condescending twatbags, law, Police, politicians, racism, safety, social media

“Let’s start properly shaming these people [for calling the police…]” Really?

Here’s one of my random “deep thoughts” pieces… I know they’re getting rarer lately. Special thanks to Wikipedia user, WanderingMogwai for use of the spotted lanternfly photo, which appears here unaltered.

A few days ago, I read articles in both the Washington Post and The New York Times about 9 year old Bobbi Wilson, a brilliant and community minded Black girl who lives in New Jersey. Last summer, Bobbi had heard about how lanternflies, an invasive species, were threatening the environment. The lanternflies, which came to the United States via China, ruin crops and damage trees.

Bobbi decided she wanted to help. So she mixed a solution of dish soap, apple cider vinegar, and water, then went out into her Caldwell, New Jersey neighborhood, resolved to spray as many of the insects as she could. The goal was to disarm them, so she could collect them in a jar, or with her mother and sister, stomp on them. Scientists and state authorities had launched a campaign, urging people to stomp on the bugs when they see them, and if possible, destroy their eggs.

Bobbi was hard at work when she was confronted by a police officer. Her next door neighbor, reportedly a White, Republican, former local councilman by the name of Gordon Lawshe, had called the non-emergency line at the local police department to report that a “real tiny Black woman” was in the neighborhood, spraying things. He said she was wearing a hood, adding, “I don’t know what the hell she’s doing,” he said. “Scares me though.”

The cop who spoke to Bobbi asked her what she was doing. She showed him her jug of solution and explained her project. The officer quickly realized that she wasn’t a threat. Bobbi’s mother, Monique Joseph, asked the police officer why he had come, and he told her that a neighbor had called about the child. Bobbi asked if she was in trouble, and the officer said, in a kind voice, “No, you’re not in trouble.”

When the officer told Lawshe was Bobbi was doing, Lawshe’s response was “What a weirdo, huh?” Lawshe later reportedly apologized to Bobbi and her mother, but now complains that he’s getting death threats.

Glad this was a relatively positive interaction with the cops…

Bobbi has recently been honored by Yale University for her work. The Yale School of Public Health also thanked Bobbi for donating her personal lanternfly collection to the university’s Peabody Museum. Dr. Ijeomi Opara, an assistant professor at Yale’s School of Public Health invited Bobbi and her family to visit Yale for a campus tour and to see Yale’s laboratories and meet other Black female scientists. Dr. Opara explained that Black children are often described as older than they are.

From The New York Times article:

Ijeoma Opara, an assistant professor of public health at Yale who also directs its Substance Abuse and Sexual Health Lab, said she found Bobbi’s story especially compelling. It closely aligned with her research interests — the impact of racism on Black girls and other children of color. It represented a phenomenon that she and other researchers have called the “adultification” of Black girls, who, they say, are more likely to be seen as more criminal and less innocent than white children.

“Often our society, we don’t view Black children as children,” Dr. Opara said. “We view them as much older than what they are. They end up getting less protected; they end up getting judged more. They end up not being forgiven for mistakes.

Dr. Opara asked her Twitter followers to help her find Bobbi in November after watching a video of her mother and older sister, Hayden, 13, speaking about Bobbi’s experience during a borough council meeting. She offered to give the family a campus tour so she could visit Yale’s labs and meet other Black female scientists — a small group on campus whose members now call themselves Bobbi’s “Yale Aunties.

In addition to the honor from Yale, Princeton, the American Museum of Natural History and a host of other universities and state and local officials have recognized Bobbi for her lanternfly solution. In July, both Wilson sisters will attend a summer research program at the New Jersey Institute of Technology on scholarships in science, technology, engineering and mathematics for young scientists.

Although this situation could have turned out tragically, Lawshe’s call to the authorities has turned into something potentially very positive and life changing, not just for Bobbi, but for other kids like her. I was very touched when I read this story. I literally had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I honestly feel very happy and proud of Bobbi, and I know she’ll go far.

But then I read some of the comments from people… I know. I know… big mistake!

The first thing I noticed was the assumption that the person who called the police must have been a “Karen”. If you read this blog regularly, you might already know how much I hate that particular pejorative. People trot it out anytime someone does something they consider overly entitled, and generally speaking, it implies that the person who’s done it is a privileged, White, middle-aged woman.

I find the term “Karen” to be pretty offensive on many levels. I mainly dislike it, though, because there are many fabulous people named Karen– male and female (Karen is a masculine name in Armenia)– who don’t deserve to have their name hijacked and turned into a catch-all synonym for a clueless, racist, entitled asshole. As we all know, people who behave in that way are not necessarily always White women of a certain age. Moreover, because it’s kind of a “quaint” name that has fallen out of fashion, its use as an insult is also kind of ageist.

The second thing I noticed was the attitude that the person who called should be “properly shamed” and harassed for calling the police. Now… don’t get me wrong. It’s pretty obvious, in this case, that Gordon Lawshe had no business calling the cops on Bobbi. She certainly wasn’t a threat to him. She clearly isn’t a “tiny woman”, either. She is a child who was doing a great thing. Moreover, Lawshe’s comments about Bobbi are very offensive. By all rights, Lawshe should be very embarrassed about his actions, but he probably isn’t. He should also be formally reprimanded in some way. I might even support a large fine for him for wasting the police officer’s time and resources.

However… I do think people should be allowed to call the police if they legitimately think they need help. The police are supposed to protect and serve. I know it doesn’t always turn out that way, particularly in situations involving people of color. But when it comes down to it, it is the role of the police to investigate when people feel like they are in danger. There should not be any shame in asking for police assistance. And police officers should not behave in a way that make the public distrust them.

I do understand that regaining the public’s trust is a big problem facing the police today, especially since a lot of them have proven they aren’t worthy. I also understand that policing is a very difficult and dangerous job. We live in a world where even children can threaten people. I noticed many people in the comment section suggesting that Mr. Lawshe should have just come outside and spoken to Bobbi himself. Many people asked, “Who’s afraid of a nine year old?”

