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Category Archives: rant

How to make enemies and alienate people

We’ve discussed here before how to win social media, both on Facebook and Twitter. Most of the advice boils down to Wheaton’s Law, which is:

Surprisingly, this is very, very difficult for a lot of people. I’m not sure if this is because they truly like being dickish, or they don’t REALIZE they’re being dickish, or it’s too hard to think, so therefore they just say whatever crosses their minds the minute they sit down at a keyboard…but whatever the reason is, the dicks seem to outnumber the people with something real and helpful to say online, most specifically in the comment sections.

Most people I know are, for good reason, aware that if you read an article online, you don’t, under any circumstances, read the comment section. Why? Well. Because here be dragons, of course.

For every kind, helpful and relevant comment online, you have to wade through people being racist, sexist, or just downright weird, and it starts to turn your stomach and despair for the human race.

But what about if you CAN’T avoid the comments? What if it’s your job to be the one to POLICE the comments?

I will never not love this guy. FAVORITE POLTICIAN EVER!

I will never not love this guy. FAVORITE POLITICIAN EVER!

One of the aspects of my current job is social media. Five days a week, I’m in charge of the work Facebook page and Twitter account (along with my other multitudinous tasks, of course. I’m a busy bee. But I am a HAPPY busy bee, so there’s that, then.) I not only schedule the posts our readers see, I’m in charge of reading their comments for a few reasons – to see what they’re saying (it might come in handy in the future); to see if there are problems (sometimes they tell us about typos/errors in the article or on the site, which we can hopefully quickly fix); and to make sure things aren’t getting off-topic or squirrelly.

Things often get off-topic and squirrelly.

Twitter isn’t bad, only because people in this area don’t use Twitter as much as I wish they did. (It’s a great resource for a newspaper – we can get the news out almost immediately and have a constant stream of it going to our readers. It just hasn’t taken off around here like it has in more populated regions. I think it will, eventually; we’re just late adopters.) The people who follow us on Twitter are respectful and polite, for the most part, and I never feel like I’m wading into The Princess Bride‘s Fire Swamp when I check our Twitter page.

fireswamp

The Facebook page, however, is a very different beast.

Now, please don’t go into this thinking I don’t appreciate – and even enjoy – a vast majority of our commenters. We’d be nowhere without our readers, and I love that they’re out there and paying attention.

It’s the fringe contingent that worries me. And keep me busy hiding their comments. And sometimes shaking my head and thinking, “oh, I don’t…oh, oh no.”

SO. For those people, I’d like to give you a quick list of pointers. You are very quick to complain when your comments disappear, vocally and angrily; you are very quick to shout “CENSORSHIP!” and “THANKS, OBAMA!” when you think you’ve been silenced. Hopefully, this will help you navigate the waters of our social media more successfully.

HOW TO NOT BE A DICK ON PUBLIC SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES

  • Watch your language. I don’t know if you’re aware, but Facebook has a helpful function for those of us that moderate a public page. We can choose to have comments with swear words immediately hidden, so only we can see them. We very much utilize this function, as we have every intention of being a public page, and the last thing we want is some hapless child stumbling upon you cussing the hell out of a news story. Also, you kiss your mother with that mouth? Good grief, yo.
  • Stay on topic. Of course, there’s leeway here. I’m not saying there’s one path to greatness, people. But if we put up a post about, say, a fundraiser picnic, and you start rambling on about how angry you are that there are so many mosquitoes this year and there’s no global warming because of that LIAR AL GORE!, that’s just confusing and you might be a conspiracy-crazy. I’m not saying I’m blocking it, but people are going to think you’re a looney.

    Except for you, Mulder. You can comment any old time.

    Except for you, Mulder. You can comment any old time.

  • Remember: since it’s a public page, everyone on your timeline, as well as anyone in the world, can see what you’ve said, and hover over your icon and see your profile. It’s just the way Facebook is set up, my little chickadees. You give up your anonymity when you comment on a public page. If you’ve got your page locked down, when they go to look at you, they won’t see much…but you’re still not anonymous. Your name is there. EVERYONE NOW KNOWS YOUR NAME. And your comment shows up in your friends’ newsfeed. I have a friend of a friend who’s very involved with commenting on social media sites. Every time he comments on our paper, my friend says, “I see So-and-So commented on your work Facebook page again!” Everyone’s seeing what you say. Keep that in mind when you comment. If you’re not being a jerk, you have nothing to worry about. If you are, however…well, your mom’s probably seeing that (assuming your mom has Facebook. My mom doesn’t. I’m one of the lucky few.) Do you want your mom seeing that? Are you sure?
  • Personal insults? Really? What grade are you in? We have had to take down entire posts because people randomly started insulting the other commenters, the people in the article, random politicians (seriously, if I never see another non-ironic “THANKS, OBAMA!” it’ll be too soon), and, in one weird thread, God. (Yes, some guy started really insulting God, like, over and over. SO MAD AT GOD.) That counts as off-topic, and it counts as just downright mean, people. STOP IT. I get it. You are filled with all of the hatred. You are ready to explode like a hatred volcano. Sometimes *I* am the target of the hatred volcano. Sometimes my beloved coworkers who wrote the articles are (and it takes every bit of my precarious self-control to not respond with a very biting “WE ARE RUBBER YOU ARE GLUE!” rebuttal, because when it comes to my coworkers, I am such a Momma Bear.) But if you go too far, I’m hiding your comments, buckaroo. I don’t like meanness. I don’t like the idea that people are walking around with a stomachache because someone was mean to them for no reason on our social media. Make a new plan, Stan, and screw off home.

