I AM A SELF-HATING DESIGN BLOG WHORE

Below is an essay that I wrote and couldn’t place anywhere but I still think is hilarious.  I THINK I AM HILARIOUS.

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I Am a Self-Hating Design Blog Whore

 

            Anyone who has ever had a desk job knows the lengths to which a person will go to entertain one’s self during that 2-4:30 PM stretch.  Take me, for example: it’s semi-nice outside, but I only know that because I went to get string cheese and Soy Crisps from the deli a few minutes ago, as I reside in a windowless cubicle-esque space.  To distract myself from this burdensome awareness of the weather I now have, I’m reading the 100-page anti-Internet pamphlet published by Kinus Klal Yisrael that was distributed at the Haredi anti-technology (more or less) gathering in CitiField back in May.  Make whatever assumption you wish to about my personal issues from that past sentence; you’re probably right on target.

            Here’s the thing, though: some of this stuff I feel has some validity.  For example, below is a brief instance of how “Internet addiction” has affected the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community:

 

“A man tells us that his friend… once asked if he could come up to his office to download Shas [6 books of Mishnah] from the computer onto a CD.  The man readily agreed.  So this ben Torah [righteous man] arrived at the office around 5 o’clock in the afternoon and began downloading.  The downloading process was supposed to take about two hours… the next morning, at about 6 AM, when the [man] came back to work, he noticed that the light in the window was on.  He was sure that his friend had left it on by mistake.  When he entered the office, his shock knew no bounds when he found his friend still sitting at the computer, glued to the screen… [The man] decided to be frank with his friend and ask him about it.  His friend shamefully admitted that he did in fact have serious problems every time he found himself with access to the Internet…”

 

            So I myself don’t black out for twelve hours on memes freshly cooked in a spoon, but I do have somewhat of a similar problem, one which I’m actually trying to white-knuckle through right now: I’m addicted to twee design blogs.

            It started maybe a year ago, when I began work at my first full-time desk job and my friend introduced me to a blog written by a NYC-based mother, cyclist, and erstwhile travel blogger.  I didn’t think much of it, at least at that moment.  In fact, I think I brushed my friend aside with a curt, “This is just way too fluffy for me” and then returned to doing my in-depth, independent study on the etymological development of the word “crazy” from an insult into a compliment (think about it.)  Even my second visit to the blog didn’t raise any red flags for me –– I was just bored, looking to fill a minute or two of dull office time.  Who cares if I was zoning out on a missive about decorating a studio apartment or a montage of pictures that sought to instruct one as to “How to Plan The Best Mother’s Day Brunch?”  At least it wasn’t Facebook.  At least there was some original content there.

            But it was, as is often the case with narcotizing substances, just the beginning.  Within weeks, I found myself drawn back to the blog again and again.  The blogger –– we’ll call her Martha, as in Stewart, in a nod to her nouveau-balaboosta persona –– muses in a cheery, calm way about all things sweet and pretty: middle parts,[1] vintage advertisements, luxury yurts and how to make great fruit-infused water.  “Hm, interesting,” I would nod in a thoughtful way, until I realized that I’m not terribly into either water or fruit, as I prefer the harder shit.  

PINK STAIRS HOW ADORABLE!

PINK STAIRS HOW ADORABLE!

            In fact, I knew right away that I wasn’t into anything this woman is into.  I don’t like bicycles and loathe people who are into their bikes (the one exception being my boyfriend, but we make sacrifices for those we love.)  I’m never going to spend my weekend making my own gemstone-topped bottle stoppers or crafting an online album of my vacation photos and writing cute captions for each pic of me smiling warmly at the camera.  I’ll never vow to try out hot pink lipstick in order to “take a risk” or troll around Etsy to assemble a photo-collage of precious hand-stitched pillows for a baby’s crib (What to Buy For Your Pregnant Best Friend!).  That’s just not me.  More often than not, I’ll spend my free time re-reading Within the Context of No Context or making art out of my tiny, serial killer-esque handwriting or, lest you think I’m all highbrow all the time, lying in my bed with re-runs of The Voice playing in the background and a half-eaten bag of sour cream and onion Kettle Chips (the meant-for-three-or-more bag, not the individual-sized one) next to my face, a film of grease and green flecks of faux-onion coating my limp fingers.  Nope, I would not be spending my Friday evening masterminding a Madewell clothing swap between like-sized friends complete with homemade butterscotch pudding served in cracked little teacups and mango tequila shots taken from thimbles (though tequila is cool.)  Wasn’t going to happen.  And that was okay.  Wasn’t it?

