complaints, lessons learned, rants

READING IS FUNDAMENTAL, Y’ALL!

It’s no secret that I have a long list of pet peeves. I often vent about them in my blog. One topic that occasionally comes up in this rag I write, is how irritated I get when people chime in on things they haven’t deigned to read. As a matter of fact, I wrote about this topic in December 2019, and I KNOW I’ve written about it multiple times on my old blog. Well… I’m about to write about it again, because goddammit, I get pissed.

Yesterday, I read a poignant article on The Atlantic about a man who spent 306 days in the hospital after contracting COVID-19. Yes, that’s a really long time to be hospitalized. After I read the beautifully written article, I looked at the comments, and so many people were aghast at how large the hospital bill must have been! Comment after comment was left about the hypothetical size of this man’s medical expenses.

BUT— the man in this story was not from the United States. He lives in Britain. In Britain, they have the National Health Service, which covers the costs of everyone’s healthcare (although one can also pay for private care). So no, there was no huge hospital bill for him or his family to pay.

I must have read over a dozen comments about the perceived size of the guy’s medical debts until I finally saw a comment from a woman who commented on the size of the bills, and then openly admitted that she hadn’t read the article because she didn’t want to pay for a subscription. Against my better judgment, I left this comment for her…

“Why would you comment on something you haven’t read?”

I know… it probably comes off as peevish and bitchy to many people, but it seemed like a fair enough question to me. I didn’t use exclamation points or all caps. I didn’t swear at her. In fact, it was a perfectly reasonable query, in my opinion. ESPECIALLY since she could have taken a minute to read just a few of the many comments on the Facebook link and found out that the man was from Britain and didn’t have huge hospital bills. Even if, as an American, someone doesn’t know that most countries don’t have an insanely and inhumanely expensive healthcare system like ours, he or she could have gotten that information about Britain’s NHS system by simply reading a few comments left by those in the know.

But you know what she did? She went to my Facebook page and noticed my tag line, which reads “My life is basically one long Maalox commercial.” I used to have “Wake me in 2021” there, but changed it after Biden won the election. Anyway, after visiting my Facebook page, she wrote:

“Oh, go take your Maalox.”

Well… that WAS a bitchy comment, wasn’t it? So I responded thusly,

Why don’t you support journalism by purchasing a subscription to The Atlantic and reading before posting. Then, your uninformed comments won’t prompt me to need Maalox.”

Which leads me to my next point. Why did she feel the need to stalk my Facebook page just because I asked her why she’d comment on something she hasn’t read? My question to her wasn’t that unreasonable. I mean, she openly admitted she hadn’t read the article and, apparently, didn’t even bother to read any of the many wrong comments about the guy’s “huge” (and non-existent) medical bills, which were corrected by more informed readers. And yet, she still felt she had something to add to the conversation. Tell me. Why should anyone read and respond to her comment if she hasn’t read theirs, OR the article that has prompted the discussion? What makes her so goddamned special?

I suppose she was disappointed that there’s not all that much public on my page. I think my last public post was one from a few months ago, asking former colleagues the recipe for the savory cheesecake we used to sell at the restaurant where we worked. Not all of my former colleagues are Facebook friends, so I made the post public to allow non-friends to respond. That post has been liked by two creepy guys who tangled with me in the comment sections of political posts. I blocked both of them, not that it matters.

The lady I ran into yesterday also went looking for information on the public part of my Facebook page. I wonder what she seeking? Was she wanting to know my political proclivities? Did she want to know if I breastfeed zoo animals or take opium rectally? Was she looking for evidence that I live in a cave? I mean, I’m just an ordinary person who gets irritated by people who think they need to comment on things they haven’t read. If you haven’t even bothered to read what you’re commenting on, why should I read your thoughts?

After getting good and annoyed by that exchange, I decided to research the Internet to see if I’m the only one who gets irritated by non-readers who spread their stupid egotistical shit in comment sections. Sure enough, I found several impassioned articles about this sad epidemic of a phenomenon. The first one I read was especially interesting.

