Sunday, March 27, 2011

In Defense: Post 101 revisited

I have felt the need to write this post for almost a month now, but I just did not know what to say. I had so many thoughts, so much to say, yet at the same time nothing at all. I suppose I should start from the beginning.

It all began around March 1, when I glanced at my blog Stats and noticed something strange. That day an unusually large number of people were reading my post, 101 Reasons Why I Want to Get Married and the numbers continued to grow each day that week. There were tons of people reading it. I wondered why that was. When I tried to see where the traffic was coming from, it seemed that someone had posted it on Facebook. Lot's of readers? Yay! That is exciting, I thought. But in the back of my mind I was suspicious, because the few comments that the post received were not positive ones. Pretty soon I caught on to the fact that there was something going on. Finally, after some asking, an anonymous commenter enlightened me, "This blog has gone viral...kinda to show what's wrong with frummies... It's clear you have zero concept of marriage and are being forced into this situation by your community. The cultural implication of this posting are very far reaching. "

That pretty much sums it all up, but it didn't really stop there. For the most part it seems a lot was said on Facebook about my post, and I cannot track that down, but the post received a lot of feedback through comments, emails, and some other sources, most of which were all highly critical of the post, and of me personally. For those who are curious, here are some of the things people out there had to say:

1. Mark who called my post "Depressing" Read it here
2. "Rolling Eyes and Laughing"
3. An online article on My Jewish Learning, who calls my post both thoughtful and sad
4. Then there Jordan who liked both mine and Coral’s post and decided to make a webpage that generates random numbers from each of our posts. You have to hit “refresh” a couple times to get the full effect.

And to top it all off, the reason why I am writing about this now is that last week Frum Satire wrote about how "lame" my post is, here.

I can understand that people didn't like my post- unless I write about only boring and non controversial topics, people are not going to like or agree with everything I write. Sharing different perspectives is one of the wonderful parts about writing, and particularly blogging. What surprised and confused me was that people did not simply dislike the post, but they were offended, outraged and upset by it. It triggered a strong reaction. I say this because if the reaction was mild, if I had not hit a sensitive spot, then it would not have received such feedback. This surprised me because I did not think there was anything special (in a good or bad way) about the post. Why were people so upset about it?

To be honest, I have no idea why. And I can hear the critics already responding to that statement, telling me that of course I do not understand because I am a close-minded person and I can't see past my own tiny bubble, and that the biggest problem with my post is the very fact that I don't see any problem with the post. The only reason I could see for outrage is if someone thought that everything I wrote is true, which it was not, and I guess that was not obvious. Or perhaps, even if it is not true, people are outraged because it represents a certain mentality that people (particularly those who are far removed from the frum community) dislike. I can understand that while most of those reasons were not true for me, there was truth to my post, and the fact is that the Orthodox community puts an unreasonable amount of pressure on its young people to get married. In that regard, I can most certainly agree that this attitude is quite unfortunate.

The reason I am writing this post, “in defense”, is that I feel my post was misunderstood. This was clear to me from the fact that most people who attacked me accused me of being, to sum up, a typical close-minded, clueless, naive, anti-feminist, frummie. I know that I am not that way in real life, despite how my post might have come across. (Well, I am frum, but I am not frummie. The difference in my opinion is whether you think for yourself.) You don’t have to believe me when I say any of that, since none of you know me in real life. I can see why I came across that way, but I do not think that most readers understood where I am coming from, and therefore read the post the wrong way. I feel people really missed what I was trying to say in the post for the following reason.

