine reinforcement of your worldview. This is best achieved by maintaining strict filters in life. Listen only to viewpoints that ratify your position, particularly where it pertains to your character.

Remember, you don't owe the world an open mind! It's your brain: block, delete, and dismiss any thought that makes you uncomfortable.

Step 4: Have the bubble in which you live insured. It's the only thing keeping you safe from the twin abhorrences of self-awareness and growth.

NBD

Another day, another dose of celebrity for Chaucer...


See his Cute Overload debut here!

happy vs. happiness

Happy has got to be the most prostituted word in modern society, and certainly in the blogosphere.

Happy is not the same as happiness, and there's all the difference in the world between the two. Happiness is an occasional, organic byproduct of living in sync with your values. It flows into and through you. You can't control its production or delivery. You just wake up and it's there, or turn a street corner and feel it grab you. It pulses in huge bursts or slow, steady waves, until it fades away again.

People search for happy all the time, sometimes desperately. They seek it out like a drug, a quick fix to get them through the day. Sources of happy are short-lived and almost always involve some form of external validation.

Happy is a thing people hunt, but happiness is a thing that finds them.

Some of us bloggers forget this difference - or we live in denial of it. For some of us, happy is the whole point. We treat it like a trophy, polishing it and placing it prominently in front of us. Then we can hide behind it, and use it as a shield to block criticism or uncomfortable truths. Look at my happy! Just try and get past it! We worry that if we don't prove our happy, we'll be laughed at, scorned, judged - or worst of all, pitied. So we parade our happy even at the risk of ridicule. Even at the cost of exhausting and alienating those around us. Because not everyone wants to march in our Happy Parade.

Not everyone comes right out and declares their happy. They're smart enough to know this is mawkish and unappetizing. More savvy and sophisticated bloggers underplay their happy hand. They play their happy cool, with a casually-worded caption and cute emoji on an Instagrammed photo of a beautiful day - or a beautiful child. Here the happy lies quietly in subtext, but don't be fooled. It screams just as loudly: I AM HAPPY.

But I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. We're not telling you. We're telling ourselves. Which is not to say that manufactured happy and genuine happiness never overlap; sometimes they do. But sometimes the happy is a placeholder for happiness, which never needs likes and rarely poses for photographs anyway.

It's all so bizarre, our fixation with finding and flaunting the happy. And to complicate matters, happy is a squirrelly, highly subjective concept. To one person it might mean extreme elation; to another, balance and inner peace. We all aim for different spots on that continuum. Some are satisfied by a sense of general well-being, and some lose their minds in pursuit of elusive ideals of financial wealth and personal power.

The fact is, the less you need to make you happy, the more powerful you are. If all it takes to get your happy is walking with a loved one on a sunny day, you're going to be able to fill your tank much more easily and frequently than someone who needs luxury vacations, or the envy of others.

And because the stakes are so high, we use happy against each other. We lord it over one another, secretly feeling glee when our enemies seem to lack it. The ultimate cut down is to declare someone unhappy (i.e., sad). It's such a hurtful thing to say because there is no more pitiable condition, particularly when it's on public display. We cluck our tongues and say Oh, she's clearly unhappy, and we feel smug and safe and uninfected when we do so, because emotional well-being is a form of wealth. True happiness is a currency of mental health but the temporary nature of happy adds up to pittance.

But we open our wallets and show off our happy hundreds, because they are so very easy to count, so attractive when spread wide in our hands.

taking a lonely: the uncensored inner monologue of a blogger in pursuit of cute vacation selfies

Oh my, who totally nailed her outfit today? WHO! Lightweight, linen blend sweater and cutoffs? LAKE LOOK ON FLEEK. Def gotta get a shot of this ensemble. Ooh, I know. I'll sit at the end of that dock down the road, the one with the picturesque faded planks. With the water in the background, it'll be perfect! Let me just grab my lipgloss. Oh and maybe a hair tie. Shit I should probably put on mascara too. Okay here we go!

(7-8 minutes of walking in 90 degree heat and 60% humidity later)

Phew, really is warm out today! I don't actually need this sweater. Like, at all. Just a quick shot then I'll take it off... Ah, here's the dock. Hm. I wonder whose it is. I doubt they'd care if I used it for a minute. Nah, I'm sure it's cool...