I’d like to remind those folks that only a month ago, a six year old child shot his first grade teacher in a classroom in Newport News, Virginia. The sad reality is, we really don’t know who’s packing heat these days. Granted, the vast majority of children don’t have access to weapons, but last month’s incident is a reminder as to why some folks would rather not be confrontational, even when a situation involves a child.

Police officers see violence every day. I don’t personally know a lot of police officers, but I would imagine that repeatedly being exposed to the criminal elements of society might make them less trusting and, perhaps, even hostile toward the public. Cops have a very dangerous job. It seems natural to me that being exposed to that kind of stress on a daily basis might change who a person fundamentally is… or perhaps have a negative psychological effect on them.

I think, instead of shaming citizens for calling the police, we should be doing more to make police work safer, so that fewer police officers feel compelled to react so violently. The goal should be to reduce the number of deaths and injuries suffered by people when they encounter the police, not to stop people from asking for help when they need it. And yes, there’s also a lot of work to be done to dispel racism, too. That is a huge part of the problem.

Finally, it is never justified to send death threats to people, no matter what they’ve done. Gordon Lawshe was absolutely wrong to summon the police over what Bobbi Wilson was doing. The fact that he was an elected public official is very dismaying. Personally, I think we must hold our leaders to a much higher standard than some of us do. Both major political parties have issues with this, but lately it seems like Republican elected officials, overall, behave with less humanity than Democrats do. We should choose better leaders, and not allow people like Lawshe to get in power. His conduct, along with that of people affiliated with Donald Trump, is one reason why I don’t plan to ever cast another vote for Republicans in my lifetime.

I do think that people who feel okay about calling random folks “Karens” when they disagree with them are the worst kinds of hypocrites. Because, as they are on their moral high ground, using a proper name as an insult and encouraging shaming, they are basically stereotyping others. In this specific situation, most of the people condemning the police call by using the term “Karen” are assuming that it was a certain type of White woman “of a certain age” who harassed this child. That turned out to be untrue. So, instead of addressing the behavior, they’re busy trying to come up with a similar pejorative name for a man (some use Ken or Kevin). Since when does name calling serve a real purpose, or do anything to solve a problem?

I am absolutely delighted that Bobbi Wilson’s police encounter turned out to be so positive. She is getting the recognition she richly deserves for wanting to be helpful and caring about her community. And it’s a great thing that she is being encouraged to study science and will be mentored by high achieving Black women who work at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. I hope Bobbi never loses her drive to learn new things and be genuinely helpful to others.

I also want to commend the police officer in this situation for being kind, courteous, and extremely professional… although that should be expected of ALL police officers at all times. The cop who spoke to Bobbi Wilson is clearly a credit to his profession. Based on the huge number of police related videos I’ve been watching on YouTube, I’ve come to learn that some cops aren’t much better than the people they arrest. Cops are human, of course, but we should be striving to make all of them worthy of the trust the public puts in them. Society depends on it.

So, to recap…

People should be allowed to call the police if and when they feel they need help. The police should be expected not to hurt or kill people as they carry out their duties, unless a situation is life threatening. There is no use in having a police force if people don’t feel comfortable calling them because they might go viral.

Recent history has shown that children are not inherently safe to approach, just because they are young and small. Yes, we all should be able to talk to a child who is doing something “strange”, but if someone doesn’t feel safe in doing so, they shouldn’t be shamed for asking for help. There are a lot of guns in the United States, and some children are, sadly, getting their hands on them.

The pejorative term “Karen” is ageist and sexist, and people who use it are usually being very hypocritical, especially when they are complaining about racism. Calling someone a “Karen” is negative stereotyping, which is pretty much the crux of what makes racism such a cancer on society. It’s also lazy, uncreative, rude, and disrespectful.

Sending death threats is NEVER okay. It’s acting as judge, jury, and potentially executioner. People who send death threats should face legal consequences.

People should never use the police to harass their neighbors. Those who do should face legal consequences.

True racists or other offensive “ists” are not going to be “properly shamed” by random people on the Internet. It’s not really up to the public to do that, anyway. They should be handled by the criminal justice system, not private citizen vigilantes.

I’m really happy for Bobbi Wilson and the extraordinary opportunities she’s getting because of this disgraceful incident with her neighbor. She absolutely deserves the recognition and the honors. But I also think that it should be a given that Bobbi, or anyone else, would be basically safe in any encounter with the police. That is a goal we, as society members, should strive to achieve.

Just my opinions, y’all.

Edited to add… forty years ago today, we lost this wonderful Karen… She’d probably be sad to know that her name is now used as an insult.

Standard
complaints, condescending twatbags, overly helpful people, pests, social media

“… and that’s OKAY…” Very glad you think so, lady.

I had kind of an annoying experience yesterday. It was early evening, and I was binge watching Audit the Audit videos on YouTube. They’re very addictive and educational, you know.

While I was watching the videos, I was sort of half-assed looking at Facebook. At some point recently, I started following a chef/author called Culinary Anarchy. He’s kind of entertaining and snarky. He posted something that made me pause…

Sometimes, this is true. Sometimes, it’s not.

I get that the good chef posted the words “generally speaking”. But then he wrote, “I’ve run this page for over a decade now and this is the case more often than not…..”

I know… I should have just kept scrolling, but I couldn’t help but remember that cursed day in August 2008, when I first got on Facebook. At the time, I didn’t have many good pictures of myself. We lived in Germany at the time, and I didn’t own a cell phone. I didn’t need one, because those were the early days of the iPhone, and no one ever called me… Free, public WiFi wasn’t yet a thing (especially in Germany), and we didn’t want to get tied down with a cell phone contract. Turns out that was a good plan, since we didn’t quite make it to our second anniversary during that first stint. As it was, Bill had a really cheap phone that was very primitive. I finally got my first iPhone in 2009.

