The Russians Interfered With My Dog’s Mayoral Campaign (and I couldn’t even make this up if I tried)

To say I have had a weird summer so far is a gross understatement of the situation at hand. My summer has been so strange, with odd events, weird injuries, and zany outcomes, I’m sort of just hanging on to anything not moving to ride this out for the last couple of weeks.

One such absurdity was that my town had a campaign for dog mayor.

And then it didn’t, because the Russians interfered.

It started innocently, one day in June. My husband was reading the local paper before heading out to work, and he saw that the city was having a campaign for Dog Mayor as a fundraiser for the local dog parks. Sounded like a good idea, and it seemed like a good opportunity to get my kids to take the dogs out more.

It was $25 to file, and you needed to run a normal campaign with flyers and appearances at designated candidate events (located, conveniently, at the dog park down the street from our house).

At the first candidate event, not many dogs had entered yet; so we were surprised when the voting opened and there were over 10 dogs on the roster. Some were cute, many were former shelter dogs (like mine), but one stood out as unique, in the sense that she looked exactly like my dog, and the owner was willing to match dollar-for-dollar any donations people made to the SPCA through the course of the campaign. It seemed a pretty extreme commitment from our middle class community, but I quickly forgot about it and focused my efforts on my own dog’s campaign.

We made a website, and started getting flyers going. She started making appearances in a red-white-and-blue bandana. And I started to solicit votes from people we knew.

Quickly the unique one, the one that stood out to me when the voting kicked off, took the lead with almost 800 votes. 800. EIGHT HUNDRED. Despondent, with only about 60 votes, I told my kids we needed to start preparing for the worst, but hoping for a good appearance at the next candidate event this coming weekend.

Then, yesterday, I saw a comment on the Facebook voting event that struck my attention for the fact that it was typed in all caps. The gist of the comment was that the family that owned the top dog was from Russia, and as such had solicited votes from their own social network, many of whom resided in Russia. I responded to the comment and asked if this was for real, and the man replied “YOU WILL SEE!”

I immediately dismissed it as crazy.

Today we were on our way home from running errands, and my phone rang from a number I didn’t recognize. Naturally, I didn’t answer; and I’m glad I didn’t. The message was the coordinator of the mayoral dog race, and she was letting me know that in my email was a letter to be read immediately regarding the cancelation of the election.

In short: the crazy, all caps contention that the Russians were hacking the dog mayor election was true.

Not only had votes been solicited from outside of the region, which was entirely against the rules, but the back-and-forth online arguing between the top dog and the crazy commenter had apparently continued to the point that the city decided to pull the plug on the whole thing.

It’s so bizarre to think that the Russians interfered in a race for dog mayor in a two bit hillbilly city such as my own, and yet – if we are going to be honest about what technically happened, here – they did.

Which doesn’t make much of a difference to me, because even if they had just disqualified that dog, mine was still all the way down in 4th place. There was no way she was going to win, which was probably a blessing in disguise because at the prior candidate events, she wasn’t exactly polite to the other dogs.

I can’t help but wonder if this is actually what the bigger Russian hacking conspiracy was all about. Infiltrating all these tiny little things to create a bigger, societal problem and certain level of unrest.

Whatever the case may be, it was the weird turn of events I could have never imagined happening in my local-yocal suburb.

Summer, amiright?

All I Want For Christmas Is For The Holiday Debating To Stop

It’s the 21st century, and I would wager a bet that there is one thing historians will one day point to as defining these earliest decades of the age: the Internet debates. 

You know them. 

They are the debates in which everyone has an opinion that is confused for fact, and it needs to be heard. Loudly.

They are often arguments about the right way to parent. Or, generally speaking, how people do things in different ways, all the while believing theirs to be the only right way.

Everyone involved is undoubtedly offended at some point.

This year’s Christmas season is not lacking in them, the Internet debates. At the strike of midnight on Halloween night, the holiday-related debates started seeping out the woodwork of every crack and crevice the Internet has to offer.