Back on April Fool’s Day in 2014, NPR decided to play a trick on its readers by an article entitled “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?” That is a very provocative title, isn’t it? The people who came up with it knew that it would prompt discussion. Sure enough, it did.

Indeed, what HAS become of our brains?

I hasten to add, however, that Amelia Tait, the writer who quoted the NPR article in her article, got the NPR article’s title wrong, calling it “Why doesn’t anyone read anymore?”. I guess she’s not a careful reader, either.

Notice that there are over 2200 comments on that original post. If the people who commented had bothered to read before opining on the headline, they would have read this.

Ha ha ha!

Notice in the directions, it says “If you are reading this, please like this post and do not comment on it.” Sure enough, of the many of the people who did bother to read, quite a few didn’t follow directions. Or, I can also assume, they didn’t care what the directions were, like to ruin practical jokes, and spoil other people’s fun. ūüėČ

I decided to experiment on my own page with this article. I shared it, and not five minutes later, I got a comment from someone who offered an opinion, admitting that he hadn’t read the article (props to him for that, at least). Then he read it and promptly ruined the joke. I decided not to delete his comment, though, because I wanted to see if other people chimed in without reading the comment section. Someone did, although, she wasn’t tripped up by the fake article. However, she also didn’t follow directions, and commented when she was requested to only react to the link.

The next person simply liked the post, which earned her the grand prize. In this case, the grand prize is my admiration, respect, and good wishes. It occurred to me that if I were a teacher, this exercise might make a great object lesson in the classroom. Because, if you think about it, it’s the rampant liking, commenting, and sharing that people do WITHOUT reading first that helps get dangerous idiots like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Donald Trump elected and conspiracy theories started. THIS IS HOW FAKE NEWS AND MISINFORMATION GETS SPREAD, PEOPLE. The NPR April Fool’s article probably just made people feel foolish. Imagine how some of the people who fell for QAnon and later regretted it feel (sadly not all of them yet realize QAnon is total bullshit). Doesn’t life present you with enough opportunities to feel foolish without making a basic mistake like not reading before reacting or commenting?

I totally get that we live in a hyper-paced world right now. People are busy, stressed out, and broke. People are also kind of lazy, and don’t want to spend their precious time reading things, especially when they could be writing lengthy posts about something completely non-sensical and irrelevant. But they DO want others to read what they write, otherwise why would they comment? And it seems lost on them that if they don’t even take time to read whatever has prompted the discussion, it’s pretty arrogant and disrespectful to opine about it.

Actually, no I won’t. I want people to read because they’re genuinely interested. And I want people to comment only if they’ve read first.

As someone who writes and has actually made money doing so, I am asking you, for all that’s good and holy, at least take a minute to read a few comments before popping off with a comment that makes you look dumb and/or lazy. I realize that not everyone has the money or the desire to subscribe to every magazine or newspaper whose content they want to read, but a lot of times, there are people who HAVE read and left comments, and you can glean a more informed opinion or at least have some of your misconceptions corrected before you post something irritating. I think Annie Reneau, who wrote this excellent piece for Scary Mommy, sums it up nicely. I encourage you to read and heed her fabulous rant, which is NOT behind a paywall.

Also… journalists have to pay bills, too. You don’t work for free, do you? So don’t expect them to work for free. Show some respect. If you didn’t read, please try not to comment. Or, at least take a minute to read a few other comments before you chime in and post something ridiculous. My Maalox swilling lifestyle will improve if you do.

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psychology

Reposted: You keep using that word “projection”… I do not think you know what it means…

I’m reposting this entry from my old blog, dated May 7, 2017. Why am I reposting it? Because it was an epic rant that included a funny story. I was reminded of it when I wrote about this morning’s dream that included a baby shitting in front of me in a restaurant. Enjoy…

Yesterday, I shared an article on Facebook about nasty things servers in restaurants have encountered.  I read the article with interest, since I was once a server and have vivid memories and deep psychological scars from the experience.  The anecdote that stuck out the most was from a waitress who had worked at the Olive Garden.  I am not a fan of the Olive Garden and, after reading that poor woman’s story, I am now even less of a fan today than I was yesterday. 