I keep reiterating over and over that this post was meant to be humorous and funny and people just didn't get it, but that is not entirely accurate. I am not a funny person, as those who know me in real life will attest to, and the only people who actually get my sense of humor are those who I am really close to and who really get me, which is a small number of people. I did not really mean that the list was meant to be funny, but just that it was not meant to be serious. It was meant to be….amusing. Meaning, and this what I feel like no one really gets; MOST of the reasons on the list are not actually reasons that I want to get married!!! I stated from the beginning that many of those reasons are ridiculous! Of course the post is "lame" if you think I actually believe half those things!! Or if you are expecting to roll on the floor laughing! It horrifies me that there are people out there who truly believe I want to get married because I am under tons of social pressure by my family and community who pity me for being single, to find a husband who will take out the garbage and kills rodents and teach me Torah, while I clean and cook all day. Perhaps I should not have titled the post reasons why *I* want to get married, but reasons in general.

Then there were the people who understood that I was not serious, but were still offended. Why? Because there was truth to a lot of what I said, even though it was not serious. The bottom line is that the Orthodox community does put a lot of pressure on its members to get married. Despite my guess as to why this post really hit the spot with so many people, like I said originally, I am still puzzled at the fact that it received so much attention.

Another reason that this whole situation was thought-provoking for me was that I have never received so many personal attacks as a result of a post. It made me realize that people write things on the internet that they would never say in person. The internet gives people the room to be brutally honest with no consequences. You don’t know me and I don’t know you, and no one will know if you say whatever you please. In fact am sure that some will take this post as an opportunity to continue to critique my original post, and continue to attack me personally. At the end of the day, though, readers only see the side of myself that I put forward, and they do not know the real me, especially if they only read one post. This was a good reminder for me that even though I sometimes think only a few people read this blog, anyone could read what I write and it is important to think about how people can misunderstand what I write. I am considering taking a short break from blogging to reflect and think, or at least on posting a bit less, for the time being.

_

16 comments:

  1. I say this post was not necessary. Who cares abt the peanut gallery? Thank them for giving u traffic. Look @ Rebecca Black, everyone is hating on her video, and thats whats given it 60 million views, shes the one laughing to the bank! This is ur blog, ur platform for 4u to express ur opinions, if someone doesnt like it, they dont have to read it! There is no need to explain urself. Anyone with half a brain first of all understood that this was humor, and second just bloody read what u wrote that it is meant to be humor! There will always be haters and trolls, and there is no use trying to appease them. keep ur stuff coming, there r readers who enjoy what u write and actually look at it in a normal light.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with BD - and having so many personal attacks, or critiques (targeting the source instead of the material you put forth) is both misguided and can be hurtful.

    I'd like to add that when people react strongly to something they see, hear or read it tends to reflect more about THEM than the author or speaker.

    Which leads me to ask... why would someone be outraged or offended by a humorous list of potential reasons someone might have for marriage? Or a satirical presentation of the tremendous pressures placed on Jewish women?

    Therein, I believe, is the key.

    ReplyDelete
  3. BD- Thank you!

    Ish Yehudi (IY?)- I don't know why people were so offended either.

    ReplyDelete
  4. SternGrad, why do you have to defend yourself?
    I thought that post was funny and a lot of the reasons apply to everyone across the spectrum - from non-Jew, to secular Jew, to Modern Orthodox, Chassidish, Yeshivish, etc.)
    To all the haters - stop being so bitter! Honestly, I'd like to see THEIR reasons for getting married.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This post caught me by surprise because I didn't see any of those responses you mentioned. I'm sorry that people so misconstrued what was meant to be a funny post. I know it's hard to ignore the flack you've been getting, but if they want to attack something innocent and humorous, that's their prerogative I don't think they deserve the power you're giving them by responding and hesitating to post in the future.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes, the internet is comfortably anonymous and so, people think they can say what they want. While I don't think that post should be subject to such vitriolic ridicule, there is another point here.

    I don't think it is a good thing for one to become accustomed to using the internet as an anonymous outlet. We believe that thoughts, while private, are not subject to divine retribution; but once publicized, even anonymously, they can be taken into consideration by the higher power.

    I don't think I've ever seen, in your case, "mean" posts; but I have seen them on other "frum" blogs.