The people who decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving kicked it all off in the debate against those that wait until their turkey has digested.

Shortly after, people started spitting hatred at each other over Thanksgiving turkey or Thanksgiving ham.

It continued with the people that do the Elf on the Shelf versus the people that think it’s creepy and/or over the top and/or teaching your kids to adhere to an authoritarian government’s surveillance. 

(A bit much on the last point there, wouldn’t you say?)

Then it was the people that maintain Santa Claus is real (at all costs) fighting – sometimes virulently – against those that couldn’t lie to their children for any reason. Ever.

This was around the time it became insufferable, as it does every year.

And this year has, so far, been a real doozy. It’s been a lot of discussion about consent and ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside,’ which I have written about on this blog. It’s been the age old correctness of “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas.” It’s even gone down the dark hole of whether or not Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer has secret and insidious messaging to it.

The most recent debate I saw float up out of nowhere in the comments section on Facebook was White versus Colored. As in the color of lights people put on their trees. I could not believe some of the things people were saying, either. Straight lined, cold blooded hatred and bitterness towards people of the side opposing.

Is it just me, or have things gotten a little weird? Culturally speaking, I mean.

Political correctness and everyone’s opinion suddenly being considered fact has effectively taken over not only the Internet, but daily life. I’m not talking about people giving you actual facts… I’m talking about opinions, and that escalating to being offended. At my local grocery store, the cashiers keep a list of holiday greetings they are and are not allowed to say to people for fear of offending someone while checking out their cheese curds and quinoa.

The folly in it all is it’s destroying everything people have, and for what? To prove a point? To be right? To be less offended? 

So you have chosen not to do Elf on the Shelf for your kids. Great! It isn’t necessary to go on a crusade to therefore stop others from doing it, even going as far as to tell your kids to tell their friends that their elves are creepy and perverted.

Or you are an atheist and offended by the mere idea of The Nativity. Cool. I have beliefs too. That doesn’t mean I insist that every thing inconsistent with my own beliefs be taken down around my hometown, as a group of atheists in my community recently suggested of local nativity displays. 

With all of these debates, there are two camps: those that do, those that don’t. There is no in between, and it all seems to be rooted in a whole lot of judgment. What the proponents of each side fails to realize, though, is that what they do actually bears no weight on anyone else.

All I want for Christmas is for the debates to stop. 

I don’t mean for people to all suddenly believe in the same things. And I don’t mean for people to start ignoring facts, let’s be clear there. I just mean – maybe – for the holiday season we could give each other the gift of keeping our divisive, judgmental opinions to ourselves.

Maybe we could have a little more understanding that other people live life differently. And that it’s okay. Your neighbor can eat whatever they want for the holidays, and in turn you have the freedom to have your Elf on the Shelf engage in all the shenanigans you want, unencumbered. You prominently display your nativity scene on your front yard, the guy down the street doesn’t celebrate any holidays at all and you keep your mouth shut about it.

After all, it’s just a holiday. Let people have it for whatever they want it to be (or not). 

Then again, maybe this – like everything else – is just a debate waiting to happen.

Survey Says…

The results are in!

A while ago, I sent out a survey to you guys on Surveymonkey, and the responses were OVERWHELMING.

Just kidding, a ton of people took the time to click the survey; a mere 17 of you took the time to complete it.

To you 17…a sincere and heartfelt thanks…

To the rest of you: well, you have a chance to redeem yourselves from your complacent silence.

First, let’s get to the results of the survey.

First-first, let’s remind ourselves what the survey was about.

I am trying to really get my blog more social. I feel as though I haven’t been networking and marketing quite as effectively as I could. Not that I’ve had a drop in readers on my small corner of the Internet; just that there is so much out there available to get your content out there as a writer, and I feel as though I wasn’t taking full advantage of what the world of the wide web has to offer.

