February 5, 2009 2 Comments
Dear CF ,
I’m incensed by the word “overshare,” so I only glanced at the Jezebel piece, which seemed concerned more with the graphic and anatomical variety of the phenomenon than with the stripping bare of a life. I’m firmly in favor of the former—felt, in fact, that Sadie’s approach to the subject was quite like our own. The blood-and-guts guffaws are right, so much so that I fail to see why this is even a point of interest. Men, God bless ’em, have been talking frankly and jovially about their members for a long time. Take Erasmus cackling about penii in The Praise of Folly:
Let me ask you if the head or the face or the breast or the hands or the ear, all of which are reputed the more seemly parts of the body, actually beget either gods or men? Not as I see it; it’s that other part, so stupid and even ridiculous that it can’t be named without raising a snicker, that propagates the human race. That is the sacred fount from which all things draw their existence….
I guess I have a more anxious relationship to the other kind of Oversharing. Just now, searching for the original Salon article, I came across an October 18, 2008 article about this very issue which said the term was coined by ex-Gawker writer Emily Gould. Suddenly my case of the cranks made perfect sense.
In the spirit of camaraderie I’m taking a deep breath and a moment to overshare my thoughts on the occasion of Ms. Gould’s retirement. The following is a direct transcript of my Notes to Self on the date she quit the old-school Gawker. It’s fitting, p’raps, that she quit with an overly personal (perhaps overly dramatic, but nonetheless interesting) final post.
Came back from a party at R’s house feeling twinges of regret, as I always do. What sort of honesty is appropriate at these sorts of gatherings? I feel I always choose the wrong one. Small breakthroughs: wrote the piece defending sloth. But really an invitation to consider a spiritual crisis as represented by Sloth, the Capital Sin, as described by Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica. The fact of the sigh we give when we are deprived of spiritual truths. The inability/struggle of the mind to produce “good.”
The big question in writing, as at parties, is who to sacrifice to the audience.
Is the Gawker phenomenon so explosive because it’s the cocaine of blogging? Everything is sacrificed for the sake of the reader’s microsecond of thrills. Mothers, siblings, lovers. The columnists willingly burn the bridges of what they’ve been and will be; the question is–do they do this knowing that they will grow into what they mock, and are they prepared to deal with the self-loathing of having all this on record? Or do they think they’ll successfully avoid it all?
Emily Gould and Choire Sicha quit Gawker today. Last night she was at the party at n+1, while I was at their reading here. To go or not to go to the party tomorrow?
Take that, Hamlet. (I’ll spare you the suspense: I didn’t go.)
Let’s face it: this kind of oversharing is boring. The other kind—the kind I worry about here—is terribly, terribly risky.
The author of that first Salon article I stumbled on, AV Flox, does some lovely work articulating what it is that blogs have done, and how they’ve eroded levees and flooded the neighborhoods of real life. It’s blogging, I think, that made it possible for her to write the following to her aunts in an e-mail:
I have decided that a man’s libido must have an invisible umbilical cord that connects it to the New York Stock Exchange; I have no other way to account for the fact that I don’t recall the last time I was intimate with my husband…
She describes the embarrassment she felt a moment after sending it, but decides, in the end, that suburban silence is more pernicious than candor.
“So,” she concludes,
when people ask me how marriage is, I say it’s a pain in the neck. It’s like taking care of a giant, ancient machine that can help you accomplish a lot of tasks in the emotional fulfillment department, but which constantly needs maintenance and calibration.
At the risk of further boring you, dear friend, I Overshare two other things I found in that same notebook, from when I was trying to calibrate my own marriage.
On a day when I woke up (warning: TMI ahead omg!) wanting sex:
It was the Cal-USC game. X looks good in his cowboy hat. The kitchen was clean—I did it late last night. X picked the living room and bedroom up a bit. Oh, environment.
Norman Mailer died. An assistant killed Linda Stein with a yoga stick. A girl in Italy is being held for helping to kill her roommate in some sort of sexual context. Benazir Bhutto is out and about. Mark Danner is in the Best American Essays edited by David Foster Wallace. I listened to David Bowie. And Beethoven’s 1st Piano Concerto. Nazis were the other dominant story theme. Made my first Itunes purchase—2 episodes of The Office.
Saw D, N and Baby yesterday. Very cute, but so far from what I’m prepared for, and X is much farther still. Thinks it’s conformist and conventional to have one, doesn’t feel he wants one but feels the inevitability of it.
The powder for beef onion gravy does not make tasty beef onion soup. This should not be surprising. But I thought of Ramen. My high school reunion was today—that just occurred to me.
On another Day, following a dream in which I yelled at two manicurists in a large white warehouse (calling one of them—and I was proud of this—“Barber Barbie”), I find that I was already struggling with this problem of Gifts and Work in Marriage and had in fact unconsciously developed the solution I suggested to you—namely, turning everyday things into the gifty currency:
Why do some old men always wear dark glasses? How do some people always offer to do the dishes, even when it isn’t a real offer?
What’s an offer? To make an offer. What does that mean? A coffer is a container for expensive things.
A Coffer of Offers
- a neckrub
- to do the dishes
- to vacuum a room
- to leave the apartment for 1 1/2 hours
- to sweep up the porch
- to edit a paper for you
- to read an article you enjoyed and talk about it
- to read a story you enjoyed and talk about it
- to make the bed
- to clean the bathroom
- to shake out the bathroom rugs
It’s a terrible little list.
But what did YOU make of the Oversharing, dear CF?