Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Meta. Sorta.

One of my esteemed readers has suggested that we simply move to alleviate the burden of paying for the excessive amount of gas consumed during the hour commute to and from husband's work.

What a novel idea. That hadn't occurred to us before.

Oh wait...yes it has.

We are planning to move and have been for some time.

But we are planning to move out of state, which is not something that can be accomplished on the spur of the moment. We have mapped out a five year plan, the first phase of which (paying off all unsecured debt) we have recently accomplished.

We still have two homes (main residence and rental property) that we need to sell, and both of them need substantial improvements before they are ready to go on the market. At least, they do if we want to get top dollar.

That takes money. Yannow, that thing that is in short supply these days. That stuff that we need to keep our kids fed and clothing on their backs? Yeah, that.

Also, the rental property has legal issues attached to it which make selling it impossible until those issues are resolved. It's a big mess, and will take some doing to straighten out. Again, that takes money. We simply don't have the cold hard cash to plunk down for a lawyer. We did consult one not long ago and he advised that unless we had about $15,000 dollars to throw away, we should probably just let the matter bide for now.

Then of course, there is the small matter of a job and place to live.

But let's assume we're going to sell our home and move closer to the city, as reader x suggests. Let's assume our house is in market ready condition.

We bought our home for $130,0000 12 years ago. Our mortgage payment is lower than most folks' combined car payments. This would not be the case if we bought a home today, especially if we tried to buy a home inside the perimeter.

Some friends of ours bought a home near Candler Park several years ago and paid three times what we did for a house that was half the size. Of course, they had the added bonus of drug dealers on every corner and a three liquor stores within walking distance, so I suppose that the convenience alone made it worth the asking price.

G'head, ask me if they still live there.

Atlanta is just not a family friendly city, like say...Chicago. When I was in Chicago a couple weeks ago, there were families everywhere. That's because Chicago has housing, schools, a reliable and well laid out mass transit system, grocery stores, schools, social amenities and cultural venues within easy access to residential areas. I freakin LOVE Chicago for that reason. I could see myself living there very easily.

Atlanta is making an effort to entice more families inside the perimeter, but I don't think it's a trend that is going to be embraced any time soon. Another friend of ours recently bought a condo downtown after getting divorced. He says the city is a ghost town on the weekends unless you go to a club or a bar or a sporting event.

Why? Because families don't live down there. The only housing is high rise living and who wants to do that with a kid? There are homes downtown of course, but the cost of owning one is prohibitive to anyone but the upper crust, unless you are willing to put up with the uh...local color.

So there's that.

Then there's the fact that I have children. I have to think about where and how they are being educated. Our boys used to go to private school, but we knew that we couldn't afford that for very long if I stayed at home. So, when Pubescent One was in second grade, they made the move to public.

We live in a county that is known as one of the best in the state for education. And, we live in an area of the county that is particularly well known for it's excellence in that respect. I don't know if I agree with that, but I think the shortcomings suffered by the school my boys attens are those that any public education system is bound to be plagued with. In general, the schools here are the best you will find in Georgia, which is exactly why we bought the house in the first place.

I'm not willing to sacrifice that. Period.

Why am I explaining all this to you? After all, I don't have to justify my life choices to anyone. And usually, I don't. But I see this disturbing thing happening in the blogopshere. Sadly, it's not a new thing, but it seems particularly virulent lately.

That is, people judging people soley on the basis of what they write on their blogs.

Now, judgementalism is nothing new. Not in real life and not on the internet. I've seen more flame wars and encountered more competimommies, trolls, whack jobs and ne'er do wells than you can possibly imagine. Believe me, you can't. Possibly imagine. What I've been through. I'll tell you about it sometime.

But it seems that bloggers and blog readers are particularly quick to judge and also particularly quick to offer unsolicited advice to people who are perfect strangers.

Now...I understand that when one blogs, and one shares one's life, one opens one's self up to a certain amount of scrutiny, judgement and commentary. I get that. I accept that. I usually just ignore it and move on. I know you people think you know me, but you don't, so I try not to let criticism or disapproval bother me.

But we do think and feel that we know people whose blogs we read. It's weird, isn't it? The intimacy that blogging creates? It's an unusual kind of intimacy. I say things here that I often wouldn't say in real life, so in some respects, my readers know me on a deeper level than the people I encounter daily.

But you don't know me on a personal level. In many ways, the me you know, is a manufactured me. I let you see what I want you to see. I try to be genuine, and I think to some degree I succeed.

