The chilling effects of feedback…

Well, hello everybody. I decided to take the weekend off. I think my days of daily blogging might be coming to an end, mainly because lately I just haven’t been inspired to write as much. Writing was something I used to feel compelled to do. For several years, I wrote almost every day. I still write a lot, but now I feel okay about taking days off. There are a few people who come around every day looking for new posts, but by and large, nobody cares if I take a day off. And some of those who do care, probably only care for nefarious/stalkerish reasons.

I thought I had a good topic for this morning’s post, but it kind of flitted out of my head. I started a post, then deleted it. Then I saw an interesting meme on Facebook that was falsely attributed to Morgan Freeman. Some people know how I feel about false attributions. I don’t like to share falsely attributed memes, even if it sounds like something Morgan Freeman or George Carlin might say. I prefer to give credit where credit is due. But anyway, even though I didn’t like that Morgan Freeman’s picture was incorrectly used as a backdrop, the meme read “Never take criticism from people you would never go to for advice”.

I think that quote makes a lot of sense. I am particularly guilty of taking criticism to heart. I often let other people’s meanness affect my mood. It’s one of my many flaws. However… a lot of the people who are critical of me are people I can’t stand and would never want to emulate. So why should it matter if they don’t like me?

Last winter, someone who was regularly reading my blogs sent me a private message basically accusing me of being a nasty, vindictive person. She took exception to my hobby of writing funny, fictional stories about people who piss me off. I had proposed starting a fiction blog for this purpose– purely for fun and creativity. I didn’t think it would matter because when I have written funny stories on my old blog, almost no one paid much attention to them. The stories were entirely fiction, and were clearly labeled as such.

I started my fiction blog and, within hours, this person who had stalked my writing for years sent me a shitty private message admonishing me. She had shared my writing with people we both knew and wrongly assumed that I was going to write a nasty story about them. She came to that conclusion because she’s apparently been obsessively reading my blog for years and erroneously assumes she knows what’s in my head. The funny thing is, I had already written a story about the person she feared I was going to smear. She’d obviously missed it. I guess I didn’t smear hard enough.

Well… I must admit, her message– which came labeled as “Facebook User”, since I had already blocked her on Facebook– really upset me. Why? Because this person, whom I had only met offline once or twice several years ago, had more than once chastised me for coming to and writing about what she claimed were erroneous conclusions involving her. And now she was doing the same thing to me. She’d read the first two chapters of a creative project I had started and thought she knew what I was going to do before I had even done it. The fact is, she had it wrong on many levels, but I was so upset about her intrusion into my business that I decided to shelve the fiction blog… at least for now.

I had never met the person she feared I was going to smear. I didn’t even know the person’s name, because our mutual acquaintance had never introduced us. And since the fiction blog had only been up for a couple of hours, I hadn’t actually done any smearing. She just assumed I was going to do it and took it upon herself to intervene before I could get too far into my project.

I found her intrusions offensive and hypocritical, especially since from the time we met offline, I could tell that she cared very much about her privacy and reputation. And yet, she didn’t seem at all concerned about mine. She apparently came back day after day, monitoring my blogs and, I can only conclude, sharing and analyzing them with others. I guess mutual respect from her was too much to expect, since I mostly write public posts that people read and make assumptions about.

Well… I felt humiliated, violated, harassed, and most of all, very angry. It’s true that I can be bitchy sometimes, but I am basically a decent person. What she evidently assumed I was going to do was way beyond the pale. I’m not perfect, but I know I’ve written some good, useful, entertaining stuff. Who the fuck is she to mess with what I do? I think anyone who obsesses over what I write in my blogs has their priorities quite screwed up. Don’t you have a job and/or a family you could be tending to, rather than monitoring my writing and trying to guess what’s in my head? And why does it matter so much to you anyway? It’s not like I’m anyone important. You could have simply respected my privacy and spared us all a lot of grief.

The point is, I let this person’s assumptions get into my head. It’s affected my writing, which is something I’ve always loved to do. So I don’t feel compelled to write like I used to. I figure it can only lead to trouble. Maybe someday I won’t feel like this anymore and I’ll go back to writing like I used to. But for now, I need to take breaks and think… and I just don’t feel like writing anymore.