Really, Internet? Yes. Really.

Today was errand day. It’s one day a week: Monday. We pack all the errands into that day so that we can avoid leaving the house the rest of the week. By the end of even a moderate Monday errand day I’m exhausted, crabby, and unwilling to tolerate anything. And that’s like two stops.

Today’s Monday errand day included nine stops spread over two cities. It was terrible. A terrible Monday errand day.

You can imagine, then, how I felt about getting home to find that another infuriating thing had gone viral on the Internet. I should have just not gone online. After errand day the only thing I should do is pop open a bottle of wine and cuddle up with my Netflix. But I was waiting to hear back from someone about this art show I’m doing in March, so I just wanted to check.

And so I got mad. Monday errand day mad.

No less than six people on my Facebook profile had shared this picture so vile and awful, I almost fell speechless. On the surface it seems like it’s just supposed to be some funny meme. A funny meme from well over a year ago that a random group of people just happened to pick up on, and has now gone viral. Really, it’s a silly thing to get so mad over. I mean it’s got this bland cartoon of a woman and this quote of supposedly-sage advice “always remember, it’s better to arrive late than to arrive ugly.”

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But is it really silly to get mad about this? I would argue this thing raises some serious issues.

Am I The Only One Who Doesn’t Give A Shit About How I Look?

Don’t get me wrong, I still bathe daily and brush my teeth. And sometimes I throw on a little mascara, or put on a cute hair clip. But beyond making sure I don’t look like a homeless person or a drug addict, I basically don’t give a single fuck about how I look.

That goes for what I wear too. 90% of my wardrobe is yoga pants, tank tops, hoodies, and oversized t-shirts.

And why should I live any way other than this? Worrying excessively about how I look is an indication that I care too much about what others think of me. Again, it’s all about the time and place too. Obviously I’m not going to wear my yoga pants that are torn up at the feet to a wedding. Clearly I’ll pick and choose when it’s appropriate to show up with a unibrow (actually it’s never OK to show up with a unibrow). But at the risk of sounding sanctimonious, what kind of an example is refusing to leave the house unless I look perfect setting for my kids?

And plus…I have two kids. Once you have two or more kids, there is a different standard by which all things are judged.

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If people are truly comfortable and confident in high heels, pants that need pliers to be zipped up, and 70 layers of pancake makeup, well kudos to them. I’m not sure I believe it, but kudos. That doesn’t change, though, the weird feeling I get when I know there are people out there who will actually refuse to leave the house for any reason at all without them.

Am I The Only One That Thinks Being Late To Apply Mascara Is A Little Narcissistic?

I mean…

Being late because there was a traffic accident on the freeway? Acceptable.

Being late because your aunt died and your uncle called to give you funeral details as you were walking out the door? Of course this is cool.

Being late because you wanted to finish your morning beauty routine before leaving the house? Well fuck you.

No really. Fuck you.

I have a serious problem with people that show up late. I understand that things come up, and I have been late more times than a lot of people, I’m sure. But I usually have a decent reason, and moreover I always – ALWAYS – send a text or call to say “hey, I’m running late.”

And it has never – NEVER – been because I prioritized my hair products or my lip liner over the respect whomever I’m showing up late to deserves. I mean really: isn’t it a little self-centered to think that your beautification is more important than another person’s time? They can just sit there pulling their pud while you apply false eyelashes?

Am I The Only One Concerned About The Messages We Send To Our Kids?

There are three symbols on the bottom lefthand corner of that dumb meme: a high heeled shoe, a lipstick, and a lipsticked-set-of-lips. Each of those symbols represents one very important idea: hiding who you really are. Making yourself taller. Tinting your lips brighter. Puckering those babies fuller.

Changing something about yourself, and then going a step further and calling an unchanged self “ugly.”

When I read that, over and over again as I scrolled through my Facebook feed and saw all the people that had shared it, I felt the nagging, unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach that comes up when I read something I just know is wrong – like the moral kind of wrong.

But then I Googled the phrase: “Always remember, it’s better to arrive late than to arrive ugly,” and tons of alternatives of the meme came up. It’s a colloquialism, something we have adapted as a way of life.

