Last night, after our “mandatory fun” party in Mainz, Bill and I were on our way home, and I noticed a Facebook post by singer-songwriter Janis Ian. To be totally frank, I probably shouldn’t follow her. I like her music and respect her talent, but I often find her abrasive and hypocritical to her followers. A year ago, I even posted about this… The below status update is from me on February 11, 2022.
I was annoyed because Janis Ian had wished Roberta Flack a happy birthday, and one of her followers called her out for being kind of ageist. Janis responded by insulting the woman who had chastised her. Granted, the woman’s comments were kind of annoying. Basically, she was upset because Janis wrote that Roberta was “85 years young” instead of “85 years old”. The woman wrote that using “young” instead of “old” in that context was offensive. Janis, who often requests that her followers be civil and respectful, responded in a way that I thought was pretty rude.
A couple of my friends weighed in on my observation. I see I also blogged about this incident a year ago.
However… I can see why Janis gets irritated. She is the master of her social media presence. Lots of people follow her. She makes requests that they conduct themselves in a certain way. People ignore her. That is very annoying. It happens to me, too. And when you have kind of an “artistic temperament”, it can be even more annoying. Creative people often have issues with mental health problems, learning disabilities, trauma, or any other manner of challenges to their psyches. I’m not saying ALL artistic/creative people are like this, but if you look at the people of the world who have talents in the arts, you find that they tend to experience some things on a more intense level.
I can be pretty cranky sometimes (especially when I’m hungry). I have a sister who’s an artist and can be extremely cranky and snippy, too. I’m sure there are even tempered artists in the world… but I haven’t met a whole lot of them. And I can see why Janis gets annoyed when she specifically posts about something and clearly points out the conversation she hopes to have, and people don’t bother to read before they comment, or they just flat out ignore her.
Below is last night’s post, which apparently caused Ms. Ian to sigh a lot…
When I stumbled across this post, all but one of the comments were about Madonna’s distorted face. Janis wanted to have a discussion about the “Nazi” looking outfit Madonna was wearing. Personally, it looks less “Nazi” to me than Dominatrix. But I didn’t watch the Grammys, so I didn’t really see it in context. This also isn’t a subject about which I personally care that much. I would rather talk about Madonna’s tragically bad surgery, frankly. I didn’t comment on Ms. Ian’s post, though. It was more interesting to see how many people ignored Janis’s comments about Madonna’s outfit and just wanted to talk about her age and her bad cosmetic surgery/Botox attempts.
Below are some comments people made, along with Janis Ian’s rather peevish “cut and paste” retort. I’m not going to edit the names out, because Janis’s page is public, and you can easily go to the post and see this for yourselves.
And this was Janis’s frustrated comment, beseeching people to read more carefully before they comment. On this, I agree with her. I get annoyed when people chime in before reading, too.
I think most people are in such a hurry nowadays. They don’t take time to read and digest before they offer a view. That can be very frustrating to other people, especially those who have a bent toward leadership. Maybe it would be more effective if Janis Ian wrote a song about this topic. People might listen more carefully then, although some would probably still misinterpret. Besides, Janis has said she can’t sing anymore. Or, at least she can’t sing and sound like “herself”.
A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about something I read in the Irish Times. It was about a woman who got very publicly fat shamed at a restaurant. Although I have experienced that kind of shaming myself, and could relate to the post because I’ve been where the author was, that post wasn’t about me. I wasn’t looking for advice, consolation, or anything of that nature. I simply wanted to have a discussion about what happened to that woman, in that article. But I did get a comment with advice for me…
I thought it was a little ironic, since the commenter mentioned how annoying it is to get unsolicited advice, particularly about something as personal as one’s weight. And yet, there was unsolicited advice in the comment. I kind of felt like the point of the post was entirely lost… which was a little discouraging. Perhaps the answer is to write very short posts with simple sentences to discourage skimming.
On the other hand… as annoying as this particular phenomenon is, I don’t think it’s ever going to go away. People are often going to miss the point because they aren’t necessarily focused on the person who sends them messages. They are focused on themselves, and their reactions. Or they feel like they should be “helpful”, even if no one is asking for assistance. Sometimes, all that’s wanted is just a simple discussion.
I feel like that’s an easier thing to request on a blog than on Facebook. Certainly, it’s easier to request that on this platform, which has maybe a couple hundred visitors a day, than Janis Ian’s Facebook page. She has many thousands of followers from many different walks of life, cultures, and countries. So many different perspectives are represented. I think it’s a lot to expect people to respond in exactly the “right” way. But I understand that the desire for that is still there… It probably feels a bit like pissing into the wind.
Well, I think I will wrap up this post. My new VESA monitor arm is here. Time to see if I can get the new computer up and running. The one I’m typing on now… possibly for the last time on this blog… has been annoying me all morning. But I do hope this post gives people some food for thought. I agree that trying to direct conversations on social media is very difficult or impossible. Maybe it’s like herding cats. But I also agree that people should read and think for a moment before they post. Chiming in without thinking first is often unwelcome and, frankly, kind of insulting and rude. However, I also know that most of the time, that kind of thing is actually more of a thoughtless action than anything else. It has a lot to do with people’s own egos on both sides.
I still think I need to unfollow Janis, though. I did unfollow a couple of other problematic public figures this week. Who knows? Maybe that will result in cheerier blog posts from yours truly.
Edited to add… the expensive VESA arm I bought was a complete piece of junk. Bill and I wasted a couple of frustrating hours trying to get it to function. I have ordered another one. It was significantly less expensive and, I hope, much more functional. Meanwhile, I have had a new computer for days now, and I can’t fucking use it yet.