Monday, July 7, 2008

May There Be 50,000 More

In the vein of honesty that I deem so holy, and in light of Josh’s (fucking awesome) post that touched upon what’s been going on with our blog recently, I wanted to clarify a few things.

The fact is that because of one thing I wrote, Josh and I have begun to garner a following wider than we’d ever expected; this little thing we've got here just broke 50,000 views. Josh described his personal reaction to the current uptick in this post, but I wanted to kind of elaborate on the way this whole thing makes ME feel.

For those of you who have been reading Jess and Josh for awhile, you know that I’ve always been searingly honest in describing my feelings and I’ve been a rather unabashed oversharer, willingly splaying myself out like some sacrificial lamb to be scrutinized, examined, complimented, and hated on. It makes me feel good to give pieces of myself to other people, but I think there comes a point where you end up losing sight of who you are because of it. When does talking about your life become narcissism? When does narcissism become fatalism? I guess I feel that I can’t keep lending pieces of myself out: once I give them away, they won’t ever be mine again. Besides, no one ever asked me to spit that oversharin (Emily Gould learned that shit from me cuz I'm smarter).

So the little media attention we’ve been getting has thrown me into a fit. I can’t sleep anymore, I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat to check my e-mail, read comments and notes various readers have sent my way, conduct furious technorati searches hoping that no one has linked to us again. The morning The Huffington Post article went up I spent all day working damage control. I’m not sure how something so NOT about Jess and Josh became so much about Jess and Josh. Why do our opinions matter? Fuck! We are up against some pretty fierce people, I mean, the co-creator of The Daily Show knows who I am; the features editor of my favorite website e-mailed me; I’ve been getting e-mail flooded with compliments and criticism from people across the country who came upon Jess and Josh because of HuffPo or other places mentioning the Jezebel fiasco.

I’m a nervous person, I have OCD, I’m an anxious freak. These are things our dedicated readers have come to know and probably not love about me. I mean, I’m writing this on the train back from Philly - I had to go home for a night for a much needed visit to my therapist - and all I can think about is how I’m going to have a million e-mails when I get home all concerning this one thing that I wrote and never expected anyone to read. Do you know how terrifying that is? There is currently a colony of butterflies inside of me. I never ever wished to see 0 e-mails in my Inbox until this thing began.

And I think that people, but women in particular, are constantly at odds with learning how to be themselves while still vying for acceptance from their peer groups. Let’s be honest: I wanted the Jezebel editors to like me, which is why I backpedaled. I wanted Lizz Winstead to like me, which is why I took responsibility for backpedaling. Ironically, all three probably hate me now. And I know overall this is about me liking myself, but my opinion of myself has always so broadly been based on what others think of me; and now there are people out there who have this idea of me, this opinion of the persona I adopt to write this blog - which is more or less me, but less and less like me every day - and I don’t know if I’m strong enough or tough enough or ready enough to handle their criticism. I kind of expected to have a few more years to sort these things out. I’m not saying this is the be-all end-all of my media career: one oft-linked-to blog entry does not make a blogger a Blogger with a capital B. But it is the start of something that tidily lends itself to this larger existential crisis I’ve basically been skirting since Josh and I posted our very first entry back in November: in the future, am I tough enough to do this as a career? God forbid Gawker ever talked shit on me, I think I’d maybe off myself - okay, not really, but do you see what I’m saying? God dammit, I’m sensitive, I’m a fucking female Keith Gessen. (Sidenote: I’m sorry for railing on you, Keith, me and you, we’re the same in many ways, only you have a novel published and like, a career, and I have a blog that people read once or twice because feminism is dead, or not dead, depending on who you ask.)

Anyway. I want to keep giving pieces of myself out to people through my writing. On a personal level, it’s cathartic, but I also think doing so is what sets Jess and Josh apart from other media-type blogs: we talk about news stories, but Josh and I are also very upfront about the innerworkings of our personal lives or how certain events emotionally impact us. I am learning, for now, to stick to my guns. If honesty is what I so revere, then I could stand to be a little more honest with myself. I shouldn’t have backpedaled on that Jezebel article, because there is nothing wrong with expressing disappointment if you’re truly disappointed. I mean, that’s the ultimate task of the millennial, isn’t it? -- Learning how to parse emotions, but also learning how to describe them in a sophisticated and easily received way. It’s really the burden of people my age; we have a responsibility to deconstruct our emotions in a more nuanced way than those before us, simply because we now have the tools to do so.