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Maybe I’m just being old fashioned, or too hard on a silly joke intended for the sides of make up bags, but this seems to reflect a bigger problem our culture has. That what is on the outside is far more important than all else, and that respect and common courtesy is disposable if you can think of something better to do.

Really, Internet? Yes. Really. At least if you believe what the memes say.

48 Hour Technology Strike

Keep track of my strike time at http://countingdownto.com/countdown/223092

I’m going on strike. Not from a job because – I think we all know – I don’t work. I mean I work at the most thankless job on the planet (housewife and SAHM), but there is no monetary compensation for that.

Yet.

No, I’m going on strike from technology. For the next 48 hours I’m ditching my cellphone, laptop, and iPad, and I think you should too. Here’s why:

#1 There Is A World Outside Your Cellphone

I just have had it up to about my eyebrows with sitting at dinner with people that spend the entire time texting and BSing on their cellphones. My husband is notorious for doing this; and the most egregious part is that he’s just scrolling through his apps doing mundane updates that are entirely unnecessary. It’s so rude, and reeks of the implication that the only world that exists to the people committing this etiquette faux pas is within their cellphone and computer. That the world in which I am – sitting across from them at the table – does not exist when the world of technology is around.

There is a world outside your cellphone. And your computer. Not getting Facebook updates is manageable, dare I say – not a big deal.

Just today I read an article about the growing problem of Facebook addiction, in which it was reported that as many as 1/3rd of people that were interviewed admitted to experiencing feelings of envy when viewing photographs and other updates of others on Facebook. This implies a number of things, but as for this point I think this has a lot to do with the fact that some of us think there is no world outside of Facebook.

1313897240072_6858395Do you faithful blog followers actually believe that life is as wonderful and exciting as it appears to be for some people on Facebook? Every photo is from a party; therefore life is a party? Every update is positive, fun, and full of excitement; therefore nothing bad ever happens to the people on your Facebook page? Nonsense! The only reason why people post on the social networks great and wonderful and awe-inspiring news is because it’s looked down upon to report anything real that happens. People call reality “bad” and “negative” – two words that have been demonized by our terribly childish social network culture.

There is a world outside of your computer. A real world. A world where you are not alone.

#2 Capturing Photographs Is Not the Point

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Recently I realized that I spend more time capturing some moments than actually experiencing them. A blogger, I’m constantly trying to shoot things that can be used for my blogs; but now it’s leaked into every aspect of my life. Yesterday I snapped over twenty photographs of my car being towed. The experience from beginning to end was captured on photograph, and yet when it came time to recall the tow truck driver’s name today when AAA called to survey the experience, I had no idea. The guy really went the extra mile in taking care of us and I was so focused on my own photographic evidence that I couldn’t even take the time to learn his name.

The point of having a good meal is not to capture a photograph of the food. The reason for going on a hike is to get exercise, fresh air, and experience the outdoors. I have friends that have so many photographs of their experiences that I wonder if they even would remember what happened if it weren’t for the photographs, much like I can’t recall the tow truck driver’s name.

And is a memory not sufficient anymore to prove that something happened? Take a picture of your kid at this park, then that park, then this other park, then another. We get it! You take your kid to the park. We would have believed you if you just said it once. 7,000 shots a day of the kid running in the grass gets old. Really old. This isn’t to say that the kid isn’t cute, or the food doesn’t look as tasty as you describe it.

It’s just that technology is replacing even our most intimate moments and experiences.

#3 Technology Really Makes Me Hate People

And lose respect for them. This person didn’t respond to an email I sent in due time. A text message got ignored. People didn’t “like” or comment on my blog.

How many times have you Tweeted someone for them to never respond? How many times have you followed a blogger only for them to ignore you, as if they are too “big” to follow back?

The list of Internet etiquette grievances is a long one – not just mine, but the conglomerate list of all the billions of people using the Internet regularly. Sometimes it makes you hate people to be connected all the time. It makes you hate how not everyone operates by the same standards you do. And it makes you loathe the ways in which they think and act – from political posters on Facebook, to people that use their cellphones and computers as a way to bully; technology has just made it easier for the whole of humanity to act like assholes.