I was not a Mac user until around 2011, and my HP computer didn’t have an internal camera on it. If it did, I didn’t know about it. And even if it did, I really didn’t know how to take selfies. I also didn’t like it when other people took pictures of me, especially when they were unflattering and the photographer insisted on sharing them. One of my pet peeves is when I’m trying to eat dinner or something and some photographer wants to take a photo and sell it to me. I mostly find having my picture taken kind of mortifying.

So, for the first couple of years that I was a Facebook user, I didn’t really use pictures of myself on my profile. I think the first time I used a photo of myself was in the summer of 2009, when we went on a Royal Caribbean Baltic cruise (our first cruise, and the only one we’ve ever done on a big ship). On that cruise, the photographer did get a somewhat decent shot of Bill and me. We bought it, and I took a picture of it, because I didn’t have a scanner. That served as my profile pic for awhile. I think I used another selfie in 2011 sometime, when I bought my first Mac, and discovered the camera function.

I remember some friends being kind of excited by that photo. One friend wrote something along the lines of, “It’s you. It’s YOU! You’re lovely!” I was dressed up because Bill and I were going to an event in downtown Atlanta. Some people in the state of Georgia had organized a fundraiser for the country of Georgia. We thought it might be interesting, so we went. And I took that opportunity to take a new selfie.

Slowly, over the years, I got braver about taking selfies. For the longest time, I wouldn’t use my phone to take one, but now I’ve finally figured out how to flip the image so I don’t look deranged. So now, there are more photos of me available for people to look at, if they are so inclined to do that. But I still don’t go out of my way to have my photo taken, and I wouldn’t say I change pictures very often. Mostly, it’s because I hate putting on makeup.

Recently, I started videoing myself for my YouTube videos. I still can’t bear to watch myself on camera, but I’ve been told it’s better for engagement. It’s also a lot easier to make videos with a video recording, rather than using still photos. I can just take the whole thing and paste it in, rather, than adjusting for timing and putting in transitions. I much prefer not having to put photos in videos on my creaky iMac, which will be retired in the coming days, as I just ordered a new computer yesterday. Adding still photos tends to make my machine freeze.

You may have gotten the idea by now that I don’t think of myself as particularly appealing to look at. I feel self-conscious. I still don’t use the video function when I make recordings on SingSnap. I don’t like doing video calls with people. In fact, I don’t even like making or receiving phone calls, anymore (that wasn’t always the case). And I have also come to dislike most chat, too… even with Bill. In short, I’ve become kind of a reclusive curmudgeon.

Anyway, when I saw that post by Culinary Anarchy, I decided to comment. I wrote this:

I did it because I was ugly.

I was actually kind of being facetious. I know I’m not an “ugly” person, at least not in the physical sense. I don’t actually think there are a lot of truly “ugly” people in the world, literally or figuratively. But I didn’t feel the need to explain that to the peanut gallery.

It didn’t take long before someone left me a response. I actually liked what this guy wrote.

…that’s my current dilemma. Hit a certain point in my life where I don’t even wanna look in the mirror so I don’t post selfies much anymore and I don’t wanna post old pics of me.

Yes… this guy totally gets it. There comes a point in your life when you don’t want to be reminded of what time has done to your face and physique. It has nothing to do with being stalked or stalking other people. Some people also just don’t feel the need to put it all out there, regardless. Even in this age of social media saturation, some people still like their privacy.

So then I wrote, “I don’t photograph well and it took a long time before I learned how to do selfies.”

If I can control the camera, I can avoid the half lidded, half blinking look, half dozen chins, big zits, gin blossoms, wrinkles, or whatever else is distressing for me to look at. Maybe that’s vain of me, but life is tough enough without that burden, right?

There were a couple of kind and complimentary comments, which I appreciated, but wasn’t necessarily fishing for.

And then came the comment from that person… you know the kind– the person who assumes too much. Here’s what she wrote:

as my kid would say, you look normal.

Most of us look normal and not like models or social media influencers and that’s ok.

Ahem… Maybe it’s me, but I found this to be a pretty obnoxious and presumptuous comment. Where did this person get the idea that I hoped to look like a model or a social influencer? Especially since I now have a photo of myself on my profile. I obviously overcame my hesitation, right? But even if I hadn’t done that and was still using a picture of a grey heron as my profile pic, would this lady be assuming I want to look like a model? Or I was being stalked by someone? The point is, some of us don’t like how we look in photos, and we’re all too aware of not looking like models.

So I wrote this:

Yeah, I eventually got over it. Never expected to look like a model or a social influencer. I just didn’t want to cringe.

I noticed that I certainly wasn’t the only one who posted that I didn’t use a profile picture of myself because I felt “too ugly.” So I don’t know if Culinary Anarchy’s theory necessarily holds up as much as he assumes it does. Still, I was a little irritated by that woman’s comment about models and social influencers. I know… I have an ego issue. Prick me and I bleed. The older I get, the more people bug me.

I tell you what… I probably would have been less annoyed if the woman hadn’t ended her comment with “and that’s okay.” I think of strangers telling me “and that’s okay” as the catchphrase for the “overly helpful.” It’s as if she thought I was angsty and needed her consolation or reassurance. Actually, I think she needed a hearty “Fuck off and die” or something more colorful like that…

Back when I first posted my original selfies, I had a few “overly helpful” people on my friends list. I was a lot “nicer” in those days, so I was pretty tolerant of their irritating attempts to boost themselves by offering lame observations or attempts to be unsolicited “helpers”.

Overly helpful types of people tend to act like other people need their sage wisdom to get through life. They offer unwelcome advice, play “devil’s advocate”, or armchair psychoanalyze. In fairness, a lot of us do the armchair psychoanalysis thing, but it’s pretty annoying when people are bold enough to do it, unasked for, to someone else’s face. Feeling comfortable enough to do that, especially to someone one has never even met in person, often indicates a lack of respect.

