Irksome Internet

The Internet has been getting on my nerves lately.

There are several blogs that I often read but from which I will have to give a break, perhaps indefinitely.  On an intellectual level, kudos to the writers; I wish them well, and I hope for their continued success.

Viscerally, I mostly just want to punch them in the face. I just cannot take all the perfection and all the thoughtfulness and all the balance.

It goes something like this.

You know this thing that the society says women can’t have or usually don’t have?
Well, I have no idea where that comes from, because I totally have it in oodles. I have never even had a problem with getting it. My balance has never been better; here’s a pic of all the balance. 

I have been trying to figure out what irritates me in such posts, because I agree that women get put down a lot and I should not be contributing to the putting down, so I don’t. But the grumpiness remains, and I think it’s probably the same thing that irritates me about some of my perfect colleagues, male or female: nobody is that perfect, and the fact that someone wants me to play that game where we both pretend they are flawless is an insult to my intelligence and a waste of both our time.

I read a lot of blogs by professional women, and I don’t care what they write about, as long as they sound like actual real people. What that means, I suppose, is that I can recognize my own life in their writing or that I can somehow identify with what they go through. I don’t mean to imply that people have to bitch and moan and vent. Some people are more into venting than others. But I suppose I want to see some undoctored emotion, something genuine — joy, pain, anger, anguish, laughter, snark, something.

I simply cannot connect with the writers whose every post seems like a thinly veiled ode to their perfect selves. I don’t know if that’s on purpose, or if they are unusually fortunate/privileged/detached/oblivious, or if it’s a branding thing, or yet another US regional thing that I don’t understand, but I am really developing a deep distaste for blogs that are supposed to be kinda-sorta personal, but really aren’t; instead, what they present is a highly manicured persona. I also can’t identify with the writers (perhaps that’s just a failure of imagination on my part) who present their personal lives as such an antiseptic utopia that even the nominally chaotic parts get bleached into blandness, with prose that is completely devoid of sharp or rough edges, hinting that even the chaos is an endearing part of their masterful plan.

Tangentially related, these days everyone seems to have a Twitter feed and it’s a strange, strange land. Clearly, many people spend a lot of time on Twitter and I am sure they find it fun or useful or something, but to me it seems completely terrifying. I find the people who are active on Twitter to be like the explorers venturing into uncharted jungles that are populated by cannibalistic tribes — it seems to be only a matter of time before you get eaten alive, so I can’t seem to understand why anyone would subject themselves to it.

Sometimes I think I would like people more without the Internet.


  1. Sorry! If it makes you feel better, I got a grant rejected last night partly for really stupid reasons (ex. They think the technology is still like it was back in the 1990s and one reviewer said we were LYING when we said it wasn’t.). And I had food poisoning the day before last. And I’m getting disrespected by a male staff at work.

  2. N&M, this wasn’t about you, I promise!
    I would never think that you don’t sound real or that I cannot relate to your lived experiences. And, come on, nobody shakes their fists at the patriarchy better than you! Luvz!

    And I am sorry about the grant and the food poisoning and the disrespect at work… 😦

  3. I tend to believe people as they present themselves. So perfect bloggers don’t bug me at all. What does bother me is when they try to prescribe their methods to everybody, ignoring luck, privilege, and different preferences. I like being given options but I don’t like being preached at about the One True Way.

  4. I want to punch some of those bloggers in the face, too. Or, really, just get a good peek into their closets or something where all the juicy bits are hidden.

    It occurred to me yesterday I’m nearing a place i need to shut down my blog, now that my kid is internet savvy and I’ve also developed a ‘real’ internet presence. (I am on twitter, and it’s interesting, but I don’t do facebook so this is my only professional use of social media…not that what I tweet is professional… oy)

  5. I’m a 27 year old postdoc and *I* don’t understand Twitter. I don’t know why you’d want one, I don’t know why or how you’d read(?) it. I also can’t fathom Instagram. I do have a facebook so I can keep up with all my friends’ weddings and babies. But usually I feel like some old codger who’s all “young people nowadays!”

  6. gwinne: My Eldest, now 15, knows about the blog and seems to read it on occasion. He often asks why I don’t post more about him or his brothers, and even asks if I have written about this or that thing that happened in his life! My take is that I already write about my family more than I should…
    Young’uns seem very bold with their activity on the Internet. I want to say it’s foolish, but I might just be an out-of-touch curmudgeon whom time has passed by.

