Category Archives: the blogging thing

But you’re wreeecking the commuuuuuuuunittyyy!

Oh my god, oh my god, I can’t deal with another day of whining about the decline of the “blogging community” without asking: who the hell do you honestly think you’re talking about?

Seriously. Who is “the community?” Who comprises “the community?”

I know you can’t possibly think you’re talking about all bloggers, everywhere.

Not even all mom bloggers (which, let’s be honest, is where the “community! community!” stomping seems to come from). Because you can’t POSSIBLY think you’re in a position to lump all mom bloggers – let alone all blogs – as part of some unified community.

So who are you talking about? People who are attempting to make money/a career from their blog or in social media? That’s a pretty – no, EXTREMELY – small portion of bloggers, when you think about it – which you haven’t.

Or maybe bloggers who attend the same conferences and events that you do – again, very small group.

Or maybe bloggers you associate with on the regular. But you can’t mean them, because then you’d be lecturing to your friends, when it isn’t your friends who are the problem, it’s the other people.

So, who all is this “community?” You’ve got to have some kind of defined group in mind when you start worrying about the decline of “the community,” or else, what are you even talking about?

What I find hard to imagine is a way in which “community” can be defined such that it makes sense for a person – ANY person, because it has been SO many different people at different points in time – to climb up onto their soapbox and lecture about how “the community” needs to behave in order to prevent the INEVITABLE AND VERY CLEARLY IMPENDING destruction of “the community.”

I mean, before I can accept anyone as a voice for “the community” and an authority on “WHAT WE ALL NEED TO DO TO STOP THIS,” I need to know who that person thinks they’re talking to.

My “community,” I think, is built around my own specific site, and it would be ridiculous for me to ever think otherwise, because what the hell do I even have in common with any larger group?

So this here is my community, and you’re reading this, so you’re probably part of it, and you already know – I pretty much rule this shit with an iron fist. I’ve got no shame about it – this is my place and it’s my way or up yours.

And I’m a member of other communities, the central hub of which would be a certain blog or blogger, and I participate, but certainly wouldn’t think to speak for THOSE communities, because I’m not the boss of them, but I enjoy horsing around in and with them because they suit me.

And then, of course, there are more loosely formed communities of like-minded, like-humored or just liked people I hang about with on Twitter or what have you – I think you’d refer to those people as my friends and I certainly wouldn’t think to stand up and lecture them about how we all need to behave as a group, because, uh, come on.

I can speak for me and govern my own behavior. I can wave my little e-scepter around and tell people on this site – part of this community for which I write all the words and pay all the hosting – what shit is going to fly and what shit isn’t and change the rules by the day, IF I felt like it, which I usually don’t. I can control my own behavior – after all, I’m an adult who can decide these things – when I participate in other communities, and the heads of THOSE communities and other members can welcome me in or kind of shoulder me out, in a weird Internet Darwinism where the non-fitter-inners are eventually excluded by mutual, “eh, it isn’t working out” kind of decision. On a similar note, as an adult, I can also turn away from behavior I don’t care for, weed it out of my OWN community, or not participate in communities that engage in behavior I don’t like.

Behavior I don’t like – not behavior “the group” has decided is an unliked behavior because WHAT FUCKING GROUP?

But do you know how many blogs I read? A LOT. Too many for me to draw any kind of unifying “community” between them as a whole, and certainly too many for me to elect myself The Boss of Appropriate Conduct and try to “fix” what is wrong with a whole bunch of things that don’t really have anything in common to begin with.

And I read a LOT of them – and I bet you do, too – and that’s not even CLOSE to all of them! I mean, I realize the big trend right now is to whine about how blogging has changed and all of that, but surely people realize that their experience is not the universal experience? ESPECIALLY with something as diverse as blogging? There are 4 jillion blogs out there – you don’t read even a notable fraction of them, if you’re being honest with yourself, so how can anyone at all speak with any authority about “community” and how the behavior of some is ruining the experience of others?

What community! Who are you talking about!

If something is going on that is ruining “the community,” I think that to solve it, first you need to decide what exactly it is that you consider to be “the community.” Then, think about why you feel you’re in a position to govern the behavior of “the community.” Is it because you pay for or write the site the community is focused around? Is it because you feel like everyone needs to ensure that your experience is as molded to your own personal needs and expectations as possible? Is it because you have some kind of god complex? Is it because traffic was low this month and you needed to stir something up?

Is it because you haven’t realized the world is changing around you and you’re completely out of touch with what “community,” as it relates to blogging, actually is and your own authority within it?

