communication, complaints, dogs, narcissists, overly helpful people, rants, religion

Damn this inappropriate comment Stau on the information superhighway!

In the German language, the word “Stau” refers to the inevitable traffic jams that form, especially on the Autobahn system. Bill and I have been in a lot of Staus over the years. They are almost always annoying and frustrating, especially when we’re miles from an Ausfahrt and we both have to pee. They shut down movement and flow. They waste time. They piss people off and put them in sour moods.

Today’s title was inspired by a classic song by James Taylor and my own experiences in Staus all over Germany.

I’m reminded of the term “Stau” this morning, having experienced a communication breakdown on the Recovery from Mormonism messageboard. Before I get into the specifics of what happened, I want to make it plain that this post isn’t a plea for advice or “wisdom”. In fact, unsolicited advice is what led to my decision to write about the “comment Stau” in the first place. I hope that anyone who reads this will take a moment to think twice before trying to be an “overly helpful person” and offering hurting people unsolicited advice. When it comes down to it, unsolicited advice is basically criticism. I don’t need criticism right now.

If you read yesterday’s posts, you know that Bill and I lost a very special family member yesterday. Our dog Arran had some kind of catastrophic medical event on Thursday night. We consequently decided to send him to the Rainbow Bridge yesterday morning. Arran was a big part of our lives. Naturally, I shared the news about him on a few sites. In retrospect, maybe that was the wrong thing to do, since there are a lot of assholes in the world and every time you share something online, you run the risk of running into one or more of them.

I shared a post on the Recovery from Mormonism (RfM) site yesterday, because I’ve been posting there for over 20 years. I don’t post very often anymore, because Mormonism doesn’t really affect my life anymore. But I do have a few friends on that site, even though there are quite a few people there who I think have some legitimate issues. That site also attracts many trolls, though the moderators do a pretty good job of enforcing the rules.

Someone left me a really kind comment about my tribute to Arran and his name’s association with Scotland. I left a rather lengthy reply, since she seemed genuinely interested in the origin of his name. I explained how we came to acquire Arran and why we gave him his name, after a beautiful island in Scotland.

Then I got a very mean comment from a troll. I didn’t copy what the person (I’m assuming a male) wrote, but the gist of it was that the quality of the board was going to hell because of “off topic” posts like mine, and no one gives a fuck about my “stupid deceased mutt” (he literally used the word “fuck”, albeit with a different spelling.).

I’ll be honest. I was legitimately stung by the callousness of that person’s comment to me. I actually cried when I read that troll’s cruel words. It was like a hard slap to the face. I wanted to return fire with a well aimed kick straight to the troll’s balls that would leave him doubled over in extreme pain and unlikely to want to ever utter such blatant disrespect to me again. What can I say? I have my own anger issues, and when it comes to outright abuse, I am very saturated. I don’t tolerate it well at all.

My first impulse was to lash out in anger. But then I figured that behind every troll, there’s a hurting person who expects to get attention in the form of angry comments. That person clearly wanted a response, and I was inclined to give him one, but not in the form he expected. So, instead of rightly telling the person to go fuck themselves, I wrote “You know, you could have just kept scrolling. Sorry that you’re hurting so much that you feel the need to be mean to me.” Then I reported the troll’s comment.

I hoped that would be the end of it, but alas, the site’s resident “overly helpful person” decided she needed to chime in. I’ve posted about my issues with the overly helpful on more than one occasion. It seems like every messageboard has one. It’s that person who feels the need to make themselves feel better by trying to micromanage other people, being meddlesome, and inserting themselves in places where they have no business. I think a lot of that kind of controlling behavior has its origins in people who were raised in chaos. Of course, understanding where that behavior comes from doesn’t make it any less irritating.

I don’t actually know much about the person who felt the need to intercede. What I do know is that she’s very active on the site. Other people have implied that she’s really smart, and might actually have an important job (but I don’t know when she has time to work at a job, since she’s apparently always on RfM). Judging by my own interactions with her and observations of her behavior, I would assume that she thinks she really smart, too. She likes to get into arguments with people and show off how “smart” she is. While I absolutely respect intelligent people, there is a fine line between being really smart and allowing that intelligence to show itself naturally, and trying to appear smarter than one actually is, and looking foolish.

In any case, she left me a comment indicating that the person is a troll and is posting crap all over the place. Then she advised me to ignore him.

My response was that yes, obviously, the guy is a troll. However, I am a real person, and his comment legitimately caused me pain. His words made me cry. I don’t know the person behind the screen. For all I know, he’s a twelve year old kid in his mother’s basement. Or maybe he’s a 35 year old man with a twelve year old kid’s maturity level in his mother’s basement. Or maybe he’s a sadistic pervert. I don’t know.

I simply wanted to issue a reminder to him that there’s a person behind the screen who read those words and they were hurtful. And instead of lashing out with anger and profanity, I wanted that person to get an even-keeled comment that addresses their need to attack, expressing sorrow for the obvious pain they must be in to feel compelled to share it so stunningly with perfect strangers who are obviously already grieving.

