Delete is such a strong word

I have to admit that, for the most part, I enjoy WordPress.

Blogging has given me a forum for my thoughts and has fueled my delusions of someday actually making money writing.  One of the cool things about it has been the ability to leave comments on the posts of writers whose work makes mine look pathetic, and then being tickled when they actually respond.

“Dear Mr. Hamill, I think you write real good, and you’re books r kewl. I know your busy being famous and righting another best seller. I just wanted to say Hi”
(Photo from nyu.edu)

I’ve never actually sat down and written fan mail to David Sedaris, Pete Hamill, or any of the other authors whose work I’ve enjoyed.  Maybe they would have written me back, but I tend to think they’d be too busy living in mansions and working on their next incredible book.

Anyway, back to WordPress.  They’ve recently upgraded their website and making comments now has strings attached.  I would always get an email telling me if an author had replied to one of my comments.  I also received notification anytime anyone commented on one of my posts, which I loved.  The other day, after the latest alterations to the site, that all changed.  Now, if I have commented on someone’s post, I started getting emails anytime anyone commented on that post.

This may seem like a minor change in how the site works, but consider this; some of the people whose work I admire can easily get 60 or 70 comments to a post.  If I read the posts early in their published state, and write a witty comment, my email box will blow up with the torrent of comments from other readers still to come.  If I commented on 4 or 5 author’s pieces, my incoming email grows exponentially by the end of the day.  Between those comment emails, ads for low cost E.D. pills, and great new recipe ideas for family-fun dinners from the Food Network, I barely have time to sift through my emails for electronic coupons from the Liquor and Wine SuperStore.

I decided to click the box on the bottom of the email to manage my subscriptions.  It was a simple process;  to avoid having my email box over-flow with other people’s comments about my favorite authors, I just needed to hit the “delete” icon below the author’s name.  “Delete”?!!  These are writers who I have “followed”.  I’ve “liked” their work on numerous occasions.  Would hitting “delete” be anything less than an obvious betrayal of my loyalty?  These hard-working, creative geniuses had earned my love and admiration.  Was I expected to delete them just because of my whiney complaints of having a full email box?

You don’t really mean that, do you?

Well…yeah.

I mean it’s really inconvenient to check my not-so-smart phone all day for emails, only to find that OkeydokeyDonkey220 has written a typo-riddled comment about The Byronic Man’s latest masterpiece.  I gritted my teeth and hit the dreaded delete button.  Almost immediately, the incessant chirping of my phone slowed to the pace of a poorly made metronome.  I closed my email then raced back to WordPress.  I wanted to hurry and refollow Byronic before he discovered what I’d done.  I was already cooking up lame excuses in my head to explain to him how I had accidentally hit the button in a tequila-addled state.  Perhaps I’d go with having my dog excitedly jump onto my lap upon hearing my laughter and hitting the key with her paw (Byronic doesn’t have know the cold truth about my dog’s disability).  Maybe I would blame it on the DEA, and tie it in with Byronic’s recent funny post – no Dave – don’t try to ride the coat-tails of someone else’s creativity – you’re (slightly) better than that.

I got to WordPress and clicked on Blogs I Follow.  There he was, still high on my list.  I didn’t understand, I’d hit delete.  My computer dictionary says that “delete” and “unfollow” are two different things, but my inner voice tells me otherwise.  I hit refresh a couple of times just to be sure.  The Byronic Man was still there, right where I’d left him.