Oh wow, okay, so we're a little bit sleepy and dehydrated looking today huh? No worries, that's cool! Just gotta....angle it...a little bit....hmm. Well. Those crows feet really stand out in this sunshine, haha. Maybe...maybe just tilt it down...like...yes. Perfect. Now let's get the hell out of the heat.

---

So help me god I'm not leaving here until I get a pic of me jumping into the water. They will literally revoke my blogger's license if I don't get this shot. Literally. Okay, just gotta set up my Joby on Bill's dock... Oh, heh, look at that. The guys that were cutting the neighbor's tree down this morning are back from lunch. I wonder if they can see m--yep. Okay. Hm. Really pretty day though. Shame to waste it. Might rain again and I'm running out of time. Fuck it. Not like they've never seen a woman repeatedly setting a self-timer and running to jump in the lake before...







What. The fuck. Why can I not get the timing right?? I'm jumping the gun on every shot, damn it. Okay okay, I got this. Just have to wait until I hear the beeeeep....aaaaandd....

*SPLASH*

....SON OF A....

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Okay well if I can't get a good shot of me jumping in the water, what if I just do a selfie of me descending into it?? That could be cute! Like, Oh, there she goes, getting in the lake for a swim! What a pretty scene! The mountain behind, all peaceful and--well after this boat passes by, I mean. And this one...





Alrighty let's see what we got. Yikes it's bright out here. Hard to see the screen. Carrying my phone around the corner into the shade after every take is really getting old though. And those guys up there are really taking their sweet time hauling the tree away. YES HELLO I SEE YOU TOO GENTLEMEN. I KNOW I LOOK RIDICULOUS, STOP SNICKERING. Gah, the one where my hips look best there's a stupid hole in my hair and the one where my hair looks cute is too dark. Whatever, I'll post both!

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ZOMG pretty wooden stairs!



Cute! Wait, my feet are too straight...

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ZOMG pretty weathered dock!



Cute! Wait, my feet are too crooked...

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Oh god I almost forgot the feet-dangling-over-the-edge shot. Come on, Ellie! These are essential shots! Let's just sit right here, this is nice, okay, put our legs out and...



...Oh. Shit. The dock's too close to the water. My feet will be IN the water. NO WORRIES JUST STICK THEM OUT LIKE THEY'RE SWINGIN', ALL CAREFREE AND SHIT.

---

Don't do it, Ellie. Do not take a contemplative selfie. They are fucking stupid and you will look like a tool. What are you--no--put the Joby back in your bag--PUT THE JOBY BACK IN THE--oh for fuck's sake.



BWAHAHAHA

---

I really have to get a selfie with my actual face in it. Otherwise I look like that weirdo who only posts headless shots because she hates her face.



I hate my face.

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Okay, just gotta get one of my signature butt-portraits, so everyone knows I still like my ass even though I'm forty!



I hate my back.

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SERIOUS POST-SCRIPT

I'm poking fun at myself today, because I know how ridiculous selfies are. But the fact is, mini photo shoots like these take time and effort. And mine only contain me. Mine was the only time I wasted.

I cannot imagine putting small children through this sort of thing, multiple times a day, multiple days in a row. Dressing children not in what's most comfortable for them, but in what will garner the most likes on Instagram. Or sell the most sidebar ads. Posing them, positioning them, directing them like little models day after day after day.

Mommybloggers who do this - and you know who you are - you need to take a good, hard look at yourselves. Your kids are not props. Stop exhausting them with your need for validation, stop parading them around for strangers on the internet.

Seriously.

Just. Fucking. Stop.

Captain Awkward

I'm probably one of the last persons on the Internet to have discovered the advice blog Captain Awkward, but I'm happy to disclose my embarrassingly late arrival just in case you're even later than me. Because it's fantastic. I've said before how much I like Baggage Reclaim for relationship advice, but Captain Awkward goes further, delving into career, family, friendship, mental health, Feminism, sex, and more.

CA moderates comments (referencing by way of explanation a rather thought-provoking post from another blog, titled If Your Website's Full of Assholes, It's Your Fault), has a glossary (also off-site) of thoughtful, funny Awkwardisms, and boasts a community of long-time readers who've established a discussion forum and regularly schedule meet-ups around the US and UK. In short, from what I've seen, it seems like a really cool, really friendly place to kick it online.