Look, just get back to me when you’ve decided WHO the community is and WHY you think that you need to lead the charge to fix it.

Until then, I don’t think anyone really has any place to speak for or about “the community.”

How to be a successful blogger. I will tell you the one and only way.

1. Allow someone else, or a group of someone elses, determine what “successful” means for you.

2. Try to imitate exactly what they do, because, after all, they’re the ones who decided what successful is, so they must have something going on there. Bonus points if you imitate their tone and topics so closely that people have to continually check their feed reader titles to remind themselves what blog they’re reading.

3. Scour the Internet for blog posts from successful bloggers indicating that they are going to tell you how to be successful, too.

4. Hide your justified outrage when the “advice” turns out to be vague, ridiculous, touchy feely, insistent that “success” isn’t defined by money even when you know damn well that’s how they’ve defined it for themselves and they know that’s what you’re there to read about.

5a. Accept the fact that you will never be given actual instruction on how to secure the same sponsors, take the same trips, get into the same ad networks, make the same kind of money, or anything like that – at least, not in the posts by those who are promising to tell you how to be successful.

5b. Learn to know and love the term “link bait.”

6. Participate in endless circular discussions with those who fit the prescribed definition of successful, bemoaning how blogging has changed, how no one comments anymore, how there are no more bloggers who don’t want to be a business or a brand and how sad that is for all of us, posing hypothetical solutions on how to fix it, but realizing that no one really cares to fix it.

7a. Become confused at the rigid refusal of participants in these conversations to acknowledge the fact that there are FOUR SKRILLION AWESOME BLOGS AND BLOGGERS who are not brands or businesses but are carrying on doing their thing, with comments and discussions and vibrant communities and hilarity, but don’t really bother pointing that out, because no one cares, because their blogging experience has changed, therefore everyone’s has.

7b. Also become confused about why people keep initiating conversations about money, but no one is actually ever willing to talk about money, except for those who are, but don’t be seen associating with those who are, because we (the general Internet “we”) don’t like people who do that, and call them trolls, but not the real kind of Internet troll – instead, we now use troll as “someone who says something that we don’t like even if they’re not doing it anonymously or in any kind of attacky way.”

7c. Remind yourself of 5b.

OR?

TODAY ONLY! You can only see it here – Temerity Jane’s Spectacular Instructional on the ONE SINGLE WAY to EVER Become a Successful Blogger.

1. Start a blog.

2. Write shit.

3. KEEP WRITING SHIT.

4. Find people who write shit you like.

5. Make friends with them and interact in whatever way floats your boat – Twitter, Facebook, blog comments, whatever.

6. KEEP WRITING SHIT.

7. Seriously. Keep going. For years.

8. How to build an audience: Write shit people like. For a long ass time. Well past the time when you first assumed people would start listening to you.

9. How to make money: Find someone who has some, tell them you write shit people like, and ask them if they’ll give you some of their money. Repeat until you have some money and are also no longer even remotely phased by the word “no.”

10. Stop listening to people who tell you how to blog or how to be successful. Steps 1 and 2 are it. Unless you want to be a mom blogger. Then, before Step 1, have a baby. Bam.

I’m testing out Step 5b from the other plan. If you hate what I’ve said, you can tell yourself I’m a troll and not successful. That will surely hurt my feelings. Let’s all have a deep discussion about this and pat each other on the backs and then not change anything. Then we’ll regroup right here in a year and do the whole thing over again.

I tell myself the reason no one ever asks for updates is because I’m so generous with them.

First of all,

Of course that’s not the same picture from 28 weeks, which was actually a picture reused from 27 weeks!
Can’t you tell? The text is a different color and so is the hat!

Yeah, okay, it’s the same picture, but look, I highly doubt Garlic Bread is going to grow up disappointed that she doesn’t have a week-by-week photo retrospective of my belly to pore over in her teen years. Besides, we are working on the world’s largest collection of ultrasound images of baby feet. They’re going to be a whole chapter in her baby book, we have so many.

I’m kidding, I’m kidding.

I’m not going to make a baby book.

Anyway, 29 weeks. It is no major milestone, but it is another week, and every additional week is a good week, as they say, or as they would say, if they were on bed rest with an enormous ass cramp and were trying very hard to be all glass is half full and shit.