The Olive Garden was running their bottomless pasta bowl promotion.  A very overweight family came in to take advantage of the deal.  With them was their toddler aged daughter, who was dressed in a dirty shirt and a diaper, but was not wearing pants.  After awhile, the waitress noticed the distinct aroma of shit lingering around the table.  She tried to ignore it, but on a return visit, she noticed the toddler pulling turds out of her diaper and dropping them on the floor. 

Naturally, the waitress was unable to hide her revulsion.  She pointed out to the mom that the little girl was dropping shit on the floor.  The mother said she knew, and had thoughtfully tried to cover the poop with a napkin, but had only managed to cover it slightly.  And, as any thinking person knows, a napkin will do nothing to cover the stench of feces.

The waitress told her manager, who asked the woman to clean up the mess. ¬†Mom got very irate, apparently thinking that it was not her “job” to clean up her daughter’s inappropriately deposited shit. ¬†But, in the end, she cleaned it up; then without taking the time to wash her hands, tucked in to yet another bowl of pasta.

Now… reading about that experience, in and of itself, would turn me off of Olive Garden. Especially if I had actually witnessed it at the time it happened. ¬†But I have other reasons for not liking the Olive Garden.

I didn’t used to feel like this.  In the early 90s, when the Olive Garden was kind of new, I thought it was a great place to eat.  I remember going there for my birthday one year and really enjoying the experience.  But, what can I say?  Twenty plus years ago, I was a lot younger, less sophisticated, and had simpler and much less expensive tastes.  I have now had better culinary experiences that have broadened my perspective.  I have also spent several years living in Europe, where wait staff is paid decently and you’re not simultaneously plied with food and alcohol as the staff rushes you to finish your food and GTFO ASAP.

My disdain for the Olive Garden probably began in 1993, when I visited a location with my cousin and her friends.  As we were finishing the meal, I suddenly got a terrible stomachache that hurt so much that I fainted as I was trying to exit our booth.  I hit the floor pretty hard and, as I was regaining consciousness, heard someone shout “She must be an epileptic!”  I was forced to lie on the floor in the middle of the restaurant and wait for the paramedics, although I did not allow them to take me to the hospital.  I ended up with a rug burn and probably a mild concussion, although I eventually recovered with no lingering ill effects.

I don’t know if my stomachache was caused by the food.  I did have one alcoholic drink, but it was a girly ice cream drink.  I certainly wasn’t drunk, even though my tolerance for booze was a lot less back then.  Anyway, for a very long time after that fainting incident, I avoided the Olive Garden. 

Bill and I finally visited again about ten years later at a location in northern Virginia.  I remember we had a pretty good time at a time when we had little money.  I didn’t faint, either.  But they had changed their menu significantly and I was turned off by the endless refills on food.  You’d never know it to look at me, but I’m not someone who wants several helpings unless I ask for them, which rarely happens.  I don’t like it when servers are compelled to keep refilling bread, salad, soup, or whatever, especially when I’m having an entree and might also want dessert.  I don’t like wasting food.  Moreover, the Olive Garden’s bread sticks remind me of glorified hot dog buns.

So I posted the article I linked above with the comment that I used to like the Olive Garden but don’t anymore.  An old college friend of mine asked me what made me stop liking the Olive Garden and wondered if the anecdote on Reddit was what made me not want to go there anymore.  I basically explained the reasons I don’t like it, which was a briefer version of what I put in this blog post.  His response was this…

Whole lot of angst in there. Maybe you’re projecting? Unlimited salad is my appetizer and dessert. The shit on the floor is completely irrelevant.