But you've never seen me lose my cool with my kids, or snipe at my husband for something completely inconsequential, or pick my nose, or talk too much, or not follow through on a promise or drop the ball on something I committed to, or...whatever. You get the idea.

I create a persona unconsciously by filtering the content of my blog. I think it's just human nature to celebrate that which is good, and positive. We talk and write about what's good because it feels good.

And also, though you know some of my deepest thoughts and don't know the minutaie of my life.

Anyway...the point of all this is....

Offering someone a pat solution and flip advice based on the little snippets that are gleaned from a one sided portryal of that person's life is....not...constructive, really. Or realistic.

Though I do understand that it's well intentioned. Most of the time.

I try not to do it, though I don't always succeed. I know I'm guilty of it sometimes, and I think we all are on occasion.

I'm going to try harder.

One last thing...

Why does my son have a cell phone? Because he's 13. And every other 13 year old on the face of the planet has one.

I could try to sell it as a safety issue, a convenience issue, but it really boils down to the fact that he needs one to feel as if he fits in.

I grew up in a household with three children and barely enough money to feed us all. I had a good childhood because I had loving supportive parents who did their best to give us a good life. But I wore second hand clothing and I never had the latest thing until I was old enough to earn money and buy those things myself.

It sucked more than I could ever possibly express.

I can't give my kids every material thing their heart desires. I wouldn't if I could because I don't want my kids to grow up thinking the world owes them something. I don't want to raise spoiled brats with entitlement issues.

But I can give them some of the things that they want and they think are important. Because to a kid, especially a teenager, they are important. And all my ranting and raving about materialism, consumerism, elitism and individualism won't change that.

It is your god given right to disagree with that decision and the reason behind it. It is also your right to decide differently for your child.

But unless my parenting choices cause harm to my child, those choices are none of your damn business.

EVEN if I write about them on my blog.

Now, I'm not saying...don't comment. I'm not saying...don't share your opinion. I'm not saying that we should all blow sunshine and roses up each other's asses.

I like comments. I like opinions. I like debate.

But let's temper that with some kindness and common sense, please.

Most of us think through our life choices very carefully. Maybe too carefully. I think a common trait among bloggers is that of overthinking.

All I'm saying is that let's not look at blogging as just a series of opportunities to judge one another.

Blogging is more and better than that. If we make it so.

(P.S. This post and the previous one are two stellar examples of why Wordless Wednesday is not for me.)


  • At 7:52 AM, Blogger Polgara said…

    Well said! *applause*
    Pol x

  • At 8:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Over the past couple of years I have developed a list of favorites and commented here and there, but mostly lurked. One major "theme" I noticed was the blogosphere's distinct similarity to high school. But, in it's defense the PTA can be that way, too. That said, I think there's always going to be some over opinionated asshat with a pat solution or a quick judgement call who feels perfectly comfortable saying that shit out loud whether it's the internet, your living room, or Target.

    The cool thing is, the internet gives you time to come up with a much better comeback. You go, girl!

    And I'm the first to comment! Woohoo! The others must be frightened. ;)

  • At 8:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh, I thought I was going to be the first to comment!

    But I am going to second what the previous two have said. Well said, BA! A standing ovation for a fabulous post.

  • At 8:26 AM, Blogger Namito said…

    Oh man, the love. Can you feel it? CAN YOU FEEL THE LOVE?

    Testify, you fierce woman.

  • At 8:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    And here I thought my defense of you was sufficient. You said it perfectly.

  • At 8:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow, I have to say you have me scared to even leave a comment on a blog anymore. Although I can understand your anger over feeling like you must justify your decisions to strangers, but if you don't want unsolicited advice perhaps you should turn off the option to leave comments?

    I don't leave comments often, but when I feel a person's pain and feel like I might make a suggestion that perhaps hasn't been considered, I would hope my suggestion would be appreciated and not used as fodder for a future post. I realize that some of it is all in the presentation/wording, in which case, not all of us (including myself) are not as proficient at wording as you are.

    I feel for you BA and your financial situation. Not sure if the economy will turn around soon, but if not, I'll be sure to keep my advice and suggestions to myself. ~Kellie

  • At 9:09 AM, Blogger Gross|Photo said…

    Just one more reason that "blogs are stupid". You said it...=) The internet is very impersonal and many, many don't think of what they are saying and how it will come across. Another reason to use the emoticons. It's awful easy to make a simple comment and have it come across 100% opposite of what you intended because no one knows the thoughts going through the mind when you post. Just like this comment. hee hee.

