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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Wednesday
Jan192011

On being mean  

A handful of people have let me know that they thought my post about Zoe was mean-spirited. My first reaction was: Moi? Mean? But I was only having fun! And perhaps having a laugh with Zoe! You people really need to look at the world as I do. In a whimsical and laugh-filled fashion! Tra la!

But then I thought some more. People were telling me I made fun of Zoe for no good reason. And here I didn't think I was making fun of her at all. But, then, who was I making fun of? Was I really writing those emails from a place of goodwill and bonhomie?

No. No, I wasn't.

I'm annoyed by these emails. I get them constantly. Anyone who blogs gets these pitches a lot, but once the column started, they ramped up to an unmanageable degree. And every time I would respond graciously, and tell them, look, this is a personal column, I write about my kid and my painful gas, I'm not going to interview Elizabeth Banks although she sure is pretty--but the queries and pitches kept on, and keep on coming. Even now that the column is defunct (I'm only on the website now, not the print mag). So you know what? I was annoyed with Zoe. Not with her specifically, but with Zoe the symbol for every single PR person who would email me 5, 6, 20 times a day. I was.

And when I wrote that silly email, I thought she'd take the hint and not reply, but then she did, and her reply was so pleasant and yet also completely clueless, I was a little giddy and amazed. Did she know what I was up to, but choose to ignore it? Was she going to keep up this charade for as long as I did? Or did she simply not read my previous email? So I wrote the follow-up, at that point honestly and truly just trying to amuse her.

Also, I suspected she hadn't read the previous email, and I felt a little like I did in high school, when I would work on these complicated science lab reports and put all kinds of insane directions in the middle of the report, just to see if the teacher was actually reading them, and he never commented, so I ramped up the crazy for the next report, but nope, he still didn't notice, so then for the third report I just drew cartoons of a farting pig for pages and pages, and those he finally caught. So it was kind of like that.

And then I was sick with the flu and felt like I should put something up, and there you have it. Not my proudest of moments. I completely am okay with that post being a misfire for some of you. (Steph, come back!) Zoe: if you're reading this, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I made you the butt of my dumb joke.

I don't mean to, but sometimes I do venture into mean-girl territory, and it's not an area I enjoy exploring. I'm a nice person, as most of us are, but I also have a lot of anger, as most of us do, and sometimes it hits the wrong target.

Speaking of which, here's something that's been bothering me for, oh, a loong while: Jenny McCarthy. A year or so (?) ago, I was in a Momversation about autism and vaccines, and I told Jenny McCarthy to go fuck herself. I know a lot of people decided I was some kind of a folk hero for saying that, and thank you for your support, but to be honest I feel shitty about it. It's one thing to tell Andrew Wakefield where he can take a flying leap: the man consciously, purposely misled the public and wasted untold resources that were funneled into study after study on the nonexistent, fictional link between autism and vaccines. He's a worthy target. But Jenny McCarthy, misinformed as she might be, and I do know she hurt many other parents of autistic children with some of her statements--she was fighting what she fully believed to be a good fight. She was wrong, but she wasn't malicious, and didn't deserve my wrath. And I'm sorry.

And I'm sure she has better things to do with her time than watch old Momversation episodes, but nonetheless, that's been bothering me, and I wanted to get it out there.

Whew! Thank you, everyone, for keeping me honest. I love you guys.


Reader Comments (56)

I admire you for publically regretting your comment to Jenny McCarthy--that takes courage. For the record, I just read your emails to Zoe and thought they were hilarious.

January 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterValerie R

Your comment to Jenny McCarthy always bothered me and I am glad to see you apologizing for it. Whether you agree with her or not, she went through something as a parent that I pray I never have to face. And telling someone to fuck off is a pretty lame way of saying, "I disagree with you." I teach my children that the most powerful argument is articulate and full of facts. Not bad words and personal insults.
I also like that you acknowledged your error is the Zoe post. She's just trying to do her job. You sort of sounded like when celebrities complain about photographers bothering them.

January 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersamantha

I'm pretty sympathetic to SOME celebrities' complaints about SOME photographers (i.e. the kind of celebrities who genuinely aren't seeking more exposure, and the photographers who can never, ever let them eat a meal in peace--I'll grant this is a very small subset of celebrities, but I still feel for them) and I'm also pretty sympathetic to being annoyed by unsolicited and inapplicable and prolific PR emails. But I still think it's classy to take the higher ground. But then again, if you'd just taken the name off the emails and published them I'd probably think them very funny and not be uncomfortable at all.

And then I also have to admit that I'll make exceptions for humor that does cross the mean line a little bit, if it makes me laugh hard enough. Like, in the following video I'm way too busy enjoying the perfect old-man impersonation to care that it might be a little mean to the funeral home worker, or to old men, or to old women who are afraid of the dark:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtTfVUX40P0

January 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZina

And so what even if it was a tad mean? One of the differences between blogging and say, writing a book, is that it is an ongoing production more akin to a soap opera. If you post twice a week, that comprises over 100 posts in one year. If all the posts were the same, with the same emotion expressed, it wouldn't be very honest, would it? I don't think a blogger can be judged by one post. If 98 of the 100 posts per year were sarcastic, I might say this blogger has a tendency towards being mean. But expressing some irritation once in a while is just being real.

January 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNeil

Alice, I LOVE your e-mail to Zoe. If I was Zoe, and you sent me that response, I would want to be YOUR BEST FRIEND. YOUR. BEST. FRIEND. Well, next to the water buffalo. We could all be friends, and roll around in the mud, or whatever it is that water buffaloes do.

I found your response to be nothing but a gentle sort of deflection. You were kind, you respected her intelligence, and you probably made her laugh. WHERE ARE ALL THE STARCHY-ASSED PEOPLE WHO SAID YOU WERE MEAN? Let me at 'em! Me and my water buffalo!

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermotheroad

I have more problems with Jenny McCarthy for her belief in "Indigo Children."

June 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

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