The overly helpful woman came back and pointed out that I was just giving the troll “fuel” and feeding his “sick impulses.” And I should just let the moderators deal with him. I didn’t respond to her directly, but I suppose I could have mirrored the same fucking observation to her. She didn’t need to insert herself into that interaction and offer me criticism on my retort. I’m a 50 year old woman of average intelligence who doesn’t need her help in deciding how to address other people when they insult me. Her comments were patronizing, unnecessary, and out of place. And they shut down communication, just like a good, old-fashioned Stau.

Revealing that the initial comment made me cry isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that I have a heart, and a soul, and people who hurl abuse at me do damage. I didn’t feel anger so much that the person indicated that they felt my post was “inappropriate”. It was that they referred to Arran as a “stupid deceased mutt”. He was so much more than that. Reading those words enraged me, because they were completely uncalled for and cruel. And if that cowardly person had said that to my face, I probably would have slapped him HARD across the mouth, if he was lucky. And then I probably would have gotten arrested.

What’s more, obviously a few people did care, and said they enjoyed the tribute. I hope they were being sincere. If not, their choice to humor me is on them. Everybody else can do the decent thing and just keep scrolling, rather than kicking a person when they’re down. I can’t imagine that the people running that messageboard really mean to shut down communication. Those kinds of critical comments, especially when they’re spiteful and mean, make people not want to post anymore. I’m sure thinking I might not post again after that incident.

I do my best not to engage the “overly helpful”. I seem to have something in my personality that brings them out of the woodwork. I suppose it’s a sign that I need to work on not caring about what other people say or think… but again, prick me and I bleed. My feelings are raw because we just lost a big chunk out of our hearts. Arran was a part of our lives for over ten years… half our marriage! And while his passing wasn’t directly related to Mormonism, having him in our lives was a big part of Bill’s recovery from Mormonism. So maybe my post there about Arran’s death wasn’t so off topic, after all…

The troll chastised me for not posting about “recovery from Mormonism”… but Arran had a lot to do with our recovery. I wasn’t a Mormon, but the religion has touched me nevertheless, because of Bill, and because of his younger daughter, who is still active. Fortunately, she seems to have picked up the good parts of the faith instead of the toxic ones, that still show themselves among recovering people, including the “overly helpful” woman who feels the need to butt in on every fucking thing anyone posts there.

Hurting people hurt others… and toxic behavior is contagious. I tried not to be contagious when I addressed the troll’s obvious pain, rather than just advising him to go fuck off and die. But if I’m honest, he can do that, too. 😉 I won’t shed any tears for that.

One last thought… and this one has to do with Arran.

When we lose our dogs, we usually get “signs” from them. I mentioned yesterday, that when we were on our way home from the vet’s office, the 1991 song “Shiny Happy People” by R.E.M. came on the radio. I’m not the biggest fan of R.E.M., and I see no reason why that song would be particularly meaningful, as it was about the behavior of Chinese people after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. It’s kind of a sarcastic song about “shiny, happy people” carrying on after a bloody tragedy… as communism promotes Utopia that can’t really exist as long as humans are the way they are.

Bill commented on “Shiny, Happy People” as we pulled into the driveway, and said he felt it was a sign from Arran. Of course, Arran’s time was long after that song was a hit, and it’s not like we play a lot of R.E.M. at our house. But then last night, as we were raising a glass to Arran’s memory at the wine stand, there it was again. The song “Shiny, Happy People” was playing in the kiosk… the second time we heard it that day. And then I realized it came from an album titled Out of Time. I dunno. It kind of makes sense. But maybe I just need to get out more.

Also… the steps I so carefully purchased for Arran just arrived. Guess we’ll hang onto them. Maybe they’ll come in handy.

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celebrities, communication, overly helpful people, rants, social media

The utter futility of trying to direct conversations on social media…

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.

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
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.

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communication, complaints, condescending twatbags

There’s a reason I do things the way I do…

A few days ago, I uploaded a new video to YouTube. It was my version of an old Judy Collins song called “Someday Soon”. I just woke up and decided I wanted to sing it. It was on the brain, I guess.

I didn’t really share it much. I have a few reasons why I don’t like to share my videos. For one thing, they’re mostly music videos, although sometimes I share dog or travel videos, too. People tend to be skeptical of music videos. They figure they’ll suck. Or, worse, they WON’T suck. I’ve found that a lot of “friends” aren’t all that supportive, particularly when it comes to musical people. I’d much rather share my music stuff with strangers, rather than friends or family, who are quicker to either be critical or jealous.

By the way… I know it sounds shitty to assume that any people are jealous of me. It’s not that I think everyone is. There are just a few people who, I think, are the type of person to issue backhanded comments that are based on their own insecurities. I also think a lot of people are annoyed when I share music videos, much like some are annoyed by my blog. So I prefer to let people find the stuff themselves, because they were looking for it or stumbled across it by chance.