So my survey results, few as there were, spoke volumes about what I’ve been doing right (thank God I’ve done some of it the right way), and what I could cut out or quit wasting my time on, so that I can spend that time doing more of the right stuff.

Also: we’ve concluded that I was correct in my previous assumption that Myspace is dead and Snapchat is for kids and hos.

I’ll paste the specific question results in below, but first-first-first let’s talk about how you guys can help me just one more time (and in the case of you lazy bums that looked but clicked away, for the first time):

The thing I’ve been really trying to integrate into my blog content is more video or podcasty type of stuff. No matter what I’ve done though, I can never seem to come up with enough of what I would call good material to do something like a weekly video blog or monthly podcast.

I really want to do it though. I feel video and audio is the wave of the future – who has time to always sit down and read some random lady’s rantings on the Internet? Give me a quick a dirty something to listen to in the car, or watch while I am at a kid’s sports event, and I’m good!

So what would you guys like to see or hear from me (as opposed to read)?

Seriously, that’s the only question in this second inquiry: what the hell do you want to see or listen to me talk about (if I can ever get over how annoying my voice sounds)?

Comment, message, or carrier pigeon me your wishes… I’m open to *almost* anything.

Thanks again to those of you that replied to my survey a while back. I’ll paste in the results as a little slideshow now for your enjoyment:

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ISO Social Media Help (Because I’m Social Media Dumb)

You guys, I don’t even *really* know what ISO means. I mean, like, I think it means in search of; but I also don’t know when is actually the most appropriate time to use it. Like when I type it I feel like I’m some weird, middle aged pervert putting out a personal ad.

MWF ISO [insert disturbing series of acronyms meaning hook up with some bizarre set of preferences]

With that being said, I am ISO social media help. I’m social media dumb, which is hilariously ironic because sometimes people I know call me a social media expert.

(Side note: did you guys know that social media experts are actual people that get paid for going on Facebook and shit? Give me a fucking break, amiright? It’s like all the Communications majors of the early 2000s got together and realized they needed to legitimize their previously illegitimate major, so they created an entire field whose major qualification is the ability to post in 140 characters or less.)

Here’s a newsflash for the people that refer to me as that, though: knowing how to log onto my Facebook page makes me an expert in literally nothing.

So. I need social media help.

The problem with my blog (besides my general lack of genuinely likable qualities) is that it’s not getting out there.

You know, like I do the whole SEO and tag shit, otherwise it all boils down to who sees my posts on Instagram and Facebook and the like.

And, from the analytics I receive from all of those accounts: very few people are seeing them.

So what is wrong with me and my use of social media that makes others so seemingly successful, and me such a terrible flop?

I will tell you this: there is a lot I won’t do on social media that other, more successful writers and bloggers do handily. The two big ones are:

  1. I cannot – for the life of me – bring myself to post videos in which I sit in front of the phone camera and talk about dumb shit no one cares about. They all start the same way: “OK you guys…” and “SO I just wanted to hop on for a minute and share with you guys …” {Big, ridiculously loud UGH.} When I come across stories on any – and I mean any – social media platform that begin like that, my immediate reaction is to tap through that shit until it’s clear that it’s over with.
  2. I cannot get on board with the whole OOTD thing. Maybe once in a while I’ll post what I’m wearing, like any of you gives a flying fig; but outfit of the DAY?! Like a daily thing? No. Sweat-stained yoga pants and food crusted tank tops are not exactly what I would call Instaready.

Is that really what sets me apart from the winners, though?

So to help things along here, I’ve put together a quick, little poll for you guys to take. That is, if you even see this post.

Click my link and it’ll take approximately two minutes to complete… MWF ISO SMA

 

Let’s Just All Simmer The Frick Down

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There’s been a refreshing and, simultaneously, not-so-refreshing trend this last week or two on the Internet, and that is that people have stopped talking about the demise of American society  and values as we knew them pre-Trump, and moved back to the ol’ getting offended at everything on the Internet.

I say it’s refreshing because – you know – it’s a break from this Trumpian shit show that none of us seem to be able to do a single thing about.