            But just like the young kollel student who eventually needed more than a small Blackberry screen to satisfy his techno-cravings, I soon found Martha’s blog just not enough.  I needed more maternity clothes, more clever dinner party game ideas, despite the fact that, needless to say, I had neither children nor dinner parties.  (Nobody ever said addiction made sense!)  Soon, a number of home design blogs by pseudo-professional decorators were making it onto my regular roll, and my mornings were filled clicking endlessly from picture-of-nice-thing to picture-of-nice-thing.  Ombre nails, cupcake vending machines, a Pinterest collage of rad coffee mugs, a look inside a fellow twee design blogger’s house, photos from the artisanal pencil-sharpening class she attended, affirmations from artistic giants written in red and blue script on an art print I could buy on the cheap, a Tumblr devoted to “top knots”: these images of horror festered inside of me, threatening to overtake me, to rid me of my desire to do things like, oh, I don’t know, download long tracts dedicated to the evils of social media written by religious fanatics.  I began to think, instead, about the design bloggers themselves, their undoubtedly lovely little lives, the way they probably dreamt of re-upholstering chairs with soft, robin’s egg blue cloth at night and woke up fresh and Zen and ready to make ricotta-peach pancakes and serve them to their adorably shaggy husband and toddler.  The biggest problems they broadcasted were akin to “ecru or off-white?”  Occasionally someone would mention post-weaning depression, and that got my darker side going a little bit, but it ended when the writer, despite all the testimonials about actual Depression that claim this is impossible, actually woke up one morning, after two months, and simply felt better!  Back to the real problems: would you ever wear a one-piece bathing suit?

APPLE SANDWICHES ARE CUTE AS BUTTONS

APPLE SANDWICHES ARE CUTE AS BUTTONS

            The final straw was when I started looking at the blog of a particularly attractive ne’er-do-well.  This was the move from e-cocaine –– kind of classy, kept me a little buzzed but still functional –– to e-crack –– a lump of cheap, hard shit that left me brain dead and blubbering.  I checked this woman’s blog every day, and every day, a piece of my soul died, fell off, and decomposed on my office floor.  She basically gave me spiritual leprosy.  Why was this one blogger so much worse than the others?  Because the fact was that she didn’t actually do anything.  At least the other ladies were offering up (organic) recipe ideas or talking about various projects they were involved in; this particular blogger simply posted pictures she took on her iPhone of her (admittedly adorable) two-year-old daughter, geek chic husband and perfectly pouty English bulldog.  Another day, another montage of “My Perfect Family!”: we eat crab cakes at the beach, dip our toes in the sand, and slurp up freshly squeezed lemonade while happily bearing our white-as-printer-paper teeth!  (This blogger is Mormon, as I learned a disproportionate number of the other bloggers whose work I followed were.  I suppose that all that time the rest of us spend boozing and not converting the dead they spend learning HTML and organizing their closets with teak Lazy Susans for shoes?  I would wax further existential on the differences between technophobic haredi Judaism and Mormonism, and the fact that their followers end up on such extreme ends of the blogging spectrum, but I’m saving that for my PhD dissertation.)

            This “final straw” leg of my journey went on for at least three months, until one day, after scrolling through a list of 274 comments to see that almost 90% were composed of the word “cute” followed by anywhere from one to eight exclamation points, I decided enough was enough.  I was powerless over my addiction, and I wasn’t even getting high anymore –– it was just a maintenance plan, something to keep me leveled-off, like an alcoholic’s nip from an airplane-sized whisky bottle in the early morn.  Frame clusters made me feel lonely inside, and any reference to decorative “whimsy” incited a homicidal rage from the pit of my being.  I vowed to go cold turkey on at least this one blog, and I have been sober from it for about two months now.  With great shame, I must admit I still check in on Martha daily, but thanks to the asifa pamphlet, I have a detox plan:

 

            “I have made the following offer in public, and it stands for anyone reading this essay: if you cannot find someone with whom you are uncomfortable to send the [internet history] reports to, I am willing to read your reports, as long as you are willing to accept some warm divrei mussar [advice]…”

 

            Rabbi Viener, get ready to have the cutest, most eco-friendly sukkah on the block this year, and by the way, have you ever thought of fishtail braiding your peyos? 


[1] Of course I mean hair parts.

DIY KITCHEN DECORATION

DIY KITCHEN DECORATION

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