January 5, 2009
(DISCLAIMER: This is in response to a situation that has nothing whatsoever to do with me; however, thoughts regarding this sitch will continue to nag at at me until I speak my mind. So there. Read it. Or don’t. Whatever. I do understand that my blog is a public forum and that this may cause negative or hard feelings to be directed my way. But whatever. I feel strongly about what is being said. That is all.)
Dear Lady of Questionable Humor Who was Recently Burned by Twitter Tweets:
I’m sorry that because of something you wrote in your Twitter stream you had to suffer the indignity of having the police come and check on you and your children. I worry all the time that one of my neighbors will call the police or child protective services because I have a daughter that has the most HORRIFYING, piercing yell—I kid you not—and she has absolutely no qualms about shrieking at the top of her lungs for longer than one would believe is humanly possible if her older brother so much as looks at her wrong. Which he does. A LOT. To have the cops come because someone heard her screaming and thought someone was hurting her would be embarrassing and horrible and scary and did I mention TOTALLY EMBARRASSING?! I’ve tried to explain to her that there are “Good Samaritans” out there who could potentially call the police because they can hear her screaming, but she’s a child… and when it comes right down to it, it’s an impulse control issue and all we can do is work on it. That said, I’d be pissed if someone DID call the authorities, especially without talking to me first, but I would totally understand why. While I’d rather be approached first, I really wouldn’t expect a neighbor to come to my door and ask, “Excuse me, are you abusing your child in there?” Nah. Not many people would be brave enough to take that risk. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m just saying.
I’m American. I don’t watch Fox news (I don’t watch any network news, actually). I do watch “Bones” and “House,” though, and they are on Fox so sometimes I see news commercials during the breaks, but I don’t think that should count because I am usually getting snacks and such, or spending quality time with my husband and children. And I live in the DC Metro area, which is technically “The South” if you go by the Mason-Dixon line, which I totally don’t because that line of demarcation is ancient HISTORY. But dude. Honestly. If you use Twitter, you have no expectation of privacy, unless you protect your updates. And frankly, I don’t know you from Adam, but after reading back through several of your Tweets, I know more about your battles with bipolar disorder, your strained relationship with your husband, and your discontent with your co-workers (and boss) than I think is entirely necessary. WAY more. Good LORD with the TMI, woman! But I have the ability to, you know, NOT follow you. Or read your blog. Which is cool. If I don’t appreciate your brand of humor, so what, right? In the big scheme of things, it don’t mattah. We don’t know each other. We’ll likely never meet, even if I do ever travel to Canada. It’s a big place. Whatever. My good opinion is nothing to you.
So please don’t misunderstand me. I’m all for emotional honesty. I’m all for snark. I’m all for cutting jokes and whatnot. And I get that you want to Keep It Real. Awesome. Go on and get down with your bad self. You have that right. You have the right to ask all of Twitter if it would be okay to smother your screaming child. Even if you are TOTALLY kidding! Ha ha! I get it. You’re like Michael Scott. You hope to someday live in a world where a person could tell a hilarious Child Abuse joke. I hear you. But sadly, that is not our world. Yet. (Fingers crossed!)
So all the Twitter Tweeters who read your “questionable” Tweet (and the others before it) have the right-—and some “Good Samaritans” would say the responsibility-—to think—perhaps!—that someone ought to make sure that you are not REALLY going to smother your child to get her to be quiet and go to sleep. Because mothers ACTUALLY DO THAT. A commenter confessed that she Tweeted that she wanted to flush her child down the toilet, and asked if that Tweet should have sent alarm bells going in the Twitterdom, too. Well, no, actually, it shouldn’t. Why should it? Because mothers CAN’T ACTUALLY DO THAT. Unless there is some super secret child-flushable toilet out there that only she knows of, but even I cannot willingly suspend disbelief on that one, and I watched ALL SEVEN seasons of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” (I know, right?) Nor can you sell your child on eBay. Believe me. I’ve tried.
Wait! That was a joke.
You know, the image of the young mother Rowena smothering her three-year-old daughter in “Mary Jane Harper Cried Last Night” is STILL burned into my memory, and that came out in the 70s. THE 70s! I had nightmares! Didn’t want to sleep with a pillow anymore! Even though my momma was always super nice to me! But still! Hate Susan Dey to this… er, day! So there you go. You have willingly put yourself out there as a parent struggling through mental illness and the challenges of raising a family. So when you say something extreme, like “I want to kill my children,” this will lead to extreme reactions and/or responses. It will. You must have known that when you wrote it. Weren’t you trying to be shocking? Otherwise, a simple “My daughter won’t go to bed and she is driving me CRAAAZY…” would have sufficed. Extreme comments like yours set off alarm bells. They just do. And you can’t control the reaction you’ll get from readers who may not know you very well. Or, you know, at all. If you can’t understand that then maybe you shouldn’t be blogging. Or Twittering. At all. At least not in such a public forum.
Because sure, you have the right to Keep It Real and eschew “bullshit and fake honesty” in your own way. But if your exercise of that right in the public forum—where, again, people who see it may not (and most likely do not) know you personally—results in unintended negative consequences, then it is as Mark Twain wrote– that free speech “ranks with the privilege of committing murder: we may exercise it if we are willing to take the consequences.”
