Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Sort Of Fame, I Guess!




Hi Everyone,
Exciting times on the Inter-web here in lovely BBD Manor, that just had to be blogged about.


A few weeks ago, during our endless season of sleepless hell Randi realized that beyond anything else she was really peeved at Jehovah's Witnesses who would buzz during the middle of the day, waking Stella. This annoyed the BBM for a few reasons.

One, is that we are NEVER going to join the Jehovah's Witnesses. Any religion that is against Halloween is not high on our conversion list.


Two, we have no ability to ID who is buzzing. Our intercom is broken, so if we're expecting a package, which we often are (new parents are always ordering stuff) we often buzzed in the JWs, expecting UPS.


It didn't happen every day, but it happened often enough that we realized we were pretty sick of it.


Second, because Stella is the lightest sleeper I've ever met the buzzer itself, if even rung once would set her off. Then she might not sleep all day, which meant she probably isn't going to sleep all night.


So we also realized it might be better if delivery people didn't buzz 10,000 times, as they are wont to do.


Randi, being a pro-active type, took matters into her own hands, and wrote a sign. That sign is at the top of this post.


I didn't know she was going to do it, but when I saw it I thought it was funny stuff, and was happy to leave it up. Anything that PO's religious proselytizers is okay by me. I'm a Jew, after all, and we don't believe in door to door sales.


Not surprisingly about four days after it was posted someone had ripped it off. At the time I was annoyed by this, but Randi seemed non-plussed, saying she could always write another one.


And that was that.


Or so we thought.


Yesterday at work I received an e-mail from a former co-worker that had "Mini Web Celebrity" in the headline. Intrigued I read further. Apparently there is a site called PassiveAggressivenotes.com, the e-mail said, and is this post about you? I clicked on the link, and this is what I saw.


There was a whole thread dedicated to Randi's sign!


The whole thing was rife with oddness. For starters the original poster, who runs the site (which apparently is a big success) lives on our block. But we had never met her! In typical New York fashion we have never met most of our neighbors that live a few doors down, and now we were finally being introduced, but only through the Internet. Weird, post-modern irony something going on there.


The second part of it was that we were now sucked into the Internet vortex of comment and rebuttal that we have all read so much about, and heard is so destructive. It was definitely kind of a voyeuristic thrill to see all these people interested enough in our short-lived sign to make all these conjectures about our lives, even if most of the conjectures were wrong and/or negative. And, being frank, I know most of these people probably don't care all that much, they're just bored at work, and looking for something to do. Although I know nothing about that.


Another irony: I am a professional journalist. I have spent most of my career trying to get people to pay attention to things I've slaved over. My last article, for example, was about how Australia is running out of water. I spent the better part of a month on it, and it was tight and painstakingly detailed. You know how many comments it received? None! You know how many comments my other stories have received? Just about none. But Randi dashes off a bitchy-funny note in twenty seconds, and the passions of the Internet are inflamed!


I also thought it was pretty damn fun, to finally be on the other side of the window. It cracked me up.


Naturally I called Randi and told her that she should log onto the site. First she entered it wrong, and went to some other bogus site. I didn't tell her why I wanted her to log on, by the way. Then she got the address right. And this is what I heard:


"Huh!" This was accompanied by the quick intake of breath, on the other end of the phone.


Randi immediately took action. One no-no, our names had not been redacted by the original poster. I don't know the legality of all this (it was a public note, after all) but that would have been courteous of the blogger to do, especially since we ARE neighbors and such. Randi dashed off a pretty peeved e-mail thataway, and soon enough that was corrected. Although I love that many people misread the original note, and wrote about one mister "Sarchuk." So even in my brain-dead mini-web fame my name is misspelled.


Then I had the distinct (mis) pleasure of reading the whole thread, because, you know, I had to. Oh. My. Goodness. Lots of vitriol about us entitled, baby-coddling yuppies, surely written by either embittered single folks, or hipsters in skinny jeans, or at least trying to wear skinny jeans. One sample:


"Well obviously they let the Stork buzz at least once. Guess they felt they got screwed over when they ended up with a satan baby and don’t want to let the bastard in with another lemon."


Pretty mean, I have to say.


But mostly it was people trying to be funny. Because on the web the standards aren't all that high, and a lot of people think of themselves as clever writers. Most of them probably couldn't hack the real thing. So they need an outlet. Fair enough!


