Ages and ages ago, back in early 2005, well before I became aware of these nifty little sites called blogs, I used to read this little site known as Craigslist.
Craigslist had everything. M4W, W4M, Pets, Roommates Wanted, Household Services, Missed Connections, Rants and Raves, Help Wanted. Anything you could ever, ever want in life could be found, somewhere on their main page. It was magic.
Want to know if you made an error in sleeping with him on the second date? Ask the peanut gallery over in the R&R section. Trying to catch your boyfriend with his hand in the cookie jar, or in more lascivious locations? Check to see if his Little Manaconda is featured anywhere in the Casual Encounters department. Want a housekeeper? Want a dog? Want a futon? Go to Craigslist. They have everything, AND the kitchen sink. Who could ever grow tired of reading it?
Me. I did. Eventually.
It took awhile for my rose-colored glasses to lose their tint. But, slowly, I found myself noticing how ugly my beloved site had become. A 5-6, 130-pound woman being called a fat cum-dumpster because she writes in, lamenting a recent dry spell in her dating life. A suicidal 24 year old, clearly hoping to be talked off the ledge, instead encouraged to take the plunge. Married men and women seeking persons with whom to have an affair. Racist rants. Misogynistic rants. Hate-filled rants.
When had it gotten so ugly? When did this helpful little site become a stage for such bile? Such anonymous vitriol?
I found myself believing that all men shared the opinion of these basement trolls who clearly hate anything with a vagina. I found myself thinking that marriage means little to most, and that vows are meant to be broken. I found myself wondering if the color of my skin really dictates whether or not I’ll be abhorred by those of a differing complexion. I found myself feeling discouraged. Feeling lost. Feeling angry.
And then I discovered blogs.
Such happy places, these blog things. Velvet in Dupont was profane, but always made you laugh. DC Cookie had hysterical pics of her be-wigged nights out. I envied Kathryn On her impeccable grammar and punctuation. I looked forward each week to Brunch Bird’s “Why the Terrorists Hate Us” Friday posts. I-66 was adorable in his snark. And Kassy K….Kass oozed sweetness and light and everything that is good in the world. Even Roosh’s notch posts could be stomached in small increments when imagined as being delivered with tongue in cheek.
I left Craigslist forever, and threw myself at any and every blog that I was able to find. Soon, I began writing my own, although I read more than I wrote.
I went to Happy Hours. I met many wonderful, witty, friendly people. I became friends with some. I resisted the pull to become enemies with others. I tried to be respectful of all. I didn’t know about A-List or C-List, and I didn’t care. To me it was a simple exchange of good will. If you were nice to me, I was nice to you. If you weren’t, I would be as polite as I could in calling your attention to that. And, for the most part, that worked for me.
But something has shifted. I’ve long given up my rose-colored glasses, so I know that this change in climate is more recent than not. I know that it is not something I failed to see at the start, but something that has taken shape after my induction into this community. And, if it was there all along, it was nowhere near as prevalent as it is today.
A fashion-obsessed young woman makes note of a shopping event that she attended and, seemingly without any provocation, anonymous, hateful comments are left on her pages. Phone numbers and home addresses are being given out on public forums, insults are hurled, rumors are spread, pictures are posted. A divided community puts up fences to password-protect, residents clear out altogether and leave the neighborhood where they once coexisted, at least somewhat peacefully, with those residing nearby.
Most disturbingly, those very same trolls who drove me away from Craigslist these years ago have now found celebrity on their very own bit of blogging acreage, squeezing out the sweeter, “weaker,” fairer sex, and discouraging them from regaling us with sad and funny tales of their dating lives, or lack thereof. Subjecting them to ridicule, which was primarily what they had come here to escape. Ageism, sizeism, sexism. These isms have contributed to the demise of what was once a pretty nice place to be.
They are dropping like flies – these Everyman/Everywoman pages. The Happy Hour turnouts are dwindling as the “hosts” increase in number and new arrivals are left without introduction. For some, it’s more about posting a group picture on a website than it is about welcoming new additions. And, due to this, there are more departures than there are arrivals. And, with fewer and fewer uninitiated into the fold, the fold becomes rotten with exclusivity.
And then you realize, as I have, that the fold is overrated. That you already have gotten from it everything that you could want. You can take the friends you’ve made and run. So that’s what you decide to do. Impulsively, as you are writing this post, even. You decide, “I’m done.” And, that’s it. You are. You’re done.
I’m fortunate to be leaving relatively unscathed, with the telephone numbers and email addresses of some unbelievably sound bitches and blokes, and with only one imagined quarrel on my record. Whether I’m a bit late or a bit early to leave the party, I don’t know. The only thing of which I’m certain is that I don’t want to be the last one in attendance. It’s those saps who get stuck with the cleanup, and I’m not a shit shoveling kind of girl. Ya’ll are welcome to it. Have fun.
So I’ll just tell you that I’m tired, and that I’ll call you tomorrow. And maybe I will – but probably not. But, regardless of whether or not we see or speak to one another again, know that I wish you the best. All of you – even the ones of whom I’m none too fond.
I hope that you all have blissful, charmed lives, and that you bring to this world something lovely and redeeming. Be well. Be happy. And – and I know this is a difficult thing for some of you but, please, be nice.