Perhaps instead of complaining that concerned readers should take the time to read back over your past posts and Tweets and figure out for themselves that you were just making a twisted sort of emotionally honest joke, perhaps you could ask yourself to take a few moments before you post something that you know is shocking or questionable and ask yourself if it may be taken in the wrong spirit by other parents or people who just don’t get your brand of humor. Like, “Hey, if I announced to a random crowd at the mall that I wanted to kill my children or asked passerbyers at the grocery store if it would be okay to smother my screaming child, would that raise alarm bells?” If the answer is yes, then there you go. Instant filter. Problem solved. I’m just suggesting that self-censorship is necessary if you aren’t keen on serious backlash for hasty or controversial content you put out there for anyone to read. Unless you WANT a reaction, of course, in which case, just keep on keeping on.
It’s like I tell my children who have inherited my control freak gene: “You can’t control anyone but yourself.” To me, that principle extends to how we present ourselves and who we let into our little space in the blog world. You may not be able to control what other people take away from your writing, but you can control how you present your thoughts and feelings. Raw honesty does not have to be shocking or vulgar. It just has to be real.
Again, I am so sorry you had to suffer the indignity of cops coming by to check on you and your family. I mean that sincerely. That must have sucked SO MUCH.
That’s all I have to say about that. I will now carry on living my life.
November 4, 2008
Dude. People are reporting standing in line with– and I quote– “easily 75 people!”? Ha! I thumb my nose at 75 people! I laugh in the face of your 75 people! Honestly. There are “easily 75 people” peppering the crowd around me and TGIM with sample ballots. No, REALLY. This line is LONG. Like, SUPER long. DISNEYLAND long! Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Ride long! But the rolling boulder part is awesome, so what are ya gonna do?
I barely notice the freezing weather. I’m like, “Fingers numb with cold?! Whatever! I’m an AMERICAN.”
Take THAT, voter apathy.
(BTW, anyone else think Nader has a shot?)
… almost there…
… almost there…
“BOOM!” says the lady!
September 8, 2008
Conversation between two of my three-year-old nephews after Cool Big Cousin TD diplomatically took his Duncan Imperial yo-yo from one (Tot N) to let the other (Tot R) have his turn:
Tot N: (to TD) I hate you! I will kill you!
Tot R: Hey! Don’t say that! Else God will send a whale and it will EAT you!
Tot N: No! We don’t even live by the ocean!
Tot R: Well I know, but it will come out of the GROUND and eat you! And then it will spit you out of its blowhole and eat you AGAIN!
Tot N: (calmly) I will shoot him with a gun.
Tot R: (scandalized) HEY! YOU CAN’T SHOOT GOD’S WHALE!
Tot N thinks it over, shrugs.
Tot N: Okay. (then, to TD) Sorry.
Dude. I love three-year-old logic. I do! Honestly. I mean, think. With that kind of logic, we could bring about Real Change…
January 18, 2008
1. Should I put all the old baggage– the disappointment, the acrimony– behind me and reconcile with American Idol? As much as I hate to admit it, I miss our times together– the laughter, the tears, the recaps– and there’s just so much HISTORY there, you know? It is a tough call… should I throw caution to the wind and jump back in?
2. In this fierce political environment, what is the proper response in casual conversation when a person suddenly makes a vulgar or disparaging remark about a political party as a whole– such as “Democrats are so [choose an expletive]!” or “All Republicans are complete [insert vulgarity here]!”– presented as a statement of fact, with the assumption that everyone else in the group totally agrees? Pushing aside the obvious inadvisability of gross generalizations, not everyone is interested in turning a watercooler discussion about the latest episode of Gossip Girl into a political debate. Hrm… how to diffuse? Must think of witty, all-purpose comeback…
3. When did pom pons get so small? When did that happen? Cheerleaders at televised sporting events look as if they are clutching candy wrappers and waving them at the crowd with their twiggy little arms, all, “See? I eat! See?! I’m not starving myself to fit into my size 0 cheer ‘skirt’! Take THAT, biznitches! Wooooooo! Number OOOONE! YEAH!” Right? Weird.
October 27, 2007
Over lunch, TD turned to me and stated, all conversational-like, “Momma, I really don’t get the big deal about global warming.”
“Oh, okay, well–” I started, gearing up for my “will life on the planet survive the eco-destructive tendency of humans” conversation (which… DUH!), but my boy? He wasn’t quite finished with that thought yet.
“I mean, c’mon. Who really cares about our descendants a thousand years from now? What’s up with that?”
Fact: Tacos don’t taste quite as good when they are inhaled into your sinus passages due to sudden snorts of laughter. Just so you know. As my eyes began to water–those spices BURN going up, I tell you what!–I turned to TGIM for a little help.
“What’s up with that, indeed,” TGIM replied, rubbing the top of TD’s head playfully. “I’m with you. Who cares about our future generations?”
“Plus, you know what else is contributing to global warming?” TD asked, looking to make sure he had our undivided attention. “Cow burps,” he crowed triumphantly.
“Ew!” Hannah squealed.
“Gross,” added Alli.
“Well, sure,” TGIM agreed.
Fact: I am never going to be able to enjoy a taco again. Oh, the agony! In my sinuses! Thanks a WHOLE lot, TGIM. Gosh!
TD looked at me, trying to gauge whether I was in agreement, or whether I was mocking him with my uncharacteristic silence, which he did not appear to notice was due to some serious food mastication issues. “I mean, we’ll all be dead, anyway, right?” he said. “DEAD.”
I finally choked down the taco. “As doornails,” I answered. “And why? Because of a bunch of stinking cows chewing genetically engineered alfalfa and burping up methane gas, that’s why!”
“True dat,” TGIM concurred solemnly. “True dat.”
Honestly. Family conversations over dinner? Rock solid!
I love a good teaching opportunity. What can I say? That’s just the kind of momma I am.