While I am definitely a fan of general misanthropy, I get too angry when I’m online too much.

#4 I Need a Break From Web MD

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I need a break from Web MD. And the news. And Google flu trends. And Sickweather.com. I’m such a hypochondriac, with a glaringly unhealthy level of OCD, that I am obsessed with what’s going on around, who has which diseases, and whether or not I have [insert obscure, unlikely disease here].

I need a break from all that nonsense – I wash my hands; cover my cough; and avoid sick people. How exactly does checking up on where people are sick in my area every day make us any more safe? Am I going to avoid running errands because a few people Tweeted that they had the stomach flu in my area? No. No – we still need milk, eggs, and bread.

But it’s also a matter of not just health, but of the news. This is another thing my husband is horrible with – he is obsessed with the news, and occasionally I am too. It isn’t just one article on something that happened, or a study that was done; it’s all of them that show up in the Google News Aggregate. While I don’t think it’s good to stick our heads in the sand, sometimes shutting it all off is for the best. There is nothing I can do about the fact that North Korea issued another threat to the United States. The fact that emergency room visits from energy drinks have increased by 47% bears absolutely no effect on me.

Obsessing over all of these things is just another way that technology has a hold of our lives, just as in the case of cellphones leading us to believe there is no world outside, and photography applications robbing us of having actual experiences.

Realistically, 48 hours off technology is nothing. I still remember a day when I never used a cellphone or a computer. When I never used a computer – oh what I would give to say I still did that now. What I would give to be able to say that any of us could be successful at anything without all the advances computer and cellular technology can offer. Sure, my Klout score may go down about a point from being offline for 48 hours. I may offend someone much in the way I have been offended by not responding soon enough to an email or a text message. But think of all the things that can come of unbinding myself to the chains of my technology. I don’t even know what the next 48 hours holds. It’s kind of exciting to know that they won’t involve a cellphone or computer.

The real question isn’t “why should I do it?” though. It’s “can I do it?” Can you?

STFU Fridays: Rude Comments

Ugh.

That is a new thing in our house. Everything that is disliked, annoying, arduous- just about anything distasteful – begins with a big, long “UGH.” It started when Pookies didn’t want to do chores and just started flopping around the floor going “ugh, why do I have to do that?!” From there, the trend began, and it seems now it’s every other word out of all our mouths. “I have to put away the dishes.” Ugh. “The laundry needs to be folded.” Ugh. “What’s for dinner?” Ugh.

I’m sure you faithful blog followers can imagine that rude comments, on all fronts, are met with the unhappy groan in a big way. This week’s STFU Fridays is devoted to them.

Rude Comments on the Blog … Ugh

Being a blogger is the most bullshit job there is, I think. Sure, it’s cool to have a place to vent in a no-holds-barred way. Yeah, the community of bloggers is awesome. Will I ever stop doing it because it’s bullshit? No way.

But man are there a lot of dicks on the Internet.

At least once a week, I get a comment on an old post or my About Me page. I have come to emit the “UGH” right off the bat when I see it in my email, simply because it always means one thing and one thing only: someone is attempting (in an anonymous, chicken shit way) to call me an ugly, nasty, dirty, miserable whore. Some beat around the bush and say I’m childish because I stand up for something I believe in. Others go below the belt and tell me I’m a slut. There is also the group of comments that I just know are from my husband’s family and friends (most of whom very much dislike this bitter cup of tea).

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To all of them: shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up, or at least grow some balls. I have never had a rude blog comment come with an actual identity. You know, someone that has the guts to actually say their name and real email address? Because with a real email address, we may actually be able to talk it out. Sometimes people just got offended by something I said, or misunderstood me – that would be remediable if only we had a real identity other than “UraCunt@fuckyou.com”. But then I’m sure anyone that calls me something like that, or says that I “look like someone gang-banged your face and left you for dead to put you out of your ugly, slutly misery” may not be in the mood to smooth things over.

Rude Comments on Facebook … Ugh

Have you seen anyone post rude comments on Facebook? I see it all the time. In fact, I see it so often, it’s a wonder I haven’t bled to death from biting my tongue in an attempt to preserve friendships with people I am slowly, but surely, losing respect for.