As a recovering people pleaser, I particularly enjoy what she has to say about boundaries (I don't know that I'll ever get used to the empowerment that comes from a simple "no"). But my favorite thing about Captain Awkward is the "scripts" offered to letter-writers: helpful, concise responses which advice seekers can utilize, immediately, in the difficult situations they're facing in real life. (Example scripts for saying "It was nice to meet you! But not THAT nice.")

I could definitely have used this post about pushy in-laws back when I was married. This one, about auditioning for the approval of people who dislike you, would have been handy a few years ago when I was detaching, with much heartbreak, from a toxic social circle. And this one, about a lopsided, all-on-one-person's-terms friendship, is kinda exactly what I've been needing lately. From that post:

Listen, you can totally still be friends with this person as long as you accept that the friendship will take place 100% completely on his terms. When you hang out, you will do so at his place, listening to him noodle around on his guitar and agreeing with everything he says unless you’d like a tiresome fight. 
So only see him on those rare occasions that you’re looking for a night of listening to him play guitar and agreeing with whatever he says. On all other nights of the year, spend whatever energy and love you would normally pour into maintaining and deepening a friendship with him into making some new friends who actually, I don’t know, are interested in things about you and can maintain a basic level of reciprocity? 
And when you say “Let’s hang out!” and he says “Sure, come over and I’ll play guitar,” say “Eh, can’t we go out and grab some dinner?” and if he says “No, but come over!” say “Sorry, maybe next time.” Like any time you enforce a boundary for the first time, it will feel super-weird for a short time and then it will feel normal and you’ll start feeling much better. 
You don’t have to drop him from your life – I believe you that you’ve shared some good times – but you do have to teach yourself to need very little from him and to accept that he’s limited in what he can give you. I would pour your limited time and energy into making some new friends. I realize that’s easier said than done, especially with a demanding job, but I think that effort spent will pay off much better than beating your head against the wall of “We will do things my way at my convenience.” Hang out with him once in a blue moon when his self-centered ways amuse and comfort you with their utter predictability and don’t grate you down like fine cheese.

I mentioned a few posts back that I was going through something tough with a friend, something that I wasn't sure whether I wanted to talk about. Well, Captain Awkward has saved me that, uh, awkwardness because the bits I've bolded break it down perfectly. The exact situation, the exact dilemma. So, yeah. That's that particularly corner of my life, summed up. Bleh.

Anyway, if you've got some time and could use a laugh and a dose of good sense, coast on over. Great, useful stuff.

drive thru

WELCOME TO BLOGGER KING MAY I TAKE YOUR ORDER

- Yeah hi I'd like the fame and fortune combo, but can you hold the accountability and public scrutiny and give me unconditional love instead?

SORRY LADY NO SUBSTITUTIONS

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.

breaking news: people brag on the internet

That thing people do, where they are grossly ostentatious in showing wealth, with the express purpose of making others jealous? It has a name: invidious consumption.

Invidious consumption is defined as "the deliberate conspicuous consumption of goods and services intended to provoke the envy of other people, as a means of displaying the buyer's superior socio-economic status."

We all know this phenomenon exists. Thanks to the internet, we see it all the time. But if like me, you didn't realize there was a handy sociological term to denote it, well, now you know. And if like me, you find it exhausting to witness, think about how exhausting it is to be those people. To be constantly burdened by the need to prove something to others - to people they probably don't even like. People they've ex'ed out of their lives. Ex-husbands and ex-lovers and ex-friends.

I can't even imagine.

Oh wait, yeah I can. I can imagine, because there have been times in my life that I've done it myself - times when my financial security seemed like the only thing I had going for me. And yeah, it was exhausting. It is fucking exhausting to make choices based on deeply rooted hurt and anger. Oh yeah? You don't want me in your life anymore? Great. I'm gonna show you just how fucking amazing my life is without you in it. God, I am so much fucking happier now. Can you not see how FUCKING HAPPY I AM?? 

It's impossible to get through offline life without collecting cuts and hurts along the way. Painfully dissolved romances, abandoned friendships, misunderstandings and miscommunications. But bloggers and other live-online'ers (i.e., heavy users of social media) amass these cuts and hurts in full view of everyone they know (and a good deal they don't, the imagined judgment of whom is sometimes worse). Pride and ego - which despise pity - demand they show everyone that, not only have they survived, but they've gotten to the very top of the caterpillar pillar, bitches.

