Having never met Ms. Gould it's impossible to make any accurate judgements on behalf of her character. Yes, it's easy to mock and criticize; use her as an example of all that is wrong with blogging, and by extension the Internet as a whole. Indeed, many a pixel has been tarnished doing so. But these comment board jeers ignore one critical component of the situation and that is this--people read what she has to say. Emily Gould doesn't write tortured missives detailing her personal and romantic travails that are largely ignored or overlooked. Indeed, the whole fact that people go to great lengths to mock her illustrates that people are paying attention to what she has to say, whether or not they support her desire to say them in the first place. While her critics may accuse her of "over-sharing" the fact remains that she's widely read.
I guess my advice to the Gould-haters is akin to what their mothers probably told them when they were 4 years old and found themselves badgered by the neighborhood bully: If you don't like what somebody has to say, ignore them in hopes that they go away. Writing angry comments about a person on comment boards, whether they be ones sponsored by a major online media empire, or simply humble personal blogs simply draws more attention to a given controversy.
Of course as a blogger, and a long-time over-sharer, I can't help but relate to this and draw it back to myself a bit.
In my last post I pointed to my recent online reticence and explained that I'd rather update my friends about my life in real-time than online. That's still true, but there's another aspect of the situation that I didn't spell out. Long-time readers of this blog know that dating and male-female relationships have been a central theme of Hey Pretty. In fact, a fellow-blogger once described HP as a "quasi-dating blog" on her own blog roll. While that was never the intention of the site, it's what it morphed into because, as single woman experiencing a host of ups and downs in her romantic life and a desire to work them through via the creative outlet and quasi-group therapy nature of blogging, that's what it turned into. But then I started "seeing" or "hanging out with" or whatevering with one person in particular and suddenly his privacy meant more to me than working out whatever issues I might be having with him for all the world to see. Which was a perfectly fine and a seemingly selfless act, I suppose. But with my standard coping mechanism for life's challenges removed, I've found it harder to deal and easier to internalize, which has made me a bit more volatile these days and sort craving the semi-anonymous outlet I once had for kvetching about those problems. Not that there are a ton of major issues and I go through life totally seething and wishing I could spill all, but I do sort of miss this nice little medium where I can scrawl out a quick post about what's bothering me, sort through some comments either telling me to get over myself or sympathizing whole heartedly, and work through the issue until I feel like I've attained some sort of handle on it. Instead, I'm trying other methods, like meditating and yoga and the oh-so adult "putting things in perspective". All of which reap fewer immediate benefits and all rely on my own resolve for any iota of success.
And there's the crux of the matter for us over-sharers. Blogging offers sort of an instant gratification when it comes to venting about personal issues. Write a post, read comments. Things start to feel a bit better. Rather than listening to them reel in a constant inner monolog than grows wearily more boring and maddening by the moment. All this suggests to me that there's probably some specific personality type that's drawn to all this in the first place and that blogging is probably just a manifestation of it. Were we not living in an Internet age, we'd probably be the same people who write bad poetry in coffee houses or make Woody Allen movies. And people patron those forms of expression just as even the most uncared about, dumbest personal dating blog gets a few hits a day. Because even a few hits indicate that somebody out there is listening and that ear may be a sympathetic one.
So I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say about blogging, or about the fate of HP as I struggle on a daily basis to be a saner, less neurotic individual. Sometimes it's difficult to know when a problem is worth worrying about and when it's something you just need to get off your chest and complain about for a bit. Blogging, despite all that its detractors have to say about it, makes that distinction a little bit clearer.