What can I say? Yes, I get snobby and superior. I don’t mean to and I don’t mean to judge but I end up doing it anyway, I guess just like everyone (though that is not intended to be an excuse, just an acceptance). So the other night at book group dinner we were busy talking about trashy things like Real Housewives, Bachelors and Kardashians and I declared, with truth, that I don’t watch those things. Sure I know about them, and I have even seen some of it, but it isn’t on my list of how to spend my time. One of my girlfriends said, with a bit of a sneer I think, “well good for you.” And it is true that I don’t watch those shows, but I’m a hypocrite anyway because I read the uncensored version and I LOVE IT!
In the area where I live there is this fabulous community list-serve thing with all kinds of different newsletters: marketplace, childcare, school, announcements, and (oh the joy) advice! Advice is awesome, and I mean that in a lot of different ways. I have used these newsletters to find housekeepers, camps, information on schools, where to shop for certain things; I have sold the things that have been outgrown and gifted the things that would not sell, I have participated in studies and met special interest groups for various things. I have also read with more interest than I should things that are none of my business (even though they are publicly posted) and I have enjoyed the stories.
If this list-serve was a reality show it would be just as catty, juicy, trashy and soul depraving as any house-wife or plumped-up porn star. But it’s real life, not staged “real life” and there are a lot of people out there looking for help because they are in a lot of pain. I should avert my eyes if I don’t have anything valuable to offer, but that’s not always what I do.
They way it works is this: you can post anonymously (or not, that’s up to you), the moderators have to verify that you are a member of the network so they know who you are but the rest of us may not, and then everyone who gets the newsletter can respond to your post if they have something to say. If you are too vitriolic then the moderator won’t include your response, but there is a lot of room to say whatever it is you want. Imagine getting to write in and tell the contestants on the Bachelor exactly what you think of them and their situation – woo hoo – that would be fun!
Mostly it’s not mean, the people who post are looking for help and the people who reply have something to say. Sometimes the original post specifies what kind of answers they are looking for, and they tell you not to judge. Those are less fun because they are just people who want to hear that what they already think is right – whatever. But then you get some that are a genuine question and you realize that the place you live is not quite as homogenous in their thinking as you thought. For example try posting about being too tired to have a second baby, even though you have been trying for years and at sixteen weeks think you’ll have an abortion, so you know, what does everyone out there think. Or, the one about the teenager posting nude pictures online and on the one hand it’s great that they are self-empowered but gosh it feels demeaning, should the parents say something what does the community think. Then there are the affairs, the drugs, the general family dysfunction, the lying, the stealing and every other variety and combination of vice you can imagine.
I have asked questions, sometimes we all need to know that we are not alone. That’s the part of the network that is great. We can help each other, be there and weigh in to provide a perspective and support. That’s the part of me that pretends I don’t watch those kind of shows. The truth is though, there is another part too and I guess that serves a part of who we are, it lets us feel okay in a different way… maybe I should just go ahead and get cable!