I’ll admit, I’m fascinated watching how quickly people are getting behind Ann Althouse’s self-serving bullshit about how the people making fun of her are only doing so because she’s a woman marrying a commenter. It’s a lie, of course, and it’s frustrating to see people take Ann’s word over Jesse’s, especially when Jesse has repeatedly pointed out that it’s not the boring fact of meeting someone through online communities—something he’s done, I’ve done, and a whole lot of people have done—but that she has used every aspect of her engagement to engage in self-serving pity parade stuff. That many people who otherwise know damn well that Ann Althouse is a nasty person are getting involved in feeling bad for her shows what an expert she is at manipulating people in order to get more people to feel sorry for her. Jesse has pretty consistently made fun of her for the self-serving way she behaves, especially when she put up pictures of her engagement ring and made people guess. I’m personally more amused/annoyed by the fact that she changed her mind about the advisability of marriage the second someone actually asked her, which makes those of us who actually resist marriage look bad. Not all of us who have questions about marriage will immediately drop all doubts the second someone asks.
So why does Althouse’s lie find such a sympathetic, believing audience, despite the fact that everyone knows she will never hesitate to lie and misrepresent situations to make herself look better? I’ve been a blogger enough to know that people are very sensitive about certain things, but it’s impossible to know what those are going to be ahead of time, and you only have the benefit of hindsight. And then sometimes you’ll never figure it out (*cough* snuggies *cough*). But in this case, I think I get it. If I wasn’t intimately aware of how full of shit this NY Times article was, I could see myself feeling sympathetic.
Why? There’s a long-standing tension between how we’re supposed to meet our romantic partners and how we actually do. Romantic comedies, family legends, women’s magazines, etc.—we all absorb the list of officially acceptable ways to meet someone. You can meet cute—he rear ends your car and you flirt while the cops come to take your testimony. You can fall in love while working together at school, at work, or in some volunteer capacity. You can be introduced by friends or family. Problem is, none of this seems to work out for most people. Instead, we meet someone at a bar and a one night stand turns into two, then a week, and next thing you know you’re in a relationship. Or you meet someone online, either through online communities or online match-making services. This stuff is considered kind of embarrassing, and everyone who did something like this dreads the day that someone makes fun of you for that specifically. Althouse tapped into this fear, pretended that was what happened, and voila! Instant sympathy. Because few of us have picture perfect love affairs.
Too bad that’s not how it happened. Making fun of Althouse for the ridiculous way she does everything is just less compelling a story than “your worst nightmare about being outed as having a less than storybook romance happens to blogger”. The truth will always lose out to a compelling story is the moral of the story. I’m not really interested in continuing this farce, but I had to write this, because it’s fascinating to me why things happened the way they did, because I feel I learned something about how much anxiety people have about this subject. Hey, I get it. I feel it, too, and would probably feel it more if I didn’t have years of blogging to give me a more fuck-it attitude than I used to have.