As for the actual non-photographed belly, it remains roughly that shape and size (okay, it’s bigger), and the only real notable difference is that while it’s big and round when I lay flat, if I lean forward, the sides of belly pull back to reveal a distinctive and frankly kind of disgusting lump, which can only be properly described as BREAD BUTT. Each night, I go through the ritual of lotioning up the Hut (because you guys, oh my heavens, my skin is TEARING APART and everyone knows that pregnancy gives stretch marks but there is BURNING AND ITCHING), and once it is lotioned, I lean forward and watch the Butt Lump appear, shriek in horror, poke it, demand Phil poke it, try to press it down, and then lean back and forth a couple of times, demanding that Phil watch Garlic Bread’s ass threaten to make a break for the surface.

Oh, did I mention that she turned head down? I doubt she’ll stay that way, because she’s kind of a turd, but at the moment, she’s properly positioned.

Dear Garlic Bread,
This is the only time in your life that “face down, ass up” is even remotely appropriate.
Your pals,
TJ and Phil

Oh, speaking of talking about inappropriate things in relation to your child, we were getting ready for bed last night, and Phil was telling me that he had been talking with someone about only children, and how it can be hard to be an only child because the kid could end up feeling like all of our hopes and dreams are pinned on her, and it can be stressful.

TJ: Well, I really only have one hope and one dream for her, and they can actually be kind of lumped together in a single hope/dream hybrid. “Stay off the pole.”
Phil: Word. I can get behind that.
TJ: Unless she’s like, really talented.
Phil: Um… even then.

2. Remember a couple of days ago when I was all, “My lunatic dog is too well trained and he only wants to sleep where we trained him to sleep, what do we dooooo?”

Yeah, so, the night of the day I wrote that post (uh, what?), he wandered around, all confused, sticking his face on the edge of the bed, wondering why everyone was just laying around when Sheldon was still so clearly free to play with us, he ran into the living room, he came back, he checked out each side of the bed again to make sure Phil and I weren’t dead, and then laid down on the floor and went to sleep.

Last night? Same thing. And he’s waited for Phil to get up, carried on his same morning routine, and gone back to sleep on the floor until I get up. He and Brinkley are sharing a pillow right now, even, but I am pretty sure that this blog has had enough “pictures of my dogs sleeping because I have nothing else going on” for this week.

Well. Thank you for all the help and advice on that post. I wrote 2000 words about this enormous problem that solved itself less than 12 hours later. I sure feel like my Butt Rust time is being used productively now.

3. The other day, I posted an unfunny joke and titled the post something about how I’d write a book about bed rest, but I will not write such a book and I will not write any kind of book ever.

There was this thing in the newspaper about Dooce, and the comments were all dismissive and dumb, as you’d expect, and there was all this outrage among some bloggers about “how daaaare people call blogging stupid” and what not, and I’m not going to even get into the idea that so many people seem to be missing the fact that the majority of the world does not read nor give a shit about blogs at all, and getting all huffed up about it is kind of ridiculous.

But I did notice a whole lot of the “bloggers are writers and they write because they have to” lines popping up, along with the “I write for myself, not for anyone else” stuff, and I have to say while that’s all well and good for the people who believe that, not all bloggers fit into those statements.

For one thing? I have never considered myself to be a writer. I think a writer is trying to do something with what they write and works on what they write and tries to make it into something good, whereas I will not edit, refine, critique or restyle anything I do here, I will just continue to throw down words until I hamfist my point RIGHT INTO YOUR FACE, because in my mind, I am not writing, which is a THING that is DONE with skill and intent, but I am TELLING YOU STUFF.

There’s a difference there, for me, at least.

And I’m not saying that bloggers aren’t writers. I’m saying that I’m not a writer, so to insist that bloggers are writers who write because they must is most definitely false.

I have never ONCE IN MY LIFE sat down with a pen and paper, or laptop and blank document, as the case may be, to write a story or a poem or a novel sketch or a creative bit of ANYTHING simply for my own enjoyment or to exercise my neeeeeds as a writer. I don’t even LIKE TO WRITE. I like to tell you things.

And the importantest part in that sentence would be the you part, because while there’s a whole lot of “write for yourself!” and “I do this for me, not for hits and an audience” people out there, I am not one of them. If you guys were not here, I would not do this. Seriously. I do not write for myself. If I wrote for myself, I’d have a journal tucked under my pillow or some shit. This is the Internet. It’s out here, publicly. It’s for you guys.

And I’m not saying that like, “I do this selflessly! As a gift!”

Oh, no. There is definitely some (LARGE) level of selfishness in it. Absolutely. I get something out of it (like all those recipes the yesterday, I AM BLOWN AWAY once again, y’all, and if you’ll recall, I can say y’all because my CERVIX IS THE LENGTH OF TEXAS!). But I’m not writing because the passions of my soul need to be expressed or I will simply burst, no matter if anyone reads it or not.

