The Blob

It started last week. Or the week before. Or sometime last year. I don’t know. Time isn’t my strong suit.

Alex, the four-year old, had a double ear infection. This on top of being poked in the eye with a piece of cable from my daughter made for one Unhappy Camper. Can’t really blame the kid for that.

Off to the doctor we went, where I was certain he’d gotten a corneal abrasion or some other eye condition that would squick me the fuck out. You’d think that because I’m a nurse, I’d be immune, but BLECH. No.

Turns out, it wasn’t related to his sister’s gentle, loving caress to the eyeball with a piece of metal. No. Pinkeye. Fuck. Ew. Gross. Nasty.

So we did our course of eye-drops, while I tried not to vomit because EW GROSS EYEBALL and then I got sick with the Mysterious Oregon Train Disease (which I still motherfucking HAVE)(talk about bullshit. Dysentery would be SO much more glamorous than this). Come to think of it, it’s probably from the doctor’s office. Remind me to pick up a hazmat suit, Pranksters.

Yesterday, my day care lady informed me that my daughter woke up with goo in her eye too. She, too, went on the eyedrops. Along with my son, whose eye goo has returned. The universe likes to torture me sometimes.

So now I wait, Pranksters. I wait for the day when I wake up with The Blob on my face. Because anyone who knows me knows I’m twenty-five-niner times more likely to get infected with kid crap than the average bear, I’m certain that when I do, it will be a Blob That Ate My Face. I’m altogether certain, in fact, that my Blob will mutate and become an actual living, breathing Blob, like the pink goo from Ghostbusters II.

Here’s hoping it’ll dance to “Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher.”

Why Being Non-Anonymous On The Internet Rules

I blog under my real name. For as long as I’ve written on Mommy Wants Vodka, I’ve used my real name: Aunt Motherfucking Becky. I WAS plain-old “Becky” until The Real Becky came and smashed my dreams to smithereens. Apparently, there is no room on The Internet for two people named Becky.

Anyway.

There’s a lot of babble about keeping anonymous on The Internet and I completely understand why someone would make that choice. This is not a slam against those who choose to use pseudonyms.

I use my real name: Becky Sherrick Harks, which rules, and not just because I happen to be a narcissistic ass-clown who likes the sound of her own name.

This is why:

0) You never worry about anyone finding out that you have a Super Sekret Blog. Because the moment you’re all, “WOAH THIS IS SO-AND-SO’S SEKRET BLOG,” people find it more alluring and therefore titillating to stalk it. Pop my name into a search engine and BAM! you’ve got me out in the open. Not so exciting for my ex-boyfriends to find if I’m just THERE.

1) It keeps you from talking shit. Sure, a good old fashioned rant feels fucking great, but it feels a hell of a lot less great when someone’s feelers get all hurty. The best way to keep your posts anonymous is to post them via a third-party website, like Band Back Together (for non-rants) and Mushroom Printing (for snarky rants).

1) It ensures you will NEVER have to work again. We ALL know how lazy I am, right? That’s a given. Going to work every day is bullshit. Thanks to using my real name, I’ll never have to work again! What employer wants to Google a prospective employee only to find out that she talks about her vagina on the Internet?

2) You get a whole new identity if you ever decide to be un-Googleable. It’s like entering the Witness Protection Program! I’d have to legally change my name and adopt a new identity, which means I could finally be “Princess Grace of Monaco.”

3) You never have to use those annoying cutesy code words for family members, which makes it easier for people like me, who have tiny brains, to understand your posts without requiring a key.

5) You never worry about slipping up and destroying your persona. Because your persona is YOU, baby. Warts and all.

8 ) People relate better to other people, not personas. Even if it means they’re stalking you on Myspace.

13) You waste a hell of a lot less time blurring out the faces of everyone in pictures like they do on COPS. Not, *ahem* that I watch that show.*

21) You can add your Twitter Feed into your LinkedIN profile, ensuring that alongside the professional updates like, “I recently acquired a multi-billion dollar company,” yours can say, “YOU SHUT YOUR WHORE MOUTH AND MAKE ME A PIE, WOMAN!”

being non anonymous on the internet

34) You realize that when world’s DO collide (online and offline) no one gives much of a shit.

55) People now expect when they meet you that you’ll probably hump their leg while eating a hot dog. That gets any awkwardness out of the way beforehand.

89) You can put your real name on any name badges, as opposed to “Sex Kitten23.” That’s especially helpful if you’re somewhere you want to be taken seriously**, rather than at Stardollars.

144) You know that no one ACTUALLY wants to track you down and make a lamp out of your boobs, because they would have done so already.

233) You know that – anonymous or not – if someone wants to find you, they will.

*MUCH.

