Saturday, February 23, 2013

What doesn't kill you

I have a job. A job I'm really lucky to have. A job I can do from home, a few hours a day while Ivy naps. A job that pays for groceries and my Target addiction. A  job that really isn't difficult until sometimes when it is.

The difficulty is in dealing with people. Specifically people on the internet. More specifically a large group of people on the internet. A group of  people who have something in common, post regularly about their shared interest, and are not short on passion. That's as specific as I dare get, so forgive my vagueness and know  that I have changed the names of the characters you are about to meet.

One user, Marge, hates me. I'm not really sure why, but if I had to guess it's because I'm "The Man" in this particular niche. Since starting this position last fall, I've received at least one email a day from Marge telling me how poorly a job I'm doing, how unfairly I treat her, how unfairly other users treat her, and how she wishes things could go back to the way  they were before I started.

Another user, Tom, enjoys harassing other users. I banned him from the site for seven days, and when the week w as up he sent me an email titled "The Immaculate Conception!". The body read, "Hey, bearer of the immaculate conception, delete my posts and name from your server and file.........thank youiuuuuuuuuuu!!!!,,,,,,,". I'm not sure why he compared me to Mary, but I am sure it was meant to be offensive.

There are thousands of other users with varying degrees of sanity. Some I've gotten to know well, some I don't know at all, some I like, others not so much. For the most part we stay out of each other's way. But sometimes things get messy.

A perfect storm started when the site crashed. Once it was up and running again, I saw a post from Marge that claimed I had sabotaged the site in order to enjoy a relaxing day off. The next day she accused me of more sabotage, and after months worth of warnings, I decided to give her a one week ban. In the last five days she has sent me eight emails. They all read something like this:

Sure I posted alot of mean stuff but ALOT of it was to fight back against the wolf pack, & when I saw the topic you locked from  stating that pm's were sent encourging others to join in on the bashing thats when I decided NOTHING will change & I will NOT be a target or scrapegoat for the the stuff you condone. Its pretty sad & wrong for a person who's banned to watch people to continue to bash me knowing I can't respond & you continue to stay silent & condone it. So as far as I'm concerned come monday after 12 & the ban lifts I won't be saying goodbye or kiss my butt...While I said some hurtful things to you in hopes you would do your job & SEE how things operates you just let it slide & would TELL me to back off. As to my "attacks" I've stated my reasons lots of times & you turned a deaf ear to me. So good luck on moderating the site.

If you're confused, you're not alone. If you're wondering what a scrapegoat is, you're not alone. Because I'm a masochist and because I was really curious, I looked this woman up on Facebook. Every status update she's made in  the last five months is about me and how I'm ruining her life, how terrible I am at my job, and how she wishes she could go back to the way things used to be.

It gets worse.

A few days ago there was a post written by a  user's family member announcing that the user had died during a military operation in Afghanistan. Other users mourned all day, posting their memories, crying real tears,  offering condolences to family and friends. But a simple google search revealed no recent deaths in Afghanistan. This user didn't die. This user wasn't a soldier. This user has never even traveled outside the US.

It gets even worse.

Tom, the harasser; rejoined the board using a different user name and proceeded to suggest that I, the bearer of the immaculate conception, should lead everyone in prayer for the not-dead not-soldier. He then said if I had any brain at all I would have caught on to the soldier scam, and that I'm nothing but an idiot. I'm sugar-coating and editing his words to avoid an R-rated post.

I'm okay with people not liking me. But I'm not sure how I feel about complete strangers, who have never met me, never spoken with me, and know absolutely nothing about me, hating me to such an alarming extent. But maybe it's good for me. Maybe I need to realize that there are some things that just can't be fixed,that someone will  always find some reason to not like you, that the internet can be a dark and terrible place, and that sometimes, at 5:00, I just need to turn off the computer and walk away. Maybe.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ivy loves her goldfish, mom hates her kale

I could swear that the same day Ivy switched to cow milk, she became a toddler.  She's left crawling in her past and become a true biped, a very wobbly biped. She mimics the adults in her life by trying to wear our shoes, putting toys in the dishwasher, holding phones up to her ear, flipping through books while imitating our tone,  pulling our clothes out of the hamper and putting them on herself, petting  Ollie, feeding Ollie individual dog food nuggets one at a time, changing the TV channel and brushing her hair.

She does not sit still unless Elmo is doing something incredibly exciting or she is incredibly exhausted.
She says "Mom" and "Dad" and calls my parents' dog "Ga" (her name is Gidget).

She has a real gift for distributing toys, snacks, socks, shoes, bottles and binkies all through out the apartment. No corner goes un-ivied. 

On a completely unrelated note, I really don't like kale. Why are we all eating kale now?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

No escape

On the latest episode of This American Life an interviewee said if he ever gets married, he wants an opt out option after seven years. In response, Ira Glass said,

"Actually one of the things that's a comfort in marriage is that there isn't a door at 7 years. And so if something is messed up in the short term, there's a comfort of knowing we made this commitment so we're just going to work this out. And even if tonight there's something wrong or something between us doesn't feel right, we have a comfort in knowing we've got time, we're going to figure this out. And it makes it so much easier. Because you do have times when you hate each other's guts, you know what I mean? And the 'no escape' clause, weirdly, is a bigger comfort to being married than I ever would have thought before I got married."

And it's maybe the best thing I've ever heard.

Happy V-Day.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Does this make me an accessory?

Stephen ordered a used copy of The Unbearable Lightness of Being from Amazon. In the book he found a torn note that reads:
Happy B-day. It's so good to  have you home. I can't wait to spend a lot more quality time with you.In  the next two quarters,I plan  on  seeing you when I visit UCLA.  You're welcome in IU of course. Enjoy the book,

Maybe Andrew and Spencer had a falling out and Spencer wanted to rid himself of all things that  reminded him of Andrew. Maybe Spencer found himself strapped for cash trying to cover UCLA tuition and had to sell some books to  make ends  meet. Whatever the case may be, Spencer sold his birthday gift.

BUT WAIT,  there's more. A library reference number on the spine. So. Either Andrew stole The Unbearable Lightness of Being from the library and gifted it to Spencer, or Spencer donated Andrew's gift to the library and some other reader stole it and sold it on Amazon. 

Regardless,  here we are, harboring stolen goods. This is how good people end up in prison.