I wrote about Slow TV last night, and though I generally try to stay away from cross-linking to my stuff on here, I’m going to do it. Pow. Just did.
During the past week I’ve been reading things that made me sort of cynical. For instance: these comments on a piece published by The Hairpin. It’s not really a topic I identify with personally, and I don’t have any terribly strong feelings about the essay itself, but as soon as I checked out the credentials of the young author I was like, “Oh no, there’s going to be a shitstorm in the thread below this post about debt/murder/furniture.” And there was. I’ve certainly read meaner attacks, but not usually on the Hairpin, and though the jealousy (of the author’s privilege, resume, and writing awards) was thinly-veiled (or not at all veiled), some commenters were obviously eager to strike her where it would hurt the most. These weren’t personal jabs in the sense that they tore her down for her appearance or dredged up old LiveJournal posts or anything — instead, they used this essay as the crux of their arguments that the writer wasn’t very good at what she does across the board, and implied that she was somehow a terrible person, fully knowable in this one chunk of non-fiction. That made me sad.
There was also this Buzzfeed story called “What Happens When You Dress As A Boston Marathon Victim And Post It On Twitter." What happens, in short, is that you and your family are threatened with violence and rape, and your entire backlog of poor decisions (offering to trade a follow for a nude pic, for example) is displayed in the context of your most recent (colossally) bad move.
I thought about how it must feel to sit in your room and refresh a page every ten seconds to see what new horrible thing someone had to say about you. I have never experienced death threats for something I’ve written, but that may happen one day. I’ve never been slammed so hard I couldn’t get up again, but sometimes it seems inevitable that a Big Mistake is lurking in my future. I think that this is an anxiety everyone who writes for the Internet has: that eventually, you will be the target — and worse, that you won’t see it coming.
This is all to say that I want to move to Norway and watch cruise ships float for five days or spend a day in the life of a snail. There is no one to cut down (snails are uncontroversial, slippery) and I can’t think of a mean feed that would follow in its wake. Who’s going to diss the majestic fjords? Who can hurt a train on its journey to Oslo? Step up and try. It ain’t gonna happen.