**Shut your whore mouth.

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Your turn, Pranksters. What do you think about the internet and anonymity? Do you blog under your name or do you use a pseudonym? Why does that word look weird? Why does it smell like oranges in my house? Why does powdered gravy suck so badly?

Six Ways To A Better Blog

I find it incredibly odd that anyone asks me for blogging tips. Certainly I’ve been blogging a long time, that much is not debatable, but my first blog was a sarcastic anti-blog used primarily to elicit as much horror out of the readers (who were our friends) as we possibly could. If you think I’m profane now, you should’ve seen me back then.

this is me in front of a fucking tree

(this is me, in front of a fucking tree, assholes)

 

tree-cat-paint

(this is me with CATS with frickin’ LASER BEAMS under a tree, assholes)

Anyway, here’s my yearly list of ways to be a better blogger. (see also: Blogging for Dummies)(Blogging For Dummies Deux) and (Blogging For Dummies Part Number C)

Feel free to ignore them all.

1) Forget about the numbers. I know how tempting it is to obsess over your stats, painstakingly calculating your unique visitors every day, closely following your subscriber count and The Twitter followers. I’m not a numbers person (just like I’m not a geography person) so to me, ignoring them is Easy-Peasy, but I know others are. Every other Tweet in my stream seems to be begging for more followers.

But here’s the down-low on blog statistics: they’re only a guess. And? They change dramatically depending upon which blog statistics tracking program you use.

I happen to use some geeky program The Daver installed which allows me to occasionally track the odd search terms that bring people here (sweater kittens and boring things always at the top of the list). For awhile, I hosted my blog with some crappy company that ALSO gave me blog statistics. And? The two were COMPLETELY different numbers. It’s likely that if I started looking at blog stats with ALL the programs I could find, I could average them out and MAYBE THEN get a better picture.

But that sounds like a shit-ton of work. Work = bullshit.

2) Don’t get all hot and bothered if you get lumped into a group of people. If you have a vagina and a blog, you’re probably going to be called a “Mommy Blogger” whether or NOT you have crotch parasites gnawing on your legs.

When I first started Mommy Wants Vodka, I was infuriated that I’d been called a “Mommy Blogger!” How DARE they! I thought furiously to myself as I blogged, occasionally telling stories about my kids, occasionally not. Fuck that, I thought as I clacked out a post about my vagina, how DARE they insinuate I am nothing without my children! I am more than my children! I am a PERSON!

It took awhile, but I realized that people will always slap a label on you – sometimes good, sometimes bad – and my anger was unfounded and, quite frankly, kinda dumb. I can let my blog, not the label, speak for itself.

Which brought me to Number Three:

3) Don’t take everything so fucking seriously. Take your blogging seriously and write the shit out of whatever it is you’re going to write about, but stop making every little thing into an outrageously Big Fucking Deal.

Why?

It adds stress and will eventually alienate readers. It’s one thing to be mad some of the time; but outrage! at! everything! gets old.

Life’s not always such serious business. Relax and enjoy it.

4) Blogging is important. It’s really easy to minimize what you do with your blog. Hell, I’ve done it time and again. But at the end of the day, your words all matter. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday, people will stumble across your words and find whatever it is they are looking for in them.

In the past two years, I’ve met at least four families who have received the diagnosis of “encephalocele” (generally, prenatally) and have stumbled here to read about my daughter. Those words I hastily pecked out while writing Amelia’s Grace have provided a light in the darkness for them.

I can’t place a value on that.

So even if you’re writing a blog about knitting or cooking; know that what you do matters. All of it.

5) Blog because you enjoy it, not because you think it’s going to make you rich and famous. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing for an audience of 5 or 5,000, enjoy the time you spend blogging. I spend many, many, many hours every day writing, blogging, and working on my sites, and I couldn’t be happier.

Do I make a lot of money? Absolutely not. Thanks to my profane (whore) mouth, I scare off potential advertisers. But you know what? I’d rather write as Your Aunt Motherfucking Becky than as Aunt Becky Trying To Be A Famous Money-Making Blogger. I do a little freelancing, sell shirts and and ads on this blog in order to pay for servers and other boring things on my other blogs, one of which, Band Back Together, I intend to turn Non-Profit. Mostly, I run them at a loss. Which is fine with me.

Bloggers who do make it “big” are an unusual flash in the pan, not something that happens to everyone who gets a kicky URL and a great idea.

6) Be careful who you get into bed with. Your name, your blog, your unique voice and your audience all mean a lot. Be wary of those who want to take advantage of it.

You don’t have to be all distrustful or anything, just make sure to read the fine print.

————–

What are your suggestions for being a better blogger, Pranksters?