Okay…  now first of all, there is nothing in my response that even comes close to “psychological projection”.  I think a lot of uninformed people trot out this response when someone has an opinion that is contrary to their own.  It’s not the first time someone has accused me of projection without actually knowing what projection is.  But, for those who don’t know, allow me to offer a definition.

Psychological projection¬†is a defense mechanism all people use in order to deal with unwanted or unpleasant emotions within themselves. ¬†For instance, I might have really insecure feelings about myself. ¬†Deep down, I know I’m insecure and it makes me uncomfortable, so I project those feelings onto another person and accuse them of being “insecure”. ¬†I might be a hateful, abusive, inconsiderate person who uses other people, but I’ll accuse another person of being that way to take the focus off of my own bad feelings about myself. ¬†I might feel very angry about something, but instead of dealing with that anger rationally, I’ll accuse someone else of being angry. ¬†Everybody does this occasionally. ¬†I do it. ¬†You do it. ¬†It’s actually a very common and normal defense mechanism. ¬†But simply having a different perspective about something does not equate to “projection”. ¬†

I’m not sure how I’m “projecting” by listing what I think are perfectly valid reasons not to enjoy the Olive Garden or similar types of American chain restaurants. ¬†I think the fact that I once fainted in an Olive Garden after eating dinner there is reason enough not to want to ever visit again. ¬†And yet I have been back a few times and given them another chance. ¬†Reading about some kid in a full diaper throwing shit on the floor and knowing that the Olive Garden’s policy of offering endless pasta, salad, and soup is one reason cheap, tacky people are attracted to that restaurant is, in my opinion, another good reason to avoid the place. ¬†Not liking being rushed when I go out to eat and having extra food foisted on me while I’m being simultaneously encouraged to hurry up and leave are also good reasons. ¬†I have eaten real Italian food and American style Italian food pales in comparison– yet another valid reason to dislike the Olive Garden. ¬†None of this has¬†anything¬†to do with projection.

This doesn’t mean I won’t eat in a chain restaurant, by the way.  I may very well dine at the Olive Garden again.  However, when I do eat food from there and places like it, I prefer to get take out.  That way, I can eat it in peace and at my own pace.  And I won’t have to watch or smell some kid dropping their deuces on the floor, or hear them shrieking.  Fair enough?

Perhaps my friend is guilty of projection.  He obviously likes the Olive Garden and, for some reason, seems offended that I don’t like it.  So when I post my reasons for not liking the Olive Garden, he implies that I have a psychological “issue”.  Part of psychological projection has to do with blame shifting.  I’m being “unreasonable” because I don’t want to give the Olive Garden another chance after having fainted there, read a disgusting anecdote about the clientele, experienced their insistence on overfeeding their guests with mediocre food while also rushing them to finish, and read about the working conditions for their wait staff.  What, exactly, needs to happen before I can declare that I don’t like the Olive Garden and it will be a valid conclusion in my friend’s eyes?

As I mentioned before, this is not the first time someone has accused me of “projection”.  Several years ago, a former Facebook friend posted a cheery article about how Turkey celebrates “Children’s Day” on April 23 of each year.  Since 1927, Turkey has celebrated it on April 23, though it is celebrated in other countries on other days.  Having spent two years living in Armenia, I know that since 1915, Armenia has celebrated Genocide Memorial Day every year on April 24th due to the fact that Turkish people murdered millions of Armenians during World War I.  However, I did not know about Turkey’s holiday.  When my friend shared the article about Turkish Children’s Day, I noted the date and it got me thinking.  

I thought it was curious that the Turks would celebrate Children’s Day the day before Armenians observe Genocide Memorial Day, especially since Genocide Memorial Day predates Turkish Children’s Day by over ten years.  I mentioned it on my friend’s post, not meaning to start a debate, but just thinking that it was an interesting coincidence.  Actually, having been to Turkey and talked to Turks about Armenia, I learned that many of them have no idea why Armenians are not necessarily friendly to Turks.  They are not taught about the Genocide.  In fact, some people question if the Genocide is a real thing or they spin it so the Armenians are equally to blame for it. 

