I wanted to take a minute to address some of the recent criticism I’ve been getting. Every couple of months, it seems like I post something pretty polarizing and am suddenly faced with lots and lots of criticism and negativity. Sometimes, like yesterday, I expect it and brace myself for it. Other times, it catches me off-guard. And always, there is criticism that is constructive and I take to heart, and criticism that is just hateful and I try my best to ignore. For example, this comment suggesting that I could have framed yesterday’s “From the Mailbag” letter differently made total sense. I had used the same intro that I used for the first – and only other — “From the Mailbag” letter I featured even though the letters were totally different in spirit, message, and tone. It was a lazy move on my part and one that I’m sure got a lot of people riled up. I regret that oversight and will do better in the future. I also appreciate the commenter pointing out this mistake to me in a thoughtful and measured way.
On the other hand, there was this comment, which called me out for being “mean” and “bossy” and “choosy,” but used no specific examples to back up that argument. Actually, she did use an example — she said I was “bossy” and “choosy” in the home tour submissions I selected to feature. But I featured every single submission I received, so how in the world does that make me “choosy”? At the time of writing this, her comment got something like 50 “likes.” That’s a lot, and I guess I’m supposed to feel bad about that. I’m sure that was the commenter’s intention — to make me feel bad. It certainly wasn’t to help me make this site better, as was the intention of the other comment I’ve referenced here. She simply wanted me to feel like shit, as did the 50+ people (out of the thousands) who “liked” her nonsensical comment. Maybe she even wants me to quit writing this site.
But here’s the thing: I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE. Yes, every few months, I get a slew of nasty comments and hateful emails that make me wonder what the fuck I’m doing investing so much of my energy into something that some people obviously don’t like. I wonder why I’m paying well over a thousand dollars a year to a company to host this site so people can shit all over it. I wonder why I hire a babysitter a couple mornings a week so I can have time to work on this site only to have people shit all over it. I wonder why I spend part of my evenings and weekends reading and responding to emails. And it’s because I love what I do and I believe that despite the mistakes and missteps that I’ve made, for the most part, this is a site that does good. I believe we’re making a positive impact. And when I see the number of readers grow every month — there are thousands and thousands of you now — I know there’s something that keeps people hooked (and I hope very much it’s more than the occasional controversy or desire to watch me fail).
Sometimes, when I’m feeling low about the state of things, I remember times in my life when I felt so much worse. Like when I was 22 and my boyfriend dumped me and I was unemployed and all my college friends had moved away after graduation and I felt so very alone and confused. I think back to that time and imagine if I’d had a community like the one here to pick me up and make me feel heard, or an advice columnist who would have actually read my letter and taken time to respond and maybe even given me a dose of tough love when I needed it most, I wouldn’t have felt so incredibly isolated and lost and alone. So often, I write for that girl I used to be. I wish I would have had a community like this when I was still her, and a more experienced woman who had been through it to tell me I was going to be ok.
My father has a saying: “Don’t let the bastards get you down.” At different times in my life, he’s repeated it frequently. I repeat it to myself a lot these days. There are people who are bored, angry, unsatisfied, unfulfilled, jealous, and BORED (did I mention bored yet?) who want to bring people down so they don’t have to feel so alone in their misery, and I’m not going to let them.
I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to keep being the me many of you either hate or you love. I’m going to keep being direct — sometimes painfully so. I’m going to keep calling it like I see it. I’m going to keep being snarky when the mood strikes and the tone fits. I’m going to keep being compassionate and thoughtful and tough. I’m going to keep being me, and if you don’t like it, you can go away. And if you do like it, but have an issue with something specific that’s out-of-character or doesn’t fit the tone of the site or benefit the community, tell it to me in a constructive way. I’ll listen. I can’t promise I’ll agree, but I’ll definitely consider your argument.
I’m not going anywhere. And for those of you readers who can’t stand me and are reading in hopes of seeing me fail or lose my shit or something, I’m not going to give you that satisfaction. For those of you who read in hopes of seeing hateful comments directed to me that you can anonymously “like” from the comfort of your office or home, I’m not going to give you the satisfaction of that either. From now on, any comment directed toward me that is critical in nature without being constructive, like this one for example, which was written by someone who didn’t like the advice I once gave her and now posts hateful comments in an effort to “get back at me,” will be deleted. Any comment whose sole purpose is to make me feel like shit will be deleted. Maybe you don’t think that’s “fair.” Well, guess what? It’s my site — I pay for it, I invest hours and hours of my time into it every week, I think about it constantly, and I’m going to do what I need to to keep it a place I enjoy coming to. If that means it’s a site YOU no longer like coming to, I can’t say I’m sorry to see you go. It’s time to weed out some of the haters, anyway.