Surly Thursdays OR How Sometimes I'm Just Not That Bright

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time will not be surprised by my confessing that I'm fairly wishy-washy, I suck at confrontation and I just want everyone to get along. On the one hand, I think I'm fairly good at looking at issues from several different points of view; on the other hand, sometimes I sort of admire people who have a solid opinion and are not going to be swayed no matter what.

One of the things I've been trying to improve at is speaking up when I disagree with someone. In the past, I've let statements go by without challenging them either because I didn't feel like I could marshal my thoughts well enough to state cogently why I disagreed, or because I was just too chickenshit. But I've grown increasingly uncomfortable with taking that road - it feels cowardly and dishonest. So if I read a statement on Facebook or a blog post that I disagree with, I will often say so in my comment, as respectfully as possible. For the most part, this has not resulted in any negative experiences and it feels like a tiny bit of growth, so that's good.

Do you know Sandra? I like Sandra. She's kind and self-deprecating and hysterically vulgar, and she has killer abs (okay, I don't 'like' her for that so much as 'feel a bitter, coruscating acid-like envy', but whatever). She has a lot of followers and gets a shit-ton of comments on every post. Her followers like her a lot. Have you noticed that when this happens with a blogger, a sort of phenomenon takes over the majority of the commenters that dictates that every comment must be not just positive, but overwhelmingly positive and supportive and complimentary? "Oh my God, you are the funniest person ever and I love you more than I love my own children!!!!!" "I just laughed so hard my spleen came out my nose!!!! How are you this funny???? Your family must just sit around and laugh at you all day every day!!!!! And also, whoever you hate, I hate them even more than you and I will track them down and kill them with nail scissors!!!!"

I'm not claiming that I'm not often guilty of similar behaviour. When you read a post that articulates something that you suddenly realize has been floating vaguely around your own psyche, and renders it both clearly and comically, it does make you feel like you've found a soulmate, and I often love immoderately on my favourite bloggers in my comments too. But I try to be wary of being swept up in the 'if you hate them I hate them' wave without considering whether I do actually hate the person/corporation/cohort in question. Sandra recently wrote a post about an unpleasant and frustrating parent-teacher interview she had with her son's teachers. People were sympathetic, which is great, BUT, a lot of the comments on this post seemed to insinuate that not just THESE teachers but ALL teachers were unintelligent, uncaring, too quick to medicate and just general douchebags. So this was my comment:

Wow, is this a gathering of people who love to bash teachers anonymous? Or not so anonymous? One of my issues with bloggers who get big is the commenters who love them SO much that they will not only agree with anything they say but will go orders of magnitude further just to prove their loyalty – not only are THESE two teachers bad, ALL TEACHERS ARE HORRIBLY AWFULLY BAD. I would be livid in your place also, Sandra, and I’m glad you have so many supporters but geez, people, take a breath.

Pretty innocuous, right? A couple of teachers actually responded that they appreciated this comment, and no one seemed to find it offensive, so good.

Then I saw a new post from Sandra in my blogroll entitle "The Blogger Who Gets Big". I thought, uh-oh. Then I read the post and then I read the comments which said a bunch of things about rude commenters, haters and 'nonintelligent misinterpreters' and said that they should shut up and blow themselves and a bunch of other stuff. Then I got upset and commented again and said Dudes, I wasn't being rude, and I wasn't even disagreeing with Sandra, I was disagreeing with all the people who can't distinguish liking someone's writing from over-agreeing with them to a loony degree (I'm paraphrasing). I was frustrated. I was tired. I was confused about how saying that Sandra was a blogger who had gotten big was insulting. I was confused about how a comment that didn't use any bad words or direct anyone to ingest fecal matter was negative or rude. I said my piece then I went up to bed.

Then I laid in bed awake for a while. Then I realized that I'M A TOTAL MORON. She didn't quote my comment in the post. She didn't link to me. She didn't even mention me. She used the first phrase from my comment and then wrote about what that made her think, which is totally legitimate, and then a few commenters made an assumption that it was a negative comment and jumped all over the theoretical commenter, whereupon I outed myself as the theoretical commmenter like a giant idiot, when I could have just shut up and gone to bed fifteen minutes earlier. Maybe I'M the narcissist.