If she’d been open to it, my former Facebook friend and I could have had an interesting and educational discussion about this topic.  Instead, she got very upset that I pointed out this “coincidence” and accused me of “projecting” my “unreasonable” anger about the Genocide toward Turkey.  I distinctly remember her comment, “And what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?!”  I thought that was an unreasonably hostile response and, several years on, I haven’t forgotten it.

First off, I am not angry at Turkish people for the Armenian Genocide.  I was not around during those days and neither was almost anyone else alive today.  The vast majority of people directly responsible for the Genocide are long dead.  I wouldn’t blame today’s Turks for what happened over 100 years ago.  I could choose to be angry with them for other reasons; but as it so happens, the Turks don’t currently upset me, my time in Armenia notwithstanding.  I have visited Turkey and really enjoyed seeing the country, even if I did get sexually harassed during my trip. 

Secondly, why in the world would this woman, who has not seen or spoken to me in decades, assume that I’m “angry” simply based on a factual observation about Turkey’s Children’s Day and its curious timing with Armenian Genocide Day?  To me, it’s just intriguing that Turkey would celebrate children the day before Armenians mourn the deaths of their countrymen, many of whom were innocent children.  Bringing that up does not mean I’m angry.  And, for all I know, it was a total coincidence (although I doubt it).  

If anything, I’d wonder if she was angry– pissed that I brought this up on a post that she’d meant to show that she celebrates culture around the world.  I doubt she’d considered that anyone would point out the relation between Turkey and Armenia, but then, if we were real friends, she’d know that I lived there for two years and know something about the place.  But I don’t want to make unreasonable assumptions about what a person is really thinking…¬†

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condescending twatbags, overly helpful people

It’s my money, dammit…

Yesterday, after Bill worked for a few hours, he came home and installed our new robotic lawnmower. I wrote a post about it on my travel blog, and am in the process of making a video of our dogs’ reactions to the new toy. Zane, in particular, was a bit freaked out by the robot. I was surprised Arran wasn’t more upset, since he used to go crazy whenever hot air balloons would land near our old house in Jettingen. But Arran actually got used to the new intruder quickly. Zane was still barking at it two hours after it started mowing.

I shared some raw video of the dogs on Facebook. Most of my friends were intrigued by the mower and asked questions. One person asked me what we paid for the robot. I knew that when I told him, he would make some comment about how much the robot cost. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.

Our new toy wasn’t cheap. I paid 599 euros for it. I know very well that I could have gotten a push mower much cheaper. It might have been the better thing to do, too, since a push mower would take less time to accomplish that much hated task of cutting the grass. But the new robot is extremely quiet, runs on clean energy, and does a pretty good job. I hate cutting grass, so spending the money was worth it to me. Still, this guy felt he need to point out that for that price, he could cut my grass all summer long. But he lives in Texas and I am in Germany, so no, he couldn’t cut my grass for me. That job is mine, entirely.

I guess I can understand why some people might think a robotic lawnmower is a waste of money… however, it’s “our” money, dammit. If I want to spend a lot of cash on a lawnmower, why is it anyone else’s business? And why do people feel the need to make such comments, anyway?

This is a recurrent theme in my life. People question certain personal decisions I make, like when I buy new computers, cars, or lawnmowers. On my old blog, I used to write about a woman I referred to as Ms. Overly Helpful. Those were the days when I didn’t have a lot of readers and felt pretty safe in venting as I pleased on Blogger. Ms. Overly Helpful got on my last nerve, because she’d often offer unsolicited advice or opinions on things. And she’d do so in a way that implied that I needed or wanted her help, even though I’d already made my decision.