The Auto Show: Social Versus Traditional Media

If all goes well, and I don’t freeze to death like an overly-bedazzled, extra-large Popsicle, I’m planning to go downtown* for the Chicago Auto Show. You’re probably scratching your head, possibly throwing things around your living room a la Jerry Springer to express your outrage, because that simply does not sound like something Your Aunt Becky would like to do. And that is where you would be wrong.

I’ve been going to the Chicago Auto Show since I was a wee lass. It’s a Sherrick Family Tradition, begun many years before Your Aunt Becky descended upon this world, smoking cigars and barking out orders (that is how, Pranksters, my mother describes me). Somewhere, I have pictures of me as a baby – carefully held by one of the models that the car companies used to have by the cars – a muppet with curls toddling around in my fancy dresses, a preteen, a sullen teenager with my earphones on, glaring at the camera, and even pictures of me as an adult.

Between school and squalling babies, I’ve been a little busy and I haven’t managed to go in a couple of years.

When Toyota invited me to the first-ever social media preview of the Auto Show, I was gobsmacked.

You’re probably thinking, “oh, well, you’re a BLOBBER, people INVITE YOU TO THINGS,” and you’d be totally wrong. I’m the WRONG KIND of blobber, Pranksters. The only people who like me are the Car People because they don’t give a shit if I swear and that is fine by me.

That is also a conversation I’d love to have another day because I’m totally interested in what you have to say about it. ANYWAY.

So, I’m nervous.

I love cars. You know that. I’ve worked with Ford before for the What Women Want Series over the summer. Cars = rad. I’m not nervous or bored or apprehensive about going to spend the afternoon looking at them.

I’m picturing a claymation non-celebrity Death Match between:

Social Media (blobbers, The Twitterers, Facebook, Tumblr)

versus

Traditional Media (Newspapers, Magazines, Television)

There’s sort of a war going on between them. The rise of self-publishing platforms (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Twitter) has really really REALLY hurt traditional print media (also: the recording industry). They haven’t been able to figure out a way to keep up with the times and stay relevant when people can pop onto Twitter and watch news as it unfolds. How can they compete with that?

Twitter, is free. Blogging, well, it’s (mostly) free**. Advertisers aren’t paying the big bucks to advertise and that’s where traditional print media makes their money.

(advertisers should really pull their heads out of their asses and realize that ALL of our blogs are, indeed, a good place to advertise.)

Traditional media is grappling with ways to offer something that’s different and more lucrative than social media. Traditional media has been reluctant to change. Traditional media has also considered social media it’s bumbling redneck cousin.

Traditional media has a point.

The crux of social media is also it’s beauty: it’s unfiltered.

There are rarely teams of editors fact-checking blogs and Twitter accounts for accuracy. For many things, that’s great: it gives you that extra emotional connection to the writer that may otherwise be missing. But it also allows speculation, rumors and outright lies to be spread without consequence. Sure, a “troll***” might come along and say, “hey, that’s not true, yo,” but one deletable voice in a sea of thousands?

Not that it doesn’t happen in traditional media too, but at least there, the fall from grace is much more pronounced. A blogger can just close up shop and eventually, we forget they existed. Or we don’t and they serve as a warning: “don’t pull a xxx.”

So that means that if I can shake this migraine (I have a double ear infection, adding insult to my toothless injury) I’m nervous of the reception I’ll get. Should I just show up wearing my Shut Your Whore Mouth shirt and a crummy old pair of boxers with a pork rib hanging out of my mouth?

Also: in Claymation Death Match, will they capture my Super-Villain hair properly?

So, what do you think about it all?

*downtown = Chicago.

**I pay a bit for hosting services and a couple of servers because I run Mommy Wants Vodka, Mushroom Printing, We Know Awesome and Band Back Together.

***there are many who consider people who disagree with them “trolls.” Generally, I do not.

—————-

Bloggies?

Come To Think Of It, I Never Did Write About That Tapeworm Farm

The Daver, 2004: “You should start a blog.”

Aunt Becky: “What the shit is a ‘blob?‘”

The Daver: “You know, an online weblog?”

Aunt Becky: “Is that for Dungeons and Dragons people? Because I do not play Dungeons and Dragons. I am offended that you would think I play Dungeons and Dragons, The Daver. Also: gravy.”

The Daver: “You’re offended by gravy?”

Aunt Becky: “Only the powdered kind.”

The Daver: “Ha, no. Blogs aren’t for Dungeons and Dragons. A blog is kinda an online journal.”

Aunt Becky: “So. Wait. You write a diary online?”

The Daver: “Kinda.”

Aunt Becky: “And then…other people read it?”

The Daver: “Yes. Some. Probably.”

Aunt Becky: “OMG. Bwahahahahahahahahaha! THAT’S SO RIDICULOUS.”