After awhile we logged on, and posted back, which always reminds me of my favorite, if horribly politically incorrect statement about trying to win fights online: Winning arguments on the Internet is like the Special Olympics. Even if you win you are still retarded.


And, seeing an opportunity, I of course told the throng over there about my blog. I mean, passiveaggressivenotes.com has a book coming out. I deserve, at least, a pamphlet.


My lasting takeaway? My neighbor really has a kick ass blog. I could learn something.

15 comments:

anglophile said...

Look, you're probably going to get a lot more comments on this post than on all your others. And the reason is this: having a baby is not an accomplishment that anyone else cares about but you and your family and friends. Your baby is really cute and all, and it's great that you're so excited to be a father and everything, and I'm sure you're a lovely family, but no one else cares. Plenty of people have babies, but the more realistic ones don't expect complete strangers to care about if your baby is sleeping or not.

What the commenters on PAN care about is people who become so enraged over a situation that they write a "painfully polite" or "hilariously hostile" note, and post it in a public place instead of just dealing with the situation. And then they make comments on them. It's not meant to be taken personally, or taken seriously. Really. Nobody really thinks your baby is Satan, you know. It's the Internet.

I wish you luck with the baby. Soon she'll be 13 and you won't be able to drag her out of bed and you'll long for these sleepless days. Oh, and if you're interested, I'd be happy to talk to you about your relationship with God.

amy d said...

Since you were unaware of the site, allow me to explain 2 concepts, if you will:

Truly, all comments were made in jest and were not meant to be a personal attack. Kerry posts notes and we make fun of the note writer, more often than the person(s) the note is directed at.

Also, the whole take on your baby being a demon was just a play on the sentence your wife wrote: There may be a sleeping baby in here and you will be cursed... As if the baby was gonna put a curse on someone. See?

David Serchuk said...

Hi Anglophile,
Thanks for your comments. I wasn't really offended by the posts at PAN, but I thought it was worth commenting on here. If it happened to you you would probably write about it also. And although, you're right, most of my readers know me, not all do, and some really find something useful about a new dad writing about his experiences. It's a blog about being a parent, and there is some degree of universality there, I hope. And I try to keep it pretty fun. I hope I succeed.

Amy,
I think I get what PAN is all about, I just was having some fun with my post. The sentence I chose to excerpt may not have been the best example of what I was talking about, i.e. personal cracks, but I was moving fast. But I understand that it's an online comment-fest, and I think the site itself is really well done, funny and I hope my neigbor has great success. Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting here.

--Dave

Holly said...

You know, this whole thing reminds me of the fact that "celebrities" we love to rip apart on blogs -- whether they be Lindsay Lohan, the American Idol contestants, or even those who write funny signs -- in the end are people with real feelings. It's really easy to write things online and laugh about them. But that certainly doesn't make anyone a better person.

I like your blog a lot, and I know many other people do, as well. Part of the fun of blogging is getting to know people you wouldn't otherwise meet and creating new friendships. I don't agree with Anglophile that "no one else cares." Maybe a lot of people don't, but not everyone. That's why blogs exist and readers read.

alexlady said...

ha ha, wow!

Guess what? I'm an entitled D-bag without children, and I'm upset that no one else cares about how witty and scathing i can be.

POST POST POST POST POST!!! LOOK AT MEEEEEE I'M SO FUNNY!

also, JESUS!

David Serchuk said...

Hi Alex,
Sometimes it sure seemed like that reading the thread. My theory is that websites develop their own culture, with all the regular posters getting to know one another, and certain more obnoxious personalities are tolerated because they're all kind of family, in a non-meeting, not-actually-real-friends kind of way. And some people let their freak flags really fly in a way that they never would in person, but in a kind of snarky way. It's so much harder to be bitchy face to face.

And also, yeah, right, crazy, huh?

--Dave

Rosewood said...

Dave--

Just wanted to tell you...I love your blog. Tell Randi that I love her note. God knows how many times I would put my DD down when she was about Stella's age, when she would *finally* be sleeping, I'd be creeping out the room on tiptoes and a floor board would squeak. I swear it would sound like a gunshot to her and she'd wake up screaming. Or the times I'd finally get her down and the phone would ring.
I absolutely love Randi's note, and have felt like writing one similar so many times in the early days.

ds said...

