Like Scott, I was intrigued by Emily Gould’s article about blogging. She’s a beautiful writer and her experiences are fascinating. I was a little frustrated by the article, though, because I kept hoping that she would push further past the anecdotal to the broader implications. What does it mean to be internet famous? How does that vary from regular famous? How has our world changed because of blogging? And why is it so often female bloggers who get such insane volumes of hate mail?
I was quite shocked by the ferocity of the comments responding to Gould’s article. One thousand two hundred and sixteen of them and most of them astoundingly nasty. Many of them seemed to boil down to: how dare she be young, talented, and pretty?
For me, one of the most disturbing aspects of the internet is the ease with which people can go on the attack. Hate spreads faster than light now. And even relatively unfamous people like Emily Gould can be the brunt of it. I have many blogger friends who receive hate mail and comments from total strangers. Some of them in astonishing numbers.
The whole thing makes me much less comfortable with my own celebrity hatred. See, I’ve always found hating famous people really cathartic. Rather than hate someone I know—cause we all know how uncomfortable that can be—I aim faux hate at random actors. Like Michael Douglas and Jack Nicholson. I don’t do it actively: no hate mail or anything like that. I just say mean things when they’re on tellie and boycott their movies.1
It’s one of the
many few disagreements Scott and I have. Scott thinks hating famous people is stupid because these are people you don’t know and it’s a distraction from the people you do know and the real things in your life. He thinks that’s a bad thing; I think it’s a good thing.
Except that I’m not sure I do anymore. Seeing my friends get cyber stalked and harassed via comments on blogs and emails, well, it makes me not just sad and unhappy for my friends, but really uncomfortable about having strong feelings about strangers. Because people you don’t know are strangers. Some people seem not to get that about bloggers. Just because you read their blogs, no matter how intimate that feels, it doesn’t make them your BFF or even your enemy. They’re just someone whose blog you read.
Jack Nicholson, even though he is exceptionally annoying, especially in his role as an LA Lakers fan,2 is not my enemy. He’s never done anything to me. He has no idea who I am. I hereby vow to quit hating him. It’s going to be tough, but I think I can do it.
Now if I could just get all those trolls and writers of hate mail to take the same vow and quit harassing bloggers who annoy them. Hint: it takes a lot less energy to simply not read bloggers who piss you off than it does to keep attacking them. Funny that.