Monday, November 25, 2013

The Reasons Why You Don't Like Me

Look! Another picture of my kids!

If you have come here looking for information about donating to the JDRF in support of my fundraising campaign, please click here, and if you want to read my manifesto about why I'm running 12 half-marathons in 12 months, click here. Thanks! 

I am not always a likable person. I am moody, I'm too opinionated (and have a special gift for voicing my opinions at really stupid times and in the wrong way), I'm snobby about certain things (serve me a cup of crappy coffee to see this in action), I am cynical, I talk way too much and don't listen enough ... OK, this little exercise is starting to bring me down. I'm not billing it as a comprehensive list of my dislikable characteristics, so settle down if you're panicking because your complaint of choice didn't make the cut.

I am certain there are other mistakes I make or habits I have that rub people the wrong way, some of them not news ... and others, well, sometimes I am stunned by how easy it is to piss people off, or at least annoy them. Lately I have found myself musing about what I must look like to anyone who's glanced my way in the last few months, and what kinds of things I do that cause people to sprain a rolled eyeball and instantly zip past whatever it is I'm honking about.

1. Most of the non-fundraising stuff I post on Facebook concerns my children. I learned a few years back that this irritates a lot of people. For the life of me, I do not understand why. I get it that kids aren't important to everyone (there is a general but not-absolute correlation with who has them; even among parents there runs a certain current of "it's not cool to be totally smitten with your kids"), but if you can't understand or respect other people's focus on them, you and I probably aren't going to go far as friends. And when I ask myself why I post about them, here is what I come up with: My kids are the most dynamic, amusing and (to boot) physically interesting -- OK, cute -- things in my life right now, and they are super-important to me. So I think about them a lot, and I don't feel the least bit apologetic about that. And I believe Facebook is supposed to, in some way, reflect what's going on with me. Isn't it? Or is it only supposed to advertise what is envy-inducing in my life? Ackh, I get all mixed up. 

A few years ago, a freelance writer that had done some work for me added me as a friend on Facebook. I was dismayed to learn that most of her FB activity ... did not intensify my respect for her, I'll leave it at that. Still, I managed to observe calmly. Until the day she posted something to the effect of, "You know what bugs the crap out of me? Parents who feel the need to chronicle every last thing their kids do on Facebook. Not that interesting, folks!" Though I don't broadcast every last thing my kids do (or anywhere near), I thought someone flat-out stating that she is not interested in her friends' kids was a pretty eye-opening statement. I tingled with relief as I unfriended her. I encourage you to do the same with me if you are disgusted by posts about my kids.

2. I have stated publicly that Type 1 diabetes is a pain in the butt, and that I'd like to be rid of it. The family and friends I interact with in 3D will attest (unanimously, I'm pretty sure) that I don't waste a lot of time complaining or even talking about diabetes. I test my blood sugar every hour or two, and I often subsequently have to either give myself a bump from my insulin pump or drink a juice to get my numbers where they should be, so Betty does generally make her presence known at some point during any social engagement. But I can do any of those things without breaking stride or stopping a conversation -- literally. In my efforts to raise money for diabetes research, however, I have stressed that diabetes is a life-threatening disease, that it's a tremendous inconvenience, and that lives would be improved if it were eradicated. And it turns out I have stepped on toes by doing that.

Denial is not always a bad thing. Most Type 1 diabetics and their loved ones -- including me and my loved ones -- survive by surrounding ourselves with a bubble, inside which we continue to march through our lives while managing the disease to the best of our ability. "To the best of our ability" is a caveat with the density of a dying sun in this context, by the way. Obsessions about amputations, blindness and so forth are banished from the bubble. We fold the disease into our daily existence (we have no choice), we do not dwell on its shitty aspects (I think the reasons are obvious), and we do not while away the hours fervently wishing to be rid of it (there is currently no way to be rid of it, so this would be as wise a use of energy as wishing a genie would pop out of our milk bottles).

What I stupidly didn't anticipate is that when a person -- even another diabetic person -- takes a pin and pops those safety bubbles, it just pisses off the people who were using them. Tons of my friends and acquaintances, and quite a few people who are separated from me by two degrees or more, have made incredibly generous donations. But most of the people I know who are more intimately acquainted with the disease have (passively) declined to contribute. I was confused as to why until I learned, secondhand, that one of them thinks I am wasting my life dwelling on my disease. No, I'm not, and I'm discouraged to hear that it may seem that way. I manage it very carefully (so far I have suffered no permanent collateral damage), and I love my life, but I still want to fight the disease, for myself and for the current and future T1Ds (especially kids). I feel like if I consulted a marketing expert, they would advise me that trying to convince people to pass their donations through the wall of the "it's no big deal" bubble would prove fruitless.

3. I run.  All right, all right, I'm taking Chad Stafko's bait. He recently wrote a seriously snit-fomenting op-ed for the WSJ that basically hated on runners ... for being runners. (I have to pause to unwillingly admit that even I, for reasons not easily explained, find those "13.1" and "26.2" stickers irritating.) I'm not linking to his piece here because I'm of the cynical mindset that Mr. Stafko probably does not care about runners one way or the other; his piece was most likely written for the purpose of generating controversy and (ding ding!) page views. Whatever Stafko thinks, though, there have been enough comments on the subsequent analyses of his post to make it clear that there is, in fact, a segment of the population that was deeply relieved to feel that he had finally voiced what we've all been thinking: Runners are damned annoying! They are narcissists! They have nothing better to do! Well. I just had no idea, and I don't even know how to defend myself against this line of thought. Though I must ask myself, is walking as controversial?

4. I am trying too hard. I am posting and reposting about my races and about my fundraising. I have stated bluntly that I need as much attention as possible while I'm doing this, and I've begged everyone to share my posts or my JDRF page so that as many people as possible will chip in. I have used a number of different tactics -- whining, bribing, joking around, pleading, trying to sound smart -- in obvious attempts to manipulate everyone into going pinwheel-eyed and reaching for their credit card. I am not even attempting to seem cool. Do you think I seem cool? Did you ever? See -- I had nothing to lose in the first place.

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