An Online Meltdown

by f

via Photobucket

How’s this for a confessional? I fucked up today.

This is how: has an excellent Sunday opportunity called “Self-Promotion Sundays.” On Self-Promotion Sundays, various feminist bloggers use Feministe’s comments thread to highlight a post from that week. I wanted to promote certain posts from Subterfuge on Feministe.

You’d think leaving a simple comment would be an easy thing to do, right?

Not if you’re me.

I feel nervous picking up the phone to call people. I can’t write a simple email. Everything I do contains a mistake.

When I play the piano I’m controlling an incredible moving organism. This entails that I have absolute control over my every motor function. I can’t do it. I always remember how complicated the task is and I mess up. One finger deviates. The melody falls apart. I stare, frozen, at the keyboard, and don’t know what to do.

(It affected my relationship with math, too. I love(d) math, but I could not get past the detail-oriented parts.  I always butchered simple computations. As I somehow stumbled into more advanced math, I found that I could not use the more sophisticated concepts I used to arrive at that one correct answer. I fled. I hid behind the more subjective natures of other subjects such as English and History and Philosophy. I miss math so much, I can’t even say.)

This is the way the rest of my life seems to work. No matter how simple or complicated the task, I mess up. I see every point of failure and freeze. I fall neatly into every one of my mental traps.

It’s not something I can wish away. This is something that’s part of my psychological makeup. It affects the way I conduct my relationships. It affects my self-esteem. It affects my writing. I don’t write anymore. I stare at the page and hate myself for my errors.

The first time I left a comment on Feministe, I misunderstood the rules. I had a nagging feeling that what I did was wrong — I left a link and a request for contributions — so I googled the rules for the Self Promotional Sundays (I couldn’t find them on the website because I didn’t know how to look). My suspicions were correct. I should not have left an open link. I should have linked directly to specific posts.

All right.

After sending them an email explaining my misunderstanding of the rules, I tried commenting again. I listed specific links and the corresponding titles. I thought I did a good job. I posted the comment. When I re-read the moderated comment, I saw links that had been smashed together, titles that went missing, and stray bits of code floating in the ether.

I blushed the brown from my skin.

I knew I had to make things right. I tried again. Instead of linking parts of sentences to various posts, I would include the links alongside the post description. Not much could go wrong there, right?


My second attempt was such a poorly written attempt, any person who did not know me personally would’ve assumed English was my second language. No, third language. Fourth language.

That hit hard. There have been instances where I’ve written so badly — could this be one of them? I don’t want to find out. I don’t want to read this post to myself and find errors — that others have come away with this exact impression of me. I’ve been asked, very gently, “is English your first language?”

Yes, it is, but you wouldn’t know it from the way I write.

What had I said?

I lost the original comment, but I said something like this: “We discussed Bangladeshi feminist Taslima Nasrin and 2007 effect of the canon of feminist literature.”

What does that mean? I have no idea. Ordinarily I’d never write anything so stupid. But I was already such a nervous wreck, I lost all command of the language. I’m surprised I can even write this. (Will this turn out coherently? No, it won’t.)

I can only imagine what the Feministe editors were thinking when they read that comment. I saw that my comment was quickly deleted from the queue.

When I saw that I knew I had try one last time, though I had even less faith in my ability to try again. It came out semi-coherently, except at the end I messed up again, if only in context.

If I can’t do this, what on Earth am I doing writing for a blog?


edit: Now that I’ve had a good night’s sleep, I’m able to laugh at myself — this was pretty funny after all. I’m trying to contact a good friend of mine off of Subrosa, someone who was excellent at drawing comics, and I’ll definitely have a picture of me with a fork in my eye wandering around the Internets.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

6 Responses to “An Online Meltdown”

  1. It actually sounds as if you might have a form of OCD involving perfectionism. But, don’t feel like you’re the only intelligent person who does things like this. There are many, many instances where I’ve done the exact same sort of thing, and stressed over it in much the same way that you have described here. I always used to think that I was the only one with such issues. :p You certainly haven’t let Subterfuge down, though. *HUG*

    • *Hugback*
      I’m glad there’s somebody out there who gets it.

      I’m not so sure this is OCD. It’s more like severe performance anxiety. I’ve had it all my life. I have so many confessionals I could write, things about how I’ve absolutely wrecked relationships and opportunities because of my paralysis. I’m not upset that things aren’t perfect, per se, I’m upset that I can’t even get to a point where it matters.

  2. You haven’t let us down, you kept trying.

    It’s not OCD, it’s performance anxiety. You get so worried about the process that you trap yourself. Best not to think about it too much. And you were putting pressure on yourself because it’s Feministe. It’s safer on our teensy little blog. :-p You were being proactive about getting us more readers, and that’s what counts.

    Now get back down here, we’ll try again next week.

  3. Don’t they correct your mistakes and links for you ? Even they need your content right ?

    • Logistics make that impossible. They get tons of comments. If they were to ‘correct’ each one, it would quadruple the amount of work for them. Sad, but understandable.


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