MjAxMy1iOWQ5MGMzNWIxNzczYzNlOne such rude comment is this eCard that goes around regularly about how Facebook is not your diary. That is the rudest fucking comment anyone could make – be it directly or indirectly. Facebook is whatever-the-fuck people want it to be. If someone wants to blather their shit all over about their drama and their life and their various issues, just who the fuck is anyone else to tell them that they are using the social network wrong? If you don’t like it, don’t look at it! And shut the fuck up!

Ugh.

But it isn’t just a comment in a card like that. It’s everywhere. The other day I saw someone post that a girl with no money is made even uglier than her taste in clothes. What the hell? Yesterday one of my friends felt it necessary to qualify her complaint over her Facebook status with an entire paragraph about how she doesn’t usually like to complain on Facebook. In the comments, someone made some rude comment about how she’s “become one of those.” I could go on with these anecdotes for days.

It is as if all of our social barriers have gone away, and rudeness is the status quo. Shut the fuck up.

Rude Comments in Person … Double Ugh

I deal with a lot of rude comments in person. For those faithful blog followers that work in customer service, deal with assholes on a regular basis, or are surrounded by people that feel it their duty to let you know on a regular basis all the reasons why your existence in this world is wrong (I fall into this latter category), then you will really get this one.

Lately I have felt very criticized. Everyone in my family seems to be having a really hard time not telling me why every step I make is wrong. “This needs more…” “You did this wrong…” “Way to screw up…” “You aren’t cleaning this right…” “You folded that wrong…” “Why did you do that the wrong way…” and so on.

In the last week alone, my husband has implied I am a bad mother, told me I really am a bitch; and my father has questioned and argued with my decisions as a parent no less than eight times. Don’t even get me started on my Trailer Trash Mom – UGH, I know.

A few weeks ago, we had guests over for dinner and I was told that I went to college and graduate school to “do nothing.” That apparently spread around the family, and on New Years Eve I was reminded of the rude comment. These types of things occur in our house (directed at me) every, single day.

People that make rude comments like this in person need a big punch in the gut with a shut the fuck up fist. Life is hard enough without some trollish a’hole making things more contentious and miserable.

So, faithful blog followers – I implore you to ruminate on this one a while. Because as I wrote, I realized a few times in recent history that I too could have been construed as having made a rude comment. I mean, I’m called The B(itch) for a reason, right? If you are a rude commenter, please join me in shutting the fuck up. And for Christ’s sakes, stop calling me a cunt on my About Me page. This Friday’s STFU will be meaningless if we don’t.

 

If I Spoke in Real Life the Way I Do in My Blog

As pictured in The New Yorker Magazine

It occurred to me today that I would be a lot less tense all the time if I were able to let the snarkfest that is my blog out in my regular life as well.  Think of the possibilities:  for one, I could be more honest; for two, I could poke fun freely at all the things I love to poke fun at without the fear of consequences.  Have any of you ever seen that New Yorker cartoon (pictured above) where the dog says “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog?”  On the Internet, you can craft whatever personality you want – be it nice and sweet when you’re really an asshole; or a complete socialite when you’re really shy and quiet.  This is all the more reason we should always be cognizant of this fact:  that who our online personalities are may or may not actually reflect who we are in real life.  Never believe what you read on the Internet is the old adage, which remains to be the case today.

In my case, it isn’t that nobody knows who I really am because I have crafted some deceptive identity on the Internet, though; it’s that (as many of us experience) the Internet is often the only place I really express myself to the fullest extent.  By and large, it’s my writing in general (not just online) that I allow myself to really come out.  And this morning it finally dawned on me that life would be so much better if I could be as snarky, witty, and silly as I am in my blog in real life, since a synthesis of the writer/blogger Heather and the in-person Heather best describes the real me.

Imagine what chaos would ensue, though, if I were to say some of the things I say on this blog in person…

Remember my blogs about Mr. Biglesworth and Cat Day?  I imagine actually saying face-to-face to a cat owner (or even just cat lover) would be disastrous.

