Masochistic Tendencies

Boys, as it has been said, will be boys. A lot of the time, left to their own devices, they are like puppies. Or lion cubs. Their play is rough. They say it is good natured, but I wonder. As the days have been warmer and longer my boys have been playing outside more and have taken up a game that they devised that is appropriately called, “Wrestle ’til You Cry.” We have met new neighbors because their young cubs have pointed in the direction of “Wrestle ’til You Cry” and said, “I want to go over there.” My long time friend and across-the-street neighbor said with a shrug, “We called it “Uncle.” Same thing.”
“Does that seem like a good idea?” say I, the continuing voice of feminine unreason,”playing a game where the stated result is pain?”
“We like it.”
Decorno began about the same time as Mrs. Blandings. I don’t know the blog author so I will not begin to speculate why she has stopped blogging, but I have been stalking the comments section of her last post. I think it’s interesting how often her readers, while lamenting their loss, mention their regard for her in relation to other blogs. Other blogs which they appear to loathe.
When I read the Kansas City Star, it makes me a little crazy to see the simpering smile of a certain columnist. It doesn’t make me crazy enough to, say, write the paper and complain, “I hate that woman and her narrow views and it ruins my coffee to know that my subscription helps pay for her syndication.” But it could.
But blogs are delivered to us voluntarily. We go there. And I say “we” because I do it myself. I read a couple of blogs that make me absolutely nuts. Then I rant to Mr. Blandings about them and he says, “So stop reading it.” But I don’t seem to be able to. There’s something about it that I must like.
That’s my question today, and I fear I am going to regret asking it, but
Why do we read blogs we hate?
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60 thoughts on “Masochistic Tendencies

  1. I really don't if it is a big turnoff, unless I see something worthwhile. There are a couple of sites I think can be pretty snarky, however I guess they make me smile or entertain me.

    Art by Karena

  2. People like the internet's anonymity and their ability to say things that they would never dare say in their everyday.
    If a blog is really boring or just plain awful I leave without comment, except in my mind. I do however give a blog a chance or two before writing it off.

  3. I used to read 100s of blogs (honestly) each morning after the girls got on the bus. I found the deco blogs tend to be mild but the comments could be viscious. So I stopped reading comments for the most part. Recently, I stopped reading my old time fav, gossip blogs. When I see the photos of children being picked up from school or judgement on whether Suri should wear heels, I cringe. No mother likes to be told how to do the job. Overly critical people are a drag. I would ignore them at a party so I try to do so in blogland as well.

  4. I think sometimes we read them out of curiosity. Can this person be for real? I love Karen's word snarky…. sometimes we just want to be entertained. No comparison at all~ but don't we 'look' when we approach an auto accident? Or when the police have pulled someone over-do we try to see who is in the driver's seat? Just thinking!

  5. Isn't it like slowing down for a look at a traffic accident – we don't want to, but can't help ourselves, we know it's wrong, but are afraid of missing something.
    Honestly though, I haven't met a blog that I hate – don't like them all but find that I'm not drawn to them in the first place.
    Your's on the other hand, I read with pleasure every morning with a cup of coffee.

  6. PTE – I think the art form existed, it just has an easier forum.

    gwd – I would tell you if I could. I can't quite put my finger on it. But it is not just because we can. A couple of blogs, like yours, I read because I like the aesthetic even if I don't like the pot stirring.

    Patricia – yes, that seems closest.

    Kerry – I always wonder how they feel after the anonymous comment – superior? satisfied? It seems unlikely.

    And the car accident thing and the snark entertainment, maybe. But most of the haters are directing their energy at the "boring" blogs, the cut and pasters, the nice ones. And you can tell by the comments that they read them regularly, so why, like Gilt Trip, don't they just shrug and say, "not for me," and move on?

  7. Hummm,
    I must be in the minority, but with my day & schedule, I only read what I like. Even the best blogger may not hit the right note with me, but posting is hit & miss. The general concept is what I like about the blogger.

    Good to know, I reade Decorno before. People have lives, time is prescious and sometimes people just stop blogging.


  8. Some I read because they are so audacious. The way they look at the world is so foreign to me that I think my passport should be required. Others I read because they make the think. I read deco blogs, book blogs, political blogs, art blogs and some sports blogs (you can take the girl out of Oklahoma, but not OU sports out of the girl). When the pile on gets stupid, I move on. I read to be entertained, to be informed, to hear a different point of view. And there is one deco blogger I read because I like her, but I can't stand her writing. There is something about the rhythm of her writing that makes my head go wonky. I read her every day as part of my anti-aging campaign to force my brain to make new grooves.

    About rough and tumble with the cubs: all biology.

  9. I used to read lots of design blogs two years ago….now I've narrowed it down to the few I love ( yours, Cote de Texas, Velvet and Linen) and I few other fashion/preppy blogs….I don't have time for the negative and I totally do not understand why people write nasty anon comments. Must be really unhappy and angry people.
    ps Thomas O'Brian is not only super talented, but so cute as well!

  10. i actually think about this a lot, because I, too, have blogs that i intensely dislike, but visit on at least a semi-regular basis so i can "tsk, tsk" over the blogger's lack of taste, or shameless self-promotion, or boringness (is that even a word)? i think part of the allure is that we are as defined by what we don't like as much as by what we do, i.e, "i don't like beige" is the flip of "i love color," and to realize that you don't like beige, you have to experience it, even if vicariously through a design blog. However, at the same time, a lot of it is the high of superiority it does give you to look down on someone else–"my original content may not be great, but at least i'm not just cutting and pasting this month's house beautiful (or elle decor or lonny, etc.)," or "i have issues, but at least I know that lamp is way too small for those nightstands." not to mention that some of us, including myself, find an inexplicable joy in complaining. and finally, part of it is because it is very hard to give up the idea of life being fair, and it can really grate on your nerves when a blog you think is undeserving gets lots of attention. in short, i guess we read negative blogs for the same reason we pick at scabs…it seems like a good idea at the time, but can leave you scarred.