So no, I don’t want to stop oversharing just because more than three people are reading this right now, or because I’m afraid of a backlash or of criticism, whatever. Kanye was all, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” and I think that’s true to some extent, but if you sense some hesitations in posts to come, now you understand why. I’m working through some things: some of that shit you will witness, some of it I’ll reserve for my diary and a couple of Xanax bars. But now you know. Honestly.



Vanessa said...

girrrrl, just keep doing your thing. honestly, this blog is amazing, as i told you a few weeks ago (so glad my loving fanmail got to you before the masses!), you write something that clearly resonates with me (and now tons of other people), and that's all a published writer can really hope to do, right? keep it up and keep being your awesome writer-ly self and you'll be just fine.

Marshall said...

I think it's quite something you can address these issues honestly, even in the face of vastly increasing readership and examination. This kind of frankness from both of you is what makes this blog so refreshing and would keep me reading it religously even if I were not your friend.

Shawn said...

I think that you should know that I like this blog more than I like my favorite novel and I check it as often as facebook. Both of you are so candid about life and your situation, and this, and the fact that both of you come across as completely genuine, makes what you have to say really resonate with me.

work through whatever you have to work through, but please don't stop. I love reading this blog.

ps- like the first commmenter, i've been reading for a while.

`nk said...

I'd be a nervous wreck too, if i were you (just so you know, i LIKE that you're a nervous person, that you have OCD, and that you're an anxious freak, because i too am all those things and thus can relate to you on many levels). Just do whatever you're comfortable doing, and don't mind us readers or anyone in the media world. You and Josh started this blog for yourselves, and if that's the way you want to keep it, then you should. No need to cater to any kind of audience. What matters is how you write, and i think you, Josh, all your readers, and i agree that you both write really well. Perhaps you're gaining readership because you write on topics of wide interest, but i like to believe that it's because the writing on here is consistently superb, whether it's on a hot topic or not.

Sara Benincasa said...

Keep it going, kid.

nina said...

The reason you guys are getting the attention and growing audience you deserve is *because* of how honest you are and how well you write. So don't stop! You guys give me something to aspire to with my own blog :)

P.S. Let's hang out tomorrow!

jinius said...

found your blog via huffpo and i'm amazed that you are only 20. i wish i had such talent and maturity at your age.

you are such a lovely writer. don't stop.

Trina said...

Wow. I'll admit I'm a newbie who arrived here via links from the Jez fiasco, but it's your honesty that has kept me reading.

And I love what you say here about the boundaries of self-examination. I have (and always have had) a hard time figuring out where the lines are between my thoughts, my mental processes, and my *self*. And if I think about them too long or hard, it all becomes so abstract that I lose track of everything and find that my thinking isn't even reflective of me anymore.

Finally - it's only "oversharing" if you have a captive audience hearing something they would rather not. Your visitors are here voluntarily and always have the option to go elsewhere. I understand the worry about sharing things with a much larger audience than you originally anticipated, but from what I've read I have faith you will find your new balance.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem starts with the fact your "heroes" are in fact shallow, dull hedonists who pawn off their air of cynicism as intelligence, but are really nothing more than disguised fratboys and sorority sluts, trying to intellectualize their getting wasted and hooking up by talking about it in an ironic, detached way and throwing in some feminist terms.

And in the end it is not female empowerment that results, but a sad, lonely, wasted, herpes infected/infector existence...

audrey said...

Oh boo. I wish I'd read this before I left that long winded comment over at the follow up post.

In short, yes yes yes. You've captured it perfectly.

Vanessa said...

Woah, anonymous. That's a whole lot of hate to throw around without even backing it all up with a name.

Maybe I'm just taking offense to that jab at sorority girls, or maybe it's the way your tone seems to blame Jess for things you clearly have decided about two people who ultimately she has no control over...but whatever it is, your comment really bums me out. If you have issues with either Tracie or Moe, perhaps you should tell them. I'm not sure how Jess admiring (or not) Tracie and/or Moe is the start of any "problem."

Jess and Josh said...

@ Vanessa - Agreed. Thank you.