Apparently, the people who run WordPress, a blogging site for literary wannabees with varying levels of talent, chose to use the word “delete” when perhaps a different word may have been more apropos. Was it too much to expect that the people at a website dedicated to the expression of the written word could have chosen a more suitable phrase or single word for us to click to keep from getting emails?  They could have chosen any number of alternates.  Some of the candidates which come to mind are:

“terminate”

“You deserve better than me”

“fuggetta-bow”

“neglect”

“We’ve grown apart”

“screw”

or my personal favorite,

“discontinue receiving comments on this post via email”

Obviously, WordPress has the same problem as almost every other business in the world.  They have idea guys, worker bees, and somewhere, in a room with a special key and way cooler office chairs than everyone else, they have the I.T. department: those tech savvy guys and gals with the names you may or may not have trouble pronouncing.  Like most I.T. departments, they feel the need to run massive, complicated upgrades to the site every so often.  The sleek new look of the site and “increased fluidity of the browser-main frame interface” will accomplish two significant things:

1)  It will frustrate the daily users of the site, who’ve become accustomed to finding their way around without being stranded or hopelessly lost

2)  It will give the I.T. staff plenty to do developing the next site upgrade/facelift

Luckily, bloggers like me can feel free to write any kind of criticism we care to about the I.T. types as they don’t generally bother spending much time on the actual content of the site, preferring to stand behind the curtain of the Great and Imperial Oz.  These tech-heads just wreck it for the rest of us, making life difficult while creating work for themselves to feed off the corporate teat a little longer.  I’m not afraid of some I.T. dopes.  What are they going to do to me?

In any case, I’m glad that when they said delete, they didn’t really mean it.

Marriage 101: Constructive criticism

Having been married for quite a few years, I feel it’s my civic duty to give a pointer now and then about relationships to all three of my regular readers.  The marital status of you loyal fans is irrelevant, as I’m offering free advice for free, so stop whining.

I had written the first draft of my homage to St. Patty’s Day, and asked my wife to give it a read and see what she thought of it.  This woman is no stranger to me (obviously) and certainly no stranger to reading.  She plows through books constantly in what most would consider to be a thinly veiled attempt at avoiding having to speak with me any more often than absolutely necessary. She seemed like the perfect person for the job.  Plus, she was sitting right over there.

Hey Honey? As long as you're over there hanging that art on the fridge, why not whip me up a little something to eat? (Image from Good Housekeeping 1948)

My standard way of writing these masterpieces is to just spew every word and thought I have out onto this virtual paper.  Then I go back and filter through it, taking out redundancies and dead sentences and trying to make it flow.  My St. Patty’s Day piece was created in much the same way.  I had put it through the distillation process several times (alcohol-related pun intended – I’m just so clever) and thought that it was ready for a critical eye.

My expectation was that my wife would read it, stopping only to chuckle or dab the tears of laughter out of her beautiful eyes.  She would finish it, shaking her head in amazement at my creativity and savvy with the word-thingies.  She would pronounce it hysterical and ready for print.

She did read it, but there wasn’t a single guffaw the whole way through.  She did shake her head, but it was in more of a dismissive “I can’t believe you made me read that crap!” kind of way.  She proclaimed it “wordy” and suggested I cut out at least half of it.

I’m sure she meant well, but it still hurt.

If your child showed you a picture they drew, would you tell them that they need to work on their shading and composition?  Of course not!  You’d praise their incredible talent and put that hideous mess of crayon and marker right up on the fridge with the rest of their body of work.  If your wife asked whether a particular outfit made her ass look fat, would you say yes?  Of course not!  You’d tell her that the garment which is capable of making her ass look fat has yet to be invented, then you’d politely ask her to move her tiny derriere out from in front of the TV, as it looks like the Ducks might be going for it on 4th down.

So, when your ruggedly handsome, hard-working husband finally stops playing poker on the computer and looking at smut, deciding to write a blog instead, be thankful.  Then, when he asks you your opinion of what he’s written, try one of the following:

1) I LOVE IT!

2)You’re a genius!

3) Don’t quit your job to do this full time, it just wouldn’t be fair to those poor authors who don’t have the other marketable job skills that you possess.

4) Did you steal this from David Sedaris?!  It’s just so witty!

5) I think it’s great, Sweetie.  I’m going to put it right here on the fridge next to your drawings!

That wasn’t so hard now was it?