I say not-so-refreshing because we should still be standing up for ourselves within our American government and politics and, well, people getting offended by everything on the Internet is obnoxious.

Case #1 – Legging-Gate

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If you didn’t know, earlier this week some people were heading out on a flight through United Airlines, free of charge by way of an employee friend and family benefit. To be clear: their tickets were free. *Free under the explicit condition that they follow the dress code and behave appropriately on the flight. Three of them (the kids) showed up wearing leggings (a violation of the dress code) and they were not allowed to board without changing into proper attire.

Completely understanding that they were breaking the rules, I hear the kids threw on dresses over the offending leggings, and just went about their business – being appreciative of their free tickets, I assume. Except some nosy nelly standing in line went crazy, snapped photos, went viral, and the world lost their fricken minds.

All jokes and arguments about the moral fortitude of dress codes aside, those free tickets have always come at a cost: a simple dress code and appropriate behavior, which, I will repeat, the flyers were aware of. Which they – in fact – had no problem with when reminded.

But not the Internet! The Internet had to lose its ever-loving collective mind over it, and instantly a new viral story, a variety of memes, and 200-comment-length debates were born.

Of course I engaged in one of those debates, because I am me. I was accused of being opposed to progress. Of being a robot. and a whole host of other things by someone who is at least ten years older than me, and yet is most known for posting photos of herself in her super hero underpants on Instagram.

The bottom lines to Legging-Gate are:

  1. Rules are rules. Get over it, unless you want to ruin that benefit for everyone; and,
  2. If you want to change the rules, showing up and being all “screw you I do what I want” is not the way to do it; finally,
  3. THE PEOPLE GUILTY OF SHOWING UP IN LEGGINGS FOR THEIR ENTIRELY FREE UNITED AIRLINES FLIGHT DID NOT EVEN CARE.

Case #2 – The Prom Dress Good Girls

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I don’t know all the facts of this case, but it’s another dress code thing that I think has been blown way out of proportion.

So prom season is coming, and some high school in somewhere – I don’t know – posted examples of what was acceptable attire and what was not acceptable attire. The acceptable said “good girl” over it, and I don’t know what the tone or connotation of that was, but it pissed people off.

Then it raised the whole dress code for young women thing, which I am in the minority (it seems) on these days, in that I believe dress codes are a good thing. I think they teach kids to respect authority (which will be important when they have jobs with dress codes they absolutely must follow as adults). They teach them how to dress for certain occasions. I also don’t always think that dress codes are about calling a girl/woman slutty or inappropriate or something to be ashamed of, but rather for their protection. And while I know that the real issue is teaching boys/young men the appropriate way to act, we just aren’t at that stage of the game yet. I wish we were, but we aren’t and thinking that pretending like we are will stop young men from acting poorly is irresponsible thinking.

Beyond that, I live in a town where the local high school has virtually no dress code that I am aware of. I have seen girls walking to the school in booty shorts and bikini tops – no jokes, and boys walking to the school with their pants around their ankles. Moreover, our old babysitter knew several kids her graduating year (just a couple years ago) that were suspended for having sex on the dance floor during homecoming. Let that sink in for a minute. In light of those incidences, alone, I’m all for dress codes for prom. And sex ed classes prior to prom. And open conversations with our kids about appropriate and inappropriate behavior. But dress codes too.

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Side note: the school has since apologized for the dress code signs and good girl comment, so  everyone seriously does need to calm down on this one. It’s over.

Case #3 – Kid With SPD Gets Rough TSA Pat-Down, Handles It Like A Champ, Mom Records It To Go Viral On Social Media, World Explodes With Anger

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Did you guys hear about this kid with sensory processing disorder who triggered a red flag with the TSA and had to get a pat down? Instead of – oh I don’t know – standing there and helping him through it, Mom instead demanded the presence of two police officers, and broke out her video camera, posting it on social media instantly with the caption “we were treated like dogs.”