  • At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I do think that some people forget we do not reveal our whole selves on our blogs. We may reveal portions of her, but not all of her.

    I also believe that some people live the bulk of their lives in the blogosphere, and therefore don't have real friends with whom to interact, or give their advice to. And the way they conduct themselves may be a clue as to why that is!

    It does hit us hard though. Even behind the mask of the monitor, we want friendly banter and lively debate, not to be told what to do.

    Here, I'll happily deflect some attention from you, B.A., and give your commenters something to chew on.

    My kids have TVs in their BEDROOMS!!

    On another note, B.A., I know that you have contemplated novel writing. I started a new blog that focuses on my writing life as I write my novel. Would always be happy to have you join in the friendly, writerly banter.

  • At 10:00 AM, Blogger Middle Girl said…

    I think there's always going to be some over opinionated asshat with a pat solution or a quick judgement call who feels perfectly comfortable saying that shit out loud whether it's the internet, your living room, or Target. My mother (who doesn't write or read blogs) and I had an eerily similar conversation the other day. Most recently an acquaintance decided it was necessary to advise her about using a currency exchange to pay her ComEd bill. That's just the tip of some incredibly insensitive, bombastic iceburgs.

    unsolicited. Ultimately, not at all advisable.

    I hope you'll take this advice in the spirit it is go girl!

  • At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Why can't people just take things at face value and not scrutinize everything about EVERYTHING?!

    The point of BA's post was that the cost of living is taking a bite out of so many aspects of our lives.... most Americans are feeling the pinch these days....Offering specific "solutions" to the woes of this particular post was neither warranted nor helpful.

    It must be nice to have all the answers..............

  • At 11:06 AM, Blogger All Things BD said…

    Don't you just love assvice?

    None from this corner, just chiming in to let you know I feel you.

  • At 11:10 AM, Blogger Avalon said…

    BA~~~ you know I love you. That's why I keep coming back, but as always,I have a different perspective on this entire thing.

    I write my Blog expecting a comment here and there. Good or bad. If I put it out there, I have to be prepared to take the heat, no matter how inane I think the comment or the commenter may be. No matter how misunderstood their comments might make me feel. Once I press the " publish" button, and if I have not chosen to turn off comments, what I write is fair game for anyone.

    In Chris' defense, I myself questioned the cost of the cellphone for a 13 year old. NOT because I don't think he should have it for whatever reasons you have decided, but because you spent the majority of the post concerned about increasing costs vs. decreasing income. In my view, a cellphone is NOT a necessary cost. When things were below poverty level for me as a single mother, a cellphone was a wild luxury that was out of reach. As things eased a tiny bit, a cell phone with 911 only access was a reality. As they continue to improve a bit, I have a cell phone family plan for me and the Princess, but the minutes are strictly limited and I refuse to pay extra for text messaging when we each have the capability to dial.

    I am 42. The Princess is 24. She hated being the only teenager without a cellphone until she went to college. that was just the way it needed to be to stay afloat.

    The reality is, when the choices come down to food, gas, school supplies, shoes, etc.......a cellphone is NOT a necessity for a 13 year old.

    That is not meant to question your decisions or your reasoning. It is a simple fact.

    Maybe Chris could have stated things in a manner that was easier to take, but I don't disagree with his basic message.

  • At 2:24 PM, Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said…

    I hope you don't think I'm blowing smoke up your ass by telling you that I love you.


  • At 2:28 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Kellie: I'm sorry your feel hesitant about commenting. Sincerely. But I did try to convey that I do enjoy different perspectives and lively debate. But there a time, a place and a way to give feedback constructively.

    I'm an opinionated person and I write about some controversial topics. I expect debate. I like it. Please, if you have advice and/or suggestions, give them. I don't know you know you, but the few times you have commented here you have always done so in a civil manner.

    Thanks for sharing your concerns. Please know you are always welcome to comment here.

    Sam: EXACTLY. I think we have to take extra care when communicating in online venues to convey the proper intent behind our words. It's hard sometimes, and I'll admit, sometimes when I'm in a hurry or distracted, I am probably guilty of not taking enough care myself.

    Avalon: I understand and truthfully, your argument has some merit. But you stated your disagreement in a way that is well reasoned, well intentioned, and polite. You always have.

    Also, you didn't imply that I'm so obtuse that I might not have considered that moving would solve our gas problem.

    I didn't mention the cost of his cell phone in that post.