    Oh, is THIS who's to blame. UGH THANKS OBAMA

    Oh, is THIS who’s to blame. UGH THANKS OBAMA

  • Why you gotta be so dirty? SO MUCH NAUGHTINESS. I’m immediately hiding your comments saying female politicians got to where they are “on their knees” or that the local taco place sells “fish tacos that remind me of my ex-girlfriend.” Seriously? What are you hoping to accomplish with this comment? Like, cracking up your friends with a “HEE HEE DIRTY COMMENT ON A PUBLIC SITE?” or “UNGH I AM SO SEXY THIS IS LIKE AN OBSCENE PHONE CALL FOR *EVERYONE*!” I don’t even know. I have ALMOST the least tolerance for this. The LEAST tolerance is saved for…
  • On my watch? No racist, sexist, homophobic comments. Not going to happen. Don’t even try. And if they happen when the other people I work with are on social media, I’ll sometimes randomly check and hide your comments EVEN THOUGH I AM NOT WORKING. Yeah, you heard me right. I FEEL SO STRONGLY ABOUT THIS, I DO THAT SHIT FOR FREE, YO. You don’t get to have a public forum to spew your hatred. Sorry. I know, right, FREE SPEECH? Well, we run the page, and you lost your right to free speech when you commented on it. We have the right to moderate. And until the day my fingers fall off, I will not allow you to put hate speech on our site.
  • Acting too cool for school is actually the stupidest thing ever. We get a lot of “who cares?” or “slow news day” comments. Did you really take time out of your day to write that? Actual time you could have been spending on something else? YOU obviously care, because you took that time out of your day. And no, it’s not a “slow news day.” There’s no such thing. If we posted the article, we think someone can benefit from reading it; if it doesn’t resonate with you, maybe…oh, I don’t know, don’t feel like you have to comment? It’s not like you have to comment on everything. No! Really! You don’t have to! I know, freeing, right?
  • Maybe spell/grammar check? I’m a little more stringent about this than others. I hate ALL typos. It’s what I do for a living; you can’t really blame me. Most people don’t care if you make a few. But I’m talking about the people who write a comment like “For teh all people eat fodo there waffles, good yunger.” I don’t…what does this mean? Do you even know what it means? Is it a puzzle? If I solve it, what do I win? (Is it waffles? That’s a worthy prize. I’ll take it.)
  • Don’t try to sell me a car. We randomly get a Ugandan businessman who spams about 15 of our posts with a huge long “CARS FOR SALE!” comment. We block him; he comes back in another incarnation about a month later. We’re going to keep blocking you, buddy. No one wants your used Buicks. And how would they even GET here from Uganda? Logistical nightmare.

These all seem common sense, right? Yeah, you’d be surprised. If you’re looking at the comment section of a public site, know that most likely, even though your blood pressure is up? Most of the worst comments HAVE ALREADY BEEN TAKEN DOWN. I know. Humbling, right?

So the next time you’re going to comment on a public page, take a deep breath, think, “Is this a dick move? Should I do this? Am I building someone up, or knocking someone down? Do I have a valid point? Is there even any REASON for me to make this comment?” If you can answer all of your questions and still look yourself in the eye in the mirror…you are welcome! Comment away! If not…maybe start a blog where you can say what you want, with no fear of The Powers That Be shutting you down.

...or you'll make Ron Swanson annoyed. You don't want to make Ron Swanson annoyed. Trust me.

…or you’ll make Ron Swanson annoyed. You don’t want to make Ron Swanson annoyed. Trust me.

And, to those of you with actual, helpful, intelligent comments to make? THANK YOU. You make my day/month/year. Keep on keepin’ on, you guys. You make what we do worthwhile.

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On Wednesdays, we wear pink.

I survived high school.

I assume most of you did, too. Or you wouldn’t be here reading this. Well, some of you might still BE in high school. (If so, you have my most abject apologies. You’ll make it out. Just keep your head down and remember: it ends eventually.)

Once you’re out of high school, if it was bad, you breathe a sigh of relief. The worst is behind you; the rest will be cake. Right? I mean, you survived high school. You survived being shoved into a building with people who wanted to destroy everything you were on a daily basis for four very, VERY long years. What else could the world throw at you that could compete with that?

What no one tells you is, the bullies don’t always grow up. Sometimes, they just move onto another building, be it actual or metaphorical, and continue doing what they do best: making others feel small so they can feel big.

Lately, I’ve noticed the building they’ve moved into is the blogosphere.

And blogging, lately, has been like attending the school in Mean Girls.

You got your freshmen, ROTC guys, preps, J.V. jocks, Asian nerds, cool Asians, Varsity jocks, unfriendly black hotties, girls who eat their feelings, girls who don’t eat anything, desperate wannabes, burnouts, sexually active band geeks, the greatest people you will ever meet, and the worst. Beware of Plastics.

