I recently had to take a break from reading a good friend's blog because I couldn't deal with it. I couldn't deal with mentions of the way my friend was spending the money she made (while I was coming up on month three of ending the month post-rent with a rather dismal amount in my checking account), on her young daughter's physical prowess (while my own son is facing possible surgery related to mild cerebral palsy), and the happy state of her relationship (while mine, well, we're figuring it out).
One post detailing the great lengths to which she recently went for the holidays is what did it. Something in me snapped and I closed the browser. I sat there for a few minutes, silently fuming and stewing and how-dare-she-ing until it dawned on me that I was blaming the wrong person.
If I am getting angry because of how someone else is choosing to live her life, the problem usually isn't that person. My friend is not a malicious or unkind person, and, in fact, she's often totally generous. The problem, friends, was me.
The funny thing about reading someone's blog or a website and getting mad about what you've read is that you're in control of the situation. I could be wrong, but I've never heard of any cases in which someone was forced to read a blog or website -- this is a behavior many of choose to engage in all the damn time. You're doing it right now, and you're in charge of how you feel about what you're reading. (By the way, did I mention your hair looks gorgeous today?)
It's probably entertaining that this is even a radical idea for me, but it's the opposite of how I've used the Internet for years. For the bulk of the time that I've been online (13 years), the Internet has served three big functions: social networking, work, and reading blogs.
Most of the time, those blogs are written by people I know and/or adore, but sometimes they're blogs written by people who I've never met -– people who I silently mock because I'm not happy with an area of my life and would rather make fun of someone who else than deal with it.
I don't think that's necessarily bad or wrong (and I do think it's just part of human nature to compare/contrast our lives with others and that the Internet makes this experience even more intense), but I'm not comfortable with feeling resentful of someone I actually do know and adore because of something she put online.
The more I started thinking, the more I realized it was also time to have a good, long conversation with myself about what was going on in my life –- areas that needed work, and areas that were awesome. I needed to figure out why I was reacting this way to someone's 400-word blog post, instead of recognizing that my life is my life with its own circumstances, and my friend's life is hers –- with its own circumstances..
The end result of all this woe-is-me, my-friend-sucks, blah blah blah angst? I have a somewhat clearer view of what I hope to see happen in the next few months, and I've learned an awesomely valuable lesson that's spilling over into other areas of my online life.
So from now on, if there's a blogger who I don't know who absolutely drives me nuts, instead of half-heartedly typing in the URL of his or her blog a few times a day to a) read a new post and then b) mock the new post (usually to myself), I'm just steering clear of the blogs altogether.
I think I'll be happier for it.