Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And it goes around, and around, and around...

I've just been over catching up on the Yarn Harlot, and read one of her posts defending herself and her co-organiser in the aftermath of Sock Summit registration day.

First of all, I think the post was totally unnecessary. All the wounded feelings and dignified explanations are more appropriate on a low-profile forum - the YH is anything but. Once you are on the NY Times bestseller list for your knitting books, and you are organising an internationally-heralded four-day conference with thousands of registrants and hundreds of thousands asking for email updates, you are in the kind of league where you WILL get some negative feedback and: baby, by now you should be able to deal. There's no need to fish your readership for soothing affirmation.

The post isn't what really got up my nose, though. I browsed the comments for a bit and a few things struck me. You know what really pisses me off about the blogiverse? When people say things like this:

...we have managed to raise a society of selfish, self-centered, rude and agressive people who think the sun rises and sets on them.

...might be that time of the month too (I'm just saying)

I would have told all the nasty pasties to shove their needles where the sun don't shine.

It's impossible not to let mean, vicious comments hurt, but try to think about what wretched lives those writers must lead. How else to explain their vitriol?

I hope they feel deep shame and embarrassment for their deplorable behavior. Stephanie, take heart. You have many supporters and friends..many more than those hateful people will ever have.

And to all those slinging abuse in the comments section, an extreme 'Pot and kettle, much?' The irony is simply reeking.

Then there are the ones who love to show how mature and gracious they are by writing things like this:

Send me the names of the meanies and I'll totally go tangle their stashes (after I've sifted out some goodies as due recompense on your behalf!).

Some people are selfish and bitter when they don't get what they want. Those are the mentally ill ones. I feel badly for their poor families.
["Mentally ill"? Seriously?]

For all those rotten people who sent you hate mail:
May their mohair and laceweight yarns be forever tangled beyond recovery.
May their entire stash of wools be eaten by pesticide-resistant moths.
May the rest of their yarn be inundated by a sewer overflow.
May all of their dpns break, two at a time, forever.

Steph, Tina: May the rude emailers never get their heels to look right. May they miscount stitches, and may they miscount cables and lose their Lantern Moons. May their cats pee in their quiviut stashes; a pox of moths upon their fiber rooms.

Which is an interesting sentiment, especially with all the warnings floating around:

For those of you who are spreading hate - Karma. KARMA.

I hope karma swings around sooner rather than later and whacks the freakouts upside the head(s) with a large sack of perspective.

And here I'd like to remark that karma, as a concept, is maybe the most tiresome, imagination-sucking, passive-aggressive thing that has ever happened to us a society.

Plus there's this hilarious thing where people are forever sighing about "karma", but only as payback that's bound to happen to someone they don't like, and never as something that is HAPPENING TO THEM BECAUSE OF SOMETHING THEY DID. If "karma" rules apply, then Steph and Tina must have done something terrible in a former life.

To use another tiresome, passive-aggressive, hackneyed comment-speak, "Just sayin'."

I could go on and on - trust me - but as far as expressing my sentiments, I believe this person, the 765th-ish commenter and the victim of a simple typo, said it best:

You likely won't get to read this vomment, and that's ok.


Dave Hingsburger said...

If you're going to put yourself in the public eye, if you're going to write a blog and leave it open for comments ... welcome to the world of anonymous people who hate you. I have a couple of anons who stalk me and zap me every now and then. Others rally to my 'cause' and that's cool but, hey, it's an anonymous remark. And Yarn Harlot, who has personally done me harm and who I have difficulty not despising, seems to be someone who posts to encourage her sense of 'victim' and her need of ((((hugs)))) yeeeuck.

Shan said...

I'm sure there are plenty of anonymous people who hate me, too.

And not just authors whose books I review.

But they don't bother to send me any "hate mail" - nobody wastes a perfectly good bit of hate mail on small potatoes. After all, hate mail is how you know you've Arrived.

clumsy ox said...

It's the smug self-righteousness of "rallying round" comments that is really annoying. As you pointed out, if karma is reality, then it must be assumed all victims of every misfortune probably deserve whatever they get.

And the rather interesting phenomenon of aggressive and vindictive love-ins is all but universal. I'm unsure where the break-down in thought and/or communication lies. Surely they can't actually believe what they write? Kinda like all the moral relativists I know who whine about "injustice."

But rational thought is so passe: vicious love-ins are much more the thing nowadays.

What do they teach in these schools?

Shan said...

Not logic, certainly.

lizbon said...

Ha! And that's what I love about you. The willingness to tell it like it is, even if the herd of thousands is headed in the opposite direction.

Though I will say this: I did leave a supportive comment on that post, because I was actually horrified by her tale. I mean, yes, I know, Internetular fame inherently attracts trolls, but it's a SOCK CONFERENCE. Not the sort of thing that ruins lives.

kate said...

Hmmm.... I read the post and didn't think much more than some people can be very bizarre. I read YH because she is a talented writer. Not every post grabs me, but more do than don't. I don't read the comments on her posts as there are far too many.
I do think that few of us can comprehend the world of a blogger who has over 10,000 readers and gets hundreds of comments regularly.

Penny said...

I gave up Yarn Harlot because I can't comment on her blog. They just vanish into the ether.

There is no message to say why, no sign-in page, no anti-spam devices, just a complete lack of the stuff which I have written.

AFAIK, no-one else has this problem: at least I've never seen it mentioned.

mel said...