I presume she was opening her GoFundMe account for mental anguish  immediately afterwards.

Of course if a kid got through with a bomb – a tactic often used by terrorists – the world would have wondered why the kid hadn’t been treated more doggedly.

Now even though the kid handled it like a champ, and there were police present so obviously no misconduct took place, the comment sections of the Internet went wild with people calling it molestation, calling for the firing of the TSA agent, and – my personal favorite – “no one could see what happened behind that TSA agent’s fat ass, he likely groped your son, sue the government NOW NOW NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Okay.

Case #4 – Daddy-Daughter Dances

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I guess it’s Daddy-Daughter Dance season. News to me, but I’ve seen all kinds of posts by friends and family taking their kids to them. (I think we may be too introverted of a family.)

This raised a whole issue, though, about eliminating gender-specific-themed events with kids altogether. Which I totally get – as a child that grew up in a single family home, my mother having left us when I was only 10, I was constantly left out of mother-daughter events because …well… I didn’t have a full time mother.

The issue was raised because a single mother apparently tried to take her daughter to a daddy-daughter dance and was turned away. Now, I get that the situation was a little weird – the woman dressed up as a man, she even colored on a beard. That’s just strange, even though she was clearly just trying to make a sad situation cool. Except it turned out to be completely uncool when she was turned away simply because she wasn’t actually a man.

Because. She. Was. Not. A Man.

And this was not the first time this kind of a thing has happened.

So some articles go around the Internet about eliminating gender-specific events in schools once and for all, and – big surprise – a debate breaks out. Is there anything on the Internet that doesn’t result in debate anymore?

The bottom line is that irrespective of the sanctity of your husband taking his daughter to some stupid dance every spring, or your son having a special mother-son school breakfast, this is 2017. It’s time to recognize that not everyone is living the same life as you, and sometimes those events hurt people’s feelings, especially the kids’. Go on dates with your kids on your own time.

Case #5 – Another Wardrobe Malfunction

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Had enough of debates inspired by clothing yet? I sure as shit thought I had, and then I saw an article calling for an end to poking fun at dumb dads.

I guess it was inspired by a onesie that has instructions for a dumb dad printed on the face of it. For one, it was cute. For two, dumb dads do actually exist. For three, I want to know where I can get one for my husband, because really Nick – it isn’t funny anymore that you can’t figure out where the baby’s arm goes.

Boy did the trolls come out for that one, though – writing multi-paragraph dissertations in the comments section about patriarchy and sexism and reverse sexism and dads are perfectly capable of dressing their kids in fact they are more capable than moms and JESUS FUCKING CHRIST CAN PEOPLE SERIOUSLY NOT TAKE A JOKE ANYMORE?

I am going to say something quite shocking right now (apparently): there really does exist a subculture of male parents that could otherwise be described as dumb dads.  They are given chance after chance after chance to be just as qualified of a parent at the little things as mom is, but no matter what they do, they always fuck it up. That’s just reality, really of the human condition because – newsflash – we are not all perfect at everything. Dumb dads are actually capable of being really good parents and at the same time too stupid about little things like putting on a onesie or throwing a pony tale in their daughter’s hair.

My husband is one of them. While he’s a great parent in certain ways, he just can’t in others. On more than one occasion he’s asked me for help getting the kids dressed, and today – ironically about ten minutes after I read that article – he put the baby’s diaper on (AGAIN) in such a way that it fell off and I was peed all over.

Being peed on sucks and it’s nice as a mom to be able to vent to the Internet about that. Except you can’t because then you are questioning the parental capabilities of all fathers (seriously, WHY?).

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Honestly, the issue isn’t about sexism or patriarchy, but rather the inability to admit that we aren’t perfect at everything. More appealing than a man so effeminate and insecure in himself that he has to get defensive every time a woman questions his parenting abilities is – without a doubt – a man that owns his inadequacies and buys the onesie with instructions himself. Because it’s funny.

