Do People Really Suck So Much? (hint: “YES.”)

I have a piece to say today, and I’m gonna say it briefly. But first read these two posts:

1. Anne Helen Peterson muses on whether it’s acceptable to criticize fashion bloggers, and where do you draw the line between “private” and “public” personas?

2. gluten-free girl shares some rather horrifying stories about hateful comments, tweets, and so on; in reaction to her blog.

I just have a few reactions to these. First of all, what they both point out to me is that when people are anonymous, they feel free to expose the worst of themselves to the world. As much as I firmly believe in the importance of being able to post anonymously, it’s also true that nothing brings out trolls like anonymity. People will say things that they would NEVER say if they were a.) face to face with the target or b.) forced to use their real names. Notice in Anne’s article, she’s having a real crisis of conscience. She has a certain amount of irritation about a particular “fashion blogger,” and wonders if it’s OK to state it publicly. Pretty mild, really. But also notice that she uses her real name. It tends to make a difference.

For the record, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with criticizing a person who has chosen to make themselves a public figure via a blog or other means. It kind of goes with the territory. But there’s a world of difference between “criticizing” or even “mocking,” and pure, hateful vitriol like gluten-free girl has to endure.

And that brings me to that second post. My God. What is WRONG with people? Well, I’ll tell you exactly what is wrong with them:

Given the opportunity, some people will troll anonymously because it gets them off.

Do any of the hateful people mentioned by gluten-free girl REALLY wish her dead? I don’t think so. I think they get off on the ability to send emails, make posts, post comments, or send out tweets that upset the blogger in question, or anybody else for that matter. These people have base instincts, and they follow them because they can.

The ugly truth about most bullies is that they themselves have also been bullied. They make themselves feel better by turning around and bullying someone who can’t hurt them back, whether it’s a younger kid at school, a less-powerful co-worker, or a blogger who will read their anonymous comments or emails and get upset by them.

I say this with all humility, but seriously: I count myself SO LUCKY not to be one of those people. Because if you’re the type of person who gets off on causing others pain or fear or sadness, how can you live with yourself? Do you just pretend that someone else did it? That it wasn’t you at the keyboard? That your anonymous persona is really a different person all together? Maybe there’s some real pathology in there, I don’t know.

Here’s an example of how I handle someone who irritates me. There’s a fashion/lifestyle/mommy type blogger who used to drive me INSANE. The pictures she posted of herself were always posed and flawless, and she had perfected that sort of duck-face pout that all the starlets are so good at. Her family seemingly had unlimited income and resources, or at least she made it SEEM like they did. Her children? Utterly perfect, adorable, well-behaved and always stylishly-attired. In short, she was a smug twat. In fact, she probably is STILL a smug twat, but I wouldn’t know, because here’s how I handled my irritation: I unsubscribed from her feed, un-followed her on Twitter, and pretty much forgot that she existed (until I dredged up the memory for this post). I didn’t post vitriolic anonymous comments on her irritating blog, I STOPPED READING IT.

If more people would stop reading the things that annoy them, there would be a hell of a lot less ugly comments and emails that have to be screened by bloggers. Unfortunately, it’s not likely to happen, because (obviously) people tend to lack self-control. And that is why the answer to the question (do people REALLY suck so much?) is a resounding: “YES. People suck. SO much.”


Hulu Plus: It’s a Minus

Prepare to receive my unsolicited opinion on Hulu Plus, Hulu’s $7.99 a month streaming service that is supposed to compete with Netflix:


My husband signed up for the one-week free trial, so we tried Hulu Plus out on our Roku. I was NOT impressed. The interface, compared to Netflix and even Amazon VOD, is clunky. But most annoying were the commercials. TONS OF COMMERCIALS. I tried to watch an episode of Parks and Recreation (Season 3, Episode 1), and before the damn episode even started, I had to watch FOUR commercials. Two straight minutes of irritation right there (at least when I’m watching something with commercials on my computer, I can do other things and ignore them until they’re over). Then there were another two commercials at every normal commercial break in the program.

I guess I’ve gotten spoiled by Netflix, where there are NO commercials at all, but watching an episode on Hulu Plus was so annoying, before it was over I’d decided I would never do it again. $7.99 a month to watch commercials? NO THANKS. For $7.99 a month I can stream shows and movies from Netflix with no commercials, and for $2 more I can have one DVD out at a time too. Yeah, I get that Hulu Plus can offer more recent seasons, but so what? I’m pretty sure Season 3 of P&R will be on Netflix Streaming by this fall when it comes out on DVD. If not, I’ll just get the DVDs as part of my 1 DVD at a time plan. Or I’ll pay $38.99 and stream Season 3 in HD right now from Amazon VOD. It is worth it to me to watch without annoying commercials.

So my summary of Hulu Plus is: TOTAL WASTE OF MONEY.

(By the way, if you have no idea what a Roku is, you really need check it out. IT ROCKS.)

Never Knew How Awful It Was…

You know how sometimes you don’t realize you had a good thing, until it’s gone? I’ve discovered recently that there’s a corollary to that theorem: sometimes you don’t realize how bad things are, until you get into a better situation.

