On the occasion of my blog's one-year anniversary this last weekend, I'm taking a couple of days to reflect on some of the things I've learned and experienced over the past year. Tomorrow we'll be looking at the good stuff. Yesterday, we looked at the weird. Today: the ugly.
I'd like to point out before I begin that I'm listing these things not to whine about them. I'm not trying to elicit pity, or whip readers into a frenzy of anger against those who have wronged me. I'm definitely not trying to portray myself as a victim, here. I'm also aware that given the popularity of this blog, writing down some of my complaints about keeping it will sound a little like those songs rich pop stars write for their sophomore albums that can be summed up with, damn, life is hard in front of the paparazzi when you're a poor little rich pop star like me, can't you just leave me and my entourage of thirty alone?
I have learned that certain things stress me out more than others. They're pretty predictable, too. For example:
1. No matter how much I give, people want more. If I post photos, people want more photos—more graphic photos, bigger photos, photos that show me from the left side instead of the right, photos that show my feet, photos that show my face, photos that show my face and my feet together. They want me to post photos every day, or more photos than I choose to post, or to send them photos out of the blue, on demand, to their email. If I do that, they want more photos, whenever they ask, of more variety of subjects.
If I post a video, people want to know why the video isn’t longer, brighter, more graphic, less shaky. They want more videos, videos of me self-sucking, videos of me fucking, videos with better sound, a tripod, an entire sexual encounter from beginning to end. I have to get on cam for them, right then and there, when they ask for it. I have to send them emails when I get on cam, to let them know I'm online and stroking. I have to use Skype, have to give out my phone number, have to respond to their text messages in a timely manner and be prepared to cybersex with them when they demand, or else I’m a disappointment.
If I share within the blog certain details of my personal life outside, it’s never enough. People want to know exactly what I do for a living, where I work, what my brother does, where I live. They want to know the ins and outs of my relationship—its duration, nature, and intimate details. They want photos of myself, of my family, of my loved ones. They want to see photos of Spencer, photos of Scruffy, or to obtain their emails or profile names so they can ask them questions themselves or see what they look like.
I post almost daily. If I take a day off, people bitch and complain. They whine at me that I’m ruining their day by withholding posts. Or they might complain that I’m not posting the kinds of things that they want to see. I should post more porn, my photos, more videos, less boring shit.
And you know what? If there are points at which I quietly draw the line, these people get upset and hostile. It’s almost as if I owe this particular bunch of readers anything they ask of me—as if I’m some kind of mechanized vending machine that dispenses pornography at the punch of a button. I don’t even get any damned quarters out of the deal.
I’ll tell you. It’s wearing. It’s frustrating. And it’s more than a little insulting. I enjoy sparking people’s curiosity, I appreciate it when people enjoy my entries, and I love interacting with my readers, but please. Use some common sense.
2. Apparently I am supposed to be a doormat. A typical example: a few weeks ago I got an email from an incensed reader. He’d originally said that I was a liar who made up everything in my blog, and when I’d (rather calmly, if icily, I thought) responded that I pitied a lack of imagination and experience that made my blog seem like the stuff of fiction, he blasted back that OH, my MASK had SLIPPED OFF and that my VENOMOUS REPLY showed me for the EVIL, BLACK-HEARTED VIPER with the FOUL TEMPER I really was, and that my OUTRAGE meant that SURELY SOMETHING was amiss! FURTHERMORE, he was NEVER GOING TO READ ME AGAIN now that he knew the TRUTH!
But you know, here’s my stance on my outbursts—even the even-handed ones like the one I’d made to this guy. I’m astonished that people seem to assume that I’m not permitted to defend myself in the space of my own blog, even if I lose my temper. It is, after all, my blog. My anonymous blog.
I'm not a public figure who is required only to be mealy-mouthed and even-tempered in response to allegations against him. I'm not a politician, hoping for anyone’s vote. I'm not your priest. No one here supports my income in any way, or pays a subscription fee to read me. I do not have to fear the loss of reader patronage in order to keep food on my table. If I want to be venomous, I can be. I have been in the past, and no doubt I will be in the future.
I have not signed a contract to be nice to everyone. My readers are not my customers, and they’re not always right.
I told the guy that I was sorry he felt that way, but that if I was losing a reader, at least I wasn’t losing one that was particularly loyal or even good. But I get this stuff all the time. Over the last year I’ve been insulted in all kinds of ways. I’ve been called not only a liar, but an adulterer, a harbinger of disease, a tool of Satan. I’ve been informed, quite seriously, that I deserved to be sexually assaulted. I’ve been told I need psychiatric help, the Bible, salvation, penicillin. I've been informed I'm racially insensitive and culturally ignorant. I’ve been told I’m a bad writer, that I make typos (of course I do!), that there are better bloggers than I.
Almost every single time, there seems to be an expectation that I should receive the name-calling with a sage nod and a promise to do better next time, and with a thank you, sir. I’m sorry, dudes, but I don't roll over and take abuse that way. If you’re rude to me, I’m going either to delete your comments or I’m going to respond to what’s offending me.
When I call guys on their bad behavior, however, it’s vanishingly rare that they’ll say ‘whoops!’ and apologize. My opponents always deteriorate into flames and threats, in which they blast me for fighting back. They thought I was nice, they always say. But apparently they were wrong.