A public platform (such as the internet) + an inability to let go + insecurity = the perfect storm for invidious consumption.

Part of why I quit Instagram is that I recognize remnants of this behavior in myself, even though I have worked really hard, in the years since my divorce, to curb it. Not so much invidious consumption as "invidious happiness". One could argue that happiness is a form of emotional wealth, so in a way, it's the same net effect. I've got something you don't, person I dislike for X reason. Neener neener.

This is not to say my happiness hasn't been real, because I can say with gratitude that it is, even when it is undercut by my ever-present depression. But if it's easy to throw up a smiling snapshot on my blog sans context, sans any attempt at thoughtfully rounding out the bigger picture of my life (ups AND downs), on Instagram the whole fucking point is to blast the best moments and cut the sound on the worst.

The internet is a great place for sharing our lives with people we like. But it's also the perfect vehicle for showcasing those lives, like diamonds in Tiffany's window, to those we don't. And when we cease to examine our motives online, we cease to care about the difference. And that's not an internet anyone needs.

with nutrition "facts" on the side, lol






If this was helpful to you, please consider upvoting it here. I just want to outreview LanceS2k, who should probably get off the computer and go see a doctor. 


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I bet Smedley stole the berries. Fucking Smedley.

hate read cafe

"Welcome back to Hate Read Cafe, may I take your order?"

"Yes, give me a plate of something that makes me sick." 

"Are you sure? You seemed particularly unwell after you had it last time."

"Yes, please. I know I shouldn't, but I just can't help myself!"

"Okay, you got it. One shit sandwich, coming right up."

I'm the first person to agree that there are important discussions to be had about bad blogging behavior - which, in the cases that most interest me, usually boils down to bad parenting behavior.

But Jesus. Reading this crap you reach a point where it's like, Okay, this person is never going to change. In fact, she's dug in her heels and fortified herself with the validation of a bunch of idiot strangers, and now she's even worse than before.

I used to think that the more people who publicly stood up and said, Yo, pull the camera out of your kids' faces and let them live their damn lives in peace, or Get off the damn internet and devote some more time to your children; I promise you no one will be upset if you skip a few blog posts so they can have a hot meal sitting at a table, the more shame these over-the-top mommy bloggers would feel. I did my part to chime in directly or with satire, anything to add to the chorus of observers saying THIS IS NOT COOL.

But I don't know. Sometimes I think it's a big waste of time. They're not stopping. And I have to wonder, at one point am I the stupid looking one, for continuing to eat shit sandwiches?

Part of me wants to keep chipping away, talking about it, pointing it out in hopes that these women will wise up and treat their kids better from here on out. But part of me is like, Fuck it. They can deal with the fallout years down the line as these children realize what's up and want nothing to do with their selfish, narcissistic, oblivious mothers.

lamebook part bazillion, or god, can we please outgrow this failed social experiment already?

When I see a Facebook friend list in the thousands, I see a meaningless compilation of data. I see a collector. A rabid networker. To get to that level, they have to let pretty much anyone in. Anyone they've ever met, and lots of people they never will. There's no distinction between that person's real friends and associates and a mass of random acquaintances and ghosts. They're all lumped together and the purpose and spirit of true connection get lost in a sea of bland, smiling thumb nails. And I think, No thanks. I want to be known, not collected.

Facebook is structured to digitally link members to others simply because they know someone who knows someone who knows someone. To chain members to their past. Hey, don't you know this guy? You went to junior high with him! What about her? She works with that woman you met at a party in 2009. In effect, these suggestions make pop-up ads out of human beings. Click here to buy and clutter up your life one semi-stranger a time.

What a phony, diminished simulacrum of relationships this is.

When I see someone being selective about who they befriend, I know that person puts some consideration into their online presence. About what it means to Accept Friend Request. About privacy and boundaries in an age when social media is perfectly engineered to erode them. 

I suspect they have more time for their true friends because they're not busy keeping track of what a bunch of friends-of-friends and once-mets are doing. I suspect they're not distracted from their current relationships by reminders of old ones. I suspect they're not satisfied by shallow virtual interactions, and are probably good at the more meaningful ones. And I think, I'd accept that friend request. 