You BETTER read it, because I am TELLING YOU THINGS.

Seriously, if I could just gather you all at my house and just say this stuff, I would. But my house is very small.

What I am saying is, I can buy into the fact that some bloggers are writers, and write because they must, whatever that means, but not all of us, because some of us don’t even want to be. And I am also fully admitting that I do NOT buy into the “I write for myself” line, because if you’re putting it on the Internet, it’s not for yourself, not wholly, anyway.

In summation:

Some bloggers = writers.
Some bloggers = TELLING YOU THINGS.

(Both are okay. But not necessarily the same.)

(In REsummation, I’m uncomfortable with being called a writer when I have no desire to be and do not fit my own personal definition of what a writer does and why they do it, so stop lumping all bloggers together as ALSO writers, because I want to be JUST A BLOGGER and I think that’s ok.)

4. You see the blanket in this picture?

When I was about 5, I think, just before I started kindergarten, my parents moved from Scranton, PA to a suburb just outside of it called Clarks Summit, where there was a better school district. My parents let my sister and I choose our own bedroom furniture, wall paper and paint, carpet colors and bedding when we moved into the new house. Their own living and dining room stayed empty and unfinished (as in, a hole in the ceiling with no light fixture in the dining room) for more than 10 years, but I got to pick out my own canopy bed from Ethan Allen and everything. I picked out a white eyelet bedding set with a matching canopy, and refused to sleep in my new bedroom until “my bed’s roof” was delivered. I was kind of an asshole.

Anyway, that’s the same blanket, right there. It’s 25 years old, and when Phil and I visited my parents for Christmas a few years ago, I had hauled it back with me. It has mostly served as a solution to the problems detailed in this post.

This picture makes more sense if you read the post.

I love that blanket. It’s the perfect weight for everything and the perfect size for proper bundling, as I am a life long blanket-and-pillow mountain kind of sleeper. However, it is TWENTY FIVE YEARS OLD. It is gray. It has held up well, but not that well.

So, the other day, Phil went to Target and he got me a new blanket. I thought there was more to this story when I started telling it, but I guess there really just isn’t.

He also bought me a 5 pack of men’s 2 XL v neck cotton undershirts, because while all of my current t-shirts are fine for standing up and being all tight around my big Hut (see above photo), laying in bed leads them to creeping up and exposing my purple striped belly, and I look like a big fat flamboyant tiger. I cut my hair short right after the wedding and it’s had time to grow out to an obnoxious length at this point, and there’s nothing I can do about it, so I’m a big, round lady with an “I’ve given up” messy topknot of hair, wearing oversized men’s shirts and pajama pants. I take pictures of and talk about (and to) my dogs all day, in between doing logic problems and fill ins puzzles.

None of that has anything to do with anything, I just thought you’d like a visual to go along with me TELLING YOU THINGS, so this would be more like you coming to my house and me just telling you instead of writing.

Get out of my bushes, 2011

You guys! Do you remember this day last year? When I asked you to guess what day it is, but then I didn’t actually let you guess but told you what day it was because, let’s be honest, “guessing” wasn’t one of your best skills last year?

Well, you guys have really worked hard over the last year, and I admit, your guessing skills have gotten much better, but I have Eggos in the toaster and it’s really important that I eat them AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, so I don’t really have time to wait for your (improved! really! gold star for you!) guessing skills. So once again, I’m just going to tell you what day it is.

Hooray! Delurking Day! The day you are LEGALLY OBLIGATED, by Internet law, to stop just peering through the curtains and actually SAY something. Now, ideally, once the ice was broken by your comment today, you’d be free of your shyness shackles and comment with abandon all over the Internet, but this is not an ideal world so I understand if that doesn’t happen. But I do have to inform you that the law says that you have to comment today.

Last year, I did my own Delurking Day Survey, to make coming out of hiding a little bit easier, so that you didn’t have to feel pressure to come up with anything witty or brilliant all on your own. Plus, since the survey is all about you, it takes care of the problem that some non-commenters site – that every time you go to say something, someone else has already said it.

That’s basically the story of this entire blog, but does that stop me? NO!

Anyway, here is the survey. The whole Internet is demanding you delurk today, Internet, and I’m making it easy on you with a simple survey for you to fill out. Do other blogs treat you this good? No, I bet they don’t. That’s why if you delurk on one blog today, it should be mine. Not that it’s a vote or anything. It’s just that you might only have time to comment on a few, or maybe just one. Would you like a cookie or to borrow my Slanket? How can I make you comfortable? Comment on my blog.