Blogging attracts all kinds of people. That’s honestly one of the cool things about it. I mean, if we were all the same, what fun would that be? On any given day you can read about life in Europe, the latest tech news, a humorous take on a trip to the laundromat, a serious piece about the nature of grief, a post about motherhood, a post recapping the latest episode of True Blood, a book review. All without leaving the comfort of your living room (or your office chair, if you’re reading at work, I suppose. Keep an eye out for your boss.)

It’s great because it’s open to anyone with access to a computer and an internet connection. It’s equal-opportunity. If you have a voice, and words to express yourself? Welcome to the community.

Except, as we learn in Mean Girls…beware of Plastics.

In the movie, the Plastics rule the school. They’re mean to everyone they don’t like (and even people they do like, sometimes.) They have rules; how you can act, what you have to wear on certain days, and where you can (and can’t) sit, depending on what you’re wearing.

In the blogosphere, the Plastics are…well, pretty much the same. Only they’re hiding behind a computer screen, so they feel their anonymity brings even more power. Let’s call them the Web-Plastics.

The Web-Plastics think their writing is better than anyone else’s; therefore, they rip apart everyone else’s writing.

The Web-Plastics think certain topics (mommy blogging, book blogging) are lesser-than; therefore, they run those bloggers down. They depreciate anything they do. They try to make them feel small, because their writing isn’t as important as whatever they’re doing.

The Web-Plastics steal ideas and posts from “lesser” bloggers, then when they’re called out on it, turn it around on the one who was stolen from: “You’re just trying to hitch a ride on our popularity. You’re no one. We’re someone. Shut up and stop whining.”

The Web-Plastics think they’re the only ones doing anything worthwhile; if other bloggers aren’t doing it the way they would, they mock them, and shame them, sometimes even publicly, so that sometimes those bloggers become so disheartened they stop writing altogether.

The Web-Plastics think that “funny” equals “cruel,” and write posts tagged “humor” in which they mock…anything. Whatever they feel like mocking. But usually people that are just trying their hardest to get by.

Best of all, the Web-Plastics have minions.

As numerous as these minions, but nowhere near as adorable.

As numerous as these minions, but nowhere near as adorable.

These minions are other Web-Plastics, or wannabe Web-Plastics. Who will like and comment on everything they do; who will go to the posts of the people who are out of favor with the Web-Plastics and troll them with mean comments and insults and sometimes skate the edge of threats; who will say or do whatever the Web-Plastics tell them to, because it’s easier to go along with the dictator than to become one of the people who’s being bullied. And believe you me, that’s who you become, if you buck the Web-Plastics. You get the full-frontal of their wrath. And their petrified minions’ wrath, as well.

The Plastics and the Web-Plastics have many things in common, but it all boils down to this:

On Wednesdays, WE WEAR PINK.

And if you don’t wear pink, you can’t sit with them.

Social (media) suicide.

There are two kinds of evil people in this world. Those who do evil stuff and those who see evil stuff being done and don’t try to stop it.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m tired of being told I need to wear pink, and I’m tired of being told where I can and cannot sit, and I’m tired of seeing evil stuff being done and not trying to stop it. I didn’t go through 8 (yes, 8, the bullies started early at my school) years of hell just to be told what to say or do or be now.

I’m tired of seeing mean posts about fellow bloggers. And mean slightly-veiled Facebook statuses. And snarky comments on other bloggers’ posts that they obviously worked very hard on. And don’t think the irony has missed me that the minute, the MINUTE, anyone says a word about any of the Web-Plastics, they run crying for sympathy, or run to their minions crying “vengeance shall be ours! You’re all my best friends until I no longer need you, and when that happens, I will ignore you as if you never existed.”

They had no idea they were going to be jettisoned so quickly. Look at their sad little faces.

They had no idea they were going to be jettisoned so quickly. Look at their sad little faces.

Or, even more delicious, the irony that the Web-Plastics would be the first ones to come out as anti-bullying, because NO! THEY would never bully anyone! And anyone that WOULD, my GOODNESS, hang ’em up by their TOENAILS! Bullying is, like, just so WRONG!

Because what they’re doing, see, it isn’t BULLYING. They rule the internet, you see. They’re just running it the way it needs to be run. Who better to make the rules for the rest of us?

Here’s a rule I like to live by on the internet.

If you don’t like someone’s blog: don’t read it.

It’s very simple.

Take it out of your reader. Don’t click on it. Don’t click on people’s links when they tweet about it.

If the blog is offensive, if the blog is openly offending you, or a large group of people, or it’s just flat-out wrong about something – fine. I get it. I do. You want to fight against injustice.

But if the blog is, in your opinion, poorly-written, or about a topic that bores you, or a topic you consider beneath you and your perfect sparkly rainbow taste: just don’t read it.

There. I’ve freed up precious moments in your day to do whatever it is you do. Kick puppies. Berate your children for not being better at sports. Scream at your spouses for not getting that perfect crease in your slacks. Masturbate until you weep about your empty, sad, lonely life.

Today, I unfollowed fifteen blogs that I noticed were getting meaner and meaner; that had gone full-on Web-Plastic. Going around doling out attention to people they wanted to join their cults, but not too much attention; it wouldn’t be seemly. Writing posts telling others how to behave, and how not to behave. Calling out others for not doing it right. Calling out others for not being them.

Join me. Love me. Want to BE me. Until I'm finished with you. Or decide to make you my target. Either way. There's no escape, otherwise. Just so you know.