So to speak. 

little blue circle

I avoid Elliequent readership stats like the plague. I installed StatCounter a long time ago, but the last time I logged in was pre-Terence, when I was trying to figure out whether a guy I was seeing was reading my blog. (It was wonderfully pathetic: I'd pore over any info coming from the area of town where he worked, as if it would decrypt the mixed messages he was sending in real life. Ah yes. He visited your About page for seven seconds before clicking out through Instagram. Never mind those ignored texts, girl. Romeo here is clearly ready to take a knee. The moral of this sad little aside being that dating emotionally unavailable, uncommunicative dudes is bewildering, dignity draining, may reduce you to reverse internet stalking and JUST DON'T DO IT*.)

Blogger's interface loads a generalized view of my statistics when I open a blank post, but I try not to look at it. Dropping numbers would depress me. Rocketing numbers would alarm me. Even steadily rising numbers would make me nervous. At some point, having too many people follow my life would make me uncomfortable. The Elliequent army is small and smart and I like it that way.

All this being said, every so often curiosity does get the better of me and I peek to see how many FeedBurner subscribers I have. And while poking around last year I discovered that I can actually bring up a list of the email addresses of those who've signed up for inbox delivery, over there on the right. This flabbergasted me. It seems like such a violation of privacy. Maybe it's crazy to say that since it's my blog, but I don't think it's any of my business what you do or don't read - and that includes my blog.

But yeah, I did read the list when I stumbled across it; I couldn't help myself. Some of the addresses were familiar, a few were surprises, but most were unknown to me. Overall it was like getting passed a stack of notes saying things like You're occasionally entertaining! or I find you tolerable! or I guess if I had to choose between watching your train wreck and scouring my shower grout, I'd pick your train! But then I closed the page and tried to forget it, because I write much better with a semi-solid fourth wall.

I've wanted to post about all this, but there's a Venn diagram in my head of Whats and Whys, and I'm unsure if they should be separate topics or mashed into some meta manifesto the navel-gazingness of which might explode the blogosphere outright. Witness:



And yeah I know that's not graphically accurate but pie charts almost NEVER taste like pie, so whatever.

I don't know why it's taking me so long to get to what I want to say, but that little blue circle is where I'm headed. Simply put: despite my money-back guarantee that at some point I will annoy or disappoint you (lol as if I haven't already), I do work hard at this gig, because I believe the surest way to show my gratitude is to put out the best possible product I can.

So for one thing, I edit obsessively. The two most useful things I learned in college were how to jimmy a dorm room lock with my dad's Chevron card and that writing is revision. If you could see how many times in a row I will jump out of bed in the middle of the night, run to my computer to change something in a post, dive back under the covers, hit refresh on my phone, find another edit to make, get back up again...it's a good thing Terence could sleep through an earthquake.

I take great care with my word choices, and I really do keep in mind all the rules of powerful writing. Descriptive verbs! Active voice! Varied sentence length! I try to come up with interesting ways to approach the subjects I discuss often, and I at least aim for entertaining on those days when inspiring is out of reach. I take risks and talk openly about things I know may invite criticism. Bottom line: I love writing enough to honor it with my best efforts, and I respect my readers enough to acknowledge that they can and should ditch me if I stop doing so.

I'm not asking for a head pat or a cookie, and the cookie comment jar is closed, anyway. (No cookies means I stay hungry for your love, which arrives occasionally through email or Twitter or even, exotically, by snail. And when it does arrive, I feast like a snake who doesn't know when the next mouse will come along.) And I realize this is one of my more pointless posts. My writing should speak for itself - and I like to think it does. But it was important to me to tell you anyway. It's important to me that you feel valued. So that's what I wanted to say today: thanks for thinking enough of me to be here.

I'm thinking of you, too.

---

* I've meant to post about Baggage Reclaim for ages, and I will at some point, but I'm just dropping the link for now in case anyone reading happens to be in dire relationship straits and need a life jacket, stat. Along with helping me make other huge changes related to my self-esteem and emotional life, I credit Natalie with teaching me to bring my dating standards up, and to hold out for the something better incredible that turned out to be Terence.

missing the important things

I made the mistake of swinging by Kelle Hampton's blog tonight and saw the saddest thing ever.