Of course I’m talking about my new job, which makes me so very happy that I might not have to go on Prozac after all. (My personal life is still incredibly stressful right now, parenthood and what-not, so having a job that thrills me really helps balance out the misery.) Here’s a short history of my work morale that will help to make sense of these observations.

Way back when, in the early 90s, I had just graduated from college and got my first real job. My first job was awful, I hated it, and I shortly quit. My next job was not so great, but I found it interesting, so I worked to make it better – and it worked! My job activities, responsibilities, and relationships got a lot better, and I was very happy (although I was not fairly compensated for everything I was doing, but hell, there was a recession at the time).

Then I moved to Columbus, and had a job in civil service which was both a.) boring and b.) low-paying, with a side-dish of demeaning for extra measure. From there, I circulated through a few jobs, some civil service, some not, most for non-profits, and dealt with my share of psycho bosses and managers and VP’s. When I finally got my first real IT job, I hit my stride – loved my work, loved my co-workers, loved the regular promotions I started getting. Life was good! That was my first taste of what a big difference true job satisfaction can make in your overall life.

After we moved to Northern Virginia, it took a while to find my next “perfect” job, but find it I did, and I happily spent seven years with that company. It was my second job in software testing, but I really grew and learned a lot in those seven years, developing my skills and dramatically expanding my knowledge and experience. Things weren’t perfect, but they were close. Unfortunately, I left because the contract I was on was ending, and I didn’t want to have to work on a different project with a long commute. That’s when things went downhill. I can honestly say that since then, 2006, I haven’t been truly happy at work…until now.

After five years of working in places where the morale was in the toilet, I’m finally working at a company where people are happy, including me. My skills are being used and developed again, and I really enjoy going to work. Maybe most importantly, the work/life balance is very important at my new place, and it’s made a big difference in my stress level. Whew!

The funny thing is, I never realized the full extent of how unhappy I was at my last job, until I started this one. My last job was not challenging at all, and in fact it was pretty boring most of the time. I certainly never had to take it home with me. Some of the management were buffoons, but I was able to avoid the worst of them. And there were always the really generous benefits to comfort myself with – and generous they were, extremely generous for our industry. But while I wasn’t exactly stressed, I also wasn’t fulfilled. My brain wasn’t being challenged, and my emotional well being suffered due to the low overall morale. I think I had some inkling of this, but I kept telling myself I was getting paid an obscene amount in salary and benefits to basically sit around, so why should I complain? And that worked for a while. But now that I have a job that I truly enjoy again, I can see how wrong that was.

TL;DR: Groovymarlin took a 14% pay cut to leave her last, dismal place of employment and go to work at her shiny new one. And hasn’t regretted it for a single second.

Varieties of Annoying Starbucks Customers

I’ve cut way back on my Starbucks latte consumption, but I still indulge occasionally. I usually prefer to use the drive-through specifically so that I don’t have to deal with the annoying customers in Starbucks, but there’s not always one available. Have you seen these customers in the wild? I saw most of them just this morning.

Annoying Cell Phone Talker: Has an emphatic and very loud conversation on cell phone all through ordering, paying, and picking up beverate. Usually involves things that are personal and make strangers who overhear the conversation kind of uncomfortable. Loudest thing in the whole store and seemingly oblivious.

Giant Order Ninja: Chick who gets in line all by herself, usually right in front of you, and then orders five very complicated drinks at the register. Bonus points if she spills one of them all over the pick-up area (I have seen this happen). Extra bonus points if she attempts to pay for each drink individually, using a different payment method such as cash, check, debit card, etc. (yes, I have seen this happen also).

The Mix Master: This is the person who orders a plain coffee and then stands at the condiment bar for 10 minutes turning it into a masterpiece ghetto latte or whatever.

The Draper: The person who orders, then drapes himself or herself all over the tiny little pick-up station, as if there’s NOBODY ELSE in the entire place who has ordered a drink and will also have to pick it up there. These people turn the pick-up counter into their own personal condo while they wait for their drinks. Seriously, what is WRONG with these douchebags?

People: in general, I hate them. 😉

La la la I’m not Listening!

So WordPress is nagging me that there’s a new version available, and two of my plugins need updating, and am I getting right on it and taking care of that? No!! I mean I’ll do it…eventually. Like posting. I do it…eventually.

It’s not that I purposely make a post and then wait nearly a whole freaking month to make another one. It just happens, you know? Just like that periodontist my dentist referred me to back in oh…November? December? I dunno. I’ll make an appointment eventually.

In the meantime there is lots of stuff happening. Like: I’m starting a new job this month! And, therefore, leaving my old one! YAY! And I’m planning the Bean’s birthday party! And I’m dealing with passive-aggressive persons who seem hell-bent on bringing me down! And I have approximately five million errands and odd jobs to do during the week between jobs that I have PROMISED myself to take this time.

(I’ve never had time off between jobs before. I wanted to try it at least once.)

So, longer post later. This is just to assure the three of you out there that I haven’t forgotten this blog, or you. Let me direct you to this old post of mine about how to clean your sterling silver jewelry. It worked back then (2009) and I just used it again this weekend – guess what? It still works! YAY!

(Thanks Vauxhall Vixens for showing me this image. Perfect.)