Respect is a big deal to me. I spent too many years not being respected by people who supposedly loved me. So now, if someone is disrespectful to me, I tend to form a negative opinion and remember it for a long time.

So then I asked my friends this question:

Why do people feel the need to make assumptions about total strangers based on innocuous Facebook comments? I said I didn’t have a FB profile photo for awhile because I was “ugly”. I then explained that I don’t photograph well and once lacked selfie skills. Some person accused me of wanting to look like a model or a social influencer, then helpfully added that most of us don’t look like that, “and that’s okay.” 🖕

Nah, I never expected any of that. I just don’t like cringing at my visage.

That question invited more compliments and protests about my self-evaluation of my appearance. Again, I was genuinely asking the question, not looking for compliments. Okay, I was also annoyed and venting a little bit, too.

So I finally wrote this:

I think Bill is a handsome man, but he had the same problem I had. I am good at taking his picture, though, because I love him and make a point of catching his best features. Most people who photograph me (Bill included), get my multiple chins, cellulite, and beer gut. 😉 I just don’t want to see that in a photo of me. If I want to see that, I’ll look in the mirror. 😆

It’s true. I am legitimately very good at taking pictures of Bill. It’s not exactly an easy thing to do, either. He’s a very good looking man, in my opinion. However, he often doesn’t photograph well, because he’s camera shy and self-conscious about his appearance. He also has sensitive eyes and blinks easily. I have figured out a way to get him to look his best. It usually involves my telling him a dirty joke and making him laugh, then having laser sharp reflexes. Even with that method, sometimes I fail and catch him mid blink or slouching too much. I delete those photos, which he appreciates. I have gotten some pretty great shots of him, much to his mom’s delight.

Alas, Bill hasn’t caught on to using that trick for me. Or maybe he’s just better looking than I am. 😉 However, I have noticed that some of the best photos of me are the ones with him in them. He genuinely makes me smile, so I don’t look fake. When I take a selfie and try to smile, it often doesn’t look right, because it’s too posed. Lighting is also important. I look best in natural sunlight.

I know some people think all of this sounds vain… and maybe it is vain. But since I probably look at and notice my profile picture the most, I figure I should have one that doesn’t offend me. It doesn’t mean I want to be a model (Jesus Christ, really?). I have no desire to be a social influencer (and I’m 50 fucking years old, so that ain’t happening.) What other people think of my visage is really none of my business. I just don’t want to look like Ziggy. I’m much less concerned about my friends laughing at my photo at home, than I am about having to face that reflection myself.

… and that’s okay… (BARF)

Standard
celebrities, condescending twatbags, Ex, narcissists

Some people are just greedy scumbags…

This morning, we enjoyed a bit of a “lie in”, since Bill has the day off work. When I woke up, I read some more of my current book, Things I Should Have Said by Jamie Lynn Spears. I can’t say it’s the greatest book I’ve read, but I have learned some new things. According to Jamie Lynn, her dad, Jamie Spears, was quite a controlling, alcoholic nightmare who had a habit of “taking off” when things got too difficult at home. I already had an inkling about Jamie Spears, not because I am a fan of the Spears sisters, but because over the years, it’s been impossible to avoid seeing them in the news.

A year ago, Britney Spears was very publicly fighting to end a thirteen year conservatorship, controlled mostly by her father. She had no control over anything in her life, right down to her ability to reproduce. She was forced to have an intrauterine device, to prevent her from getting pregnant. Although she was deemed unable to manage her career, her money, her romantic relationships, or make her own medical decisions, Britney continued to work. And lots of people in her family profited from what she did– everything from concerts to selling records. Britney Spears has been a very bankable star for years. But her family– especially her father– have basically been using her for her money and fame.

Jamie Lynn Spears has also worked as an actress and singer. She hasn’t been as successful as her sister, the “Princess of Pop” has, but as far as I can tell, she doesn’t seem to suffer from any mental health issues. The one thing she did do that got everyone upset was get pregnant at age sixteen. She writes that she was pressured to have an abortion, and her parents became so intrusive that she threatened to file for emancipation. That plan was eventually called off, when her parents finally relented and allowed her to make her own decisions for herself and her baby. As I read about Jamie Lynn as a teenager– a girl with an actual career on Nickelodeon– I was reminded of Jennette McCurdy’s much better book, I’m Glad My Mom Died. In both of these situations, there were beautiful, talented young people involved, working and making enough money to support greedy parents, who apparently saw them as possessions.

I can’t say that I’m getting the greatest impressions of Jamie Lynn Spears as I read her book. She seems a little full of herself and a bit jealous of her sister. I also think she had a pretty substandard education, based on the quality of writing in her book. But I do have some compassion for the fact that her parents were basically leeches. Especially her dad, whom at this point of the book, she doesn’t seem to have a lot of regard for anymore. I remember a year ago, when Britney was in the news a lot and Jamie Lynn’s book was first released, Britney seemed rightfully pissed off at her whole family, including Jamie Lynn. It made me feel sorry for Britney. She’s been used and abused for too many years. All the while, there was this narrative put out to the public that they were a happy, close-knit, caring family… at least before Britney started having the well-publicized mental health problems that had prompted the conservatorship in the first place.

So I came into my office and sat down on my new office chair, navigated to my blog, and started looking through my posts. Someone had hit an old one that I’d forgotten about, so I decided to read it. Then I noticed the next post. It was a May 2019 post titled “All my kids”. This was a post about Ex’s current husband, a man I refer to as #3. I had found him on Facebook, and noticed some posts from 2012… posts about Ex’s kids, all five of whom he was referring to as “his”. I got angry as I looked at them, especially since Ex did the same thing to Bill, with her eldest son. She encouraged them to bond. She wanted Bill to think of her son with #1 as his son. She got his name changed, though I don’t think she ever did it legally, since it costs money. She somehow got a document made by the State Department that listed Bill as ex stepson’s father, even though he wasn’t. Ex stepson was born in Germany, and Bill came into his life as a father figure when he was a toddler. Bill went along with it, because Ex had told him stories about #1, claiming that he was abusive and “crazy”. Because she was his wife and he thought he loved her, he trusted her. He believed her stories. They were lies. And she did the same thing to Bill when they divorced. She told #3 lies about Bill… and made Bill’s kids call him “Dad”, as if they were possessions who just needed to be reprogrammed to accept a new man as their father.