For instance, when I bought my very first iMac, she gave me a ration of shit about it, asking me if I’d done all I could to salvage the computer I was replacing. When we bought my Mini Cooper back in 2009, she asked if I’d considered buying a used car, because “they’re so much cheaper”. Duh. By the way, I still drive the Mini and it’s been paid off for years. Same thing with our Toyota RAV 4, which we bought brand new in 2006. I remember getting a shitty comment about that, too, because we had a high car payment. But we refinanced and paid that car off early, just as we did with the Mini.

Personally, I think it’s kind of rude to make comments about what other people spend their money on, particularly if you don’t know the other person offline. I’ve never met Ms. Overly Helpful offline, and never will, because she pissed me off so much a few years ago that I blocked her. The guy that made the comment today, likewise, is someone I don’t know offline. I ran into him on RfM. If I knew either of these people in the flesh, maybe I’d be more interested in their opinions on my buying choices. But I don’t know them, so their opinions about my purchases are meaningless.

I know at least one of my regular readers, someone I have met offline, would tell me to just ignore these folks. That’s easier to say than do. I think, thanks to having been raised by a control freak, overbearing, alcoholic father, I tend to have a “psychological sunburn” (to use a Dr. Phil-ism) about people who meddle in my affairs. In fact, another person’s meddling is one of the main reasons I moved my blog.

I am feeling a little bit bolder about directly telling people to mind their own business. I’m getting older and crankier and a lot less interested in what other people think. I suppose I could go all gangster and say this…

Some people probably would have thought this would have been a great answer. But I notice that people tend to get butthurt when you return their rudeness…

I totally admit that a robotic lawnmower is a ridiculously extravagant purchase. But if it’s not your money paying for it, then why not just say “Awesome” and be done with it? I don’t need to consult anyone about my money decisions. If I did, I’d pay someone who knows what they’re talking about. I don’t tell you what to spend your money on, so you should respect my choices on where to spend my money. I think of it as my way of stimulating the economy. Besides, the mower is paid for, anyway.

If I point this out, even if I do so politely, people get all shitty. It seems that in my case, I attract these folks who feel compelled to offer commentary on my choices. I used to have one “friend” who loved to pipe up on any thread about college. He didn’t go to college and managed to have a good career; therefore, he thinks college is a scam. And every time that topic came up on my Facebook page, he’d offer his thoughts on how college is a scam. He also made comments about buying cars and how he never buys them new. Obviously, that’s what everyone else should do, too. Finally, he got to the point of even annoying Bill with his “overly helpful” comments. Bill finally and pointedly told him to mind his own business. I had told him that many times myself, but it took a comment from laidback Bill to get him to read and heed.

I’ve found that the types of people who offer commentary on people’s purchases are also the type of people who “chime in” on topics without reading or understanding context. I really don’t like to unfriend people, but some folks make me so twitchy that I have to drop them for the sake of my own sanity. I did that a few years ago with this one clueless woman who kept offering her unsolicited advice and opinions on everything. This chick was especially irritating to me, because she’d often invoke her profession as a social worker– claiming to be my “friend”, but not realizing that I also have social work background. In fact, I got my MSW years before she got hers. Or she’d pipe up about military issues as if I’m ignorant about them, not realizing that I am the wife and daughter of military veterans. People like that aren’t really friends, are they? Real friends actually know something about their pals.

A nice way to cut the grass.

Anyway, the new robot is pretty cool. Our robot got started at about 5:00pm yesterday and the lawn was pretty high, so it wasn’t quite finished two hours later. Bill finished the last of the mowing with a weedwhacker. However, now that the lawn has been cut to a reasonable length, the robot can mow for a much shorter time a few times a week, thereby shortening the time needed to get the job done. It will probably get to the point at which keeping the grass cut will be something I don’t have to think about. Or… maybe I’ll get fed up with the time required by the robot and buy a push mower. They’re pretty cheap. The point is, it’s my choice and my money. Your input about my extravagant purchases isn’t necessarily valued or needed.

Here’s a video I made of our adventure putting in the mower. Arran was lovebombing Bill as he was laying down the boundary wire. Zane was freaked out by the robot and later seemed to want to play with it.

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