Anyway! Since last year’s survey worked so well, I’ll be using it again. Even if you’re not a lurker, you can fill it out, and even if you filled it out last year, you should fill it out again this year, so we can all sit together on the deck in those obnoxious thick-necked sweaters, drinking beer and wines we’ve chosen not because we like them, but because we think they’ll be impressive to those we’re with, and laugh through big fake smiles about how much we’ve grown, while we run our hands over the carefully pressed front-creases in our jeans!

The TJ Delurker Survey, 2011:

1. What’s your name, and how long have you been reading this site?

2. Do you have a blog and/or a Twitter name and/or something else we should all read today? If you don’t have one yourself, you can tell us about someone else who is deserving of our eyeballs today.

3. What is your favorite song right now? I am going to go listen to it and tell you what I think. No pressure.

4. Is there anything I haven’t covered or answered but I should have, but you couldn’t tell me that because you were busy lurking?

5. Are you a lurker everywhere, or is it just my blog? I’m going to guess everywhere, because it’s not like you’re intimidated by all my medals or anything. THOUGH YOU MIGHT BE! Because I have actually WON SOME MEDALS since the time I wrote the question last year! So, for the first year in the history of my 12+ years of blogging, “INTIMIDATED BY MEDALS” is a valid reason for not commenting!

6. Tell me something really weird or unusual about you. That will take care of the whole “every time I want to say something, someone already said it” thing.

7. Recommend something. A book, or a movie, or a flash game, or a friend of yours as a really excellent person, or a valid career path, or a little known parenting strategy, or a super clever cleaning tip or trick, or incredibly helpful organizational tool, or the best socks you’ve ever owned. This is your moment to SHINE, Internet.

So there you have it! It’s Delurking Day, and while I understand that many people lurk because they have nothing to say, or someone already said it, I have created a SURVEY for you so that you know that you definitely have some things to say that I am interested in hearing. Last year, I spent the entire day attempting to respond to 100+ comments, listening to all the songs, and I think I did a reasonably good job of it. I intend to do the same this year. So old commenter or new commenter or “commented once a long time ago and then never again” commenter or never commenter, come out of your bushes and fill out my survey.

I offered you my SLANKET. You HAVE to.

I’ve decided on the rule.

So, since I’ve announced that I have an internal baby and will, at the end of this process, have an external baby, I’ve kind of felt obligated to write about it. By “it,” I’m not exactly sure if I mean the baby or the pregnancy, but since there has been such an uptick in traffic since I let you in on the state of my uterus, I feel like there must be something that people are waiting for me to say or talk about.

Unfortunately, I just don’t have much to report on either front. As far as the baby goes, the only thing it has actually done so far was give us the Mr. Hankey wave on the ultrasound, and as soon as the doctor was out of earshot, Phil and I gave each other a wave and said, “Hiiiiidey hooo!” So, if I was to tell you something about the baby, it would be that so far, it reminded us of an animated piece of Christmas poop. And the Internet tends to get its collective nose all out of joint when someone refers to their kid as a butt head or an asshole or anything other than a precious gift from above, so I suppose starting out with talking crap comparisons would not be an auspicious beginning.

And then there’s the pregnancy, and a lot of you have been pregnant before. You know that I don’t really have much going on here at just about 13 weeks. I mean, it’s in there, I’ve seen it, but I don’t feel it moving or anything. I was keeping the whole thing a secret during what I hope were some of the most wretched days, so I can’t really regale you with tales of my misery. Aside from being generally tired (sleeping 10-12 hours a night these days), I feel pretty okay. OH, EXCEPT? I never, ever used to burp. I mean, ever. I never even learned how to burp on command. And now? I burp all the time, and it cracks me up every time. I’m having a small moment of delayed childhood here. I have discovered burping.

So, to sum up – talking poop, burping a lot.

What I have done, however, is come up with my one and only hard and fast rule for Internet Interaction for the duration of this whole project, and by “project,” I just mean the pregnancy, because I totally reserve the right to make up all kinds of new stuff once I have the kid.

Now, everyone knows that the Internet likes to offer advice. And everyone knows that the Internet likes to disagree. And everyone knows that the Internet thinks that your perfectly functional way of doing things is somewhat inferior to their way of doing things, and will suggest their way even if you have written a glowing post about how absolutely fantastic your way is.

After over 10 years of blogging, I am finally ready to just accept that and try (TRY) to keep the grumbling to a minimum. After all, the Internet has had, like, a billion babies, and probably has three or maybe even four or five good ideas and pieces of information that I may need or want.

