Here’s a repost that was originally written on November 2, 2018. I’m reposting it because I still think it’s relevant, and because I have a stomachache. I’m waiting for my stomach to settle before I write fresh content. The featured photo is actually my very first passport photo, taken when I was two years old. It cause quite a stir when I finally canceled the passport in my 20s and picked up the canceled passport as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Today’s post is inspired by a blog post I just read entitled “Why I Hate Bloggers“. It was posted on June 8, 2009 by Lisa Barone. I don’t actually read a lot of blogs myself because, like Barone, I don’t really find most of them that interesting. But, because I am myself a blogger, I am aware that a lot of people hate what I do. I can’t say I really blame them for that, although I maintain that no one is forcing anyone to read a blog post. If blogs aren’t your cup of tea, find something else to read. Seems pretty simple to me.
Although Barone’s title is provocative, I could sort of identify with what she writes in her post. She writes of a New York Times news article about people who were once fervent bloggers and eventually abandoned them due to lack of interest. A lot of people put their stuff out there and expect to get a lot of comments and interaction. When it doesn’t happen, they get discouraged and quit writing. Sometimes people get busy in their offline lives and the blog falls by the wayside.
Other people find their blogs becoming too successful and it unnerves them when someone recognizes them in public. I have been recognized in our local community, thanks to my travel blog. Although everyone around here has been really nice, at least in person, some people can be total assholes, especially on the Internet. When drama erupts, you learn that writing stuff for the masses has a significant downside. (edited to add– since we moved to Wiesbaden, I’ve made an effort to stay out of the local social media and now mostly let people find my stuff. I no longer get recognized where we live now, and I prefer it that way.)
Barone writes that blogs fail because most bloggers are “boring”. She resents bloggers who are boring because they give her “profession” a bad name. She maintains that most bloggers write the equivalent of “their Christmas letter to Aunt Millie”, which not even Millie wants to read. So, for that reason, Lisa Barone (at least in 2009), says she “hates” bloggers, even though she apparently is (or was) one herself.
According to the New York Times piece I linked, a lot of bloggers apparently thought they’d someday end up famous. We’ve all heard the legends of people like Heather B. Armstrong, who writes Dooce. I first read about Dooce on Recovery from Mormonism, otherwise known as RfM. Armstrong is an ex Mormon who grew up in Bartlett, Tennessee, interesting to me because that’s where some of my husband’s family members live. I don’t regularly read Heather Armstrong’s blog, although I can understand why some people do. She’s wickedly funny and profane. Dooce became a very popular blog and Armstrong was evidently able to make money from her writing. Advertisers began to notice and she started selling shit on her blog, which generated more money.
I must not be like a lot of other bloggers. Although I mostly like it when people read my blog, especially when they enjoy what I write, I have never had any visions of it someday turning into a book deal. I have a friend who knows me offline and reads this blog who thinks I should write a book. He’s often nagged me to write one, and has even told me he’d market it for me. But I feel like a book should be about something of substance. Also, I don’t like dealing with most other editors. I know they’re a necessary evil, but sometimes editors don’t quite capture the gist of what I’m trying to communicate. As long as I don’t have to write to survive, I’d rather not deal with them.
In spite of accusations to the contrary, this blog is not just about my husband’s ex wife. It has a pretty broad focus. How could I turn it into a book? And why would I want to? What if I wrote a book and it failed? Or… what if I wrote a book and it became really successful, and then I had to deal with people like “Wondering Why” all the time, criticizing me for writing about subjects they think are “inappropriate”? I do wonder who made those people the judge of what’s considered “appropriate” subject matter for a personal blog or a book. Seems like “appropriate” is a subjective term. (edited to add– “Wondering Why” left me a very negative and critical comment about how “inappropriate” she thought it was that I blogged about my husband’s ex wife. I vented about her a couple of times and, if you look, you can find those reposts in this blog.)
Blogging, to me, is kind of like keeping an open diary. Exciting things don’t happen every day, but writing is something I do almost daily to keep my mind active and kill time. I’ll read something in the news and decide I have an opinion about it, but I don’t want to post my opinions on social media. It’s mainly because when you post on social media, you invite people who want to debate. A little of that is fine, but some people are really tenacious and don’t know when to stop arguing. Or they get into fights with other people and it turns into a flame war, which quickly becomes annoying.
The blogging platform is better for me, because I can organize my thoughts into text. I may or may not get any comments on what I post, but I’m able to put it down in a format rather than keep it in my head. Sometimes my posts are like a letter to “Aunt Millie”, but sometimes they’re thought provoking and even helpful. I have a few posts that are “evergreen” and continue to attract hits even years after I wrote them. I get satisfaction out of seeing those posts succeed. My travel blog, in particular, has quite a few posts within it that make me proud and are legitimately useful. This blog, by contrast, is more where I dump my spew, some of which is “toxic”. Some people come away with the idea that I’m nuts. That’s nothing new. Many people offline think I’m nuts, too.
I enjoy the process of writing and editing. It’s like a puzzle. I like to write a paragraph and find ways to edit it creatively. I might find words or phrases I can omit, or come up with synonyms to words that might fit better or offer a different shade of meaning. It’s almost like creating art. I’m not necessarily a very disciplined person in most areas, but when it comes to writing, I can be disciplined. I cut out unnecessary words and remind myself that readers appreciate brevity.
When I find readers who like what I do, it’s a bonus. I’ve “met” some nice people through my blog. I’ve also run into some real assholes. The assholes tend to be people who read one or two posts and leave me scathing comments about how I’m a “bigot” or “crazy”. I’ve even had someone accuse me of being a racist because I once used the word “savage” to describe uncivilized behavior. My response was to post Dictionary.com’s definition of “savage”. There’s a difference between calling someone “a savage” and using the word savage to describe certain behaviors.