Now, Ex’s kids aren’t stars. They aren’t famous. But she uses them, in much the same way Jamie and Lynne Spears use their children. She lies to them to keep them under control, and she manipulates people to put out a false narrative. Jamie Spears was trying to convince everyone that Britney Spears needed him to control her life, “for her own good”. But he was just using her.

Lately, younger daughter has been sending us videos, mostly about her cooking projects. She and Bill have been bonding over their love of making food. I think it’s because they’re both compassionate, nurturing types of people. When I see how much she loves her real dad, it makes me angry to think about #3 putting up public pictures of her on Facebook and calling her his daughter. Under one photo, he had captioned that the “name change” would soon be final, as if it’s going to be this great, healing decision. But younger daughter doesn’t even like #3 as a friend, let alone love him as her “dad”. It’s a fucking lie for him to refer to her as his daughter, and it’s out there because Ex was using and manipulating people to promote her hateful, narcissistic agenda. That post is public, probably, because Ex was hoping Bill would see it and be hurt. Fortunately, at the time, I made a point of not looking for information about Ex or the kids. I was very angry with all of them. But now, I’m curious… and as we all know, curiosity killed the cat. 😉

Looking back at that old post, I figured out that #3’s mother was posting comments. The comments she left indicate that she believed it was appropriate for Ex to have Bill’s daughters’ names legally changed. Younger daughter later explained to us that it really bothered Ex that her children’s legal names weren’t the same as her name. She also has to totally discard the fathers of her children… although I see that #3 and #1 are Facebook friends. Her daughters are also friends with #1, but they aren’t friends with Bill. It’s because he won’t buy into Ex’s lies and bullshit.

Younger daughter actively avoids being in contact with Ex now. When she does talk to her, Ex claims that #3 wants to see their “grandchildren”. But they aren’t his grandchildren, because he is not her father. Furthermore, he’s not even interested in her, or her kids. I think he’s only interested in older daughter, because she does all the work in their house and takes care of his son.

Ex still tries to maintain that fake bond, though. She’s tried to get younger daughter to think of #3’s mother as her grandmother. But younger daughter doesn’t even seem to like #3’s mom, mainly because she made disparaging comments about younger daughter’s desire to be a wife and mom. #3’s mom basically said, in a pretty disdainful way, that just being a wife and mother was a waste of her life. I guess this shouldn’t surprise us at all, though, since Ex pushed Bill’s mom out of the girls’ lives and promoted his stepmother as their grandmother. And now, stepmother-in-law has posted things on Facebook referring to younger daughter’s children as hers, even as she seems to forget that the only reason she even knows Bill’s daughters is because of her stepson… a man she seems to believe Ex’s lies about. It’s just so fucked up… so many lies, and so much exploitation. If Ex could, I bet she’d get a conservatorship over her children’s lives, so she could harness their earning power and capacity to work for her… never allowing them to leave her sphere and have their own lives.

Being on the edge of this toxic crap has bothered me for years. I guess reading Jamie Lynn’s book reminds me that there are families that are just as– or even more– fucked up as Ex’s is. I look forward to finishing Jamie Lynn Spears’ book, and reviewing it. There’s definitely a lot to unpack. I don’t find her particularly likable, but I do think she was used and exploited. But Britney definitely got shafted by her family. I’m surprised she trusts anyone. And the more I hear about life behind the social media facade put out there by Ex and #3, the more I think her kids have been shafted, to varying degrees. It’s so sad.

Well… I suppose I should do something less stress inducing. It’s already 1:00 PM, and I haven’t practiced guitar yet. So I think I’ll quit writing this shit, and get on with my day. Have a good one.

Standard
blog news, condescending twatbags, music, true crime

It’s the last Friday of 2022… so how about a few thoughts on the year?

I wasn’t going to share the featured photo, until I realized that it was dated December 24, 2021, which was a week before Betty White died… Eerie! I’d say that kind of sums up a lot of 2022.

Wow… here we are again at Friday! And it’s the very last Friday of 2022, too. Every year, I’m left amazed anew, when I realize how quickly time passes. The older I get, the faster it seems to go. As I’m sitting here thinking about what I would like to write about today, I decided to look at what I wrote about last year. I see that on December 30, 2021, I wrote one of my most popular blog posts– one I wrote about a 2008 French documentary titled America’s Broken Dream. For some reason, a lot of people have hit that post since I wrote it a year ago. I’ve even gotten some comments from people who aren’t regular readers. A couple of people also asked me to update the post with new information, which I haven’t really done.

I don’t really have any insider information about the documentary, or the people who were featured in it, including Amber and Daniel Carter, a young couple with two small children who seemed to be climbing out of poverty when Daniel got arrested for killing his neighbor. When I wrote that post, I was just inspired by my immediate thoughts, after randomly stumbling on the documentary while messing around on YouTube. A lot of people are still intrigued by America’s Broken Dream, but I’ve pretty much moved on, for now. I will keep allowing comments until the comments close automatically, but I don’t have anything to add at this point. Maybe sometime in the future, I’ll be compelled to read more about Amber and Daniel Carter, and find out more about what became of them. They definitely have a story, and people are very interested. But, as I’ve unfortunately discovered, sometimes writing about true crime can lead to unpleasant interactions with people. I’d like to minimize those, if I can.

