Thursday, March 20, 2008

Blogging, 12-steps, and the Nature of Reality


One day at work this week, I was feeling a bit down in the mouth. I wondered why, but being the great student of self-help books that I am, I identified the reason and then felt immediately pathetic: I had one of my photos posted on

What could be awful about this you ask? I have been a self-professed obsessed fan of AT. Okay, it's like crack. I was addicted ever since I first found it by looking for something about apartments three or four years ago. I was practically in line at the bookstore when founder Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan's book came out. Well, this is what it said after my photo:

"Okay, the pics aren't great, but Christine in DC's back and has nice flowers for both weeks"

(see the original post on AT here).

Woah. What? "Nice flowers," but the "pics aren't great"? I may be dense at times but I'm pretty sure that's at least mildly insulting. I felt like Carrie (the one from the Stephen King novel) except, unfortunately, without the powers to set things on fire. Like I was asked to the prom by one of the cool kids only to then have pig's blood spilt on my dress or something. Maxwell broke my poor little heart.

I doubt it was with purposeful bad intentions (I'm not paranoid). Still, I don't really understand the objective there. Pointing out who's not cool enough? Not wanting anyone to think HE'D taken the low pixel photo? I'm no expert blogger or businessperson, but I do know insulting one of your fan/supporters isn't smart. Still, I don't know him, never met him, how could I possibly be offended?

I came to my answer thinking about the nature of internet "relationships." People talk a lot about the anonymity of communication on the web. But, in some ways, we create quick relationships without really knowing anything about the people. While somewhat anonymous, the relationships are anything but surface. Because of the somewhat anonymous aspect, we share more than we would with people at work or strangers on the street. We share interests with them, share our opinions, our embarrassments, and in this particular case, our homes. You'd think NBC's "Dateline: To Catch a Predator" would have warned me off of sharing too much and forming naive feelings, but it didn't.

So, I'm sort of starting my own therapy--like any good addict, I've realized when I've gone too far. I'm staging my own intervention. I'm going to go 12-step on AT. I'm still going to keep checking the blogs from the fun people I "met" through there, and doing my own home improvements, but I doubt I'll be frequenting AT as much as I used to. "Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable." Being insulted by a guy on a web site to the point where I write a blog entry? Uh, yeah, check, I think that qualifies as unmanageable!

Apologies to all those AT people who are visiting me here...I know I'm sort of flogging a dead horse!


  1. Oh, Christine, I'm so sorry you were insulted. I thought of it as a rather self-concious thing Maxwell felt compelled to say to excuse himself for picking the photo. The bloke isn't as savvy as he needs to be, sometimes. I think he's fairly naive.
    Hoever, an addiction to anything (says she who IS QUITE addicted--but in spurts) and if it gives you a moment to stand back and reflect, that's good. Internet relationships are an entirely new ballgame--and one can get very scorched. (Been there, done that.) Take care of yourself.

  2. I agree - that is at best mildly insulting. What a grouchy/mean-pants!
    Your life balance is admirable - GO YOU for bringing some reality and humanity to the online world!

  3. For Lent, I gave up defending Maxwell.
    There's so much too-cool-for-the-old-crowd stuff like that, that I no longer feel any urge to read the site. It wasn't a deliberate boycott -- I just stopped caring.

  4. I can't imagine Maxwell insulting an avid reader of his AT site. What a jerk, comments like that are not needed and he should look at himself before he comments on another's pics.Without a doubt,he can't be too professional making a comment to a former lover of AT.You go girl!!

  5. Thanks, Dolly (aka Mom). That's what she told me when people picked on me at school too! :)


Since you have great taste in blogs, I don't think I have to tell you to be nice to each other...and don't spam me. Thanks!