Send this to 5 friends including me.

You have one hour to forward this message or you will have 5 years of bad luck.

Grab this twibbon if you support women’s rights/animals rights/the long-gun registry/bringing Buffy back/bringing sexy back

Do this today/don’t do this today/wear this today/don’t post that today/show them/show us/show me/ show your/support us/support them/follow us/boycott them.

I’m kind of tired of the internet telling me what to do.

I love that social media and the people using it have become amazing, powerful catalysts for education and change and support, but it is starting to feel like every single day there is new, powerful mandate being unveiled on twitter, on blogs, online. And sometimes I feel like they come with a caveat that if I am not joining, not following, not supporting that mandate, than I temporarily have no place in our community. Sometimes I feel like these movements come with a veiled sense of, either you are with me or you are against me. Sometimes I feel guilt if I don’t join these movements, and resentment if I do.

Since I’m not interested in being passive-aggressive, I’ll give you some examples.

Almost daily, I get a well-meaning email from somebody I love, telling me how much they love me. These emails are often accompanied by photos of kittens, flash animations of grumpy yet sage women rocking in a chair, or a badly photoshopped image of a lamb sleeping with lions or some such crap. So, this email telling me how much I am loved, must be sent back to the person that sent it to me, or else they will, what? Think I don’t love them? Think I don’t love kittens? Think I am godless and heartless and have no time for friendship/beautiful women/strong women/women that only get better with age week?

I never forward these emails on. I appreciate the getting of these emails, but I hate feeling bad that the person that sent it to me is expecting me to reciprocate. Because I always delete these emails. But it’s not because I don’t love the person that sent it to me.

And then I log on to twitter, still feeling bad about the kittens, and find that the next day has been declared ‘Complaint-free Monday’ on Twitter.

It’s a nice, really nice thought. It’s meant to keep everybody’s spirits and hearts and attitudes in the pink.

But I kind of resent it.

Of course – OF COURSE – nobody is forcing hashtags on me, or forcing me to follow the mandate, but, when a hashtag like that comes from a popular, well-respected blogger, it spreads like wildfire and is being declared over and over again in my twitter stream constantly. And it does kind of smack of an almost parental, ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it,’ kind of vibe.

And to me, that means that I’m going to bum people out if I tweet what I would really like to tweet today, so I’m kind of staying off twitter. Because it’s possible that something I say is going to sound like a complaint, and then someone will undoubtedly remind me that it’s Complaint-free Monday and I only have 140 characters for my kvetching, so I can’t afford a disclaimer in front of every one of my complainy tweets.

And I could use the sympathy of my twitter peeps today. It’s our first day without our nanny, and I miss her and I still feel really sad about some things that happened last week, and I couldn’t sleep last night because I was upset and stressed and things feel worse when you’re stressed and tired, and I just wanted to lay it out there and –yes – fish for some love, because that’s one of the things that twitter is really, really good for.

But I can’t do it today, because even though I’m bummed out, the mandate is not to complain, and it’s a big enough mandate that it’ll be obvious that I’m ignoring it when I tweet, and then it’ll be like I just broke some unwritten rule about internet rules.

Twibbons bug the crap out of me, too. Well, I shouldn’t say that – I have a twibbon on my avatar right now, supporting gay rights. But I didn’t put it there because everybody else in my stream had one and I felt like I needed to prove my solidarity with those that I follow. I put it there because it represents a cause I believe in. But I never mentioned that I put it there, and I never told you that you should put one of your avatar, and it didn’t spread like internet wildfire and I didn’t assume that you don’t support gay rights if you didn’t put one your avatar.

I know nobody is keeping track of whether or not I forwarded an email or complained on twitter or wore a tutu or any of that, but these mandates can feel oppressive. And bossy. And like I’m not a good person if I don’t do them, when the truth is, I simply have my own shit going on, and that the level of my online commitment to these things might have nothing to do with my love/support/encouragement/belief in the awesome things that you are doing.

And this might be my own sense of guilt talking, but sometimes these campaign make me feel like I have been put in a, ‘you’re-either-for-us-or-against-us’ position, and not wanting to choose between the two, I simply choose silence.

And that, I’m quite sure, was not the point at all.



  1. I know nothing of complaint-free Monday. Don't censor yourself, you never do!
    This post completely resonates as I have these same thoughts. And I don't like being told how to use social media. Join, don't join, half join, whatever - there's enough other stuff I have to feel bad about, I can't be feeling bad about needing to vent, too.