In August of this year, I decided to disable the Facebook page I used to run for this blog. I had been wanting to do it for awhile, but held off because I knew some readers used it to follow me. It also provided a way for people to contact me privately. I had some concerns about the page, though, because it was so public and difficult to monitor. I thought about circumventing that problem by converting the page into a group, but decided I didn’t want to do that, either. I already run two Facebook groups and I’ve mostly found the experience to be rather thankless and unsatisfying. If I’m honest, I think I’d like to discontinue my wine group, because half the time, it leads to drama and negative interactions with strangers who don’t appreciate what I do. The page was less work to administrate, but it was also a lot less secure. I knew the former tenant from our last home was watching it clandestinely, as a way of monitoring my activities. I don’t worry about her anymore, as the issue that prompted her to surveil me is now resolved… and also, I discovered that, for some reason, she decided to end her life.

So the former tenant stopped being an issue of concern… but then in August, I got a very irate private message from a family member of a true crime victim I had originally written about in 2014. The post was based on newspaper articles from several papers, and comments from a family member who messaged me when I originally wrote about it, in 2014. The irate correspondent apparently saw the repost and didn’t notice the original date of the article, which had been up for YEARS, and actually got little traffic. This person decided to send me a nastygram through the Facebook page, complete with legal threats. For the record, I was not at all worried about her threats. I use Statcounter, which allows me to see how long someone spends on my blog. I could see (and I documented) that she spent about two minutes, missed a lot of details, and was apparently unaware of a number of logistical issues that would have made her legal threats pretty hard to carry out. And if she was really that upset about the content of that post, she would have noticed and contacted me much sooner than eight years after I wrote it.

Nevertheless, even though I was pretty pissed off by her message and did not have to comply with her demands, I decided that the blog post she was upset about wasn’t that important, as no one but her and her associates were even reading it. So I’ve made it private, for now. I also blocked her on Facebook. Then I dismantled the Facebook page for this blog, because I’m not here to take abuse from random people who are upset by my opinions and just want to privately send me offensive comments. My mental health matters too, people. I am a real person, and I deserve to be addressed with basic respect, like anyone does. I will happily hear complaints from people, but I expect to be approached with civility. Those who can’t do that are not welcome here, and will be banned.

Recently, I revisited the post I wrote about that incident. It occurred to me that the poster must have also tried to find the now defunct “contact form page”, which I also disabled for similar reasons. I only got one or two rude responses on that page, but I found that the contact page was problematic because people were leaving comments on posts without identifying them. There were times when I literally didn’t know what they writing about. If they had simply responded to the post in question, it would have been more useful to everyone.

The irate woman who wrote to me a few months ago had hastily identified which post had gotten her so rattled (after eight years of it being online… REALLY?). She must have been looking for the contact form, found my explanatory post about why I no longer have one, and found the Facebook page instead. Well, she can take a bow, because her abusive rant caused me to permanently ax the Facebook page, too. I can’t say I miss it, or the weird messages it used to attract from everyone from unhinged anti-vaxxers to obnoxious Trump supporters. I would always see them right after I woke up, which is not a pleasant way to start the day. Now, if you want to address something I’ve written, you can do it publicly, so everyone can see your comments and share in the response.

Like I said, I’m not here to take abuse from random people. I have a right to express my opinions, as long as they aren’t defamatory, malicious, or deliberately presenting false information as the truth. And this is my space– which I pay for– so I will run it the way I wish. I think of my blog space in the same way most of you would govern your own homes. You wouldn’t put up with abuse from a guest in your home. I don’t put up with it on my blog. This person also wrote, with evident disgust, that I just do this “for the money”, which really made me laugh. I don’t make money from doing this. I have made some ad revenue, but it’s not even enough to pay for the subscription to WordPress. So, if anyone ever does want to try to sue me to get some of the “big bucks” I supposedly make from sharing my opinions, they’re gonna be disappointed on MANY levels. Below is what I’ve made on WordPress so far… since I started hosting ads in July 2021.

And on the less visited travel blog, where I’ve hosted ads from the beginning (July 2019), I’ve made a whopping $7.25. It takes $100 to cash out, so I might make money there after I’m dead.

True crime posts do generate a lot of interest, though. I find crime interesting to write about, as they usually involve ordinary people who do extraordinary things. When I use the word “extraordinary”, I mean “out of the ordinary” or “unusual”. I’m not using that word in the normally positive way. Sometimes, I notice people repeatedly hitting posts I’ve written about, and it’s a little creepy. Lately, I’ve noticed my posts about Frederick West Greene are getting a lot of hits. I’m glad I don’t live in the United States– for many reasons, really, but especially because it creeps me out that he’s no longer in prison (as far as I know).

My post about Betty White and misattributing quotes to her was also a big winner this year. I had written about her in late December 2021, not knowing that she would die on New Year’s Eve. A few days later, I wrote a post about how people were “honoring” her by sharing a funny comment that she never made. That post consistently gets hits and the odd share, although no one has commented on it yet. I think it’s one of my better ones, even though I’ve gotten some shit from people for having issues with misattributed quotes, too. One guy got so angry about a post I wrote that he blocked me on Facebook and complained to all his friends, who later hit the post repeatedly and generated some AdShare pennies. Thanks, guys.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a blogger, it’s that people aren’t always going to like what you do. But if all I ever did was write things about hearts and flowers, this blog would be very boring, both for me as a writer, and for you as a reader. Besides, that’s just really not me. I’m not a hearts and flowers kind of person. I think if I were that kind of person, I would probably be a lot more miserable than I actually am. Because it wouldn’t be natural for me to be so cheery and positive. It’s not in my DNA. Seriously… read some of my posts, and you know I come from a long line of the miserable… but talented. We’ve got lots of funny, talented, artistic people in my family. Lots of attractive people, too. Too bad I didn’t get the gene for being thin and athletic. SIGH.