    Really, it's minimal. Husband has to have one for work so it's not an expense we can forego. I didn't have one for many years. It took one breakdown on a isolated stretch of 1-75 in the dark with an infant to rectify that. And actually, it wasn't that much to add him to our plan.

    Anyway, the point is, I can't even remember the last time I did mention it. It might have been when he got it, which was about a year and a half ago, for his 12th birthday. I found it odd that it would be brought up now. I sort of made me suspicious that Chris has just been waiting around for a chance to criticize, though God knows, there have been plenty of opportunities since then.

    So thanks for your rationale comments. They're always appreciated, whether you agree or not.

  • At 3:08 PM, Blogger Girlplustwo said…

    i always like your style.

  • At 3:19 PM, Blogger NatzG said…

    To all those who said that if you blog, you should expect criticism: Yes, absolutely. But since when did tone and politeness fly out the window? I went back and read Chris' responses and I have to say that the use of capitals is very "in-your-face". In case he/she doesn't know this, capital letters are the net's equivalent of shouting. That is just plain rude. And negates any valid point he/she might have.

  • At 3:33 PM, Blogger flutter said…

    oh you know, because moving is way cheaper than gas. People are amazing in what they think is ok to say.

  • At 7:37 PM, Blogger said…

    Ooooh!! I don't click over to your blog for a few days and I miss out on all the fun. Serves me right.

    For what it's worth, I think every single parenting choice you make is wrong, wrong, wrong. You can't write worth a fig. Oh, and your breath stinks. And on, and on...

    (because this is a comment, I will insert this word here: JOKE!! Big, poorly executed, joke.)


    Love your blog, hon. Sorry you got some comments that were less than nice...

  • At 8:26 PM, Blogger Woman in a Window said…

    Sometimes some of us are idiots. I'm hoping it wasn't me this time. (might have been) There are so many things going on in the blogging world/motivations/personalities - it's hard to know what was intended sometimes. eek. Now I'm writing in circles. I'm thinking of all the times I've left bad advice. But ya, I do hear you. Maybe I'll edit myself a little more often. I know I've screwed up sometimes. I know people have put some pretty crazy comments at my place but all in all, just a drop in the bucket.

  • At 9:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Good golly. I'll have to go back and read comments on previous posts, obviously! ;-)

  • At 9:32 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    I don't need to tell you that the ASSvice Chris left to move was one of the ones I get all the time. Like it's so simple to pack up all your stuff, put it on a truck, find a new place to live that is cheaper, and get your kids into a decent school system that understands their special needs requirements. As if!

    The funny thing is, my rent is minimal, like your house payment. If I were to move now, my rent would go up at least $600-1000/month. I live with ceilings that peel off, a landlady that will not fix ANYTHING, a house that is falling apart and I choose to stay here because the apartments up the street with 3 bedroom units (required by law in my state for kids of opposing genders over the age of 12 have their own gender specific can put 10 boys together but not a boy and a girl over 12) are over $3000/month. Don't believe me? (note that apartments are listed by city names, look down to 3/2 for costs.)

    I have more than my share of horrible trolls that say much worse than Chris did, but the fact of the matter is, you had what is a global rant. The costs of food are rising across the country. The cost of EVERYTHING is rising unhindered by global governments. Too bad Chris doesn't read a newspaper. You said nothing that was in any way provocative or outrageous. Chris, OTOH, did. Assvice is another way for saying "I'm in judgement of your parenting/lifestyle choices". You don't do what I think you should do, so you're wrong and stupid and fat and an asshat. Again, as if!

    Crazy comments and assvice suck. That is all.

  • At 9:37 AM, Blogger Maureen Fitzgerald said…

    I am a fellow blogger who is guilty of judging you by what you write.

    I have decided, based on your posts, that you are:

    a fabulous writer,
    a caring and wonderful mother,
    a sensitive and thoughtful individual,
    and someone who is humble about all of her talents. (Hope this comment doesn't change that -wink.)

  • At 1:09 PM, Blogger mamatulip said…

    You articulate yourself real darn well, you know that?

  • At 1:18 PM, Blogger S said…

    damn straight, BA!

  • At 3:07 PM, Blogger Amy Y said…

    In response to the advice about moving closer to work... I think I'd get a more fuel efficient car first. It's less expensive even if it means adding a car payment, than moving... closing costs... and the hassles that come up with changing residences, schools, etc.

    great post ~ I think you made good points. And I'm not just blowing smoke. But if I were to blow smoke up anyone's ass, it'd be yours for sure. :)


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