I fully admit that a lot of people dislike blogs and some people assume bloggers are “vapid”, “whiny”, and “self-absorbed”. I can’t necessarily disagree with that characterization. Nevertheless, I’m one of the five percent of bloggers who continues to update regularly and has done so for over eleven years. Why? Because it’s something to do, and something that brings me satisfaction. I like to write stories and don’t have anyone to share them with, other than Bill. Bill works hard all day, so there’s limited time to share these things in my head with him. He’s heard most of the stories before, anyway. And… even my “crazy” posts about Ex are somewhat constructive if they keep me from mailing her Fecalgrams.
To find Barone’s post about why she hates bloggers, I Googled “People hate my blog”. I found a lot of blog posts about things people hate about bloggers. I understand why people “hate” blogs and bloggers, but what can I say? Meh… hate me and my blog if you want to. You’d probably feel the same way about me if I didn’t blog. What you think of me is none of my business, anyway. This is my way to make a mark on the world. Maybe it’s more like a shitstain, but it’s all I’ve got for now. I’m going to embrace the stench.
Last night, an online friend and I were chatting on Facebook instant messenger. We had started conversing on my Facebook page, offering our thoughts about the new abortion law in Texas. I had mentioned that I hate Donald Trump for his part in this… and for many other reasons. And yes, I know Trump didn’t act alone. He had a lot of help from Mitch McConnell and other MAGA asshats who just want to keep people trapped in poverty as they hypocritically lecture them about morals. But basically, Trump is the face of a lot of really horrible people who only care about themselves and everybody else can just go to Hell. That is basically the very essence of narcissism.
My friend had basically said that she doesn’t care about Trump enough to hate him. She sees him like she’d see a scorpion. It’s his nature to be cruel. He can’t help himself. So she doesn’t expend the energy to hate him. I, on the other hand, am not like that by nature. People irk me and I react to them more than I should. And before I knew it, our conversation had segued from Trump to Ex. I wrote:
I understand that mindset [of not caring enough about Trump to hate him]. I just can’t help myself. But there are people I dislike as much or more than Trump, like the Ex. Every time I try to feel compassion for her, remembering that she’s mentally ill, I am reminded that she stole from her own children, sexually abused my husband, and turns people close to her into her slaves. I just really hate narcissists.
I explained that I believe my husband’s ex wife is a narcissist. But I also think she is mentally ill. I’m not the only one. She has been diagnosed by professionals. But she’s also just a very manipulative, selfish, shitty person who has done real harm to others. Unfortunately, some good people are still struck in her sphere. There’s not much we can do for them until they help themselves. It’s an awful feeling to watch good people who are trapped, and haven’t figured out that they need to help themselves… or even that there are people who would gladly help them to help themselves. But, as they say, it is what it is.
My friend was skeptical that Ex is mentally ill. She asked me some questions about Ex, and why I believe that besides being a shitty person, she’s also got legitimate issues with mental illness. Some of it may be organic. Some may have been brought on by abuse and trauma. Some may be because she’s just a nasty person. I explained that I believe a person can be mentally ill, and they can also simply be mean. The two conditions are not mutually exclusive.
Then I PM’d my friend with some sensitive information that clarified things a bit. I didn’t go into specifics of what happened, because the specifics don’t matter. What mattered was that a few years ago, I might have simply excused Ex for being “sick” with mental illness. I can’t excuse her anymore, though, because she has done some things that are just beyond the pale and, I know they aren’t due to mental illness. In fact, she often uses mental illness as a crutch, excusing herself for being a shitty person. I didn’t find out about the personal stuff until a few years ago. When I did find out about what happened, I was absolutely livid. It forever changed my opinion about Ex– not that it was ever very high– and made me conclude that she’s plainly damaged beyond repair.
The conversation with my friend continued, and she eventually took my word that Ex is probably both mentally ill, and a terrible person. But she’s not as bad as she could have been. Believe me, I have realized that she could have done more to make our lives hell. She’s no longer a threat to me personally, but she’s still a threat to Bill’s daughters and the family members who aren’t clued in to what kind of a person she is.
Personally, I am at a point at which I don’t really care much about Ex. I might feel about her the way my friend feels about Donald Trump. I might see her as a reptile who just hurts people because it’s in her nature to do that. But then Bill talks to his daughter, who isn’t quite ready to go no contact. If she goes no contact, there’s a good chance she will pay a dear price. She may lose contact with other family members, for instance. So Ex remains a topic of conversation, even though personally, I could probably move on from caring or talking about her at all.
And then, I noticed something posted by another friend. I don’t know this friend as well… but what I do know is that she’s been going through something with a narcissist. She’s been posting nothing but quotes about narcissism lately. I mostly don’t notice her posts, because I’m not big on posting quotes and memes without explaining the context. But every once in awhile, she posts a gem. Last night, she posted the below image.
For most of my life, I have been trained to tolerate dysfunction. I’ve been conditioned to ignore bad behavior and be “nice” at all costs, so as not to upset the apple cart. I’m not as good at ignoring bad behavior as some people are. I do have a bit of a temper, and I will lose it when people go too far. Sometimes, when I feel like I can’t be assertive, I’ll be passive aggressive, which isn’t a good solution. But, for the most part, I do try to avoid conflict, and sometimes I give people too much power. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, and will sometimes excuse them when they shouldn’t be excused. Or, I simply put up with bad stuff from people when I should let it, and them, go.
We’re living in some incredible times. The past five years have been awesomely hard for many people. Bill and I have been mostly fortunate, mostly because we haven’t been living in the United States. But we have been watching the turmoil from afar, and that has been very stressful and worrisome. I’ve found that living in Germany has given me some empathy for people who have come to America from countries where there’s a lot of strife. Bill and I are not in Germany illegally, but it’s still not our home. We love living over here, and we’re not in a hurry to leave. But we still have friends and family who are dealing with the strife as we look on from abroad.
Living in another country has its challenges, although things are pretty good for us. I’m not stupid enough to compare the United States with Afghanistan or El Salvador or Syria or Honduras… or any other place where things are just horrifying. Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision is plenty horrifying, though… and it takes energy to process it and what it might mean for the future. Why should I let some low level idiot who is up to no good upset me? Especially when there really are much bigger fish to fry? They don’t care about me. Why should I care about them?