2022 has been interesting. I would say it hasn’t been as bad as last year. At least most of the stupid pandemic restrictions went away, although I haven’t been traveling more or even going out much, hence my low earnings on the travel blog. That’s mostly because of our dog, Arran, who has cancer and will likely be leaving us sometime in the new year. I am trying to prepare for his exit, because I know it will hurt. But I also know that once he’s gone, there will be new opportunities… for travel, for making new human friends (which often happens when one adopts a pet), for new canine teachers, and for new overall wisdom. Death is just something that simply happens to everyone, at some point. It hurts, but it’s a necessary part of life. Arran has taught us a lot, and continues to teach us everyday. I think one of the best lessons I’ve learned from him was reiterated yesterday, when Bill came home from work. You can see, he taught Noyzi, too… And I think he’ll tell us when he’s done teaching and ready to move on to the next place in the universe.

Arran reminds us that it’s important to appreciate and welcome those we love back to the pack when they come home…

Well, it’s probably time I finished this post and got on with the day. Got to practice guitar, walk the dogs, and work on reading my next book, so I can review it for the interested. Maybe I’ll even record another song. An old high school friend heard a Pat Benatar cover I did the other day… a B.B. King from her one “blues” album, True Love, which she released in 1991. It hasn’t gotten many hits yet, but she said I have a knack for the blues. I believe her, because she was originally a music major at my alma mater before she transferred out and became a therapist. She’s right. I do have a knack for singing the blues… both literally, and in this blog. So I guess 2023 will bring more of the same. I hope a few of you will stay tuned for that. Maybe I’ll make more big bucks from blogging in 2023.

ETA: I forgot to mention, just a couple of weeks ago, I got the most hits I’ve ever gotten in one day when someone on Reddit shared a true crime post I wrote in November 2020 about Jessica Wiseman. It wasn’t even a particularly newsy post, but I probably made $5 because about four thousand people hit it in one day. I grew up near where Wiseman and her boyfriend murdered her parents. She was a juvenile, so she only spent a few years in juvenile hall. Her boyfriend, who was older, but apparently the less guilty of the pair, wound up being executed. I remembered the case and wrote about it, and it got noticed… which is especially notable to me, because it’s definitely not my best work. 😉

Standard
communication, complaints, condescending twatbags, Duggars, rants, social media

“I’m not in need of correction from you, lady…”

Fair warning… for many people, this is going to be a really petty rant. Some readers will doubtlessly think it’s much ado about nothing, or that I’m being childish or silly. It’s fine to think that, but just so you know, I really don’t need to be corrected. I understand that the more mature beings in the world will probably think I should be posting about world peace or another lofty topic. And maybe that’s true… but it’s not what’s on my mind today. I’m often petty, obnoxious, and easily annoyed… but I own those characteristics. They’re part of what makes me “me”. I grew up with the message that who I am isn’t okay… and now that I’m 50, and realize that I won’t ever be changing. I’m working on living with myself. But you don’t have to live with me, so if I write something today that makes you think I need “correction”, “advice”, or anything else remotely resembling “special help”, I would like to encourage you to go write about it on your own blog and leave mine alone. 😉

So here’s what happened…

Yesterday, I was on the Duggar Family News page on Facebook. The page’s moderator posted about the Duggar Family’s annual Christmas celebration. A few days ago, I had noticed how extremely cute John David and Abbie Duggar’s daughter, Gracie, is. I even wrote about it in a recent post. It’s not that I don’t think all of the other Duggar grandchildren are cute. I just think Gracie is at a really sweet and expressive age, and she obviously mugs for the camera. She is especially adorable right now, in my opinion.

She is so CUTE. This is not the photo I commented on, by the way.
What a doll!

So I typed under the picture, “Gracie is so adorable”, or something along those lines. Nice, positive, kind comment for a child who probably can’t read, and wouldn’t be on that page, anyway, right? Several others agreed with me and signaled by hitting the “like” button. I didn’t mention her brother, Charlie, who is a beautiful baby, but to me, not as obviously cute as his big sister is. When he’s older, I’m sure he will give her a run for her money. Besides, everybody gushes over babies.

Early this morning, I opened up Facebook and noticed that I had a notification from someone I don’t know. Usually, one can tell what Facebook notifications are in reference to, but in this case, there wasn’t a clue. I had forgotten about the Duggar Family News post I’d made, and never thought it would be controversial. But there it was… Someone named Donna tagged me with the comment, “So is Charlie.”

What am I to make of this comment? It would be one thing if she’d just posted it without tagging me, making it clear that she was expressing her own opinion and not criticizing my comment. But she responded in a way that made it very likely that I would see her comment. And while I can’t be absolutely certain, since she’s a total stranger and I didn’t have any non-verbal cues to offer a hint, my guess is that her comment was meant to be pointed. How dare I comment on one child’s cuteness in a photo, and not the other child’s “equally” adorable visage? What is Charlie? Chopped liver? Give the lad a participation trophy, at least. Give me a break… he’s a BABY, and he’s not reading that page. I am sure his feelings won’t be hurt.

I’ll be honest. My first instinct was to respond to Donna with snark and sarcasm, because that seemingly corrective comment legitimately pissed me off. I know a lot of people would laugh about that “over-the-top” reaction, too… which makes it even worse. Because this was a genuine reaction I had to something that, in the grand scheme of things, really doesn’t matter. It’s just some busybody feeling the need to correct a perfect stranger’s innocuous opinions on Facebook, right? I have no idea why my comment triggered her enough to tag me with a response. For all I know, she’s just as irritated as I am. We all have our hot buttons.

There was a time when, indeed, I would have dashed off an inflammatory response to Donna. But middle age, years of psychotherapy, social work training, and the fact that I hadn’t been drinking, collectively gave me the gift of restraint and composure. I took a moment to consider if I wanted to make an actual reply, or even just leave a “laugh react” or “anger emoji”.