Anyway, the other day, I got a comment from someone. It was a guy whose channel I recently subscribed to. I had genuinely enjoyed his video about what to do as a renter when your German landlord tells you that you have to move out because he or she, or a family member, wants to move into your home. I’ve heard that it’s actually pretty hard to evict people here, so one way German landlords reclaim their property is to claim that they, themselves, want to use it. This is called Eigenbedarf, and it’s completely legal… but depending on how long you’ve lived in a place, the requirement for notice can be anywhere from 90 days to a year.

This guy happens to be a fellow American living in Bavaria. He has an engaging channel and his videos feature him on camera quite prominently. He goes to a lot of trouble for his videos. I suspect he makes money from them.

I, on the other hand, don’t really put that much into my videos. I generally use pictures and videos to set to music, which is really what my focus is. I make the music to focus on the vocals and, to a much lesser extent, my fledgling guitar skills. I do NOT like to be on camera. I get very self-conscious. I feel like I have to put on makeup, get dressed, wear a bra, etc., and I just don’t wanna. Also, I use Garage Band or a similar program to make the videos. I’m sure there is a way to record myself on video, but I don’t really want to, so I haven’t explored how.

Yup… let me do me. Thank you.

So the guy from Bavaria watched my video, complimented my vocals, and then said something along the lines of, “Can I make a simple suggestion? We would like to see who’s singing!”

He had posted the comment, then deleted it, which had the effect of sending me a private email. So there was no way I could respond with an explanation. That was annoying. What was also annoying was that, yet again, some guy was telling me how to run my YouTube channel. I get that they do it in a spirit of being “helpful”– and they probably think I need and appreciate the help. But there’s a reason why I do things the way I do. I know it’s not conventional to substitute photos of unrelated things on videos rather than show off my own fine middle-aged and makeup free mug, but that’s the way I prefer to do it. I’m not that cute, and I don’t want to be on camera. My appearance isn’t the point of the videos, anyway. Also, I like the idea of people being able to multi-task… play the video for the music and do something else, rather than watch the video for my weird ass facial expressions.

Someone else– another guy– once tried to tell me how often to share my videos. He said I should only share one every week or so, because posting more is a “waste of time”. I thought to myself– dude… how do you know what my goals are? My channel, much like my blogs, are more for me than for anyone else. I don’t do this stuff for money. I share things in case people find them useful or relatable. The music videos are purely because I enjoy making music and I like to share it, especially with others who like what I like. But I don’t necessarily need help. If I needed it, I would ask for it. I don’t actually care that much if my YouTube channel isn’t popular. I use it to make videos for my blogs, and to make music for myself, not to become the next big thing. The ship has sailed. 😉

Unsolicited advice is a pet peeve of mine. I try not to offer it myself, although I don’t always succeed. When I do offer it, I often apologize for doing so, because I think offering unsolicited advice has the potential to be insulting. Does this guy really think it’s never occurred to me to sing on camera? Of course it has… Just like I always wanted to be a mother and once considered adoption, but determined it wasn’t for me. I don’t need to be told that there are kids in foster care who need homes… I know that. I have my reasons for not wanting to adopt a child, even if I had always wanted to be a mom. Now, of course, I think I’m glad I’m not a mom. Especially in these strange times we’re living in.

I also recently got a comment on this blog that kind of set me on edge. Someone wrote to me from the comment page. The reason? She had read an old post I wrote about Michelle Duggar’s “modernized” hairdo. In that post, I had written that it looked like Michelle had liked it. Of course, I don’t know if she liked it or not… although she did very quickly go back to the 80s era permed hair look she usually sports. My suspicion was that Jim Bob hadn’t liked the new do, especially since Bill Gothard had supposedly told his followers that women should have long, curly hair. It was a tongue in cheek comment anyway, but someone apparently was disturbed that I thought Michelle had liked the hairstyle. So she wrote to me to “correct” my opinion.

It wasn’t a big deal, in the grand scheme of things. Of course, neither was that post… It was written two years before the most current Duggar drama. It was a silly post, and not really all that important. But someone took it seriously enough to send me a rather lengthy comment– “correction”– of my opinion. I responded with a quick thanks for reading and validation. For all I know, she’s right, and Michelle Duggar hated the new hairdo more than Boob did. In any case, who cares? I don’t think we’ll ever know where the truth lies, but it’s not that important, anyway.

In any case, I don’t think I’ll be making videos that show me on camera. I think even if I were really skinny and a lot younger, I wouldn’t want to be on camera. It’s just not something I care to do. I guess I should appreciate that the guy cared enough to comment… It does kind of bother me, though, that he felt like I needed that kind of guidance. Like I said, there’s a reason I do things the way I do. I don’t need help from the overly helpful. But if I ever do need help, I know how to ask for it.

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