I don’t have the energy or stamina to put up with people who deliberately cause chaos, especially if I don’t have an investment in them, and especially when the chaos is over something really petty or insignificant. At this point in my life, I don’t have a lot invested in most other people. It’s probably because I do live in another country. I haven’t seen most of my family since 2014. I haven’t seen friends in that long, either. The ones I’ve made in Germany, by and large, aren’t real friends. They are friendly for a short amount of time, then disappear. So why should I tolerate any disrespect from them? Why should I let them upset me?
Of course, it’s probably in my nature to get upset. Just like I can’t see Donald Trump as a mere scorpion, I can’t help but be irritated by people who go out of their way to be manipulative, disrespectful, or just plain mean. I react more than I should, but lately, I’ve been trying to learn to let things go. I’ve been making a concerted effort not to get into it with people… especially people I don’t know. People who don’t care at all about me aren’t worth the tears. Peace is important, and I am as entitled to it as anyone is. So, instead of addressing stuff that I know will turn into something dramatic, I just quietly take out the trash.
As I was telling my friend last night, there are some people in the world that want to deny you your vote. Yes, some people literally want to deny you your vote in political matters, but I’m also talking about your vote in interpersonal situations. Like, for instance, when Ex unilaterally decided to have Christmas at my in-laws’ house, and demanded that I show up there for two days of hell during the biggest holiday of the year. She never asked me what I thought of the plan. I was simply expected to show up and shut up, forfeiting my right to enjoy Christmas.
Well… I realized then that I had a vote. I had a right to vote “no” to her Christmas plan, and stay home. Yes, there was a price to be paid for voting that way. She decided to punish everybody else for my choice. On the other hand, those people– most of whom were adults– almost chose to accept her “punishment” and disrespect. What they really should have done was tell her to fuck off and kick her out of their lives. It’s hard to do that when kids are involved… I know that. But, even in that situation, there were choices that could have been made. Bill had the right to take the Ex to court, for instance. Or, the in-laws could have told her and #3 to get a hotel room. Or they could have refused to host her little drama altogether. In some way, they could have REFUSED to tolerate her bullshit and just plain not shown up or stuck around for it.
I’m sorry if this post doesn’t make sense. It makes sense to me. As I have said before, I think the universe often gives us multiple chances to learn valuable lessons. This is one of those times. I got a lesson last week, as a matter of fact.
Last week, I got involved in some petty dramas that upset me quite a bit more than they should have. I was upset and frustrated, when I should have been enjoying the Black Forest, which was genuinely beautiful. The people who were causing the strife weren’t people I’m close to or care about. I was simply indulging them and giving them a lot more air time than they deserved. I’ve done that for too many people… Ex included. The vast majority of people are simply not worth the consideration.
I don’t like blocking, unfriending, or even unfollowing people… and I mostly don’t like it when people do that to me (although there are times when it was actually a mutual decision… they just acted first). But– I realize we all have our limits, and X amount of energy. The older you get, the more you realize that time and energy are precious. So it makes sense to spend those valuable commodities on people and issues that truly deserve them.
People like “Dick”, the wine group saboteur, Ex, Trump, and any number of other people with whom I can’t reasonably collaborate or cooperate, simply aren’t worth my time, energy, or attention. They don’t appreciate the sacrifice. And so, today I’m going to try to make a concentrated effort to kick those people out of my life as much as possible. I already feel a lot better having dumped a few of those folks… kind of like I did this morning, purging yesterday’s shit from my system.
And now… Noyzi and Arran are telling me it’s time for a walk. So I’m off to blow off some steam. Hope you have a good Friday… and as my friend Wilbur sings, “Don’t let life chew the sweet out of you.”
A few months ago, someone in my husband’s family friended him on social media. It was someone my husband hasn’t had a chance to get to know well, so Bill was excited to be Facebook friends with the person. But then, a few hours after friending Bill, the person abruptly unfriended him with no explanation whatsoever.
Bill was non-plussed. What had he done to offend this person? Bill hardly ever posts on social media, although he has admittedly become a lot more politically and socially liberal than he used to be. He also makes no secret that he’s no longer a believer in organized religions, particularly Mormonism. That means he freely curses, drinks alcohol and coffee, and laughs at ribald humor. Did the person look at Bill’s page and decide it was too “raw” for him? He didn’t know.
Although Bill was a little bit sad that this person he’d wanted to know had unfriended him with no explanation, he eventually figured it wasn’t him with a problem; the person who’d unfriended him had the issue. Life went on, and he pretty much forgot about the incident until it was brought up again by a mutual relative.
The mutual relative said that the person had decided to unfriend Bill because of Ex. The person realized that by having a connection with Bill, Ex would possibly have a connection with us. So Bill was unfriended, not because he was “offensive”, but because the other person wanted to spare Bill from offense by keeping Ex out of our sphere. And I suspect, it was also because that person likewise didn’t want any trouble from Ex.
I appreciated hearing that explanation, although I wish the person had thought to send Bill a private message or an email to let him know that the unceremonious “unfriending” wasn’t because of something Bill had done. Bill is a kind, empathic, and thoughtful person, so the truth is, he is a bit sensitive about being liked by others and not wanting to upset or offend them. But then again, when it comes to social media, I guess a lot of people feel that no one really owes anyone else an explanation. That’s one aspect of social media that I don’t like very much. Many of the “friendships” aren’t very authentic, and a lot of them have replaced what used to be “real” relationships with other human beings.
I was recently unfriended by two people with whom I had once hoped to be offline friends. I wasn’t that surprised by their decision to delete me, although perhaps because I’ve spent over half my life dealing with people in person, it still stings a little when “unfriending” happens. I had a feeling the people who unfriended me found me annoying… and the truth is, I found them a little annoying, too. But I realize that in the long run, in very few cases do I end up truly missing the people who leave my Facebook realm. After the initial ego shock of seeing the friend count go down, life goes on and I forget about them.