Or in my recent blog about Why I Hate Wal-Mart… I can only begin to imagine what those crazy Wal-Mart shoppers would do if they heard me talking about their precious store of deals and roll-back prices in the way that I did.

I can’t even begin to fathom what my mother-in-law must think of some of my posts, and were I to actually say those things to her in person…

 And were I to tell any of the many people I encounter that actually inspire my B(itch)Log Lessons in Grammar and Punctuation, I imagine I would actually have fewer friends than I already do.

I think some of my more recent posts would have been the most inflammatory as well were they said in person.  As time has gone on, I have become more and more comfortable with just speaking what I really think and feel – as long as it’s from the safety and security of my private laptop.  That’s the thing about bloggers:  they often get accused of never putting their money where their mouths are.  In other words, they talk an awful lot of shit but only if they can hide behind their modems and computer screens.  Ultimately, though, I think if I were to actually say some of these things in person it would unambiguously cause people hurt feelings.  It would probably be rude.  It would almost certainly create enemies out of people I otherwise enjoy spending time with.

In the end, it’s about finding a balance – one where you can feel comfortable being honest but not cross the line.  To be funny and witty, but never move into bully territory.  Can I do such a thing?  Only time will tell…

Keep Your Kids Dirty Diapers Off Facebook

Yesterday we talked about what it implies when you don’t have a profile picture on any of your regular social networks.  You know, that blank image of a man’s silhouette that shows up in place of the photo, or the question mark that says “your guess is as good as mine!”  Well, today we’re going to briefly discuss another profile photo faux pas:  the kiddie pics.

I don’t want to disparage all profile photographs that have children in them.  Sometimes people post a picture and it has a part of their kid and a part of them – that is tolerable.  Other times it is just the kid and occasionally that is okay too.  Although there are definite photographs that should not be used for a profile picture on any social network, at all.  Most of them should probably not even be uploaded to the Internet (mainly because, well we don’t want to see that); but if you must, for the love of God don’t make them your actual profile photograph.  Here’s the all-star line up:

The Dirty Diaper Pic

As cute as that kid may look while having his ass wiped, I’m telling you parents:  no one wants to see that as your profile photograph.  We further do not want to see the inside of the kid’s diaper, your kid in the tub, your kid’s ass, your kid naked, the huge rash on the inside of your kid’s legs since you don’t change its diaper enough – basically anything related to your kid and hygiene should be avoided.  I know, I know … we all love a look at human fecal matter once in a while (actually, no we don’t), but for real parents.  Keep it off the Internet.

Your Creepy Ass Baby

Yes, yes – the baby is cute in his own right.  He’ll grow out of it.  Insert all of those platitudes we tell ourselves to cover up the fact that we don’t want to accept this baby as both creepy and ugly as hell.  I know that the love of your child makes you think they are beautiful no matter how they look, but not all of us are obligated to feel the same way.  The creepy ass baby picture is one of the worst offenders, mostly because it is frightening to look at and is not a true representation of (1) your child, and (2) (more importantly) you.  Your online profiles are supposed to be about “you.”  While your children are an extension of you, you still have an identity that does not give me chills every time I look at it (I don’t think).

Your Teenage Son

Please, parents.  Your teenager likely has his or her own online profiles that they may showcase their emo-rific photographs on.  You do not need to do this for them (and, in fact, I am fairly certain they will appreciate it).  Posting a photograph of your middle schooler or teenager is fine, but using it as a profile picture again stinks worse than that kid’s diaper up above.

In the end, you can make your profile pictures whatever you want them to be.  If you want there to be nothing, by all means have there be nothing.  If you want to showcase your fifteen year old daughter in that mini-skirt you probably shouldn’t even be allowing her to wear – sure, why not.  But the thing about the Internet is that everyone uses it differently, and everyone is sensitive, finicky, and grossly opinionated on what people should and should not be doing.  Above even that, there is an unspoken etiquette to it all and if you do not follow suit, you are running the risk of what I like to call Facebook Drama.  As if drama in real life weren’t childish enough, we now have it everywhere on the Internet.  Let’s do ourselves a favor and avoid it altogether.  Keep your kids and their diapers off your profile pictures, and we’ll all be a step closer to a happy, peaceful, online experience.