As someone who puts books out into the world, I have grudgingly come to accept that people will have opinions about them. Whenever you create something for public consumption, the public--or at least some portion of them--will feel the need to announce what they think about it. That's fine. But here's the problem: we've made it too easy for people to say what they think.
Blogs, for example. Here I am telling you how annoying it is when other people have opinions. That's my opinion. And you are sure to have your opinion about my opinion. That's why that little comment box is down there at the bottom of this post. It may even happen that other people have their opinions about your opinion of my opinion.
Which brings us to yesterday. To those of you who know me, it will not surprise you that I was spending a lot of time not working on the novel that is due on April 15. (John, if you're reading this, I promise it will be done.) What I was doing was reading some articles on sfgate.com, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
SF Gate provides the opportunity for people to comment on their stories. I've only recently started to read these comments, but already I'm addicted to them. See, there's this weird subculture of commenters. The same people show up again and again, and you fairly quickly start to form ideas about who they are, or at least who they are online. You start to recognize their screen names, and to anticipate what they might say about any given article. For instance, last week a local fellow went all mad cow and shot a bunch of his family members dead. I know, it's a big boo-hoo, but that's not the point. The point is that when I read the story, my first thought wasn't, "How awful." It was, "I bet cowboyjeepman is going to say something about how this is another reason immigrants shouldn't be in this country."
Which he did. And just as predictably, veganfairy countered that he was a racist bigot and blah, blah, blah. They say the same thing on every article. Natasha Richardson died? Blame the immigrants! The polar ice caps are melting? Get the immigrants off 'em! The banks are failing? It's those damn Mexicans! And so on.
For a while I resisted the temptation to add my comments to the stories. This was, of course, futile. I couldn't help but comment on some stupid thing some stupid person said. (Stupid is a buzzword in the commenting world, along with moron, bleeding heart liberal, right-winger, and baby killer.) Then that stupid person called me stupid and, well, we were off to the races. It all got tedious fairly quickly, but I still find myself dropping in from time to time, often just to post a comment I know will infuriate my enemy.
Okay, so yesterday. After riling up militarypete (homophobic, thinks everyone who lives in San Francisco is a snooty liberal, which of course we are) by suggesting his fear of gays might have something to do with his really wanting to take it in the antechamber, I wandered over to the Real Housewives of New York website. It would take too long to explain the mental chain of events that caused this, so just go with it.
If you watch the show, you undoubtedly have been talking about the showdown between Kelly and Bethenny that happened this week. It was, to say the least, a highlight in the timeline of American popular culture. Perhaps even in the history of the world. If you haven't seen it, find it on youtube or on the Bravo site or anywhere you can, because you will love it.
Anyway, I went to the Bravo site because some genius has given every single person to ever be on a Bravo show a blog. Seriously, every one of them. This way we always know what Nick thinks about the latest Project Runway contestants' rouching abilities, who Leann thinks should be cut from Top Chef for having no idea how to mix pomegranate and tripe, and what Andy Cohen thinks about absolutely everything while looking like a kind of hot special ed student. It's too much excitement for one brain to handle, but there you are.
I went because I wanted to see what Bethenny and Kelly had written in their blogs about their catfight. And they did not disappoint. I won't bore you with the details, as you can read them yourselves. Besides, it's not important. What's important is that when I finished reading the blogs, I actually spent ten minutes writing Kelly a response.
I know, right? But I did. I believe I may have even used the words "pathetic," "vacuous," and "miserable human being," but I could be wrong. I was very excited at the time, and the details are fuzzy. Then I sent it off. And immediately I thought, "You've become one of Those People."
Yes. Well. Fine. I'm one of Those People. I told off somebody I will never know, who I don't give a shit about, and who doesn't give a shit about what I think of her. Or maybe she does. Maybe Kelly is at this very moment reading the comments on her blog and becoming so depressed by the fact that so many people hate her that she's going to stick her head in the oven. I doubt it, though. She's too stupid to be depressed about anything. Even if she is, she'll just go out and buy something to make herself feel better, or eat an Entemann's pound cake and throw it up again.
This is the problem with comment buttons--they're irresistible. We can't help but push them. And they're everywhere. We can comment on our friends' Facebook statuses. We can comment on the books we buy from Amazon. We can comment on our Netflix rentals. We can Yelp about what we had for dinner, fave our favorite Flickr photos (fotos?), and Twitter about everything we haven't been able to comment on. Then we can vote on whether or not other people's comments contribute to the discussion, are useful, or violate some TOS.
It's madness, I tell you. Sheer madness. We're all so busy commenting and faving and tweeting that we're not actually doing anything. Soon there will be two classes: those who do, and those who comment. I don't know about you, but I'd kind of like to be on the doing team.
Before I get back to work, though, can we discuss how excellent it is that the patronizing Countess de Lesseps has been unceremoniously de-countessed just days before her book on manners and etiquette hits the shelves? Can you say remainder bin? I haven't been so pleased since Sandra got booted from ANTM. Discuss.