The people I do tend to miss are those with whom I actually interact or have ever known offline. Failing social media relationships and inevitable “unfriending” is even harder with family members because, if I’m honest, it makes me think they don’t like me at all. And the more I lose touch with people in my family, the more I think the situation is personal, and will be permanent. Thanks to Facebook, I don’t even feel that comfortable thinking about going to the family homestead for a reunion anymore, mostly due to politics and religion and social media behavior. I just assume my family would rather not see me, which makes living in Germany very convenient.
Bill’s younger daughter recently told him that she’d wanted to invite him to her wedding a few years ago. I’m assuming she would have invited me, too, although I don’t know for sure. In the end, younger daughter didn’t invite Bill, because she wanted to avoid drama with her mother. Here it was, younger daughter’s wedding day. She should have felt free to invite whomever she pleased. It should have been her day. But she was more concerned about her narcissistic mother’s feelings and, ultimately, her mother’s behavior. So she excluded Bill, even though I can guarantee he would have been a better behaved guest at her nuptials.
I don’t fault younger daughter for doing that. I might have blamed her some years ago, before I got to know her better. But I don’t feel that way anymore, because we’ve learned more about what happened during the many years in which she and Bill were not allowed to communicate. Younger daughter grew up in an environment where she was compelled to either do what her mother wanted, or suffer dire consequences. It took a few years outside of that environment for her to relax a bit and make decisions for herself.
Younger daughter didn’t even initially tell her mother about her decision to talk to Bill. Even though younger daughter is a grown woman with children of her own, and her mother lives on the other side of the country, she knew there would be trouble. So, instead of telling her mother that, as an adult, younger daughter has the right to live her life as she pleases, she maintained the false reality for a bit longer.
I can relate to younger daughter’s angst on a much smaller and less personal scale. When Bill and I first moved into our current home after leaving the toxic and abusive environment of our last, it took me several months to be able to relax and enjoy the current, healthier living situation. I kept expecting our former landlady to come over and yell at me for something, or give me a look of disgust, disdain, or disapproval as to how I live my life. I was suffering from a mild form of PTSD that had warped my thinking and reality a bit.
The truth is, ex landlady was working for us. We were paying her a lot of money for the privilege of renting her house. I should have simply reminded her of that fact and demanded that she show me basic respect. But that’s easier said than done when you’re dealing with an immature, irrational, narcissistic person. Because, as you quickly find out, narcissists can out-drama most normal, healthy people, and there will be hell to pay if you don’t play their games. So innocent, decent, well-meaning people are “punished” and have to suffer in favor of the narcissist’s need to stay in control. One of the punishments I actually enjoyed, by the way, was ex landlady’s penchant for the silent treatment. Those were actually the best months of our time with her in our lives. Remember, it’s not a punishment to be shunned by an asshole. 😉
Bill and his daughter now talk somewhat regularly. She calls him “Dad” instead of “Bill”, and she lets him see his grandchildren on Skype. She didn’t give in to her mother’s demands that she forget about her father and accept a poor substitute in Ex’s third husband. Frankly, that’s more than Bill had ever expected or hoped for, after his disastrous attempts and failures to co-parent with his ex wife.
But when she speaks to her mother, younger daughter has to listen to Ex complain about how #3 (younger daughter’s stepfather) “misses” her and wants to see “his grandchildren”. Not once has younger daughter ever heard from her stepfather expressing these bereft feelings. Sure, we’ve seen #3 post the odd social media post about how he thinks of Ex’s brood of five as “his kids”, but in reality, it’s all a big facade. In reality, he doesn’t show a lot of regard for Bill’s daughters or former stepson. He’s clearly much more interested in his own kids with the Ex than he is with her other children.
It was the same thing back in 2006, when Ex tried to get Bill to sign legal papers so #3 could adopt Bill’s daughters. He heard from Ex that #3 “loved” Bill’s girls as his own and wanted them to legally be considered his children. Never once did #3 ever personally speak to Bill about the prospect of his legally adopting the girls, just as he’s never spoken to younger daughter about his so-called “love” and affection for younger daughter’s children and thinking of them as his grandchildren.
That’s all a bunch of wishful thinking/fantastical/bullshit that Ex continues to promote. It’s a false narrative of the truth. Unfortunately, it’s easier for the healthier people to continue to tolerate that crap from Ex, than call her on it. It’s easier for younger daughter to nod and smile than tell her mother, in no uncertain terms, that Bill is the father of younger daughter, and younger daughter’s children are Bill’s grandchildren, not #3’s.
Despite Ex’s best attempts to replace Bill with her third husband, her efforts have failed with at least one of Bill’s two daughters. I’m proud of younger daughter for refusing to give in to her mother’s demands that she forget about Bill, because Bill truly loves both of his children and never should have been denied access to them. Denying him access caused a lot of damage that could, and should, have been avoided. And if Ex were a decent person and a responsible parent, she’d understand that it’s wrong to hate her exes more than she loves and respects her children. But, unfortunately, she’s a very toxic person. She’s selfish, delusional, and disrespectful. And because of that, and her propensity to be “dramatic”, good people are punished.
Bill can’t have a social media connection with his own daughter or his son-in-law. Why not? Because it would cause drama with Ex. Either she would object to it, or she would try to exploit the connection somehow. So, even though Bill is by far the healthier parent, he has to be “punished” as a form of protection– both for younger daughter and her family, and for Bill and, to a lesser extent, me. (I’m sure Ex reads this blog, though… and I don’t actually care.)
I think younger daughter is, like me, a bit of a truth teller. Truth tellers are the ones who don’t buy into the fantasy. They don’t fall prey to cognitive dissonance. They see things more clearly than others do, and they tell the truth. That tendency can make them unpopular in a sick family system, particularly when it involves someone with narcissistic tendencies. A truth teller can be a “buzz kill”. Their demands to adhere to reality can really be a downer for someone who would rather fabricate more palatable (to them) lies.
Ex would like to pretend Bill never existed, or, at the very least, see him punished for not continuing to accept her abuse. She suffered an ego blow when Bill agreed to her divorce ultimatum. The ego blow worsened when he found someone else to love him and, clearly, lives a much better life now. She’d rather not face reality and take responsibility for her mistakes. She’d rather make Bill the bad guy and punish him, and she tries to make other people punish Bill, too. But younger daughter is a truth teller, and she doesn’t accept that false reality.