So I’ll deal with advice and information, no matter how NOT SO KINDLY OFFERED it may be at times, and no matter how poorly concealed the writer’s disdain for my baby-raising tactics may be, as long as we can all agree to this one rule for the rest of the pregnancy:

If I ever say that I’m tired. Or that my head hurts. Or that I don’t have enough time to do something. Or that Phil and I are going to do something fun.

YOU CANNOT SAY TO ME:

“You think you’re tired now? WAIT TIL THE BABY COMES.”

“You think that’s pain? WAIT TIL THE BABY COMES.”

“You don’t have enough time? WAIT TIL THE BABY COMES.”

“You think you’ll always have time for fun? WAIT TIL THE BABY COMES.”

I know. I KNOW. Let’s all agree right now that we – we ALL, including ME – know that when the baby comes, there will be less of everything except for poop and messes and exhaustion. That life will be different and as a deliberately pregnant adult, I have willingly signed up for that change in my life.

Offer advice, tell me how you did things, give me the benefit of your mistakes and experiences – fine. I am totally reading all of that. No matter how much I disagree with someone’s advice or how much I think that their kid is probably going to end up a sociopath, I will at least be polite.

As long as my ONE RULE is followed.

Don’t tell me that WHEN THE BABY COMES I will be MORE tired

or have LESS time

or make MORE sacrifices

or NEVER ENJOY LIFE AGAIN AS LONG AS I LIVE.

Because I know. I KNOW.

What did we do to nice?

I’ve been seeing several mentions of this “Inner Mean Girl” cleanse thing, and I took a 45 second glance at the website, as is my style, before deciding I was totally over it. I think it starts today, and I’m already over it.

I don’t want anything to do with what looks like it will amount to another way to judge each other. “I’ve decided to be a nice person and I need professional help to do that. Everyone is so mean.” Except, except – there are really so very few people who are truly mean.

I wrote awhile ago about how I don’t think I’m really nice or mean. I think I’m average nice. I think most people are average nice.

And I think that’s just fine.

I think, though, that especially with blogs, the line between nice and terrible is way too darkly drawn. Comments that disagree with a blog writer, however mild, are deleted.

Tweets that are completely innocuous at best, eye-rollingly lame at worst, are declared to be “threats” and “harassment” that require a big kerfluffle and to do.

Justifiably calling someone an asshole – right out front, in public, under your own name – gets you the label of “troll.”

I don’t know how much of this has to do with this sudden spate of people declaring their cleanse and honestly, I don’t know nor care too much about the details of the cleanse itself. You should understand this in reading the rest of this post. I don’t claim to “get” what this cleanse is about. I’m sure that, if you’re participating, you have very valid reasons. I think a lot of my feelings on this matter also have to do with a lot of recent discussions I’ve been having with other average nice people.

I think the fact that the Internet has become a bunch of weenies has combined with the fact that women love ways to shame each other to create whatever the hell this current Internet weather front turns out to be.

Anyway.

Internet, you’ve become a bunch of goddamn weenies.

Disagreeing is not the same thing as spewing hate.

A debate is not always a fight.

“I don’t like you” does not have to mean drama.

Calling someone an asshole does not make you the Internet devil. Some people ARE assholes, or at least, occasionally act like assholes.

This whole “don’t say anything unless you are agreeing or you’re giving some kind of emoticon hug” thing is ridiculous. These days, you simply cannot disagree with a blog writer or commenter in comments sections without sides being taken, defenses being leapt to, and things devolving into an absolute mess out of some misguided sense of “how dare you.”

Should comments devolve into some kind of name calling, mud flinging mess? No, of course not. But these things don’t usually start with random name calling or a hateful, anonymous comment anymore. THAT would be true trolling. No, these things usually start with someone saying something that is perceived as not being 100% nice.

So a commenter takes offense on behalf of the blogger and things get rolling from there. Or worse, something that has been happening far too often and over much too little, the blogger him/herself jumps into the comments or onto Twitter or anywhere s/he – let’s be honest, she – can, to shriek about persecution and trolling and hate and rallying up the troops and playing the victim about every little damn episode of someone not meeting their standards of nice.

Shaming, shaming weenies

I think that most of us are average nice. Because average is average and aside from some outliers, most of us are going to fall right in that range.

I don’t think I’m special or unique in any significant way. I think realizing that has made my life a lot more pleasing, a lot happier and a lot more realistic, if that makes sense.

So, as an average person, who is average nice, I know that a good number of people are going to be very similar to me.

I think mean things sometimes. I compare myself to other people, too – sometimes favorably and sometimes unfavorably. I make judgments and a lot of times, don’t even realize I’m doing it.