The Daver: “Gee. Thanks.”

Aunt Becky: “Who gives a flying shit what I think about ‘eating grilled cheese‘ or ‘driving through snow?‘ Why would anyone care?”

The Daver: *shrugs* “I’d read what you wrote.”

Aunt Becky: “Aw.”

(a couple days later)

Aunt Becky: “So I’ve decided to start a “blob” called “Mushroom Printing.” I shall write my first post about my idea for a tapeworm farm or my vagina. Can me and Pashmina write it together?”

The Daver: “Sure.”

(years go by)

The Daver, 2011: “How’s that Humble Pie taste, Tex? How’s that blog treating you?”

Aunt Becky: “Shutthefuckup.”

—————

How did you get started blogging, Pranksters?

—————

And, PRANKSTERS, holy FUCK, I got nominated for a Bloggie for Best Writing of a Weblog and Most Humorous Weblog.

Band Back Together got nominated for Best Kept Secret Weblog. This is HUGE.

Um. UMMMM. I got woken up to frantic fucking PHONE calls because it’s so awesome to have been nominated.

So, Pranksters *rubs toe into ground bashfully* would, um, you mind, um, voting for me? Please? PLEASE?

Anonymity On The Internet

When the topic of internet anonymity came up yesterday, I knew that there was no one better to ask than The Daver. If I live in the computer, he’s the one who built it for me.

Now, I’ve never been anonymous. In fact, the first blog I wrote was read (at first) only by people who knew me by first, middle, and last name, which has helped dispel any feelings of anonymity.

I’m happy that I’m not anonymous. Truly. It’s kept me from putting stuff out in public that shouldn’t have been there anyway.

So, here’s what A Nerd has to say about being anonymous online:

If you have a bone to pick, or an itch to scratch, or have bottled it all up too long and you feel that writing it all out on your own (a third-party blog like Band Back Together or Mushroom Printing is the best way to go for this type of thing) weblog is the best way to just let it all out, I have a little piece of advice for you: don’t.

Aside from the myriad personal histories of folks who have been fired for writing on blogs (see: Dooce, Queen of Sky, or Troutgirl), the more important issue in my mind is that whomever you didn’t think would read your tirade…will.

And as Aunt Becky’s resident nerd, I’m beholden to share some of the most significant reasons why.

Let’s start with some geeky ones. So, you registered that fancy-schmancy domain name, right? Mommywantsvodka.com! Type that puppy in over at whois.net and guess what? You can see that it’s MY FAULT that Aunt Becky is online. Even if she didn’t blog under her own name, it wouldn’t be too much of a jump to take the “Registered By” name listed there, pop open Facebook, and find out that we were married.

Sure, some registrars will let you pay them to register under their name – registering a domain by proxy – but upon inquiry they are just as likely to share that name to someone who would take the time to ask.

Okay, so let’s say you don’t have a fancy-schmancy domain name, just a blog that you think no one reads. Except…if it’s on any of the major blogging sites (Blogger/Blogspot/Google, WordPress.com, Facebook, so on), then it’s very search-engine optimized (SEO) already.

So if your rant happens to mention anything obscure about the situation (things that have fairly few high-ranked pages on Google)(see also: the John C. Mayer Prank for more information on Google SEO), such as the horrible burned Marston Family Chicken, then when your mother-in-law -who the rant focused on – searches for ways to make it better, whoops! What’s this? It’s irrelevant that you don’t have your name on the site: how many people were over at M-I-L’s house yesterday? How many have the same interests and family size and location as you? Same first name?

Oh, and don’t think that if you post it just for a day and then take it down that it’s gone for good. See, Google keeps a copy of all the pages that it indexes — so if the page just disappears, Google hangs on to it for a good while, in case it went away accidentally. This is incredibly handy if you’re searching for something that happens to be on a site that crashed. Not so handy if you want the Internet’s elephant ears to forget.

There are others, too, involving looking at the Page Source to see breadcrumbs like the IP Address of the poster, or tracking who posted a comment via their IP address…but I’ll save those for a more geeky post. The important thing to remember, folks, is that it is a safe assumption that sooner or later, anything you write on the Internet will be read by whomever you’re writing about, or their friends, or their family, or someone that knows them at work, or their priest or their favorite hooker or the guy who makes them their sandwich at Subway.

Someone will read it.

And even though the feelings behind those rants fade over time, the magic of the digital world ensures that those words won’t. Are you ready for those words to be brought back to live when you least expect it? Ready to face the truth that yes, you did say those things, and in public, no less?

If so, and if you still thing it’s a good idea, then more power to you: this is free speech, after all.

But remember that just because the speech is free, doesn’t mean it is without consequence.