Join me. Love me. Want to BE me. Until I’m finished with you. Or decide to make you my target. Either way. There’s no escape, otherwise. Just so you know.

It’s metaphorically Wednesday, and I’m wearing black. I’m wearing green, blue, yellow, white. I’m wearing anything but pink.

Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.

Bloggers: we’re all worthy. We’re all writing our truths. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have. I’m not talking to the Web-Plastics. I’m talking to the rest of you. If we join together, we’re a bigger group than they are. If we support one another and refuse to let the negativity into our lives – if we just flat-out refuse to participate, be it by reading, commenting, or being sucked into the maelstrom of drama these people need to survive – they will eventually wither and die. Because they need the drama. They feed on what’s created when they’re mean. They’re psychic vampires.

If we put out all the good we have, if we refuse to accept it when it is addressed to ourselves or others, if we support our fellow bloggers…

…THEN we’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

It’ll be like pouring a bucket of water on the Wicked Witch of the West. Lots of screaming. Lots of fizzling. And, best of all, lots of disappearing.

On Wednesdays, they may want us to wear pink.

I’m here to say on Wednesdays, as on any day of the week, you can wear whatever the hell you want. And you’re going to look FABULOUS, darling.

Keep writing. Keep doing your thing. Because I can tell you from experience – there’s nothing a bully likes less than someone standing up to them. Unless it’s being ignored. They’re not too keen on that, either.

And hey, you guys? You’re welcome to sit at my table.

It’s a huge table.

It’s the size of the whole fucking internet.

(Special thanks to Emily at The Waiting, whose blog is wonderful and whose post earlier in the week – and the conversation with her I had in the comments – helped bring this post, which was percolating at the time, to the page. Emily, you are always welcome at my table. No matter what you wear. I’ll save you a seat and one of those little milks.)


This evil, evil man has ruined a generation of kids.

I try not to get sucked into the Facebook anger-wormhole as much as I possibly can.

You all know the Facebook anger-wormhole. One of your friends (or acquaintances, or whoever) posts a link to a post that they’re TOTALLY INCENSED about, and if you watch it, odds are good that your blood pressure’s going to go up. So you have to make a choice. Do you watch it? Or do you say DANGER WILL ROBINSON! and avoid it altogether and keep your blood pressure in a normal range, at least until you are tempted by the next link of anger-wormholeness?

Danger, Lucy's Football! DANGER!

Danger, Lucy’s Football! DANGER!

I try VERY HARD to avoid these things. If you’re a regular reader here, you know I’m pretty much all-or-nothing. I can’t just take something, ingest it, say, “oh! Yeah. Sucks” and move on. I feel things VERY DEEPLY. So if something’s going to upset me, it’s going to really, really upset me. That’s ok, I guess. There are worse ways to be. At least I’m self-aware enough to realize it about myself.

I got sucked into a Facebook anger-wormhole the other day. My own damn fault, really. I blame it on Fox News.

Here’s the video that got my blood pressure up.

This is a clip from Fox and Friends. My Dad really digs this show. I think it’s because he likes that the token lady-person wears a lot of cleavagey dresses and giggles a lot. (But when I brought that up, he scowled and said “SHE IS VERY SMART, AMY.” A lot of times, Dad equates smart with cleavagey, and MENSA-level with bikini-wearing.)

Mostly, I mistrust anyone with this level of a shit-eating grin, to be honest. Add to that the nonsense that Fox newspeople spout, and, well, there’s not a lot of love lost between Fox and Friends and good old Lucy’s Football. They’re no friends of mine, anyway.

This “news” clip, which (I looked) is not available as a transcript anywhere (hmm, wonder why they wouldn’t want their blathering transcripted?) is talking about a study done at Louisiana State University in 2007. For those of you playing along at home, 2007 was six years ago. This YouTube clip (and Fox and Friends story) is from 2008. So the place that posted this is about 5 years old in their outrage. Doesn’t mean I’m not going to RANT about it, just letting you know it’s not a RECENT thing. (Always do your research before you rant. You’re less likely to look like an ass.)

This study says that due to Mr. Rogers telling children who watched his show (which aired, again, for those of you playing along at home, from 1968-2001) that they were special and unique just the way they were led to them having a sense of entitlement, which directly leads to them grade-grubbing.

Professor Don Chance thinks that Mr. Rogers led to an upswing of narcissism in college students, which has been growing for 25 years, and calls these people part of “a culture of excessive doting.”

Since Fox and Friends doesn’t have transcripts, I helpfully transcripted some of the clip for you. Because I’m nothing if not helpful.

“This evil, evil man has ruined a generation of kids.”

“Mr. Rogers didn’t say if you want to be special, you’re going to have to work hard. He said, you’re special just for being you.”

“These kids are growing up and realizing ‘hey, wait a minute, Mr. Rogers lied to me, I’m not special.'”

“Instead of saying ‘you’re special, you’re great,’ why didn’t he say, ‘there’s a lot of room for improvement. Keep working on yourself. The world owes you nothing.'”

“Mr. Rogers had a message of ‘everyone was special, even if they didn’t deserve it.'”

“The signs of narcissism in this country have been growing for 25 years.”

“That man, unintentionally, did a whole generation or two a disservice.”