She published a post containing photos of her two young daughters playing at a swimming pool; the younger one watching her big sister carefully as she cannonballs into the water. Kelle's commentary on the photos: "I didn't notice what was happening here until I pulled these next pics up on my computer and--Nella's carefully studying and copying Lainey's every move."

There aren't enough frown emoticons in the fucking world.  :( :( :( :( :(

No, Kelle, it's difficult to notice things like the wonder in your child's expression when you're seeing it miniaturized on an LCD screen instead of writ large and beautiful on her actual face.

Fifty-five thousand strangers looking at her children, day in and day out. Fifty-five thousand. And she is completely okay with this.

I don't doubt Kelle loves her kids. But doing right by the people we love is rarely as easy as just loving them.

more, better, best

Everything I recall about my childhood home can be summed up in a few paragraphs. It was a typically suburban three bedroom home in a smallish town in southwestern Michigan. Red brick, single level. Pussy willow on the porch, plum tree at the end the driveway, crocus blooming under my bedroom window in spring. I remember the things that filled the house only in terms of their use, and their sensory and emotional significance.

Gold corduroy couch: The Muppet Show, way past bedtime, Dad engrossed in the newspaper.

Piano: Mom leaning in to read sheet music, spectacles and a cable-knit sweater, rare good mood.

Oil painting of a lion: expression as inscrutable and mysterious as my parent's marriage, deep fear of wild animals that has yet to abate.

Kitchen telephone: avocado green, cord wrapped around my mother's skinny hips, pot roast for dinner.

I know we had wallpaper, but I couldn't describe the print. I know the house was carpeted, but I couldn't name the color. What I can tell you is that my brother and I had a front yard big enough to host kickball games, and a backyard with a swimming pool, a swing set, a shed full of toys, and enough land to fence in the occasional turtle plucked from Lake Michigan. Fucking glorious, in other words.

And among the gratitudes I have for what, on balance, was a pretty awesome childhood (above implications notwithstanding), is that my mother lived pre-Pinterest, and pre-social media. That decorating her home, planning her children's birthday parties, and choosing outfits for PTA meetings were endeavors undertaken with the knowledge that only those in her immediate social circle would see the results.

God, how nice that must have been. How nice that the only Joneses with which she probably felt compelled to keep up were the ones directly next door. How nice that she could concern herself with the business of mothering, undistracted and unstressed by comparison with how her peers were doing their mothering.

How lucky that my brother and I survived to adulthood without ever having lain eyes on an overpriced cake pop, frosted to match an overpriced paper party straw.

Pinterest never comes up in my daily (offline) life. I know most of my friends have heard of it, and a few of them are on it, but it's nothing we talk about when we get together. I only feel the need to account for my disuse of it when I'm internetting, because hello. Pinterest. What, Ellie, you don't like to be inspired? What are you, an animal?

What I like is not overwhelming myself with the pressure to More, Better, Best my life to death. And anyway, I like to think I did the Pinterest thing, in a way, in my twenties. It was called Lucky Magazine, and then Domino Magazine. It was Holy shit, I didn't even know that existed until I opened this magazine, but now I'll be MISERABLE if I can't have it. And it sucked.

I More, Better, Bested my last apartment without ever even looking at a pin board, and that was hellish enough. I consulted exactly one decorating book, nearly wearing it out with study. Okay, so since my bed frame is structured, I should have more organic, free-form nightstands. Got it. What should have been a fun exercise in creativity and self-expression was instead an exhausting, obsessive search for material things to make my home look OMGamazing - and for the most part, that search was limited to three or four sources within my price and geographic ranges. I can't even imagine how quickly my brain would have exploded had I opened myself up to the ten billion options Pinterest would have shown me.

This time around, I am opting the fuck out of that particular rat race, at least as much as I can. This time around, I am keeping the procurement of what furnishings we need as quick and simple as possible, so that I can get past making sure there's enough light to read by and on to making sure we're stocked with our friends' favorite drinks. Because when I think back to the things that filled the living spaces I inhabited twenty, thirty years ago, what I remember isn't whether or not the coffee table complemented the sofa - it's that it did an efficient job of supporting four slices of pizza and the original Together Box, aka Monopoly.

internot musings, part 5,039

Last night I spent about an hour sitting alone on the sofa in the dark, just thinking about some things I'm going through personally. Craptastic feelings of inadequacy and failure that are inching into self-loathing territory. I didn't pick up my phone or open my iPad to distract myself. I didn't put up a fight at all. I just let a parade of shitty emotion march right over me.

