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.
December 16, 2008
Lately, Twitter Tweets have been giving me that desperate feeling usually reserved for those times when I walk into a room mid-conversation and I’m forced to go into Obnoxious Question-Asker mode, all, “Wait. What are we talking about?” and “WHO stepped on WHAT?! Gum? Your last nerve? Huh?!” and “Congratulations for what?! Thank you for WHAT?!”, or when I’m late for a movie and I’m like, “Who’s that guy?” and “Wait. Why is that chick dressed like a hooker?” and “But how do you KNOW she’s a hooker? Did someone say?” and everyone is all, “SHUT UP!” and I’m like, “But I just want to know what the HELL is going ON HERE!”
Don’t get me wrong. I have no issues with the bombardment of the minutiae of my friends’ lives. It’s fun to see what people can squeeze into 140 characters! I’m all about the 140 character challenge! Go brevity! BRING IT! No, it’s the @ replies that are killing me. Softly.
In moderation, fine. If I see “@bff You wish! Tell her she can STEP OFF me!” I can scroll down or follow a link to find the beginning of the conversation. I’m not high maintenance! I can roll with it! Honestly. If I am totally curious as to WHY a certain person is thanking another person for… something, or why another person is passionately defending… someone, for, you know… something, I can take a moment to backtrack. I know it isn’t all about me! I can be flexible! But lately? I’m seeing half a conversation EVERY OTHER TWEET–I kid you not!–which is TAXING on my latent Obnoxious Question-Asker tendencies! TAXING, I tell you! Because I just want to know what the HELL is going ON THERE! And where’s the fun in THAT?! It’s like listening in on someone’s phone conversation, except without the giddy, naughty, voyeuristically satisfying part! Which, hello? No fun? At ALL?!
In my humble, yet totally valid opinion, if people feel as if they need to have an open, involved, and generally LOOOOONG conversation with a particular user, especially when the conversation grows cryptic or, oh, let’s say ACRIMONIOUS, well, that is what the DM option is for. Or, you know, EMAIL. I’m only saying.
October 21, 2008
I’m just going to go ahead and say it. Just blurt it out. Unleash it into the blogosphere. Let it explode out of me the way occasional bouts of introspective verbal diarrhea have a way of doing at the most embarrasing times.
And, wow… There just is not enough “ew!” in the world for the mental picture THAT just conjured, I tell you what, but that is neither here nor there so I will persevere.
See, sometimes? I believe I am awesome. Chock full of the awesomeness. So awesome I can barely stand it! Chuck Bass awesome! I think, “Hey! How is it that I am THIS awesome?!” I write! I sing! I play my guitar! I make vidcasts! I enter contests! I jump out of planes! I swing on the trapeze! I teach my kids awesome things to do and say! And I post videos such as this in which I totally bestow my awesomeness on an unsuspecting, yet obviously pleasantly surprised, public! Because I am AWESOME! I mean, have you SEEN all my friends on Facebook?! I’m only saying.
And then it all falls apart.
I wake up one morning, fire up the iMac, click to my YouTube page to watch my awesome Dr. Horrible Evil League of Evil application one more time, confident in the knowledge that I WILL be chosen for the once-in-lifetime opportunity to be included in the special features section of the super awesome Dr. Horrible DVD. The video starts up, the intro music sends shivers of– what? excitement?– up my spine, but when my face pops up on the screen, my heart drops, freaking plummets, I tell you, and I think, “Oh. My. GOSH. What have I DONE?” I panic. I wish I could take it back. Take it all BACK. I’m not awesome! I’m a fraud! A loser! I made a music video while wearing pink goggles on my forehead! PINK GOGGLES! On my FOREHEAD! And I can’t SING! Or write MUSIC! What the HELL was I THINKING?! OH! EM! GEE! What if Joss Whedon actually SEES this?! I suck I suck I SUCK! (I totally suck.) Not to mention that OTHER people have, like, tens of hundreds of friends on Facebook! Which is a LOT!
And then I think of that quote from “When Harry Met Sally” when Sally tells Harry, “…AND I’m going to be forty!” and when he asks, “When?” she sobs, “Someday!” and I totally get it. Oh, I SO get it. Because it’s there. It’s just sitting there, like some big dead end. And time is passing and what am I doing? Really? Twittering? Jumping out of perfectly good airplanes? Playing around with my guitar? Filming myself acting the fool, not to even mention sporting pink goggles that totally clash with a blue-accented black rash guard? When I’m not even at the POOL?! Right?! There is no WATER for the pink goggles, people! How is that awesome? Do I really think I’m funny? Do I truly believe I have anything to offer? That I will ever write the great American novel or even have any kind of future as an observational humorist? Well?! DO I?!
At this point, no amount of affirmation, self or otherwise, can penetrate the gloom. My heart hurts and I wish I could crawl away and hide. I stop writing. I stop creating. I lose myself in (quality!) television and (totally awesome!) DS video games. I avoid novels because they make me believe that– perhaps!– I could write something even better and why set myself up like that? Do I really want to be That Person? The one who deludes herself? Like those super horrible American Idol contestants who no one ever had the cajones to grab by the shoulders, give ’em a shake, and sternly say, “Seriously? I love you, but you SUCK at the singing. For real! Even Paula thinks you suck, which HELLO?! Now cut that shit out!”
On one level, the rational one, I understand this is a phase. A mood. A momentary lapse of confidence in my utter awesomeness. But on another level, I just feel sad. Weary. Depressed. So totally lacking in the awesomeness. Awesomeless. Awesome light.
It’s moments such as this that I need to drag myself up off the floor of my I’m SO Not Awesome At ALL pity party, give myself a figurative “Pull it together, fool!” slap across the face, and look around. Take an interest in those who weren’t on the invite list to my party of one. TGIM. My kiddos. My family. My friends. Because even in the depths of self-pity, yes, even then! I understand that they don’t need any kind of proof of my awesomeness. They see it in me, the awesomeness, or see the lack thereof, yet they love me. Unconditionally. Yup. Pink goggles and all.
And that? Is totally awesome.
October 20, 2008
Twitter is sucking my will to blog.
Twitter is the Devil and must be destroyed. Also, Pokemon Diamond. Because ADDICTING?!
I’m only saying.
March 27, 2008
That’s right, y’all. I’ve already jumped on board the Twitter train, but now I am determined to get off my lazy, non-Twitteriffic butt and rush full steam ahead! Or something. Crap. Yeah, I lost myself in my analogy, too.
Whatever! My point is this: I have installed a Twitter widget in my right sidebar. Seriously. Take a look. —> Over there! I can wait… See, I’ve decided to Twitter random thoughts as they occur to me throughout the week. For instance, please note today’s Chassy Cat Tweets:
Britney Spears totally cracked me up on HIMYM. Well, there you have it. Words I never thought I’d utter without a codicillary “Not!”
I suddenly realized the only time I will ever “stop traffic” is during my funeral procession and basically my day went downhill from there.
Woo! FUN! I mean, that is good stuff there. All I’m saying is that a person needs an outlet for all the randomness in life, and I think I’ve found mine. And all in 140 characters or less, to boot! That’s right… hollah!
*raises the roof*