“Everyone’s gonna get a trophy. Everyone’s gonna wear a sweater. Everyone wins!”

“It would be better if we went to school and then went home and milked the cow, made the butter, went onto the loom, and made our own sweaters!”

Yes. This is how things should be. Definitely.

Yes. This is how things should be. Definitely.

“It would be better for my household chores if I could train my kids to do that!”

“Instead of going to Macy’s, make your own sweater! Almost done with the right sleeve? You stay indoors til you’re done.” 

“Mmmm. Butter.” <— ACTUAL QUOTE

“Mr. Rogers and the narcissistic society he gave birth to because he told every kid that they were important.”

“DO YOU BELIEVE HIS PHILOSOPHY DESTROYED A GENERATION?”

My favorite quote is obviously the “Mmm, BUTTER” one, because it’s just this random non-sequitur that makes the Fox Friend that says it sound soft in the head.

OK. Let’s have a talk about Mr. Rogers.

I am firmly in the Mr. Rogers demographic. As a kid, we got very few channels. We got a very snowy CBS and NBC, ABC when the weather was right, two Canadian channels as clear as a bell (one of the perks of living that close to the border) and PBS. That’s it. (We also had to change the channel manually, as well as change the antenna with a rotor-box-thingy on top of the TV that made a grindy noise and moved the antenna on top of the house, and walk uphill both ways in the snow to get to school.) My childhood shows were Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Sesame Street, Mr. Dressup (that one was a Canadian wonder about a man whose child was a puppet and dressed up with clothes stored in a “Tickle Trunk”) and The Electric Company. Children of the 70s didn’t have much in the way of variety, unlike today, where there are WHOLE NETWORKS available for children, as well as DVDs when they get bored of what’s on offer.

I grew up with Mr. Rogers. Mr. Rogers taught wee-Amy (and later, Amy’s brother) that we were ok, just the way we were. That the bathroom drain won’t suck you down (because it’s too small and you’re too big; my brother – who will VIOLENTLY DENY THIS NOW – used to be petrified of this.) He taught us to love our friends and about different jobs and acceptance and tolerance and animals and that it’s ok to be angry, sometimes, and it’s ok to make mistakes. He taught us the value of being calm. He was an island of calm, actually, in a world that was very often loud and scary and just a little skewed. He never raised his voice. He was patient, and quiet, and when he smiled, you thought everything was going to be alright.

He did not teach either of us we were special snowflakes. We are both fairly grounded individuals; the special-snowflake gene skipped us by, or we were kept from it by parents who taught us that while, yes, we were amazing, and could do or be whatever we wanted, we damn well better be ready to work our asses off for it. Nothing comes free in this world. Being special and unique and ok just the way you are and working hard to get what you want aren’t the same thing. Why does this professor think they are? You can be a whole human being, centered, grounded and complete, yet still striving to be better, learn, grow, improve. There’s always room for growth. There’s always room for mistakes, because you learn from those, and they’re just springboards from which to reach greater things.

Mr. Rogers didn’t make a generation (or two) of children grade-grub. What in his message told kids that they were ok just the way they are, and THEREFORE INFALLIBLE? Nothing. Nothing he said, is the answer to that question.

Listen, just because this Don Chance is a professor doesn’t mean his research is correct and he’s right. I have a degree in theater, but that doesn’t mean everything I say about theater is correct. I find his research methods biased and skewed. I think he’s a bitter little man who got angry at kids who kept coming to his office begging for better grades (and I would, too – I knew those kids, both in high school and college, and they’re the pits) so he decided to blame it on someone – and he blamed it on Mr. Rogers.

So today I did a little research about Mr. Rogers.

First, here’s John Green talking about Mr. Rogers. This one’s for the kids. You know, ’cause the kids, they like John Green. (I kind of also like John Green, even if his books are a little manipulative.)

I like the anecdote at the very end the best, though. I like to think of that subway car of jaded New Yorkers seeing their childhood idol and not being able to help themselves from breaking into a song that’s part of most American children’s collective childhood memories. I like to imagine the smile on his face when that happened. He was such a good man. Such a kind man. And he really, really loved people. He didn’t just act one way on the show and another in real life. He was Mr. Rogers on the show, and Mr. Rogers in real life. He was this man.

Oh, you don’t believe me?

Fine.

Want to bawl for a few minutes? Because my glasses have tear-salt all stained up on ’em from watching this one.

This is Mr. Rogers defending PBS to the US Senate in 1969. They were going to cut PBS’ funding. This is Mr. Rogers all fired up about something. I like how Mr. Rogers all-fired-up is a quieter, more intense Mr. Rogers. And I like watching the senator presiding over the thing, who starts kind of dictatorial and asshatty, fall under the spell of Mr. Rogers.

1969. Have you been playing along at home? His show was broadcast nationwide in 1968. He was BARELY Mr. Rogers in 1969. People hardly knew who he was. He didn’t let that stop him. He sat, quietly, humbly; stated his case, and he won. He WON.

Just by being himself. Because who he was was ok. He was special, just by being himself.

And if you can listen to that last sentence without a little thrill (or, like me, weeping copiously) I think your soul might be a little broken.

“I think it’s wonderful. Looks like you just earned the twenty million.”