I’m waiting for younger daughter to get fed up with Ex’s demands and tell her mom the way things really are, and how they’re going to be, regarding her children. She may never do it. The reality is, it’s hard to give up on your own mom, even if she is toxic and crazy, and even though there are so many other people in the world who are healthier and kinder. Ex is still her mom, and she has a special place in younger daughter’s life. Plus, younger daughter truly is a lot like Bill. She’s legitimately kind, considerate, and decent.
I feel sad for her. I think she felt like she had to apologize to Bill for “dissing” him at her wedding because of what she knew her mom would do. The fact is, it was her wedding day, and she should have had the right to do whatever she wanted. It should have been entirely her choice as to whom to invite. But Bill completely understands why she felt she had to exclude him, and he can handle it. That’s why he’s the better parent, and he has to suffer for it.
I hope that someday, younger daughter realizes that she has every right to do what she wants and needs to do for herself and her family, even if it causes her mom to bring the drama. I hope that she gets to the point at which she realizes she doesn’t have to tolerate that abuse anymore. If Ex wants to be dramatic, she can do it without younger daughter in attendance. Younger daughter is a grown woman with allies… and she can choose to opt out of the drama. Once she realizes that, maybe she can stop “punishing” the good and healthy people in her life by excluding them.
That tweet led to a lot of backlash. Rashad, who was appointed the dean of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts in May 2021, is now being pressured to resign from her job. Her response, so far, was to delete the offending tweet, then issue this apology “This week, I tweeted a statement that caused so much hurt in so many people — both broadly and inside the Howard community… I offer my most sincere apology.” As far as I know, she’s still got a job at Howard University. Regarding Rashad’s comments, Howard University has stated that “Personal positions of University leadership do not reflect Howard University’s policies.”
Many people, obviously upset that Phylicia Rashad would dare to publicly support her old friend, Bill Cosby, feel like her support of Cosby should equate to losing her job. It’s as if all of the great things Phylicia Rashad has done over her long career as an entertainer should be erased, simply because of a tweet supporting the man who was her co-star on a groundbreaking 80s era sitcom, as well as a 90s era show. This is obviously a complicated issue for Rashad, although I am surprised that she didn’t realize people would be up in arms over any public support for Bill Cosby.
Phylicia Rashad shared the experience of making The Cosby Show and, later, Cosby, with Bill Cosby. They’re obviously still dear friends. I don’t like the idea of punishing people who exercise their right to speak freely. Phylicia Rashad, to my knowledge, hasn’t sexually assaulted anyone. Moreover, she’s known Bill Cosby for many years. They have a long history together and she’s always supported him, no matter what. I don’t know what’s in Ms. Rashad’s head… and I think her first tweet was very ill advised and considered. I don’t know how a person can be a celebrity in this day and age and not realize that publicly supporting a sex offender is going to lead to being canceled by the public. Still, while I would have expected her to be savvier about voicing unpopular public opinions and backlash, I think her comments about Cosby are disappointing, but not particularly surprising.
On the other hand, Phylicia Rashad is human, and sometimes humans get carried away and do things that are ill-considered. In terms of her career, Rashad shouldn’t have tweeted. But as a friend to Cosby, obviously she felt moved to do so. Whether or not she should be friends with a convicted sex offender should be up to her. As much as some people think Bill Cosby should lose everything, the reality is, he won’t. There will always be people who will support him– family members and friends– and they aren’t going to be swayed by what the Internet thinks. There are few people in the world who are truly alone, especially people like Bill Cosby.
I kind of get the confusion, though. At one time, Bill Cosby could do no wrong. People my age grew up on his brand of family friendly television. I watched Bill Cosby on TV every week when I was growing up, having been introduced to him on 70s era shows like Fat Albert and his classic comedy film, Bill Cosby: Himself. But it wasn’t just his work on television sitcoms that made him so powerful and influential. Cosby had books, films, albums, and commercials. He had dozens of honorary doctorates and other awards. He made speeches and championed causes. He sermonized about being an involved father. He was called “America’s Dad”, and that persona transcended race. People of all colors and creeds looked up to him as “America’s Dad”. That’s probably why it took so long for him to fall out of favor with the public. Maybe if he hadn’t been “America’s Dad”, he would have been prosecuted when he was much younger and would have done a lot less harm. We probably shouldn’t be so quick to make the charismatic among us into heroes because almost all of us have clay feet.
In those heady days of the 1980s, Cosby seemed charming, intelligent, and funny. I noticed that he incorporated a lot of the routines from his film into plots on The Cosby Show; but they were still humorous, especially when performed by talented actors. The Cosby Show was very well written, family oriented, and high quality entertainment. Phylicia Rashad was a huge part of the reason why that show was so relevant in my youth– from the time I was 12 until I was 20. The Cosby Show opened doors and broke down barriers. It’s heartbreaking to realize that the character, Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, is not the same man as Bill Cosby is, even though Cosby’s real life comedy routines inspired the show. So many of us who grew up with him on TV have had a hard time separating Cosby from his kind and wise alter ego, Heathcliff Huxtable. Of course, now that we know more about Cosby as a man, it makes sense that Cliff Huxtable was an OB/GYN.
I never saw a single episode of Cosby’s next show with Rashad, entitled Cosby, as it aired at a time in my life when I was too busy for network TV. From 1996-2000, I was in the Peace Corps, working nights, or in graduate school. But Cosby lasted four years, and The Cosby Show was on for eight years, so that means Rashad worked with Cosby for twelve years. Incidentally, Bill Cosby also had another 90s era show called The Cosby Mysteries, and a 60s and 70s era show called The Bill Cosby Show… I think the fact that he’s had four series named after him is pretty telling about the massive size of his ego. And while he put a lot of Black actors on the map by giving them jobs, he also destroyed a lot of people– particularly the scores of women who were his victims. Meanwhile, he was hypocritically berating and chastising people like Eddie Murphy for using the f word, or Black people as a whole.