  7. I don’t notice a lot of too-perfect bloggers, but I hate people who tell me that if I just follow this one system I will be more productive or whatever. My thought is always that if I had the time/focus/discipline/energy to follow their system I would probably have the energy to just write more (or whatever) without the rigmarole of their system.

  8. I’ve unsubscribe to preachy blogs after a short while—I already spend too much time reading blogs. I don’t mind teaching-methods blogs, if they are really talking about what they tried and cover the failures as well as the successes, but even some of them are one-true-way blogs and I drop them after they’ve repeated their mantra too many times.

    As for kids reading blogs—my son was one of the early subscribers to my blog, and a lot of what I write is with him as an intended audience. It is a way to continue his technical education, to get him indoctrinated into engineering thinking, and to get him thinking about how to teach (I think that there is about a 30% chance of him ending up as a computer science professor). He’s not my primary audience for most posts, but I’m always aware of him as a part of the audience.

  9. Oh come on! Don’t attack the internet! In cyberspace, you get to be whoever the hell you want to be. It’s awesome! You can have your perfect virtual life with perfect kids, perfect skin, and perfect job to escape to while everything in the real world may be collapsing around you (cheating husband, messy house, 300lbs overweight with massive hair-loss). On the net, you can be a man, woman, or goat. It’s wonderful that such an escape exists.

    On the net, I’m a purple haired, space-vixen with a crazy child named Joey Schmoey. In the real world, I’m a single, childless, (still awesome) dork. You truly cannot beat this type of fun.

    Just keep in mind that everyone gets zits on their butt….but they never show it to you because it’s gross.

  10. There’s a certain “voice” that has grown as blogs professionalized and became revenue generators for this new “lifestyle blogger” career, and I think (and hate) that this voice is spilling over into other people’s writing. Basically I think that the probloggers are lying (or at least heavily “curating”) about their lives and shilling things and selling the fantasy of a perfect life as part of their marketing. I worry that other people (like my students) are picking up on this impossible demand to both present an authentic and a perfect life and internalizing it as reality. Oddly enough, most of my most recent crop of students didn’t see any conflict there.

  11. See, I know you aren’t talking about me, because I mostly whine about how hard things are. Actually, these days, I mostly post links. I am trying to get back into writing more, but now that I have other (paid) outlets for my thoughts on some things, my blog isn’t always the first place I think to post something I want to say.

    And maybe that’s what’s happening with the people you read, too? Or something similar- when someone’s blog starts to become an income stream, there is a strong incentive not to mess that up. Or, if you’re using your blog to bring in business (or sell books, or whatever) that feeds your family, there is again a strong incentive to “stay on message.”

    This is one of the reasons I decided to bifurcate my web presence. My pseudonym-linked web presence gets to be messier, and I don’t generally worry about whether or not something I post there will lose me business of some sort. I do still think about what I post, and self-edit, but my criteria is generally around whether I’d be embarrassed if my mom, my kids, or my colleagues read what I wrote. If I would be, I tend to keep it to myself, even under the pseudonym.

    My real-name writing also has to pass the criteria of serving my long term career goals. I would never post something I don’t think is true, but I might decide not to write about something at all. I can see how that might frustrate some people, but… I have to pay my bills, and once I decided to become an independent contractor/consultant, I became a brand, to a certain extent. Some of the bloggers who write about lifestyle are now brands, too. I still read some of them, but I go in with the assumption that I’m getting an edited version. I may pick up tips and ideas to try in my own life, but I won’t see their real lives.

    I keep the porous wall between my pseudonym and real name presences in part to protect my children’s privacy, but also in part to allow me to be more “real” under the pseudonym- that has been a valuable outlet for me over the years, and I am not ready to give it up. I think it would be really hard to stay “real” under my real name, particularly if my income was linked to what I was writing about.

    All of which is a really long-winded way of saying: maybe for what you want, you need to look for people who are writing as hobbies, and avoid the people who have made their blog part of their career.

    (Also: I love Twitter as a way to learn and get new ideas, but I get that it is not for everyone, and I use it in differing amounts at different times.)

  12. Twitter is the fucken worst. Don’t ever get caught up in that shittio, or you’ll end up like drugmonkey and isis, spending all day fucking with dumasses on the Internet and ignoring reality.

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