Friday, March 06, 2009

On open-book lives, blogs and criticism

"We get through life only because we continually ignore the fact that people are watching us, evaluating us, judging us, and, yes, condemning us. Imagine walking around, knowing every minute what other people were thinking about us. Most of us would find this unbearable rather quickly."--"The Dangerous and Necessary Art of Self-Deception," in Discover Your Inner Economist, by Tyler Cowen

I can well understand why Amy Dacyczyn retired not only from publishing, but from public life in general.

I was browsing around looking for the address for the recent interview with her (I posted the link earlier), and came across several pages of self-righteous comments and criticism about her book, most of it posted within the last two years. That is, over ten years after Amy ended her Tightwad Gazette newsletter and published her last book. The Dacyczyn kids are now getting married or off at college, leading their own lives, and yet people are still microscopically examining and arguing over every last parenting thing, attitude thing, nutrition thing that she ever wrote. Did she spend enough time playing with her kids? one parent writes. How could she feed them bologna and powdered milk and call it nutrition? another asks. Didn't you see that TV show where her daughter said she had never had a new pair of shoes? asks a third. What a horrible parent Amy must have been.

So where can you go with this?

1. Many message-posting parents obviously have so much time on their hands that they can afford to use it criticizing someone whose children have already left home. Maybe they should be spending more time playing with their kids.

2. It takes the skin of a rhinoceros to write openly about anything personal, and risk being taken the wrong way. These days, you're lucky if you're not sued for whatever it was you recommended or said or didn't do.

3. I guess you have to learn when to apologize and when to ignore. Or when to give up (writing, I mean, not criticizing) because it's just not worth it. My friend Coffeemamma had trouble with a blog stalker who felt it was her mission in life to correct and criticize Coffeemamma's every move. If you've noticed, Coffeemamma has (understandably) backed off from much blogging.

4. I let my kids eat hot dogs last night (while I was reading the Apprentice's library book Fast Food Nation). Wanna make something of it?

5. Let's be gentle with each other.


Queen of Carrots said...

On the other hand, I have always lived by the motto, "We would worry less about what others thought of us if we realized how seldom they do."

Of course, the internet does sometimes suggest otherwise. I have learned not even to bring up certain topics because of the undesirable traffic they draw. But on the whole, I remind themselves that anyone who has the time and desire to surf the internet critiquing the choices of total strangers is a pretty pathetic person whose opinion I can safely ignore.

Julie said...

I AGREE!! Thanks for a great post. This rampant criticism is the reason that I don't have the courage to blog. It's so easy to be mean and critical from the anonymity of your own home. Instead, I try to leave a positive comment- especially on those blogs that don't get many comments or seem to need some encouragement.

Gena said...

Amen to that! As Mama always said "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all". As bloggers we do put ourselves out there. There are people, however, that have nothing to do but bash other people. So sad. Life is too short.

Have a wonderful weekend.

P.S. I love Amy D.

Jeanne said...



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