I do believe the many women who have accused Bill Cosby of drugging and raping them. Yes, Cosby got out of prison, but that does not make him innocent of the crimes that put him there. He got out of prison on a technicality. He’s even admitted to drugging women he was pursuing for sex. That is criminal behavior, and it was right for him to be punished. I agree that Cosby didn’t spend enough time behind bars, even though I doubt he will re-offend, given his age and fall from grace. I wish that he had been prosecuted years ago, much like I wish Donald Trump could be held accountable for his disgusting sexual attacks on women. I don’t know what it is about men who are destined to be powerful. So many of them turn out to be incredibly predatory when it comes to sex, money, and political power. And that hunger for sex, money, and power is often married to a charismatic exterior that fools many people. For years, I thought Cosby was one of the good guys. I can see that a lot of people still believe Trump is a good guy, despite so much evidence and actual proof to the contrary.
That being said, personally, I don’t like the “cancel” aspect of our culture, which has come about thanks to social media. In fact, I think it’s chilling that a person can make a statement on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube that leads to Internet mobbing and financial ruin, particularly when the vast majority of people don’t have a personal stake in whatever has them in a tizzy. Phylicia Rashad actually knows Bill Cosby as a person, not as someone she’s seen on TV. Most of the people who are maligning Rashad’s character don’t know her or Cosby, nor are they even among his victims. Unless, of course, they feel victimized because they fell for Cosby’s charm in the 1970s and 80s. I wonder how many people have sent Phylicia Rashad death threats over her tweet. I would not be surprised if she’s gotten a few threats… and perhaps her family members have gotten them as well. For some reason, many people think it’s okay to get so angry over what someone dares to communicate that they literally call for the offender’s head on a platter. I think that’s taking things a bit too far.
Today is July 4th. It’s a day when Americans celebrate liberty from British rule. I grew up very close to where the Revolutionary War was won, so all my life, I’ve heard about how special and wonderful the United States is, particularly because we have so much freedom. But clearly we don’t have that much freedom. While a person can say whatever they want to say and, generally speaking, don’t have to worry about the government jailing them, there’s a very good chance that if it’s not what people want to hear, and they are “big” enough, they will experience cancel culture. And so many people get riled up over these things. They think a person should suffer for the rest of their lives over their thoughts, deeds, and comments. No matter what, there’s always going to be someone who thinks that lives should be ruined, or even ended, over a tweet. Then, after the next news story breaks, they forget all about that person they felt should have their head on a platter. Meanwhile, that person is still living with the aftereffects of being canceled.
I honestly don’t know if Phylicia Rashad is qualified to be a dean at Howard University. It seems to me that she might have been hired because of her fame, accomplishments, connections, and ability to influence donors. She doesn’t appear to have the usual educational background that university deans typically have. It may turn out that by publicly supporting a sex offender, she’s permanently disgraced herself and Howard University. It could be that because of the tweet, she won’t be able to do her job. If that’s the situation, then yes, maybe she should be fired or resign. But I don’t think she should be fired simply for an ill advised tweet. She has personal feelings about Bill Cosby based on actual in person experiences with him that the vast majority of other people don’t have. Her personal feelings about Cosby are not so cut and dried.
Look at Governor Ralph Northam. In the 1980s, he posed in blackface for a medical school yearbook photo. When that photo was unearthed a couple of years ago, many people called for his resignation. He resisted, and has gone on to do marvelous things in Virginia. Or, at least I think he’s done marvelous things to make Virginia more liberal, which suits me fine. I know a lot of my Republican friends can’t stand him. The point is, I’m glad he didn’t resign over social media backlash and cancel culture. And I don’t think Phylicia Rashad should be forced to resign, unless it becomes clear that she can’t do her job. Ultimately, that will be for Howard University to decide, not the general public. It should be up to the students Rashad serves and her co-workers and bosses, not random people on Facebook. No matter what, people should not be sending her hate mail or death threats. People who send hate mail and death threats must think that would be alright for others to do to them, if at some point, they do something that society deems unacceptable.
Anyway… experience has taught me that these things can and do blow over eventually. Five years ago, Josh Duggar was outed for being a sex pest. One would think the Duggars would have been finished in 2015 over that revelation. But no, it’s taken six years and accusations that Josh Duggar was viewing child pornography to finally get the Duggar family canceled. Like it or not, some people will still like Bill Cosby. They’ll ignore what he’s done. I figure, Phylicia Rashad has as much right as anyone to support her friend, Bill Cosby, even though it may turn out that her public support of Cosby will make it impossible for her to do her job as a university dean. But not being able to do her job should be why she gets fired… not what she tweets on social media. At this point, it’s not yet clear if she’s now incapable of doing her job. I, for one, think Rashad should have the chance to redeem herself.
This morning, I find myself with a touch of writer’s block. When that happens, I often go to my original Google version of this blog to find inspiration. I did write a few posts on the old blog that are chestnuts… or evergreen… or whatever. At the very least, I can find book reviews that I can repost, although I’m slowly running out of those.
I am working on reading a book right now, but as usual, I keep falling asleep before I can make too much progress. I probably should invest in a chair for reading, rather than reading in bed. Nowadays, I drop off at the drop of a hat if I’m lying down and comfortable. I have really excellent Comphy sheets on my bed, too, which makes for prime sleeping conditions. I don’t work for the company or get any kickbacks. I just really like the sheets, which I discovered on a visit to a B&B in Goshen, Virginia.
ETA: Many apologies, since I have already bitched about this particular complaint on the new blog… the original re-run repost is not exactly the same as this one, but it does include the same screenshots and basic story. Oh well. Maybe I’ll think of something totally fresh later.