    Serious consideration is needed, the same way as one should think 7x before speaking, before posting. Sometimes one says something that will be misconstrued. But when innocent typing is misconstrued, it is there as a constant reference.

    Those who harangued your piece were hiding behind the same anonymous-ness as you, and they won't use it as responsibly as you. Although some just go for the jugular while having their identity out there. They're just scary.

    ReplyDelete
  7. @ bookworm.
    I must disagree. Blogging would not be the same if people couldnt be anonymous. Not having to say things in their own name allows people a freedom of speech which they wouldn't otherwise have. As anything in life, it can be abused, but the concept is a good one.
    @ LASC
    After having posted my own response to an something said about my blog, I came to the realization that responses are futile. They will 99.9% of the time not change anyones opinion. You made it sufficiently clear that the post was written in a humorous way, those who want to hate on it, will do it regardless of what you say

    ReplyDelete
  8. Don't question yourself too much when it comes to Heshy, sterngrad.

    "I am not a funny person, as those who know me in real life will attest to, and the only people who actually get my sense of humor are those who I am really close to and who really get me, which is a small number of people."

    Sorry to hear this.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sefardi Gal- I would like to see their reasons as well!

    SiR- Yes, I am sorry, too. But you are quite right. There was one moment a little while back when I almost deleted my blog, but I realized that, like you said- they don't deserve that power. I intend to keep blogging, despite those who will continue to misunderstand.

    Bookworm- you make a lot of very good points. Serious consideration is needed. I always think before posting (in fact I wish I thought before speaking to the same degree), but I don't always think about how things can be misunderstood.

    The Professor- You're right. The goal of this post was not to make anyone change their mind, I knew I would never do that. However, I felt that I needed to defend it, even if it wouldn't change anything, just for myself. Some respond to being attacked or provoked by going on the offensive and attacking back. While I did not feel I should sink to that level, I at least wanted to defend my post.

    ReplyDelete
  10. lawschooldrunk- Heshy's post was the least of my worries. I was too excited about the fact that he linked me to be upset. Are you sorry to hear that I'm not funny or that only a small number of people really understand me? :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Good thing I don't write anonymously, my address and phone number are available if you know what to look for, then again, we Silicon Valley folk know that nothing is really anonymous - a simple call to friends can reveal who you are in 10 minutes.

    I hope I didn't offend you too much - sure I thought it was lame, but do you know how many people think my stuff is lame on a daily basis?

    You should know that Tamar (author of MJL piece) is a staunch feminist and not such a fan of the frum (although when she's courteous to me for some reason)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Heshy- don't worry, by the time I read your post I had read so many other comments/posts that were worse, so it didn't bother me too much. I was mostly honored to be mentioned.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The Professor - freedom of speech is always available. If it can only be exercised with the security of anonymity, maybe its not worth saying.

    ReplyDelete
  14. @ bookworm

    I beg to differ. There are many bloggers out there whose way of blogging, or just blogging in general would not be accepted in the circles they are part of. Not wanting to hurt their 'statuses' in their communities, but still wanting to be able to blog, they are anonymous. Another reason is that often a blogger will want to use their blog as a platform to express themselves about 'private' things. Things they want / have to say, but couldnt in their own name.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Professor - my objection is that anonymity often gives bloggers too much comfort, that they then say hurtful and insulting things, because after all, nobody knows who I am. The prohibition on "Daber mirmah," which is hurtful speech to someone's face, still holds even when cloaked behind a user name.

    Discretion in speech is a Jewish ideal. Bloggers should use that same discretion, thinking, "Would I say this to someone's face?"

    In the case of bloggers who post under their real identities, and don't use any discretion in terms of hurting others or treating certain matters with sensitivity . . . that doesn't make anything okay.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Saying insulting things to be insulting, is a totally different story.

    To say something honest, and upfront however, is often hurtful, but its the truth. Something many ppl would even say face to face (me for one). But sayi

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting! Comments are welcome, especially on old posts. Please do not use inappropriate language. Thanks!