Dood. I must have arrived (and excuse me while I snarf my coffee). I deleted the offending comment as it was neither pertinent, nor useful. But I admit to a few self-righteous thoughts (of the "..think about what wretched lives those writers must lead." sort) I'm sure I deserved it somehow ;) Mostly, I'm finding I don't want a whole lot of drama in my life (which may be a little self-righteous too. Oh dear.) I can't keep up with the people that I WANT to keep up with, let alone the hype surrounding things like this. And even though I'm pretty quick to unsubscribe to blogs where I see this happen, I'm not immune to clicking the links to get there and then spending an inordinate amount of time reading. ugh.

Annalea said...

Hmmmm. Lots of different thoughts spiraling around in this head I carry.

Of course Stephanie dealt with what was happening. (I'm using her first name on purpose--we are discussing a mortal woman here, not an objectified personality or imaginary book character.) I don't see anything wrong with how she chose to do it. Her blog is hers, regardless of how many readers visit it.

As far as telling the whole story, hate mail and all, I think it did good. I object strongly to the vindictive and self-righteous comments (as they're simply the flip side of the hate mail, no?). However, the fact that Stephanie has those types commenting doesn't change her motivations. From what I've gleaned of her ethics and personal moral code, she has a strong sense of what is appropriate behavior and what is not. And, as she has done in the past, chose to make a public stand against abusive behavior. Maybe it made some think more carefully, or raised some readers' consciousness of how they treated their family that day.

I highly doubt she was fishing. Fishing for compliments implies a calculating and insincere motivation for expressing a need or problem. And while Stephanie may, like all of us, suffer from bouts of insecurity or other shortcomings, insincerity and calculating manipulation are two I've never seen from her--not in all of the archives since she began. Either she's some kind of freak mastermind, able to keep up a completely false persona over years and untold hours of knitterly contact on book tours, et al, or she's just as she seems to be. Human. And a rather respectably principled one at that.

It's easy to condemn someone else for something they seem to have done--but don't abandon mens rea. Without knowing her intent, it's not possible to pass equitable judgement.

There's my .05.


Shan said...

Annalea - points noted.

I would be more convinced of her desire merely to set the record straight, rather than to fish for affirmation, had she disabled comments on that post.

Historically, when she posts with this slightly tearful, defensive tone, her commenters are moved to pour out ill will towards whoever has upset her. Witness the infamous "Those socks are ugly" comment and its aftermath.

To conclude, I agree she is human. (In fact, her true genius consists of making all of us see how exactly like us she is -- and, the corollary, how exactly like her, we are. I admire her marketing approach.) However, I'm sure she was aware of the response she was likely to get to her "Update" fact the whole thing strikes me as disingenuous.

I didn't see my remarks as passing judgment, but you're right, I have. And, really, that's what I am - a critic. If I were a carpenter, I'd be analyzing Mike Holmes. If I were a chef, I'd be critiquing, I don't know, Rachel Ray. I'm a belly dancer, so I criticise the BD Superstars. I'm a knitter, so it's the Yarn Harlot...a name she chose as a clever comment on her knitting tendencies, the name she chose to represent her in public, the name she puts on her books.

And I'd also like to say, nice rebuttal! I'm loving my commenters right now.

Annalea said...

Thanks. :o) I love it when discussion can continue in blog comments . . . that's when I really learn to see things from another perspective, and when further understanding (in absence of agreement) can be reached.

I think part of the disconnect between the way you and I see what Stephanie says is the way we each define "business". After being slammed with hard-ball tactics by a landlord (who belonged to my church, I'm sad to say), and who treated my roommate very, very poorly, the phrase "It's just business" has always stood as the weakling's excuse for dishonest/dishonorable behavior. While there are certainly divisions between personal life and business transactions, I've made a conscious decision to treat those I deal with (in whatever capacity), with the same respect and courtesy I give my family and friends. I don't allow myself to be taken advantage of . . . but do so without ire or violence. "Wise as serpents and harmless as doves," to borrow a more well-known New Testament phrase.

Hence, when I see a post like Steph's "Update", I filter it by that standard, as she has, to me, seemed to uphold that same rule in her life. Think for a minute: she's raising teenagers. If you were in her shoes, would you do ANYTHING on the blog that you wouldn't want your daughters to imitate? (For that matter, you don't have to pretend to be in her place--you blog, and have daughters that will read it someday, either on Blogspot, or thanks to the Way Back machine.)

Remember my plea for tolerance post? After the fact, some readers told me I had sounded self-righteous . . . when that was the furthest thing from my mind and intent. I just wanted to ask that we all work together in respect and courtesy, and stop the threats and violence. And yet, certain topics and certain stances seem automatically to hit a red button in readers' brains, coloring the text with that tone.

I wondered why she hadn't disabled comments on that post . . . and realized that there's a very real possibility that she doesn't know how. (Or that she didn't know until it was too late.) Whatever the state of her technical knowledge on that point, it might not have occurred to her in her sleep-deprived (was she at 36 or 48 hours without sleep at that point?), over-wrought state. I think she did a great job of managing a calm tone considering I would be in the hospital, had I done that.

As for being a critic (btw, you're welcome ;o), I believe it's possible to criticize without falling into the "it's only business" manner of thinking. I also think it may be a distinction not many have thought about.

So, there's another nickel's worth, and the baby has started yelling, so I'm off to see what I can do about that. Have a good night! :o)

Anonymous said...

nitters are dum.

knitmygrits said...

Her Canadian star is fading if it hasn't already. The only fans she has left are those in the States who, coincidentally, will vote for Trump.

The faster she fizzles out, the happier me and oh, about 65 other knitters I know who all think she's past her time... LONG past her time.