  2. I never heard of complaint-free Monday ... what the hell kind of Monday is it if you can't complain about it being Monday??!!

    Anyhow, those chain-letter type emails really get to me too. At first I am reading and thinking 'aw, this is sweet' and next thing you know it closes with 'send it to 5 people or the universe will implode.'

    I really resent anything that is tinged with guilt. (I've written about this too: http://www.julieharrison.ca/living/im-breaking-my-chain-letter-rule-to-share-with-you-the-story-of-a-female-schindler/)

    Do what you want to do, I say. :)

  3. Would it help if declared Monday an all-day-complaint-day-for-short-women-with-brown-hair day. Beacause I would totally do that.

    I ignore all those kitty emails. I'm evil like that.

    Sorry about your nanny. :-(

  4. I already blew the complaint free Monday thing on twitter today. You have your six year old rip out his g-tube and then have to clean up the accompanying blood and barf while trying to keep the dogs away from the still seeping child and then wrestle said child down to try and reinsert a now useless and broken g-tube back into his bloodied stoma while barking at the older kids to try and find a new kit and some damn paper towels while they are at it and THEN try to remember not to complain on twitter.

    Meh. I refuse to allow any one to tell me how to use my social media. If they don't like reading what I put out on the net, they don't have to read it. And I'm okay with that.

    As much as I appreciate the sentiment, to embrace joy and all that jazz, life is filled with rules made to be broken. Like complaining on a complaint free Monday.


  5. Maybe you should just shut up and show us your tits, already.

    Sorry. I meant that as funny although I know it sounds sarcastic and glib. Imagine a gazillion animated gif smiley faces dancing around it. It might help. For me tit-showing is the ultimate in joiner culture and I've never considered myself one of those Arested Development "Girls with Low Self-Esteem."

    I don't like joiner culture either--it's one of the biggest reasons I'm private on Twitter and don't play Farmville on Facebook and delete almost every single non-work-related email that comes my way.

    Karen, I'm sorry you have the blues. Losing your nanny was rough. Your work life last week was rough. You know you can always feel free to kvetch in my tweet stream. I like beautiful, kvetching you.

    Also? Who knew it was no-complaining Monday? What possible purpose can that serve? Everyone will simply bitch more on Tuesday.

  6. You can complain in my stream any day, my friend.

    I hope the week gets better. I'm really sorry about your losing C.


    By the way, there are way too many joiners on the Internet already.

  7. I'm sorry, but reading a tweet stream full of rainbows and kittens and my-life-is-so-beautiful sentiments is really, really boring. I would much rather hear cracks about how people's lives are messed up. And also send out some love. You're right on with this one. Is there a twibbon of support I can download?

  8. There's just not enough hours in a day to read and forward on all those lovey friendship beautiful woman woman's day equality do you love Jesus email. Really there isn't. A cousin and aunt send me these things all the time and I just want to die of the guilt that occurs when I don't forward them on. Sometimes when I feel really guilty I forward it back to them but blind copy their name so they THINK I'm sending it to ten amazing women in my life.

    So I guess I'm kind of passive-agressive.

    And WTF? You're not allowed to complain on Mondays? Girl, Mondays are all about complaining. It's part of our society.

  9. Wait, but Mondays suck. That's like, their thing. and so it's our thing to bitch about it. Otherwise the world will stop spinning.

    and that stinks about your nanny. I'm sending you hugs and love and virtual cookies (or maybe real ones).

    It's stressful for me when it seems like everyone in blogging land is doing a "poop your pants Friday" or a "paint your toes tuesday" because I feel obligated to join in. and quite honestly, I just really don't want to.

    And with the twibbons it's like "ok now i have to leave the twibbons on forever because if i take it off that's weird, and then people will think I stopped liking that cause." Am I totally messed up for finding that sort of stuff totally mentally stressful? That's cognitive energy I just don't have dude.

  10. Loved this post, it was so timely too I have been getting a lot of the e-mails lately that you were referring to. It made me laugh out loud and start reading it to my husband... I am also going to share it on facebook. I love your posts, you get to say all the things I wish I could say, keep it up.

  11. I so completely agree with Rebecca.

    When I'm having a bad day, I can always count on twitter to show me that I am not alone.

    If no one was complaining on Monday and I was having a craptastic day, then that would just make me feel 100 times worse, like why am I the only one dealing with shit today?

    I'll listen to your Monday complaints if you listen to my Monday complaints, as long as you don't send me any e-mails of kittens.

