Okay. So, two days ago, Kotaku published an essay of mine, which excites me to no end. It’s my first published work, as a freelance writer[ref]I worked as a professional journalist for four years. I’ve been published, but this is different.[/ref], and I can’t tell you how ecstatic I was to see my words on display, in front of so many people. I have to admit: I’ve learned quite a bit from the experience — not about publishing or writing or anything, but all about my relationship, and how I’m doing it wrong. I also learned quite a bit about the instant feedback of the Internet, which is what I want to talk about today.
At the time I’m writing this, the article has over 900 comments, both good and bad, which completely blows away any expectations I had for the piece. As a writer, my ultimate goal is to resonate with people in some way, to express a personal idea in such a way that other people are drawn to it. Judging by the stats of the article itself, I achieved that goal. At any rate, I spent a good portion of Tuesday going back and forth on whether or not I should respond to the comments. I eventually realized that if I tried to respond to every comment, I would quickly find myself lost and buried and completely unable to work my way out of the muck. Instead, I decided to just respond to generalized forms of some of the more common comments I read.
For starters, I’d like to thank everyone that responded positively to the piece. It’s one of my favorite pieces, and I’m very pleased to see it published. Thank you for enjoying it, as much as I have.
Let’s talk about some comments:
Why did you pay so much for a wedding?
We didn’t. Our wedding was very small. Despite this, though, planning a wedding is just expensive. Ask anyone who has done it, and they’ll tell you the same thing. April has a pretty good paying job, but she’s still a teacher, as am I. Neither of us make that much. Neither of us come from money. You can only cut costs so much, before you need to start bolstering your budget. This seemed like an easy answer.
Why didn’t she sell some of her shoes/clothes/stuff, etc.?
That’s really an irrelevant question. The piece isn’t about her. It’s about me. If she chooses to write an essay about the things she sacrificed for the wedding, I’ll let you know.
Marriage is an archaic institution. Why are you bowing to society’s rules?
Because we wanted to. Simple as that. We wanted to make that public commitment to each other. We wanted to celebrate that with our closest friends and families. That’s all. If you don’t agree with that, it’s fine. It’s dangerous, however, to assume that your perspective is the “correct” one.
You should never let someone change you!
Who changed me? I changed myself. In “Self-Reliance,” Emerson wrote, “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” Change can be good, guys. It’s a sign of growth.
Besides, exactly how much of my life has changed? I don’t play as many games as I used to? That’s true. But, trust me, as I said in the piece itself, I have many other things pulling for my attention. Besides my relationship, I have grad school and teaching, two things that are very time consuming, not to mention a desire to continue writing. But, isn’t my wedding why I sold my games, you say? Yes. But, what allowed me to sell my games was a shift in my life that began long before I met April.
When you get a divorce, you’ll regret it!
Why is divorce inevitable? What if everything works out? What if we’re happy until the day we die??
I hope she leaves you![ref]Note: This wasn’t in the Kotaku comments that I saw, but I did receive it over email. I’m still gonna count it.[/ref]
Well, that doesn’t seem very friendly.
My situation is different than yours; why are you doing it wrong??
By far, the most common comment on the article has been along these lines. “I married a gamer girl, and she would never let me sell my games.” That’s great. I’m really happy that you found someone you connect with, regardless of where that connection comes from. But, it’s again important to remember that your perspective is not the only (or correct) perspective. I don’t regret the decision I made. I miss my games every now and then, but I’m much happier with April, than I was for the entire 30 years of video games. If my path to that happiness is different than your path, that’s really okay. Your experience is not a universal truth. (Note: I’ll save you the Postmodernism lecture on decentering monomyths. You’re welcome.)
With all of that said, I realize I’m fighting an uphill battle here. Commenting on the Internet hasn’t changed in twenty years; it’s not about to start changing now. And it’s certainly not going to be changed by a blog post from a guy who wrote an essay, which was pretty popular for a day. I just wanted a chance to voice a few of the thoughts that went through my head as I watched the feedback roll in.