I assume this is only the beginning, you guys. Trump has been in office for a couple months now. America needs to get back to the important work of being offended by everything, believing everything we read on the Internet at face-value, and refusing to ever admit that we are ever in the wrong about anything. Ever.

I think we all just need to simmer the frick down, but then we would have to pay attention to what is going on around us again. So continue on, people of the Interwebs. Continue on.

 

 

The Dress is White and Gold, and By the Way It’s Also the End Of the World As We Know It

If I live a long life, I imagine myself to be like one of those old people in the movies – the narrators, the storytellers. You know, they always have one, final story to tell. The movie begins and ends with them. It’s always about the defining moment in their lives, invariably unloaded onto some unsuspecting sap who will sit there and listen to the story no one has ever heard.

Like in Edward Scissorhands – it’s snowing and the lady tells her granddaughter the story about the creepy man-made boy with scissors and sheers for hands. Or in Fried Green Tomatoes, when an elderly Idgie Threadgoode gives Kathy Bates’ character the story personal liberation through her friend Ruth and the Whistestop Cafe.

I would sit there, old as fuck. Rocking in my rocking chair, covered in blankets as the old ladies in those movies always are. Someone would bring me my tea and tell me I need to rest. I would cough and weakly wave my hand – no, no. I have to tell my story. My period story; the story of my time. And most importantly: a story about something outlandish. Life-changing. Defying everything we thought we knew about the world.

If I’m lucky, my unsuspecting victim will pass my story on. Maybe they’ll make a movie out of it in which I am depicted rocking in my chair by a future generation’s Angela Lansbury.

As years have gone on, though, my dream has been shattered by a dearth of material to concoct my noteworthy tale. Will I have a story about a creepy man-made boy with scissors and sheers for hands to tell? Or about my own Whistestop Cafe? No. I won’t. Will I have a tale about the boy who aged backwards, like in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button? Or one like Forrest Gump had to tell – that was a whopper.

Nope. I won’t have anything quite as good as any of those, and all the other, movies. And while I am sure I will have plenty more opportunities to find a story, I suspect we have reached our height as a generation and a people. It is evident that it is all downhill from here.

What I’m saying is that as a society we have reached our apex, so my story will have to be the one about the day the Internet, and subsequently the world, lost their fucking minds over the color of a dress.

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You would have thought something really crazy happened, judging by how people responded to that photograph.

As for me, I saw one person post about it in the mid afternoon, then went about my day. Read a book for several hours, made dinner, and went to my library book club.

When I got home, everyone had gone completely insane. Videos of families fighting over the color of that dress had gone viral. Parody comics were posted. Then the scientific analysis began. “The science behind the dress.” Some people are color blind. Some people have their screens adjusted differently. It’s an optical illusion.

Legitimate news sites were posting serious articles debating theories about that goddamned article of clothing. All within the span of about 12 hours.

It carried on into today, and I have sat in utter disbelief over how an ugly dress has caused such an uproar for several hours. Like, literally, just sitting here – perplexed. In my bathrobe, hair still slightly damp from the shower I took several hours ago. Completely shocked.

How are people so up in arms about this thing?

I only kind-of-sort-of get it when things go viral. The dancing babies and the screaming goats – they’re funny. Glozell’s Cinnamon Challenge and her cereal in the bathtub thing. I understand the heartwarming things that trail their way around the Internet too. The husband with the pink tutu campaign; the kid with cancer that wanted photos of dogs to cheer him up.

I get it, these videos, photos, stories – they are entertaining or heartwarming, or we relate to them. Maybe not so much eating cereal out of our bathtub, but there is still an appeal there. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s there. It’s funny or it means something to us in some strange way.

But the color of a dress? What. the. SHIT?

What’s next? What color is this towel?

We have a set of dark pink bath towels, that are pretty old. I’m fairly certain they came from my father’s home when he moved in with us; nonetheless they are – somehow – still a part of the regular rotation when the towels are changed in all the bathrooms.