So Fox and Friends, we’re all savvy enough to know that you’re only trying to stab one of the most beloved men in America’s history in the back because it’s something that will get you ratings, and something that will get people talking about you. Your show is not news. It’s infotainment. Light on both the info AND the tainment.

And Professor Chance, I’m sorry your students are entitled. There are kids like that. It’s a fact of life. (I went to college with a lot of rich spoiled kids. I’m not talking out of my ass, here.) You have to put your foot down, present them with the rules for extra-credit clearly at the beginning of the semester, and if they approach you about additional extra credit, shut them down. They’ll learn to respect that they can’t push you around. Kids talk; they know which professors are an easy sell and which ones aren’t. I promise.

And Mr. Rogers: thank you. Thank you for giving kids, for 33 years, an alternative to violence and loud noises and a constant stream of stupidity. Thank you for being our port in a storm. And thank you for telling us we’re ok, just the way we are. I still believe that. All these years later, I still believe I’m ok, just the way I am. And I learned that from you.

So, yes. I got sucked into the Facebook anger-wormhole. But as Mr. Rogers taught a young-Amy: it’s ok to have mad feelings. Then you talk about them, and you feel better.

Also, Fox and Friends, you are officially banned from the Land of Make-Believe. BANNED. Daniel Striped Tiger is really disappointed in you.

We're all really disappointed in you, "Fix and Friends." REALLY disappointed.

We’re all really disappointed in you, “Fox and Friends.” REALLY disappointed.


The road less travelled by may make all the difference but the low road is a LOT more tempting.

I try very hard to take the high road.

I have not always been this person. I consider life a work in progress; there is always room to grow and improve. So, yes. In the past, I may not have been a high-road kind of gal. And there are times that, even now, I take a walk down on that low road. It’s often Frost’s road-more-travelled by, which makes it the easier choice, even though I know it will make me feel disgusting and dirty and have trouble getting to sleep at night.

A heavy conscience makes for a terrible bedfellow, you see. Always stealing the sheets and the cool side of the pillow. Always kicking you in the small of the back, right smack where your kidneys are. Talking just as you’re nodding off and then saying, “Oh, I’m sorry, were you trying to sleep?” in a totally mock-innocent tone.

Taking the high road may not be the easier option, but it’s the one that makes you feel better about yourself. It’s the one that allows you to sleep at night. (Well, most of you. Sometimes I can’t sleep at night for no reason at all. Just because. It’s the fun of having a messed-up brain, you see.)

However, some days it’s a hell of a lot harder than others. (No. Not even close to being a euphemism. But a very good euphemism, were it to be one.)

Some days, you try very hard to stay up on that high road, but you just keep getting pushed down to the lower one. And all that pushing, well, it gets a little infuriating. And I don’t deal well with being pushed, people. Not even a little bit.

I honestly just wrote an entire post explaining exactly what happened, with links and all. Then I rewrote it, in more passive-aggressive terms, leaving out the links. Then I re-read it. And I deleted every bit of it.

High road. This fucking high fucking road.

People who attempt to tell me what to say, think, do, or feel, and then, when I balk against being put in this cage of their expectations of me, hate me for not lemming my way right off the cliff with them: these people make it very, VERY hard for me to stay on the high road.

This is as close as I can come to coming right out and explaining exactly why I’m furious right now without coming off the high road with a huge fucking crash.

The internet has felt less and less like a fun place to be and more and more like navigating an obstacle course filled with live landmines lately. BAM! You angered someone with a benign comment. BOOM! You found yourself in the middle of a pissing war between two people you barely know. KA-POW! You’re being called a bad person for speaking up, but not saying the right thing. Or not speaking up at all. Or for saying the right thing, but not worded the way someone would have liked. Or one of a million different things you can do wrong in a day. And each day is really, really long. There are a lot of places you can step in it. Or ON it. And then you’re vaporized.

And there are a lot of times you just want to go live in a cave with no internet service and just kind of rock and randomly hit your head against the wall.

High road. HIGH FUCKING ROAD.

Listen. I had something amazing happen this week. Something utterly out-of-the-blue unexpected amazing. I don’t have time to be furious. I don’t have time to be caught up in your reindeer games of petty grievances and “you’re doing it wrong” and your constant fucking NEGATIVITY. I want to bask in this awesome thing. Just for a little bit. I want to look at this thing that happened and say, “Look. This happened. This thing that you had pretty much given up on ever happening? This HAPPENED.” And I want to grin like a moron. And I want to cry happy tears over it. And I want to belt stupidly cheerful songs to and from work at the top of my lungs and scare the other drivers. And I want to fucking REVEL in the fact that yes, there is still MAGIC in the world, and somehow, I CAUGHT SOME OF IT.

I do not want to spend the day dealing with being passive-aggressively called out on someone’s blog I DON’T EVEN KNOW for not being, doing, acting, behaving, whatever-ing the way they would do it, and therefore, being found lacking. Being found a bad person because I’m not the person THEY are. The perfect person they are, who (obviously!) has it all figured out. What do they have figured out? Well! How to fix all the world’s ills, of course. And if I’m not part of the solution, I’m obviously part of the precipitate problem. I’m part of the problem. And you know what we do with problems, don’t you, kiddos? We internet-shame them. Because that is what we do in this day and age. It is how we get our problems to shut up and go away; by making them feel small in front of a large studio audience.