Sometimes blogging is really weird.


Helen Abbott said…
I just laughed so hard my spleen came out my nail scissors! Now my spleen is in tatters! I hate you more than I hate my own children!
Patti said…
I hate your sense of moderation with a most immoderate hatred, Helen.

How dare you, Helen. You offend not only the best blogger in the globosphere, but also nailscissors, which I love with a most immoderate passion. Got to Hell. Or should I spell Hel with just one "L".
Bibliomama said…
OH MY GOD, I LOVE YOU GUYS so much more than anyone else could possibly love you - you are the chief executive officers of awesomeness. I should add that Sandra emailed me to say that her commenters were actually pissed at someone who said she had ADHD, not me. If she's right (I'm not convinced) my rebuttal (ha, rebuttal) is now even more pointless. But who cares because we're all so nail-scissoring awesome that spleens everywhere cower at our awesomeness.
Wrath Of Mom said…
Where are these devoted, ass-kissing followers who only agree with and validate the opinions of bloggers, and where can I get some of my own? Personally, I like confrontation way too much, but even I can see the merits of your measured, polite statement.
Pam said…
Can't type a cohesive comment because I am laughing too hard. LOVE Helen's comment... and Patti's and... Well, see? Lost me words. Must be basking in your awesomeness (which I agree with only 99% of the time and now I will politely, without fear, comment and tell you when I disagree. Blog-on woman!
Nicole said…
I will personally stalk and kill anyone who is mean to you, that's how much I love you. OMG!!!! I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!
Kelly Miller said…
Every blogger wants to be "big," but it's totally not cool to cop to it. Then, once the blogger gets "big," no one wants to admit to being one of "the masses" who read that blog.

And I don't know who this Sandra person is, but I would never visit a "big" blog!

Anonymous said…
First of all you already know my point of view on teachers (I'm sitting here while my husband checks my head for lice because most of my class has it, I mean seriously who else would willingly run into a room of lice, people who love teaching that's who) so thank you for sticking up for the lice ridden, hard working teachers! So far all clear by the way. Also, fuck you're awesome!
Sandra said…
Ok, am I being hated? I feel the haters in the room? I think this might affect my night of sleep...
Ok, well, I deserve it. That'll teach me for getting all excited that I thought I was becoming one of the big bloggers.
However, that having been said, anyone who uses the words "cogently" and "innocuous" in the same blog post is way too smart for me. From now on, I'm just going to come here and tell you how awesome you are and that I laughed so hard my spleen came flying out my nose (although that is a very cool visual!) Really great post though! Mind if I use it for reference in my next post?...kidding!!!
Suniverse said…
HAHAHAAHA. Oh, hell, that was hilarious.

I can completely imagine laying in bed with that horrific realization floating through your mind, paralyzed and unable to fix it.

Except you just did. Nicely done.
Lynn said…
The comments here are comedy GOLD. I think I am in love with Helen and Patti.

(And you too, of course. AWESOMEST BLOGGER EVAH.)
clara said…
Very brave of you to put your head up in a room full of scythe-wavers and express another opinion. I'd say your confrontation-training is going well.

I love how elegantly you handled this, with just the perfect mix of humour and truth and spleens. SPA_LEEENs. xoxo.
Ms. G said…
I like it when you are brutally honest, so always feel free to tell me, "you can be annoying as hell", and then I can say, "well yeah, I am completely aware of that and could use a knudge if I'm slipping", and won't lay in bed at night wondering if I annoyed you, because I'm sure you haven't stopped by my blog lately because I'm annoying and not because you have been busy lately living dangerously and reading three times more books than me. Or is that weird? Is this comment too long? Am I being annoying?...shit...
Alexandra said…

Now I have to go to Sandra's to see what the heck this is about.

But, off the top of my head: we've had good teachers and teachers that can suck it.

just like people in real life.
Betsy B. Honest said…
I do picture your family sitting around laughing at you.

And I kind of would like to defend your honour with nail scissors.

The thing that shocks me most about the internet is that I don't put my foot in my mouth more.

Also OMG I love you WAY MORE than my children. At this point in time my children are being very demanding and all you seem to want is to make me laugh and go, aw shucks, it's funny cause it's troo!

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