As part of her eternal crusade to make the internet a safe space for her bottomless self love, Jane Pratt has declared today “Say Something Nice On The Internet” Day. On this day, every blogger is supposed to take a break from our usual activity of flinging verbal feces at one another and “say something nice.” Especially female bloggers, because of sisterhood and stuff. Besides the obvious fact that February 29 is a terrible day for your made up holiday, this is silly for a variety of reasons.
As you can see from the above photo, Jane has sabotaged this right out of the gate with some sort of “love thine enemies” placard. Looks like we made the cut! But to put Jennifer‘s well-reasoned screeds against immoral idiocy and Latoya Peterson‘s incisive examinations of white privilege in the same category as dim, superstitious harpies like Dr. Laura and Jerry Falwell reveals that in Jane’s mind, despite her protestations to the contrary, everyone who disagrees with or criticizes her is equally out to get her. But it’s okay, because she…loves them anyway? Sorry, but this seems disingenuous and passive aggressive to me.
Which brings me to my next point: there’s a huge difference between evil trolls calling you a whore and legitimate criticism. Not to mention, the type of collegiate sparring I’ve grown fond of in the blogosphere. (I joined the debate team in high school for a reason.) The stupid and/or crazy people who regularly leave ridiculously offensive comments are not likely to participate in “Say Something Nice” day, so that leaves the rest of us. And the rest of us think we’re nice enough already.
Look: I’ve heard this song before. And nine times out of ten, a wounded cry of “WHY ARE YOU BEING SO MEAN TO ME?” is an attempt on the part of someone who writes for all the wrong reasons to silence their critics so they can continue to self-aggrandize. Personally, I’m not going to participate in Say Something Nice Day because for me, everyday is Say Something Nice Day for the things that I like and want to draw people’s attention to. One of the things I love most about my job is turning people on to bits of culture that I find valuable. But unfortunately, not everything is worthy of praise. The world is full of stupid, ridiculous, and flawed attitudes, and by providing counterarguments as to why those attitudes are stupid, ridiculous, and flawed, I hope to advance the discourse in a constructive direction. Sometimes the dumb things are frivolous and fun to write about, like seapunk. Other times, they’re deadly serious, like rape culture. Obviously one is more important than the other. But if I only wrote about the things I liked, I’d only be doing half my job. And I’m not going to give anyone a pass just because we both happen to have a vagina.
Then there are the beneficiaries of “Say Something Nice” day. If you look at who xojane’s writers are writing about, it’s mostly people they like already, and sometimes themselves (no, really!). It’s easy to say something nice about someone you like. I do it every day, because it feels good to be nice. (Thank you, awesome people in my life, for giving me many occasions to do this.) As for the people you don’t like, well, I’m guessing you dislike them for a reason, because you are a rational being who makes decisions based on facts. I am not going to say something nice about Terry Richardson, for example, because all the facts tell me he’s a sociopathic creep who uses his position of power to coerce young models into doing things he knows they don’t really want to do. No warm fuzzies for you, dude.
And lest you think I’m throwing stones from glass houses, I’ve had so many mean things said about me it’s not even funny. But I don’t write to make people love me, so I take it in stride. Sometimes, I even see where my critics are coming from. Other times, the comments give me further insights into the origins of the douchebaggery I’ve just discussed. When you choose to post something into the public domain, you have to acknowledge that someone might come along and take a big, steaming shit on it, and if you can’t handle that, I highly suggest you write it in your diary or join a community that heavily moderates comments.
I’ll leave you with an anecdote about Margaret Atwood emailed to me by EIC Jennifer, who doesn’t need me to verbally fellate her to know I think she’s smart:
I remember Margaret Atwood mentioning that a reviewer described her as “always grimacing” and she went through all of the pictures taken of her, and found that in half of them she was smiling and in half of them she was not, which confirmed her theory that if a woman is smiling nicely 50% of the time and not smiling the other 50% of the time she is, in fact, grimacing.