It’s the wolf that knows which root to dig to save itself
It’s the octopus that crawled back to the sea”–R.E.M., “Country Feedback”
I still spend a lot of time online.
Here’s a checklist of what I do.
Read my homegirl and homeboy blogs.
Read Michael Dirda’s reviews at the Washington Post.
Read the TLS.
Do you read Mary Beard’s A Don’s Life at the TLS? Beard, a Cambridge professor, historian, classicist, TV celeb, and a classics editor at the TLS, is also a lively, popular blogger. I very much liked her book The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found, which I used for a unit on graffiti in an adult ed Latin class I taught.
Oddly, Beard attracts a lot of negative attention. People criticize her looks (why, I can’t say; she looks confident, which is half the beauty thing), trash her ideas, and are often bizarrely malevolent in comments and on Twitter.
In her recent blog, she talked about a lead-up interview in the Times to a London Review of Books public lecture she was giving on “The Public Voice of Women”: she talked about how “women play a higher price than men if they want to make their voice heard.”
Then The Mirror and The Mail apparently lifted and paraphrased the Times interview, and emphasized a few comments she made about the image of Kate Middleton.
The resulting comments at the newspaper were half favorable, half not, she said. But here’s the kind of stuff she quoted, which in general is the kind of thing she has to put up with.
Leftist feminists should not comment on the looks of other women but should rather look themselves in the mirror.”, “Who is Mary Beard and who cares what she thinks ?”, “Mary Beard has very little grip on the real world, as reflected in many of her comments. She is cocooned in her safe world of academia”, “These two writers should stick to their typewriters. (They both have a typewriter vintage look.)”, “Mary Beard is to be pitied if she truly believes that she is making any contribution by being unkind for no reason other than envy”, “Cheap publicity for Beard (who does what exactly?)”, “Mary Beard is a leftie professor who just talks nonsense like all other lefties”, “How I wish that Mary Beard would just shut-up!”
Horrible! And for God’s sake, is she really that leftist? I’ve never noticed, and, heavens, I’m an almost-socialist.
I am unlike Beard in all ways, but we also get negative comments here. At my old blog, I went a little over the top sometimes by nice-girl blogger standards, and some of the comments were hostile.
Mirabile Dictu has a similar traffic flow, but in general the comments are nicer.
Sometimes I delete a comment.
I can rarely think of much to say, but I try to support my fellow bloggers by leaving comments at their blogs. I usually say something like “Nice review!” which is true, or “I’d love to read this” (which is true), or, in the case of blogs about contemporary fiction, “I’ll skip this one, but good review!” I wish I were a more fluent commenter.
I have many friends online, and had a wonderful three days last fall with my friend Ellen Moody, the blogger, in D.C.
Nonetheless, I discovered recently that some of my homeboy/homegirl bloggers aren’t entirely on my side. Recently I discovered a nasty comment about me at a blog.
The truth? If anyone had left an ill-natured comment about him/her, or any of my friends, at my blog, I would have deleted it.
When I was a freelance writer I never got negative mail. At blogs, however, you sometimes meet with a little craziness.
I must admit, I got my husband to read the negative comment at this blog (and since he thinks all blogs are stupid, he only did this as a favor).
He says, “You’re a better writer than both of these guy/gals and they want to stop you.”
He also said, “Get offline.”
Anyway, it’s good to have spouse support.
And now here’s an R.E.M. video of “Country Feedback,” because if we’re going to be online, we have to put up with some nastiness, and we might as well listen to some good music.