Every once in a while, I’ll hear my dad call for someone to get him his brown bath towel. Maybe he’s spilled something and forgotten we have paper towels and cleaning rags too, or he doesn’t realize I’ve changed the towels in the bathrooms and that he is actually – gasp – allowed to use whatever bath towel in the house he likes. He is not limited to his brown bath towel.

But wait a second, I said it was pink. And it is pink, a dark pink – almost like a magenta. And I know this for a fact, because it says “dark pink” on the worn tag.

And yet my dad calls it brown, and on several occasions we have asked the opinions of others, taken and texted photographs for opinions, and gotten mixed responses. Brown, pink, magenta, red…one time my dad said it was dark green, and that is when I seriously started to question his sanity because he had been defending the towel’s brown-ness for years prior to then.

So if I post a photo of this towel, will it go viral too? I mean, yesterday was a huge day for Net Neutrality. Leonard Nimoy died today. But surely the color of a dress or a towel is what’s really important. Right?

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Credit: The Oatmeal

So – regrettably – this is the defining moment of our lives, people. The dress. This is the story I will tell when I am an old lady, rocking in my chair. Surely they will make a feature-length film about it as the recipient of my story will pass the tale on and find meaning in it.

What meaning could there possibly be, you ask? Well when you’ve reached rock bottom, you can only go up from there. Arguably, we are there. The. Color. Of. A. Dress.

So I can see it all now.

The movie will be about the end of an era for humanity. The dress will be symbolic for the crumbling of society as we know it, which it clearly is a sign of. Hopefully someone like Michael Fassbender or Bradley Cooper will be cast as the savior of humanity. Who will rebuild society from its crumbled, intellectual ruins. As the future Angela Lansbury plays me, rocking in my chair, refusing my rest; determined to tell the story of the dress that destroyed everyone’s minds once and for all.

We will rebuild, people. And by the way, the dress is white and gold.

The Internet Is Full of Mean People and Bloggers, and the Two Are One In the Same

Everyone, whether they realize it or not, reads blogs. At least everyone that reads stuff on the Internet.

A lot of times I very intentionally try to only read legitimate news articles. I scope out particular sites I know to be traditional media; and then about a quarter of the way in I realize that I’m really reading a blog post. Then somewhere in there I realize I’m a total doofus because it says in bold print at the top of the page FROM THE BLOG. Really, written blogs are just opinion pieces with a different title on them. Facebook Notes are blogs. Tweets and status updates are too; so are Instagrams – whether you people like it or not, pretty much anyone that uses the Internet and social media has in some form blogged, or read a blog of any kind and been like “OMG this person is my soulmate – I totally agree with that thing s/he said about this topic I’m so interested in.” Even if it was just a Foursquare check in with the comment “best tacos ever.”

The list of things that could qualify as blogs is unending. Opinions on best foods for dieting, opinions on best strategies to work out, opinions on sports teams, joke Tweets, hashtag parties, #TBT and #foodporn…

Alt.nerd.obsessive

I could go on. As long as it’s logged on the web, it’s a blog. The Internet is for sharing, no way around it.

Once, a long time friend told me that she hated bloggers. Then about five minutes later she posted two updates – one a blog-style Facebook note on diet tricks and tips, the other a Tweet about how she thought Portillos had the best hot dogs in the history of hot dogs. (Irony much?) At that point I couldn’t resist, I had to ask why she shared so much stuff and posted her own blog-style updates, when in fact she claimed she hated bloggers. She clarified for me that day something I wouldn’t realize until years later is quite a profound statement on blogging, and the Internet in general. Bloggers – the Internet on the whole – are mean people; people so mean that if anyone ever disagrees with something out there, they and their friends/family/colleagues launch a full-scale Internet attack.

At the time, I immediately dismissed everything she said.