Anyway, I came across a rant I wrote back in the summer of 2017. Looking back, that summer was pretty traumatic for a number of reasons. It wasn’t as bad as the summer of 2014, but it was a pretty tough time. One day, I got irritated because some guy, long gone from my friends list, had shared a fake meme. I wrote a post bitching about it. Note– the post was not specifically about the guy, it was about the practice of sharing falsely attributed memes. A lot of people don’t care that the deep thoughts they share on social media are bullshit. Some have rationalized that it’s the thought that counts, not the person who came up with the thought. Personally, I vehemently disagree. Especially when people falsely attribute things to the late George Carlin, who is one of my idols and whose wisdom has gotten me through some shit.
The guy who had inspired my rant shared the above meme, with the comment “Carlin pulled no punches.” I kept seeing this meme on my timeline and it annoyed me. So I decided to write about it. Former friend read the vent and got pissed off at me. He left a nasty comment on my OH Facebook page and blocked me. Then, he posted the article on his page and I soon had a bunch of right wing mental giants from the Deep South hitting my blog, racking up ad revenue. A mutual friend sent me a private message letting me know that he was riling up all his Trump supporting friends over this vent. From my original post:
Both times I’ve seen this meme featuring George Carlin, I’ve hidden it. Why? Because I am very certain that George Carlin never said this. It pisses me off when people put words in George’s mouth, especially since he’s dead. I loved and respected his work and I’m absolutely sure he never would have said anything like this. Carlin’s comedy celebrated obstruction and fighting the establishment. He was a champion of resistance and bucking authority. It’s wrong to attribute these words to him or to insinuate that he said them by using his picture with someone else’s words.
Even if I agreed wholeheartedly with this meme’s sentiment, which I don’t, I would not agree that it’s okay to claim that these are George Carlin’s words, especially when there is ample evidence that they aren’t.
I went looking to see if Carlin had, indeed, said this. I found evidence that, apparently, GMTA. Morgan Freeman supposedly said it, too.
I went on to explain why this practice irritates me so much. From my old blog:
I’m sure many people think I’m being anal retentive about this issue. They wonder what the harm is, especially since so many folks seem to think this is a good thought. Well, I’ll tell you what the harm is. The harm is that George Carlin and Morgan Freeman are legends, but they are (or were) also people. A person has the right to free expression and freedom from being used to promote someone else’s agenda without their permission. My guess is that people make these memes because they think Carlin or Freeman have the right persona to drive home this particular sentiment. But what right does one person have to use another person like that, even if the person being used is (or was) famous? And even if the person posting the fake meme is simply being a provocateur?
Mr. Carlin is no longer alive to defend himself when someone falsely uses his likeness to express their ideas. And while many people think this quote is excellent, the person who actually came up with it should be the one who gets attributed, not a random famous person who may or may not have even agreed with it.
I continued searching for more evidence of who actually came up with these words. And I found these memes…
And I continued with this idea, which I felt was neither unreasonable nor particularly offensive:
There is nothing wrong with sharing ideas or quotes on Facebook or other social media. I just think that if you’re going to use a meme with a quote, especially when you use a famous person’s image, you should make sure the person pictured is the person who should be attributed. You can still spread an idea by posting something like this…
Maybe your plain meme won’t get as many “likes” or comments, but it will at least be honest and it won’t be stealing someone else’s famous image to promote an idea or agenda. As someone who is camera shy and writes, I know I wouldn’t want my image used with someone else’s words, no matter how profound they are. I’m sure most normal, non-famous people wouldn’t.
I’ll never understand why some people assume that a famous person won’t mind when a stranger thoughtlessly spreads a Facebook meme using their image with someone else’s words. Especially when it’s common for people with financial means to sue when someone uses their likeness without permission. And especially since many famous people make their living by being paid promoters. No one likes to be ripped off, right?
Maybe the above point annoyed the guy. Most famous people aren’t going to bother suing some random Facebook user over sharing a fake meme. Unless they’re like Richard Marx, or something. I understand he’s pretty uptight. Anyway, this post really upset my former friend, who felt like I had insulted him deeply for writing about this phenomenon. I never named him, nor did I specifically invite him to read this post. But he sure got upset about it. The next morning, I found the below photo and an angry comment from him.
So I wrote another post, but that time, I DID call him out, not by his name, but by his behavior, which I thought was really childish:
So… yesterday I wrote a rant about “dishonest memes”. It was inspired by a meme I’ve seen floating around featuring the late, great George Carlin. I mentioned in that rant that I’ve seen that meme at least a couple of times and, when I see it, I hide it. When I saw the meme posted yet again, I felt the need to write about it here on my blog. I figured that would be better than getting into a Facebook argument with the person who posted it. Those can get long and contentious. Not as many people read my blog as they do Facebook.
I will admit that had the person posted the meme featuring Morgan Freeman using the same words, I probably wouldn’t have been as bothered and likely never would have thought to write my rant. George Carlin is kind of sacred to me. He’s helped me get through some rough times.
Anyway, this morning, I awoke to find the person who inspired yesterday’s post had unfriended me. He left me a comment on the link to the rant on my Overeducated Housewife page. It was yet another picture. I like pictures!
Truthfully, this person was not someone I interacted with much anyway. I’ve never met him in person. I suspect we have different political leanings, so we didn’t do much communicating on Facebook. If this person happens to read this follow up, please allow me to apologize for apparently offending you by indirectly calling you out. It’s (almost) never my intention to be hurtful, although I know sometimes I am. But I will not apologize for expressing my thoughts on my blog.
I don’t think I’m necessarily wrong to write about the things that bug me. That’s what blogs are for. Moreover, misusing George Carlin’s memory is annoying and offensive to me. It occurs to me that if we were real friends, you’d know that and actually care.
I get my ideas from all sorts of sources, including friends, family, and anything I see on social media. Most of the time, I try not to name people directly, unless they are famous people, people named in the media, and/or certain relatives. I did not name this person, but he obviously read the rant. I can only assume, based on the above picture comment he left me, that he was annoyed by it… just as I get offended by people who carelessly take liberties with George Carlin’s memory.
It’s okay. We all get butthurt over different things. If someone had vented specifically about me or something I did, I’d probably be annoyed and offended, too. If they were an actual friend, I might care enough to talk to them about it. Or maybe not. It’s clear this person wasn’t an actual friend, though, so it’s probably for the best that he dropped me out of his universe. Moreover, that post was not actually about him, but about the practice of sharing fake memes.