Simply sitting like that - being still and quiet with my thoughts in order to work through them - is something I've never been good at. When things get uncomfortable for me emotionally, distraction is the name of the game, typically in the form of some screen. Until I dumped Instagram, that screen was usually my phone's. I'm still turning to the browser far more often than I'd like, but overall, the amount of time I spend staring at my phone has gone down significantly. I'm happy about that change, but I know that I'm still using the internet in some pretty unhealthy ways.

The internet is my wooby and my scourge. It's where I go when I'm upset, and it's the place I go to get upset. It's the buffet at which I can gorge myself to bursting on whatever my appetite demands, no matter how toxic the craving. I overstimulate myself in some pretty fucked up ways on the internet, knowingly subjecting myself to annoyance, anger, envy, covetousness, jealousy, and more, all of which sit like jagged rocks at the bottom of a slide disguised as curiosity, or boredom. I start out surfing pages, but I end up surfing feelings themselves.

The internet is my right-hand enabler for some of my worst tendencies - egotism, materialism, superficiality, competitiveness. But it's also where I go to reaffirm my values, and the things I want to believe about myself. On other blogs and news sites, in communities and forums, I can read the words of like-minded individuals and surf away feeling reinforced by opinions I already held. It's the ultimate self-selection tool. And I wonder how my perceptions of the world - and of myself - would change if they weren't constantly being filtered through an internet page or two.

I'm also thinking about the ways in which we sell ourselves to one another online. Every so often, in discussions of blogs and social media, someone will point out the obvious: Okay, but don't forget: we're only getting a little bit of the picture with her. She's only sharing as much of herself as she carefully chooses to. And we know this, of course. But I think considering the degree to which we have allowed ourselves to become invested in these virtual relationships, it cannot be emphasized enough, just how important this is to remember.

Much in the same way that white sugar, white flour, and even cocaine are highly refined, concentrated essences pulled unnaturally from their greater, nutritively diverse packages, so are our 'net selves an artificial, winnowed-down version of who we really are. When I meet my friend Kerry for drinks, there's not a lot I can hide from her. She sees I'm tired. She sees my clothes are wrinkled, or out of fashion, or inappropriate to the occasion. She can see the tension on my face and draw conclusions about the kind of day I've had. It's easy for her to ask questions and get an idea of where I'm at emotionally, how I've been spending my time - how happy I am or am not. Sure there are things I can keep from her, but it's tricky to hide who I really am, time and again. Sooner or later, my flaws and uglier traits will out themselves.

But when I pop online, for all anyone knows - I'm perfect. I'm dressed stylishly, well-rested, productive, creative, and happy. I'm clever and cute and everything is peachy. For all anyone knows. And though yes, we're all quick to rush and say Oh, of course. Of course we know there's more to the story offline, I wonder how healthy it is to keep subjecting ourselves to these incomplete pictures of a one another. I think it fosters a whole host of shitty feelings we'd be better off without. She's prettier than me. He's more accomplished. They're a happier couple than we are. Etc. Or, when we identify the lie: Ugh, what a phony. She's not fooling anyone. Who does he think he is? I can't stand him. 

Annoyance, anger, envy. Why do we do this to ourselves, when we know better? When there's an entire, gorgeous physical world at our fingertips (not to mention a pretty interesting internal one), why do we ignore it hour after hour in favor of the virtual one filled with things that trigger such crappy emotions?

More and more, and especially since leaving IG, I'm thinking about what life was like, pre-internet. I've made a lot of noise about Productivity! and Literature! and Writing! and Better, More Creative Use of My Time! as motivating factors in my decision to (again) withdraw from social media - but now I'm wondering why that void needs to be filled with anything at all. What if the spaces between daily activities were filled with...nothing? With a few minutes of just sitting quietly? With petting Chaucer or just enjoying the sight of sunlight pouring in my window? I mean, what the fuck did I do with my spare time before I had a billion screens and gadgets to toggle between all day? It's been so long, I don't remember. Maybe nothing? Maybe a lot of sitting alone in the dark and thinking?

And maybe that isn't such a bad thing?