To paraphrase Lincoln: You can please some of the readers all of the time. You can please all of the readers some of the time. But you can never please all of the readers all the time.

Maybe it's more that people online are pleased by pulling down their anonymous, virtual pants and showing you their pimpled rears. Online, everyone can see your ass.

Here's an interesting article about why it's so hard to understand each other via email (and blog posts). Some researchers found out why flame wars can erupt due to a lack of emotional clues. (As in, I think your baby is Satan, but you can't see me smiling, so you assume I'm a moron.)

http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0515/p13s01-stct.html

And, of course, the infamous troll article from the NY Times. Some people live to cause pain.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/magazine/03trolls-t.html

I'll take the advice from an editor at Salon.com about responding to the comments. "You can if you want to. But I'd suggest not throwing meat to the lions."

David Serchuk said...

Hi Rosewood,
Thanks for the comments. Yes, that's kind of the crazy part, Randi was trying to write something funny. I think we simply filled a role some people love to assign: entitled yuppie know it alls. If only we had the cash to support the rest of the stereotype.

David,
First of all, good to see a comment from you! Last time you checked in it was to talk about cheap rents back in the day. But, yeah, communicating online. I try to live by what I call the New Golden Rule: never say anything online you wouldn't say to someone's face. (Hey, not a bad rule outside the 'net, too!)

That's also why I never create fake IDs to hide behind, too. I always assume my words can be read by anyone, at anytime, so I need to be proud of them, and stand by them. But thanks for the links, my friend.

--Dave

Anonymous said...

Hi David, nice blog! Quick question for you, after reading your post I clicked over to the site you've mentioned, but could not find the thread in question. Do you know where I need to look? Thanks!

Mishee said...

Kerry must have felt so bad she took your post down. Which really sucks cause if I remember right, I had at least one witty comment in the batch. But either way, I just wanted to say no hard feelings (doesn't seem like you have them tho) and your baby is adorable! Just reminds me of my own ticking clock...

And sorry about the Jehovah's witnesses, but at least they speak English over there, right? I get the Spanish ones in my neighborhood1

David Serchuk said...

Hi Anonymous,
Actually the post was taken down by Kerry, which is probably the easiest solution, after all. I am sure she didn't want to hurt our feelings, as we are her neighbors, and this way it kind of closes a weird, small, chapter in all our lives! But, if you are willing to do some extra work you can still read it. Because nothing ever dies on the Internet.

Basically it exists in the cache form. Go to Google and keyword "sarchuk" and "blog" and a few listings down the post will be, under the headline "mostly religion." You have to hit the cache button to read it though. I find it kind of funny that to get to it you have to write my name wrong on purpose.

Hi Mishee,
Thanks for getting in touch, no, no hard feelings. I understand that most people who post are probably surfing the web at work, killing some time. (Not that I would ever do that!) As we noted we didn't love that our names were on the sign, or the thread, but we didn't think there was any bad intent. It's just the Internet, after all.

And thank you for the nice comments on Stella. I hope you keep reading in order to learn still more about her endless litany of colds, mucus and insomnia. But she's perfect anyway. (And, yes, I sure sound real Park Slopey right then, I guess. Ah, screw it. I'm 36, who am I fooling? I might as well buy a station wagon and call it a day. Uh, if I could afford a station wagon.)

Shalom.

--Dave

Annie K. Nodes said...

Sleeping baby or no sleeping baby, continually buzzing on someone's door is OBNOXIOUS. Period. I didn't find Randi's note passive, entitled or overly hostile. But then, I also care about other people's sleeping babies, even before I had a kid. I consider it part of being a caring, considerate member of a community.

I agree that PAN is a great blog concept. Wish I thought of it.

David Serchuk said...

Hi Anne,
Thanks for the kind words of support. I have to say I agree with you, but then again I'd never try to retail religion, as some do.

Also, yeah, the PAN blog is a great idea. Like most great ideas it is a simple idea, executed to perfection. I guess the next time we smack our foreheads, after thinking of something so simple its genius we will have to race online to get it started before someone else does.

Good luck! I am still waiting for my bold of lightening!

--Dave

David Serchuk said...

Umm, I meant "bolt" of lightening.

--Dave