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Friday, February 24, 2012

Everyone Has a Breaking Point

Last week, I tweeted about how I was not watching Whitney Houston's funeral, because I don't like funerals.
Someone that does not follow me, that I do not know, and wouldn't know from a hole in the wall, decided to respond by questioning my upbringing and my understanding of funerals.
Um, no, I just do not like them.
Anyway, this reponse raised the proverbial hackles. How dare someone who doesn't know me question how I was raised, and my faith? I furiously typed a response, but then erased it. No need to start a fight with someone who is just one of the millions of whackadoodles yelling on Twitter.

It was easy for me to ignore this tweet. Imagine, though, if that one message was multiplied by 100, and accompanied by e-mails and comments on my blog. I might be able to ignore it for a while, dismiss the "haters," delete the messages.

But for days, months, even years? I'm not so sure.

I bring this up because yesterday I followed the Dooce "meltdown" on Twitter and her blog. Long story short, someone tweeted about Dooce, someone else replied in agreement, and Dooce snapped. She told them both to bleep off, an understandable reaction from someone who has just.had.enough.
Throughout the day and evening, tweets were flying, Dooce posted on her blog about the subject, and people came out of the woodwork to congratulate her for standing up for herself. Dooce herself appeared to be the internet equivalent of a barnyard rooster, strutting around like "check me out, I'm bad."

Here's the thing. I get it. I get that you can only ignore hate for so long. Negative comments questioning everything from your choice in hairstyle to how you raise your children to how you handle your marriage would wear on anyone. Dooce has done an admirable job, from what I can see, not responding to those who do not appreciate her blog, lifestyle, and opinions. And I also understand that she is under considerable strain these days.
But you know what? While I understand that everyone has a breaking point, I also understand that when you put your entire life on display, sharing every thought and feeling and home renovation project on the internet, where it can be seen by millions of people, you are opening yourself up to all sorts of criticism. You have to have a thick skin to blog the way Dooce does. I'm not sure I could handle hundreds of people commenting on my bathroom decor or how I talk to my kids every day. I get upset when a stranger makes a comment about my daughter at Target -- I can't imagine a whole crowd of know-it-alls making judgments in writing.
That being said, I don't agree with how Dooce handled the situation yesterday. Perhaps my reaction comes from personal experience. I told someone to bleep off once. Those two little words did more harm to that relationship, and several others, than you can even imagine. For years, I've had strained relationships with several family members because I couldn't hold my tongue anymore. Granted it's different than dealing with strangers, but the lesson is the same. You might momentarily feel better, but there are better ways to stand up for yourself, ways that don't make you appear confrontational, angry, and yes, offensive. A clever turn of phrase, blocking the user.. . .anything but resorting to playground antics would have been better.
I know that Dooce doesn't give a rat's behind what I think of her. She doesn't care that I think her behavior after telling those people where to go and what to do there was immature. She doesn't care that if it were, me, I would take a break from chronicling my every move for the blog for a while, and focus on healing myself and deciding what to do about my marriage, without the prying eyes and opinions of millions of people who haven't been in her shoes for the last decade.

In fact, she might just give me the middle finger and tell me to go scrapbook something.

And really, at the end of the day, all this incident really did was bring more traffic to her site, and get her more followers. As a new blogger, I suppose I could take lessons from Dooce. I could respond to the nutjobs on Twitter who think it's their job to teach me what a funeral really means, getting attention for a millisecond in the Twittersphere.
Or, I could just ignore them, like Dooce did for so long.

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