I have been writing for four years now. Probably five since that friend said she hated bloggers. Shortly after I began writing, someone (or someones – I really don’t remember) suggested I start a blog. I did, and it morphed into what it is today – a place in which I rant, complain, share stories, and sell my books. Sometimes I write a lot of blog posts in a short period of time; other times weeks or months go by with not a peep from me, as far as my blog is concerned.

You learn quickly in the blog world (the world of the Internet) that there are a lot of people out there with things to say and share, and yet only a select few of them ever get to the forefront. I mean – like – the blogs that go places. As in all things in life, it is very political. It is a lot about who you know. Usually, the most untalented of people are those that are read the most. You also learn that the worst writers are some of the most popular bloggers.

This isn’t to say that all of the most popular bloggers are bad writers, but there are definitely a handful of terrible writers and worse human beings out there that have mastered the art of page views, buzz words, and using infographics as legitimate substitutes for actual, real words and ideas.

And being mean anytime anyone questions something they’ve posted.

Yet you go with the flow and keep your yap shut, because if you say anything that the in-crowd and the people that adore them (read: anyone regularly published on the Huffington Post) doesn’t like; well then you are nothing but an Internet troll. An Internet troll with time on his/her hands, and “no life.”

And then you stop reading a lot of their articles or blogs, simply because you just can’t keep it shut anymore. You don’t want to happen to you what happened to those other people. You know, the ones people think are Internet crackpots. You don’t want to be told you’re an Internet troll when you say that someone sounds like a racist, judgmental dick; even when that’s just the truth. You don’t want to be name-called by a group of people you have never met in your life, simply because you disagree.

But you also don’t want to keep silent in a forum where people are supposed to say things.

It happens all the time. Someone posts some pithy piece of shit blog, and then anyone who speaks to the contrary or makes any sort of constructive criticism or dissenting opinion is called a troll and attacked with several “you”s (you just took that personally, you obviously have limited education, and so on). I just saw it this morning on a Huffington Post blog about suburban moms. Now, after careful investigation, I came to the realization that this particular post was a pitch for a new book; and also had a lot of potential (I mean we suburban moms do deserve a lot of poking fun at). But the article really was lazy – lacking introduction, bearing no sense of humanity or connectivity to the suburban moms that were so callously being made fun of; and in the end, concluded with a “buy my BOOK!” Really?

UnknownNaturally, when I returned to read the comments, anyone that dissented – that said it wasn’t that funny (it wasn’t), or that it was a little stereotypical (as I said, no connectivity) – anyone that said anything like that kind of a response was attacked with 66 or 89 (or some other absurd number of) other comments full of “you”s (you took it too personally, get an education and a sense of humor was my favorite).

Huh? Had I commented, I would have said it was unfunny and stereotypical too.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely Internet trolls out there who pick fights for no reason at all. You can smell them from a mile away, and they reek of a comment or reply that has absolutely nothing to do with what you are talking about. But somehow – somewhere along the line – any form of dissent or disagreement, or even comments in opposition or of slight criticism – are seen as Internet troll behavior. Negativity. Not PC.

Now I understand my friend and her harsh feelings about bloggers all those years ago. The Internet is like one, big bag of dicks – there’s so many mean people on it.

The mean people aren’t in the people that write blogs with jokes or satire, though. The mean people aren’t those that post about their beliefs about vaccines or breastfeeding or home births or about how judgmental everyone seems to become after they hit 30. The mean people aren’t those who have political interests or are overly zealous football fandom either.

The mean people are the ones who can’t take a little bit of opposition. The mean people are the ones who have forgotten that the Internet has a lot of potential to be a really fun place for people to share and communicate, about whatever they want really. The mean people are taking this potentially awesome place and turning it into a pile of shit with all their PC terms and delicate sensibilities. And this incessant need for everyone to always agree – no matter what.

What a terrible and boring place this is becoming as a result.

There’s an old saying I’m sure we’ve all heard: if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Well come on, Internet bloggers. Get out of the fucking kitchen if you can’t handle the rising temps. Maybe if you do, things around here will be cool again.