Real Life Every Day Lessons I Learned When My Post Went Viral

Real Life Lessons I Learned When My Post Went Viral

I wish I looked like this when writing. But, I really look more like Josey Grossy from Never Been Kissed.

About ten days ago, Huffington Post published an article I wrote at the end of 2012. When they asked to publish it, I didn’t really think anything of it. It would go on one of their blogs and a few people would read it. I didn’t even edit the thing before I gave my permission for it to be shared.

And then my online world exploded. The thing went viral. Hundreds of thousands of “likes”, thousands of shares, so many comments...most of which hated me...and mentions on everything from national morning shows to Australian mommy groups. It was a thing beyond my control. Still is.

I’ve learned a few things from the goodness and the mess that followed. And yeah, I think I’ll start applying them to everyday know the thing I live every other day except the day of viral velocity.

Don’t Expect Readers to Understand the Whole Conversation.

Man. I am so used to this space. Where each essay leads to another and you and I understand that this is a conversation of give and take. That what I say about manhood in one essay is buoyed up by what has been said in the writing that preceded and followed. That conversation didn’t exist on Huffington Post and I was naïve to think the HuffPo readers would come here to find it.

I think the same can be said about our everyday interactions. The people that inhabit your home and inner circle understand the conversation of your life. They can follow when you pick up mid-thought and can you let you set down long enough to catch your breath without demanding more. They know that not everything you say is an irretrievable statement of ideology. They let you grow into your ideas and search your mutual acquaintance for context. When, however, the lady in the aisle at the grocery store hears a fragment of one of my conversations, that is all she has to judge me by. Whether her judgment is fair or not, doesn’t really matter. It is, what it is.

Sometimes I am the lady listening in the aisle and sometimes I am me. I am working on remembering that. (And loving the thousands of ladies angrily listening in my proverbial aisle right now.)

Impersonal personal attacks really hurt. And are pretty damn funny. Like that person that just tweeted,

@meg_in_progress you are a piece of s&%t.

I cried. And then I laughed. So. No, thank you. And. Thank you.

Let’s see the ridiculous in the everyday anonymous hurts of our lives. How can someone who has nothing to do with the little or big parts of your life have anything to do with the little or big parts of your heart? Those PTA women, the group of girls at work, the neighbor down the way? They don’t know you. They aren’t an integral part of the fabric of your life. It is okay if they don’t like you. You know what else? It doesn’t matter if their dislike is valid, delusional or some godforsaken place in between. Just strive to do better each day. Smile when they walk by. And for heaven’s sake, laugh a little. I mean….no one’s ever called me a piece of feces before. I can check that off that bucket list I keep hoping to compile someday. (Man. Would that have made it onto my bucket list? Is that pathetic or revolutionary?)

It’s okay to disagree. Hey. You. Yeah, you. It’s alright if you and so-and-so don’t see eye to eye. Disagreement is the great fertilizer of discussion. Just try to keep from slinging it in the other person’s eye and everything will be okay. Better than okay. It will be expansive and inclusionary and, you know, interesting.

At the end of the day, no one moment - no matter how good or bad - defines us. Keep moving forward. There has been plenty of good in this moment. And there has been plenty of bad. And now it is time for the next step. Let’s take another step.

My next step? I’m on my way out of the country to write about efforts to rescue children from human trafficking.

I started writing because I felt like I wanted to empower women. I’m stepping onto that plane in a few minutes for the same reason. I won’t be sharing the children’s faces or names. But I will let you know how you can help, too. Follow along at @meg_in_progress on Instagram and Twitter.

Let’s do something good.  

Stop B*&#%ing About Kim Novak and Goldie Hawn

Stimulate those flabby muscles!

Award show season is pretty numbingly predictable.

Look at the red carpet full of starlets wearing both on trend color and classic black! Is Brad Pitt’s hair shorter or longer than before? Either way, look at it! Oh my gosh, did Jennifer Lawrence say/do/telepathically communicate something refreshingly adorable? Of course, she did!

And then, always, the hordes of “pro-woman” bloggers, commentators and bystanders that feel like it is their god-given right to communicate their indignation over the chosen aging techniques of any woman over forty. This year people have been screaming about baby boomer, Goldie Hawn and 81 year old (no, being an octogenarian does not protect you from the pretty police), Kim Novak. (Don't even get me started on Ellen's incredibly cruel dig at Liza Minelli.)

This Huffington Post piece titled, Goldie, We Love You Just The Way You Were, chronicles some of the outrage,

“The Internet -- including our Facebook fans -- has spoken. And the overwhelming consensus is that Goldie Hawn and Kim Novak were more beautiful to us before what many believe to be physical "enhancements.”

They then went on to ask their Facebook fans the hard hitting question,

"So should some celebs be thinking about suing their plastic surgeons? What do you think? How much is TOO much?"

And then there was this gem,

 "It's sad that these women have self-images like this. If they had just aged gracefully, naturally, how much more beautiful they would be."

Yes, how dare they not be beautiful.

Getty was happy to provide a side by side of a 30 year old Kim and an 81 year old Kim. 

According to most, Goldie wasn't golden.

“Experts” and arm-chair twitterers alike opined that they had been so beautiful when they were young. Why hadn’t they managed to age gracefully like Meryl Streep? (Who, while she may not have had any extreme surgeries has had the benefit of a life lived with access to trainers, healthy food, expensive skin care, hair stylists and everything else that makes one age “gracefully” instead of realistically.) How could they have let us all down by being less than we expected them to be? Oh, the horror!

Color me confused. This seems like the same old dirty thing dressed up in glossy politically correct packaging.

Shouldn’t we be more interested in the lives these women have led? That Kim Novak worked with Hitchcock, battled bipolar disorder, survived cancer and at 81 has put more years on this earth than most of the human race? How about Goldie Hawn’s successful family life, body of work and her charitable work on behalf of children? Instead we say that their faces look like leather, we cower in at the size of their lips, we swear up and down that WE will do better. How the hell is any of this any of OUR business? Do these righteously indignant have any idea how inconsistent they sound?

“As a woman, you are more than your looks. More than youth or age. More than the social expectations placed upon you. Unless of course, your choices violate what I consider appropriate for your current stage in life. Unless I think you have betrayed the beauty I think your youth once held. Unless you violate the social expectations I have deemed sacred. Of course, if you do anything against any of those things, I will hold you up as an example of everything that is wrong with the feminine. I will post your picture across twitter and facebook and news outlet as a warning to all the other women that follow your way.”

And then!

And then, women SHARE that betrayal on FB as if it is empowering! As if it is something of substance!

It boggles the mind.

Here’s a thought. What if we, you know, didn’t do that? What if we just loved women no matter their age, background or number of botox injections? What if we stopped acting like a bunch of high schoolers and finally - FINALLY - got around to the substance of womanhood. What if we asked Kim Novak how she survived her considerable trials, the sexism of early (and modern) Hollywood and still finds the strength to sparkle at 81? What if we were interested in the things that come out of Goldie Hawn's mouth rather than speculating about the amount of fat that fills the lips that frame it? And what if - WHAT IF - we decided that we are not the arbiters of the incredibly complex concept of the definition of true beauty?

Would that be so bleeping hard?