The funny thing is, one thing I do know about this person is that he likes to write. I “met” him on Epinions, which was a place that was full of opinionated people writing product reviews. I didn’t like his Epinions nickname because of my phobia of mushrooms (his name was a play on fungus), but I did like his reviews. In fact, I think he was even on my Web of Trust for a long time. One thing I miss about Epinions is that it was a place where one could make money for being articulate and opinionated.
Anyway… to anyone reading this, if you ever happen to find yourself the subject of this blog, I hope you realize that on some level that you have served as an inspiration to someone. Sometimes people inspire others in a positive way. Sometimes the inspiration is borne out of something negative. Either way, inspiration usually leads to creativity and sometimes creativity leads to genius. I’m certainly not saying anything on this blog falls into the genius category, but writing it does help keep me sane.
As usual, this incident ended up fathering a bunch of posts, including one I wrote on “uppity women”. Not knowing the former Facebook friend that well, I still came up with the idea that perhaps he saw me as “uppity” for daring to bitch about his practice of sharing fake memes and falsely attributed quotes. I did point out that he’s one of many people who do this, and I know that my blog isn’t going to make a significant dent in the problem. And, in fact, in 2021, this is not really a problem worth writing about. We definitely have much bigger issues these days.
But in the third post that was partially inspired by that incident, I wrote this:
A former Facebook friend took issue when I wrote about my dislike of “dishonest memes”. He happened to be the catalyst of that post, although I was not writing specifically about him, per se. That post was about anyone who shares memes or essays wrongly attributed to people. I have written about that phenomenon before; the person who inspired the first post is a female friend who, fortunately, wasn’t upset or threatened by my decision to express myself. We’re still friends today.
I have noticed that in the wake of that post, many people from the Deep South are now stalking my blog. They repeatedly hit the post about Dishonest Memes and the one I wrote yesterday. I’m intrigued by their interest in those two specific posts, which are really not that earth shattering. It appears the posts are being shared among friends and family and these folks are looking for some kind of action on them.
The funny thing is, the person who inspired my post about dishonest memes had originally expressed admiration for George Carlin’s policy of not “pulling any punches”. Many people loved Carlin for telling it like it is and expressing himself. Of course, a lot of people did not like Carlin. My dad was one such person. He found Carlin disrespectful and vulgar, especially when Carlin would denigrate the government, the Republican party, or the military. He would get very offended by Carlin’s use of profanity. Perhaps he thought George Carlin was “uppity”, too. What right did Carlin have to criticize the government? How dare he express his ideas in such vulgar and outspoken terms?
It now occurs to me that by publicly shaming and condemning me for bitching about him and his practice of sharing fake memes, former friend made me bitch even more. I wonder if that was intentional on his part, especially since he sent his friends and family to follow my blog. Their hits probably contributed a few pennies to my Google AdSense account. I continued:
My dad had the same disdain for me whenever he thought I was getting too big for my britches and needed to be taken down a peg. He would tell me that nobody cared about my opinions and that I had no right to say things that he deemed offensive or rude. In short, I needed to be reminded of my station as a lowly female, and not a very attractive one at that… How dare I express myself? In his opinion, I needed to keep my mouth shut and my legs crossed.
I’m baffled as to why it’s okay and even admirable for George Carlin to “pull no punches”, but it’s not okay for me to do it on a little read blog? Is it because I’m not famous? Is it because I don’t have a penis? Is it because my comments are somehow “out of line” or wrong?
My dad, who died in July 2014, put on a uniform every day for over twenty years, in part, to preserve my right to express myself. However, he didn’t appreciate it when I said things he didn’t like. He didn’t want to hear someone like George Carlin or Hillary Clinton be outspoken. I think my dad loved the idea of “free speech and expression”, especially to certain privileged segments of the population, but he didn’t necessarily love the practice of it… unless it was something he wanted to hear. I don’t think that’s necessarily an uncommon position, by the way. I often get angry comments from people who don’t like some of the things I write. I, too, get annoyed when someone says something I don’t like. I fully admit to being a hypocrite. It’s just another one of those things I have to work on in my life.
One of the reasons I love most of George Carlin’s comedy is that he often made a lot of sense. He enjoyed pointing out double standards and hypocrisy and got a huge kick out of pissing off people who take themselves and others a little too seriously. I think we all do that from time to time– myself included.
You folks who are stalking my blog should know that I appreciate the attention and the hits, but there’s really not much to see here. I only expressed my opinion, which I feel very fortunate to be able to do, since I live in a free society.
I don’t know if I come across as “uppity” to everyone… I know a lot of people, especially military and certain southern folks, think I do. My own father thought I did. But anyway, I really am just an “overeducated housewife” and I don’t have much more going on other than writing my blog, making music, doing housework, reading books and looking after my dogs.
So I will keep on writing… though not on this subject. I’m done writing about “dishonest memes” for now, so it may be time for you to move on to your next channel on the Internet. Or stalk me if you must. I profit from the attention.
Of course, now it occurs to me that I lied, since I obviously wasn’t done writing about “dishonest memes”. There I go with the hypocrisy again! I do enjoy bitching about things, though. I suppose I could have bitched about the latest mass shooting in the United States, and maybe I will do that, once I learn more about it. I haven’t gotten around to reading the details yet, though. Don’t want to spoil the whole day with more bad news… which includes the fact that Germany is now going to be locked down until April 18th, because according to Mrs. Merkel, we’re in a “new pandemic”. I’m beginning to think we should all just put ourselves out of my misery. I feel like this is never going to end. At least the TDY from hell is over, and I don’t have to bitch about that anymore.
But now I can bitch about the fact that I spent an hour writing this and I’ve already complained about this before on this blog… right down to the same anecdotes and screenshots. It’s not exactly the same, as the first rerun is shorter and includes some new content. But it’s pretty similar. I do wonder when Facebook was named the place where people feel the need to be inspirational or provide words to live by for other people.
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