Here’s the thing.

I’m not part of the problem. I’m a human being. I’m a human being with feelings. I’m a human being not ONLY with feelings – but with empathy. Empathy which, I’m sorry to say, even extends to those who shame me on the internet and seem to have only the most tenuous grasp on that which the rest of us call “reality.”

So I will not call this person out. I will not link to the post where she calls ME out. I will stay up here on my high road. I will sit here and I will let this fury go. I will let this fury go, and I will hold onto the fact that this week, a very, very good thing happened. Something so good that, if you had asked me last week, “What’s the one thing you want? I mean, more than anything?” I’d have said this thing, like, as a stretch? Like, you say things like “I’d like a million dollars!” or “A trip around the world!” because you know you’ll never get them but we’re taught to shoot the moon when wishing for things.

I got my fucking shoot-the-moon wish this week.

And I’m going to sit here on my high road, and nothing, absolutely nothing, is going to drag me down from it.

And I do so sincerely hope that once you’ve shamed people publicly on the internet, you can sleep at night knowing you’re on the side of truth, justice, and the Merkan way.

Because I know I’ll be sleeping soundly.

Up here on my high road.

With a huge smile on my face.


They kept them away. Never let them come near. And that’s how they treated them year after year.

Last week, Stephen King released his most recent book: Joyland. It’s one of his Hard Case Crime books – the first he released under the Hard Case Crime label was The Colorado Kid in 2005 (which has since been turned into the television show Haven on Syfy, and that has branched out in its own direction and is actually surprisingly quite enjoyable.)

A couple of months ago, I went online to pre-order my copy of Joyland. I’ve been doing that lately with books I really want; it reminds me to read them (I’ve got a lot on my plate, what can I say) and I like knowing the book will be waiting for me on the day it drops. I don’t do this with many authors or for many books – Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Stephen King, John Irving, Owen Hill earlier in the year because I wanted to have the book read before I met him for him to sign it. Most things can wait for a bit. I’m patient, and I have a lot of things to read.

I was surprised when I got online to see there was no Kindle edition of Joyland offered. I’ve run out of room for paper books; there are very few books lately that I’m not getting electronically or from the library. It’s a common-sense thing at this point. If I had more room, maybe Belle’s library from Beauty and the Beast? I’d buy more paper books. But I don’t have that, so I don’t. I also love reading on my Kindle. It’s easy, it’s eminently portable, the text is crisp and clear, it’s better for bed-reading…I could go on. I won’t, but I could.

I bought the paperback (less than $10, could be worse) and it was delivered on Tuesday. I read it. I reviewed it at Insatiable Booksluts if you’re interested in that sort of thing. I liked it very much. It was a good summer read, a quick one. I was done in a few days.

But there was a lot more going on with this paper book vs. ebook controversy than I was aware of.

sj pointed it out to me, originally. See, sj has problems with her hands, so reading paper books is an issue. Therefore, all that reading she does (and you guys, seriously, I don’t know if I know too many people that read more than sj, she’s amazing) is mainly on her Nook.  She’s a huge King fan. We talk King all the time. She therefore can’t read Joyland. “But Amy!” you’re saying. “Don’t worry! She could listen to it! There’s an audiobook option!” Yes. Yes, there is. But should she have to? In 2013, should she really only have the option of either listening to the book or not reading it at all, a book from one of the most popular authors of all time?

But here’s the thing. Apparently, you can’t SAY King should have released an e-book as well. Why? Why can’t you say that?

Because of the treebook snobs.

The treebook snobs, in case you haven’t met them in the wild (and you’re a lucky person, if you haven’t, I wish you luck in never meeting them at all) say the following things:

  • E-reading is killing paper books.
  • E-reading isn’t REAL reading. The only real reading can be done with paper books.
  • I would never buy an e-reader. Buying an e-reader is the modern equivalent of burning a library.
  • No one is buying paper books anymore. Do you really want to be the death of paper books? DO YOU?

Oh, they say other things, too. But my head is getting explodey.

When people started complaining about Joyland not being available as an e-book, the treebook snobs came out of the woodwork. “Ugh, SUCK IT UP,” said the treebook snobs. “You’re meant to experience this novel in PAPER. If you can’t read a simple PAPERBACK, what is WRONG with you.” And on and on and “we are so haughty” and “blah blah WE KNOW BEST” and the sort of things that snobby people say that make you want to tenderize their cerebellums with a mallet.

Then Hard Case Crime got in on the action. They apparently felt the need to justify why they hadn’t offered an e-reader version of the book. Click for the full article, but here are the things that stood out to me:

…But one thing our books are is a shrine to a particular way of consuming stories and the particular object that for decades delivered that experience to millions of people. An object that has dimensions and heft and feels a certain way when you handle it, that looks a certain way when you thumb its pages back, creases a certain way when you jam it in a jacket pocket or a lunch bucket. Shape and form and texture matter. The past matters. Preserving things we love matters. And insofar as we want people to remember something we love, putting an example of it in their hands is a powerful way to do so.

So: Joyland. A book. A paperback book, by and large, and one I cherish and that I hope other readers will cherish as well. Not those who angrily proclaim on Internet message boards, “I’ll never read a paper book again!” – there isn’t any hope for those, their souls are too tattered for repair – but those who see our little bit of yesterday and feel their hearts beat faster, scent a bit of their own younger days on the backward-blowing breeze.