Sometimes I see something and have a reaction, or I think something and it’s not too polite, and the fact that I am adult capable of exercising my own judgment keeps me from saying it. Sometimes, it doesn’t, and I say something that maybe you wouldn’t have said, but definitely something that I’d say.

That doesn’t make me a mean girl. I’m just average nice.

I don’t think that’s a big deal. I think when someone does something that causes me to think, “Hey, that person is an asshole!” or have some kind of similar reaction, it’s up to me whether or not I feel strongly enough to actually voice that reaction. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. The same goes for just about everyone else. Ever.

But these days, these days with this weird new definition of what’s nice and what’s mean, the self-appointed Nice/Mean/Drama/Disturbance in the Force Police have come flying onto the scene as well, and that’s where the shaming comes in.

Every single goddamn day, there is someone tweeting or posting or commenting about “Can’t we all get along?” or “Ugh, drama. Everyone needs to calm down.,” or “Let’s all agree to make an effort to be kind to one another.”

This only happens on the Internet. The Internet, where people are completely and totally free to say whatever they want, has more people popping up to dictate who can say what to who and how than anywhere else.

Where else do you see an uninvolved adult either step between two other grown adults to stop their conversation, or stand next to other people and make loud comments right next to them about how terrible it is that they’re having the conversation?

And worse, not only does this only happen on the Internet – it’s usually over nothing. Take the recent #realwriters “debate” on Twitter. Over and over, people were jumping in to say how TERRIBLE it was to say bloggers aren’t “real” writers and whoever said that is a MORON and oh my GOD can’t we all just get ALONG, and you go to read the search results of the hashtag AND EVERYONE IS AGREEING WITH EVERYONE ELSE.

If the Nice/Mean/Drama/Disturbance in the Force Police invent a mudslinging debate where there was only one side, you can imagine what happens when someone calls someone else an asshole. Or people on opposite sides of an issue discuss it. Oh, it’s like the world is caving in.

And these pleas for niceness, for harmony, for kindness – they’re just another kind of shaming.

They are.

An adult telling other adults that their conversation/debate/argument/whatever shouldn’t be happening? It’s shaming.

“I’m above this. Why aren’t you above this? Nice women are above this.”

So what’s wrong with nice, anyway?

There is nothing wrong with nice. There’s nothing wrong with being a nice person, with doing nice things, with saying nice things, with striving to be nice in all areas of your life.

The problem is with what nice has come to mean, here on the Internet.

Nice isn’t “I like your hair in your avatar” or “Follow so and so, she’s such a great person.”

Nice, on the Internet, is not saying a word when you disagree.

Nice, on the Internet, is looking away when someone says something awful about a something you feel strongly about.

Nice, on the Internet, is not leaving a blog comment at all if the one you were about to leave isn’t in lock-step with the post itself.

Nice, on the Internet, means making sure that other people know how nice you are – by shaming them for saying anything that falls into the NEW definition of debate, fighting or drama.

Women are supposed to be nice.

We’re supposed to get along. We’re supposed to agree. We’re supposed to present some kind of united front. Fighting is what keeps women from forming deep friendships with other women.

I disagree. Shaming is what keeps women from forming deep friendships with other women. Shaming each other into stomping out deeply delt disagreements, shaming each other into keeping our fingers still when someone REALLY NEEDS to be told to what a sack of cocks they are, shaming each other for piping up to back someone else on whatever has been determined to be the “wrong” side of a debate.

I’m nice enough, thanks.

I’m not the type of person who seeks out every drama to jump into, tweet about and blog about, under some misguided notion of “telling it like it is.” I’m not mean for the sake of being mean.

I’m average nice. Sometimes I say things that aren’t 100% nice. I certainly think things that aren’t 100% nice. Sometimes I keep these things to myself, and sometimes I speak up. That’s my choice. I think that, going by the traditional, non-Internet version of the definition of the word “nice,” I’m a nice enough lady.

I know how to be nice. You know how to be nice. WE ALL know how to be nice. Sometimes, even knowing how to be nice, we choose not to be.

The reasons we choose not to be nice in any given situation are different for every person. Maybe someone is maligning a cause that you feel strongly about. Maybe someone has said something offensive about one of your friends. Maybe a debate has broken out amongst some other people, and you really have something to contribute.

In the non-Internet world, while not necessarily falling under the heading of “nice,” those things would be referred to as standing up for what you believe in, defending a friend, and engaging in heated discussion, respectively.

On the Internet, that all falls under the heading of mean, or drama, or, more simply – wrong.