I very quickly decided that I didn’t really want to get into it with Donna over such a non-issue. I figured any response I would make would simply make me look bad, even though her comment was unnecessary and kind of disrespectful. So I deleted the notification and didn’t respond to Donna’s “correction”… at least not on Facebook. I’m sure she means well, but I don’t really want to get in a pissing match with some “biddy” I don’t know. Especially over something so inconsequential and… well, petty.

Since this incident has made me think for longer than a moment or two, I’ve decided to write about it today. Maybe other people can relate. I do feel slightly self-congratulatory for not taking Donna’s bait. I scored a “little victory” with that one, even if I am now posting mental spew in my blog. 😉 Fewer people read my blog than my Facebook page, though.

If I had been in a more engaging mood, how could I have best responded to Donna? I thought about it as I drank one of Bill’s expertly brewed cups of coffee, fixed just the way I like it. What can I say? My husband is truly wonderful. So let’s see…

There’s the positive approach. I could have acknowledged Donna’s “correction”, either in a sincere and apologetic fashion, or in an over-the-top, sickly sweet, passive-aggressive way…

  • “Of course, Charlie is cute, Donna. Thank you for the correction. May I have another?”
  • “Yes, he sure is scrumptious, Donna. Shame on me for not acknowledging it properly.”
  • “Oh, I’m sorry for the oversight. I’m such an ignorant clod. Charlie is also adorable.”
  • “Whatever would we do without you, Donna, to keep us straight when we comment on the Duggar grandchildren? We wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings… even if they can’t yet read, and wouldn’t be on this page, anyway.”
  • Or… just a plain old “Yes, you’re right, Donna. He is cute.”

Or, there’s the negative, confrontational, unfriendly approach…

  • “Speak for yourself, Donna. I don’t need your help.”
  • “Why did you feel the need to tag me, Donna? You think he’s cute? Good for you.”
  • “STFU, Donna.” Or my personal favorite, “Oh fuck off, Donna!”
  • “Trying to make yourself feel useful, Donna? Glad I could help you out.”
  • “Actually, I don’t really think he’s adorable. That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.”

Or I could have been really passive-aggressive and just laughed, posted a “?”,… or used an obnoxious rolling eyes GIF to get my point across to her.

But as I had just opened my eyes, I didn’t feel the need to engage. I didn’t want to spend precious energy… especially since Donna is probably sleeping right now, anyway. I get the sense that she’s the kind of person who would wake up in a few hours, see my comment, and feel the need to “set me straight”. And then, hours after I was over it, I’d be invited to an online melee, which probably would have included other people who don’t know either of us. Life is too short for that shit. You gotta pick your battles, if you want to stay sane in this world.

On the other hand, maybe posting a “?” and inviting her to explain herself would be satisfying on some level… but I don’t like to be deliberately obtuse. I think I know what she meant by her comment. She was just “fixin’ it for me”… the petty bitch… tryin’ to hook me into a scuffle. 😉

I guess I’m just left kind of puzzled, though. Once again, a perfect stranger is looking at my innocuous communication from a seemingly negative, corrective way– like the people in my wine group who insinuated that I’m a “Karen” because I had the “audacity” to complain about a legitimately bad experience we had in a wine shop in France. Sometimes, it’s appropriate to be negative, but I don’t think our culture likes to admit it anymore. If you aren’t “positive” and inclusive all the time, you’re a problem, and need correction from others.

Then, there’s my dysfunctional, reptilian response to Donna’s “correction”. It comes from a lifetime of being the youngest child in a family where my presence wasn’t really welcomed or valued. For most of my youngest years, I was repeatedly criticized, corrected, and told, in no uncertain terms, that I wasn’t making the grade. I’m sure if I were to point this out to my family members, they would deny it… and again, that would be a perfect example of the problem. Because even if, in their minds, they weren’t overly critical of me, that was the message I constantly received and internalized. And now it’s a trigger, because I have come to realize that I do have worth, and my opinions matter to someone– even if it’s only me… and maybe Bill.

When someone leaves what appears to be “correction” for me, especially when it’s on something that is really innocuous, or of little actual consequence, I have a tendency to get very annoyed. I’m not referring to “constructive criticism”. Sometimes criticism is necessary for growth, for safety, or to become proficient in something. That kind of criticism is much less irritating to me. No, it’s petty criticism over things that don’t really matter that bugs me the most. Nobody likes to have their opinions corrected, especially on a “public” forum like Facebook. No one likes it when some smartass on Facebook posts, “Fixed it for ya!” in response to something they’ve written. It’s just diminishing, discounting behavior that is meant to make people feel small. And while getting annoyed over that behavior is legitimate, it’s also doubly bad to express that irritation, because that is, in and of itself, PETTY behavior. It really should not be worthy of any response whatsoever, but yet, I still feel compelled to express all of this so early in the morning. 😉 I’m sure a good therapist could help me figure this out, sometime.

There’s one other observation I would like to make. I was quite agitated about Donna’s comment when I got up, but by the time I’d finished breakfast and was draining my second cup of coffee, I had almost forgotten about it. If it weren’t for a silly exchange I had with my cousin regarding this incident, I probably would be posting about something more hard hitting and consequential today. 😉 See? It really doesn’t matter at all… It’s a minor blip in the day, now forever immortalized in my blog. And now I can smile and hold my head high, as I fold laundry and change the sheets on my bed… two chores that do need attending to, and will actually matter in my life.

So… not today, Donna. I’m not taking the bait and getting into a ridiculous online pissing match with you. I don’t agree with you, because I do think Gracie is cuter than Charlie is, at least right now. I don’t need you to correct my post, and I’m not going to validate your correction with any direct response– negative or positive– that gives you the opportunity to engage further with me and attempt to make me feel bad about myself. I am going to ignore you (except, of course, in my blog, which is not for you). Find someone else to play with. 😀

Off to go tend to my chores now… Have a great Tuesday, y’all.

Standard