…For just one day, unkindle your Kindle and nook your Nook, lie back in the bath or on your sofa or beach chair or with your head on the grass, and read the way we used to.

Tomorrow will still be there when you’re done.

Does this strike anyone else as condescending?

You’re telling me how best to enjoy your work. How I need to enjoy this book. As if I have never read a book before. As if I am new to your planet. “This is a BOOK! Here on THIS planet, the best way to experience literature is in PAPER books! Not (ugh) e-books!”

I am a grownup. I can decide for myself how to “experience” literature. And let me tell you how I want to experience it: with my eyes, you supercilious bag of dicks.

Some people might like to experience it with their ears. I am not an auditory person; I miss things in audiobooks. I like to read. With my eyes.

And here, let me tell you something that you apparently have missed: all reading is reading.

Oh, did you miss that? I’ll say it again.

ALL READING IS READING.

Whether I’m reading from a screen, a paper book, a cereal box, a newspaper, a magazine, a billboard, a pamphlet, ot the back of a DVD box, I AM STILL INPUTTING INFORMATION VIA WORDS INTO MY BRAIN. What is confusing about this to people? Reading is reading.

There’s no “best way” to experience a book. Well, I mean, I’d like to experience a book on a beach in like 70 degree weather while someone refills my fruity drink. That seems to be a very good way to experience a book. But I don’t notice that being on the table, Hard Case Crime.

And as for the “ebooks will end paper books” people – well, listen. I don’t know if we’ll ever see the end of paper books. We might. We might not. I don’t know; I can’t see the future. I’m not a fortuneteller. But I do know that I used to be a paper-only proponent, until I got a Kindle. And now that I have the Kindle, I see why everyone loves them so much. And I don’t even have any handicaps that make reading paper books uncomfortable for me. I’m pissed enough at the holier-than-thou tone of voice these people are taking; if I had an infirmity and someone started telling me I wasn’t a “real” reader because I used an e-reader to get my word fix? I WOULD KICK ASS SO HARD. Isn’t that like telling someone in a wheelchair they’re not really experiencing a walk in the park because they’re using their wheelchair? Or like telling someone with a hearing aid they’re not really experiencing a concert the way it’s supposed to be heard? Would you treebook snobs do that, too? No. Of course you wouldn’t. Don’t be ridiculous.

Listen. I’m kind of infuriated about this. No one is taking away your books. No one is coming to your house to burn them, all Fahrenheit 451-style. If paper books are your thing, great. If e-books are your thing, great. WE DON’T HAVE TO FIGHT ABOUT THIS. There is no reason to fight. And you know what? It doesn’t go both ways, usually. I don’t see a lot of e-reader users attacking paper-book readers as Luddites. We don’t care. I read just as many paper books as e-books. I think I single-handedly keep my library alive. I have more library books currently checked out than will fit on my library shelf.

It is ALL READING. It is not the death of paper books. It is TECHNOLOGY. Life goes ON. It is what life DOES. Move with it, don’t, I don’t care, but STOP JUDGING OTHERS WHO ARE.

sneetchesListen, you all know the story of the Star-Belly Sneetches, right? I believe we’ve talked about this before. How the Star-Belly Sneetches thought they were SO MUCH BETTER than the Plain-Belly Sneetches, and went around with “their snoots in the air” until Sylvester McMonkey McBean showed up with a machine to put stars on the Plain-Belly Sneetches’ bellies. Well, that didn’t sit well with the Star-Belly Sneetches! So he charged THEM money to take the stars OFF their bellies! And back and forth it went until, laughing, he left town – and half of the Sneetches had stars, and half didn’t, and no one knew which Sneetches were the original snooty Sneetches. Old Sylvester McMonkey McBean says “you can’t teach a Sneetch!” but he’s wrong, because “The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches/And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches./That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars/And whether they had one, or not, upon thars.”

Listen, treebook snobs. We’re all Sneetches. Every last one of us is a Sneetch. Whether we’re a Paper-Book Sneetch or we’re an E-Book Sneetch. (Some 0f us can actually be BOTH SNEETCHES AT ONCE! Yes, it’s totally true.) You need to look up from your words on paper and realize we’re each and every one of us Sneetches, with a common goal: putting beautiful words in our eyeholes (or earholes, not to discriminate against vision-impaired people…or maybe their finger-spaces, for those readers of Braille.) Stop attacking your fellow Sneetches and just be happy your fellow Sneetches are reading. Because do you know what’s more terrifying to me than a world without paper books? Any ideas?fahrenheit

A world where no one reads at all. A world where we’re not having this fight because there’s no need for it; a world where no one cares about e-readers or paper books because books and words and authors and thoughts themselves are obsolete. The world that Fahrenheit 451 predicts, where people live in houses surrounded by inane entertainment and books are not only something people find uninteresting, but something they find dangerous enough to burn.

Books are books and words are words and Sneetches are Sneetches.

And if you tell me (or my beloved friends) one more time how I have to enjoy literature, I’m going to smash you over the head with my very pretty orange-cased Kindle. I don’t deal well with bullies. I’m one ornery Sneetch.

(For further reading on this topic, please read Heather’s post, Dear Haters. She is most truly the best kind of Sneetch.)


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