The Nice/Mean/Drama/Disturbance in the Force police have twisted, turned, and mangled the definition of nice and are out to shame any woman who doesn’t fall in line. I’m embarrassed for them. I’m embarrassed for us.  I’m embarrassed by women banding together to tell other women how and when to communicate, and who specifically is allowed to say what specific things to which specific others.

I don’t need nor want to be told when it’s okay to object, when it’s okay to bitch back, and when my dissenting opinions are welcome or unwelcome. I don’t need nor want to be told when I should let this slide or side step that in order not to have someone pass judgment from on high about how above everything that’s going on they are.

Sometimes, I think someone is being an asshole, or is wrong, or is doing something that I strongly disagree with. A percentage of those “sometimes,” I will feel strongly enough about it – or really, just be in the mood – and say something. I don’t feel like that makes me a Mean Girl, or not a nice person.

If you, personally, feel like you need to conform to the Internet’s new definition of nice in order to be okay with yourself and happy with who you are, I totally respect that. But you need to respect that fact that the Internet doesn’t revolve around you.

That people don’t always agree.

That no one is obligated to stifle so that your tweet stream is expletive free.

I’ll respect your right to not speak up, not defend your friends, never disagree, never say a cross word to anyone, never compare yourself to anyone else, never hate what someone else stands for, never find anyone or yourself lacking in ANY way.

As long as you respect my right to tell someone to eat a bowl of dicks when I truly feel it’s deserved.

You trust my judgment about when it’s ok for me to say something. I’ll trust your judgment about what’s okay for you to decide not to be involved in.

It is not the Internet’s place to decide what’s nice and what’s not. It’s not the Internet’s place to decide who can say what to who and how and when for the sake of keeping up some false front of togetherness.

I’m nice. You’re nice.

We’re all pretty nice.

I totally just invented my own niche.

No matter how strange of a topic I come up with for this blog (see – Settle This posts), there is always at least one someone – usually several someones – who have experienced the same thing, or have thought the same thing, or feel the same way as I do about whatever ridiculous minutae I have decided to discuss that day. It’s pretty rare that I feel at all isolated – when it comes to blogging, at least.

However, while details and random thoughts are one thing, overall topic and lifestyle and life situations are a completely different animal. I think that there was a time in the history of this blog – or maybe two or even three times – when I was significantly more relatable than I am now.

Now, a lot of the blogs I like to read are those of women with children, but that’s certainly not the only kind of blog out there by a long shot. There were plenty of blogs out there in the same situation as I was at different points in my life.

There was the time at the start of this blog, when I worked at an accounting firm, and was extremely busy at certain points of the year. Plenty of bloggers – lots, really – work at full time jobs outside the home, and are often busy to the point of insanity.

Or when I was playing World of Warcraft a lot more often. There are always about four skrillion people within shouting distance willing to talk about World of Warcraft.

Or when I had a really, really terrible job. I think a whole lot of people find that to be reasonably relatable. Especially now, where people feel like they have to stick with the job they have rather than take the risk of not being able to find something else.

Of course, I was also in a long distance relationship for a while there, and the Internet is full of people who have been in the same situation, or who are in the same situation, or who have come out the other side of such a situation.

But now, I don’t work in an office – terrible or busy or otherwise. I still don’t have any kids. I don’t play WoW at all anymore – I actually cancelled my account for the first time since 2005 a few months back. The longest-distance my relationship gets right now is when I’m at home and he’s at work, and even then, we’re still on the same Air Force base all day long.

I think that a whole bunch of posts on this site have shown that no matter how strange something you think about or feel might be, there area metric asston of people who will pop up out of nowhere to say, “Hey, me, too!” And there are also blogs on just about every subject and niche and lifestyle that you could imagine.

So tell me, Internet – where are the stay at home dog owner bloggers? Or the bloggers who are extremely disturbed by changes to their Sabrina the Teenage Witch – Full House – Grounded for Life midday sitcom schedule? The bloggers who don’t post a lot of pictures because there’s just not all that much in the house to take a picture of?

I have been able to find people who agree with me on The Peak of the Banana, drawn out there freakishly even-sided camps of tooth brushing, and raised hives on word-nerds all over. If there are people who share banana thoughts and toothbrush thoughts with me, there has to be at least a few Little House-watching, dog fight-breaker-upper, generic pop tart-eating bloggers out there somewhere.

And if not? I shall corner the niche. The keywords will be… “Stefano DiMera,” “Nature’s Miracle cleanser,” and… “Temerity Jane.” Because it’s my niche.