I’m a generally approachable and pleasant person. But that doesn’t mean I’m a doormat. Nor does it give you permission to attempt to wipe your feet on me.
To expect a stranger who writes a blog to produce only unobjectionable statements to one's liking is solipsistic at best, and infantile at worst. My world does not, and never will, revolve around hoping my readers think I'm nice, one hundred percent of the time. Particularly when insulted.
3. Some readers are determined to catch me out. I’m not talking about the self-appointed typo and syntax correctors, annoying as they may be. (I honestly don’t mind them when their intentions are helpful, but when they write me long letters telling me that a GOOD writer would know the difference between farther and further and never err with either, or who loftily inform me that I used the word frost when I should’ve used the word drizzle, like a REAL writer with a piquant sensitivity to the use of words might, I want to inform them, Bitches, that’s why I have editors in my real career.)
What I mean is that there’s a certain kind of reader who has no greater desire than to prove I’m a big fat liar. Usually the reader’s grand scheme involves finding some factual error that, when poked and probed, he imagines will cause my unsteady house of cards to come fluttering down around me, like Jericho before the trumpets. Then I will be exposed as the fraud that I am!
If I write about my home town in the nineteen-seventies, for example, and mention a chain store, there will be someone out there who will research on the internet and then report to me that he hopes I wasn't implying I entered a Woolco after 1983 because Woolco went into bankruptcy in 1982 and if my story took place after 1982—j’accuse!—I must be a damned liar! Or I’ll write about emailing a fellow student in college and someone will write a comment saying that given I attended college in the early nineteen-eighties and widespread email was not available until 1990, I MUST BE A FUCKING LIAR ABOUT EVERYTHING I'VE EVER WRITTEN. Even though I’m not. We had the ability to send notes to each other’s accounts on the mainframe, thank you very much.
What’s the point of all this Hardy Boys detective work? I suppose it gives the paranoid and the distrustful something to do with their time. It allows those who want to have a toehold over me an opportunity to sharpen their claws. Honestly, though. It seems like a big waste of anyone’s effort. I have said until I’m blue in the face that I write about my real life here—if after that someone doesn’t believe me, there’s no amount of corroborative evidence I can present that’s going to change his mind.
4. People are way too anxious to project their own assumptions upon me. I might have covered a lot of territory in 300 entries and a year, but there are some things about myself I’ve never said. I’ve never claimed I was straight, for one—and yet I have had multiple people write me saying that if I am presenting myself as a so-called ‘straight man’ having all kinds of down-low sexual adventures with gay men, why is it there has been scant evidence of straight sex in my journal in past months, hmmm?
People take the information I’ve presented here and come up with scenarios about my life that I’ve neither confirmed nor denied—though that doesn’t matter, because whatever they think up must be the truth. I’m an adulterer, cheating on my spouse. I’m secretly HIV-positive and spreading it (and every other disease possible) to my partners. I’m HIV-negative and a bug chaser. I’m a swinger. I’m in the closet. I’m single. I’m unable to commit. I have a double life. A triple life!
Even if the evidence of what I actually talk about in my life contradicts any of these scenarios, it doesn’t matter. Some people believe what they want, regardless of the textual evidence at hand. And that’s because, simply put:
5. Some of y’all are just nuts. Seriously. Not many of you are outright, bat-shit crazy, but it’s amazing how one or two bad apples really make me want to take a flame-thrower and burn down the orchard.
I know that most of the abusive messages I’ve received in recent weeks have been from a single, schizophrenic source—a source who was stupid enough recently to provide me with his email address, no less. He’ll appear to be on his meds often for the space of a single comment, but then it’ll all come unhinged and deteriorate into bad spelling and frothing at the mouth. There’ve been others, though—the anonymous commenters (they’re always anonymous) who want to one-up me, or who are so angry and incensed at my sexuality and the way I express it that they feel a need to let loose with all their insane fury. I’ve had people come at me with pity and scorn in an attempt to feel superior. And then I’ve had some messages (most of which I delete) that are so weird and unsettling that I’m not sure whether I should call in the FBI, or even if they were written by someone who lives on this planet.
It really is a pity that sometimes these lunatics have succeeded in unsettling me to the point of pondering the futility of writing at all. I’ve several times over the last year considered not keeping the blog any longer, though after a day or so I’m usually back to my chipper self. I’ve had red-alert weeks in which I’ve had to screen all comments, or eliminate anonymous commenting, because of problem readers. I’ve had moments of anger on the road, or in public places, where I’ve had to struggle with my phone’s browser in order to eliminate freakish remarks moments after they’ve been posted.
Seriously, can't you guys go bug the FOX news website? I've got enough crazy in my life.
Those are some of the struggles I’ve had to face, over the last year. Writing them down like this makes it sound like a pretty onerous set of obstacles. For the most part, though, everything on this list has been outweighed by all the good things I’ve gotten out of keeping this blog. I’ll get to those tomorrow.
The Breeder's note: I've noticed that a lot of readers seem to be taking my objections here rather personally. The chances are good that I'm not talking about you, specifically. Don't fret.