  12. The POINT of Twitter is complaining. It would be much less interesting without it. And I would be much more complain-y in real life, which is not a good thing.

    Anyways, to your point, I understand what you're saying. I feel the same way about blog awards. It's so lovely when someone gives me one. But then it feels like a big obligation, and I don't really like the idea of memes as a rule, and I don't want offend someone, and just ... argh! So nice to get the email or the award. It makes my day. But then I just leave it at that, and feel vaguely queasy.

  13. Totally with you - can we have a twibbon for non-joiners?

    I don't even feel bad about not joining in turning my avatar funny colours or adding shiny things to it, for not returning emails, and for not RTing messages or posting them in my fbook status.

    Really? If I have something i need to say about a cause, I'll say it, but more likely in person or with a vote or by objecting to something I'm against or writing a note/comment of support when I'm feeling that way or by writing a post about it where I can go on at more length.

    I know, you know, that we have things we feel strongly about, but that we can't feel strongly about everything, and that jumping on that bandwagon halfheartedly doesn't really help, does it? Except to make us feel half-assed and ineffective?

    and am I ever glad I missed out on no-complaining Monday. isn't that what Mondays are for? Especially when you've fucked up 8 things today? Bah, humbug.

  14. I wish wish wish I had seen this yesterday!

    I'm tired of twibbons and fuck not complaining, and I'm so sorry about your nanny.

    Somedays, we need it to be ok, not to join, y'know?

  15. augh. i'm sorry it's been a rough time. and i complain EVERY day. soon, i'm sure, i'll be voted off twitter. :)

  16. Sorry to hear about your nanny. Hope this week goes better for you.

    On the surface the whole complaint-free Monday thing seemed like a nice thing. A chance to try and see the positive is not usually an awful exercise. But if doing that is censoring or stifling your true feelings, all that makes for is an extra-complain-y Tuesday. I expected to see way more cranky tweets today as everyone caught up.

    As someone who is on the fringe of "the community" and would like to be a more visible/vocal member, sometimes I feel like I have to join some of the silly join-y things just so I can prove myself as a member. Sometimes that community feels pretty darn gated, albeit unintentionally (Not a dig at *anyone*, just an observation and probably a symptom of my own issues :). I'm getting better at that though, and am much more choosy with what I align myself with. Besides, I just can't keep up with all that shit! I can barely update my own site regularly for Pete's sake.

    I get a lot of those goofy emails. (yay for my older relatives joining the interwebs but again, for Pete's sake, stop sending me the same crap over and over and *over*!) I read some, but generally just delete them. I feel a little bad about it, but ultimately, not passing the stupid stuff on does people a favour.

  17. Karen, we'd like to invite you to become one of our Authors in Alexandria.

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  18. I loved this post. Absolutely loved it. Not only are you hilarious (you are), but the internet CAN and often is just that oppressive. I mean, who ever heard of a complain free monday anyway? And I'm not into all that tutu, twibbon (what the HECK is a twibbon?!) absurdity. I like real people expressing their real opinions/beliefs/feelings on their blogs or in social media just like they would if you were sitting in front of them having a cup of coffee. Which, of course, is exactly what you've done here. Hope you're having a better day. xoxo

  19. ^---^
    . .

    (Hilariously, I'm actually kinda sorta blogging rainbows and kittens these days.)

  20. Auntie JennoAugust 26, 2010

    I just delete anything that was forwarded. (even if it was from Mom) and I don't even have twitter. And complaining is our birth right, we're Jewish, remember?
    And I will really miss C. I wish I could help her out.

  21. I totally complained on twitter monday. Just like I do everyday. I didnt' even get the hashtag memo.

    If anyone sends me a cheesy kitten email i never respond bc they might think i like cheez.
    I always take a moment to contemplate telling the sender how they have just embarrassed themselves, but since its usually my inlaws I just ignore it.

  22. If I don't complain? Whatever will I tweet about? Gah. I HEAR YOU.

  23. That last one was me - this is a test. Stupid new email address....

  24. Now THIS is an email I'd send to 5 friends -- namely the 5 friends who typically send me the crap of which you speak. I am SO with you on this.

  25. I, just now, FINALLY had a chance to read this and it is exactly the same way I felt. I didn't let out a tweet until after 5pm because I had nothing good to say. But same as you, I felt pressure and guilt if i deliberately went against the feel good message.

    oh and I miss you. bye!


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