  11. LMF – THAT is incredibly sane.

    HBD – sort of like my dad and his soduko book. And, as for the biology, yes, it is just in there.

    Design Junkie – nail on the head – I think this is the closest to what motivates me. And you made me laugh.

  12. Home Before Dark has it just about right. We should all possess and use our passports ~ not just because exotic and distant places are there, tantalizing and thrilling ~ but also because we learn more about our own culture and values through new prisms. Reading bloggers whose views differ from our own and whose perspectives are wide of our own are an easy way to accomplish the same end ~ a bit less expensively, to boot!

  13. Yes, Design Junkie hit it, and because of that answer I am now following his blog-I can not wait to see what else he has to say. I mostly marvel- it seems that some of the most popularly read and commented on -are also limited in or devoid of content. pgt

  14. I think the answer to your question is as varied as all the above. I am pretty high on the empathy scale, I think, and sometimes I look at blogs which are downright freaky or offensive to me for whatever reason, just to see if I really am an old fuddy-duddy or the writer really is just nuts! I guess I am afraid of getting stale, now that I am approaching Medicare age, because I don't want to become a fossil, heaven forbid.
    So, for example, I continue to visit a particular blog occasionally which makes me want to wash the writer's mouth out with soap, just because sometimes a little vinegar cuts through the sugar!


  15. My Mother in Law, a liberal Democrat, listens every day to conservative radio talk shows. The commentators values give Frances the boundary to operationally define her own values. How does Frances, age 83, feel about immigration? She doesn't know. But when she hears the talk show hosts ranting she does know.

    Is that why we read negative blogs? Maybe. Remember first year Psychology 101? Cognitive Dissonance? That is the concept automobile manufacturers use to design the print materials for their show rooms. They found out that people who picked up their literature had already bought the car wanted to feel good about their decision.

    There is a popular blog that I visited regularly. But the blog shifted from being about decor to being about him. I quit. The dream of perfection in home decorating is what I like. It is OK to say the lamp doesn't fit the table. It is not OK to say the lamp sucks.

    I actually don't read negative bloggers. Not even for entertainment. People who define themselves by being critical of others is an empty mentality.

    Your blog is real. You inspire, you are insightful, and you are kind. I read you every day and I am better when I get done than when I started. Ann

  16. Personally, I don't. There are enough things out there that make me hate them that something I do voluntarily shouldn't have to be one of them! I actually unsubscribed to Decorno a number of months ago when I thought her postings veered into the crude (and sometimes downright pornographic) and no long held any appeal. I can get "ugly" anywhere these days if I want a good dose of reality! Decorno going off line just means that there may be another clever and wonderful blogger to take its place. We live in hope…

  17. Great question, Mrs. Blandings! I think Design Junkie explained that really well, too. It must be hardwired in us to compare and contrast and discriminate, otherwise we'd still be sitting around that campfire chewing on raw woolly mammoth bones, thinking everything was just peachy.

    That said, I do think there is too much snarkiness in the world these days and as I get older kindness (of the genuine variety, not the nasty with sugar high school kind) seems better than cleverness.
    If I can't find something nice about someone's blog or a particular post, I just don't leave a comment.

  18. It's not as clear-cut as that. A loathesome blogger will put up beautiful photographs. An insipid blogger will post about a new line of lamps I like. A dull blogger might have a historical anecdote that clears something up for me. You never know.

  19. I fear people will use this question as an excuse to post self-congratulatory comments that come down to "I never read unpleasant things, or write them!"

    And I don't think you wanted that result either.

  20. scone – I did read that you get a rush of dopamine when you see that you have a message/text/email, which actually leads to that manic phone checking, so this makes sense to me, though I wouldn't have thought of it.

    pgt – those are the ones, not the snarky one, those are the ones that make me crazy. Not a good reflection on me.

    Anon 10:57 – I do think those people are out there. I happen to not be one of them. I may need a subscription to O.

  21. Snark is so last year, something we put away with our old issues of Domino.
    Being able to say you like or don't like something, or what someone is doing, gets tricky, and is not necessarily snarky though it gets seen that way.
    A blog with personality is better than blog that doesn't seem to have anyone behind the screen.
    Bad boys and bad girls are really not bad, and decor blogs are pretty tame in comparison to fashion and news blogs.
    All of us decor bloggers like to make a beautiful or pretty or comfortable home, and most of bloggers like their blogs to be pretty and beautiful and comfortable too.
    Great post Patricia!
    xo xo

  22. I'm jumping on the Design Junkie bandwagon along with Little Augury. I have a few blogs I avoid like the plague because I really HATE them (can you hate someone you haven't met?) but there are a few which merely annoy me and just this morning I was questioning why I read them. As he says -probably mostly so I can get a smug sense of superiority over taste levels? Sad but probably true. This is a decorno topic and I love it 🙂 She always knew the questions to ask to get a good conversation started.

  23. Hi Patricia–Great question about most of the things we do in life that we do not like. Personally, I don't continue to read blogs that I don't like any more. I kind of get a "yucky" judgmental feeling that I feel uncomfortable with; so I do not read them. I loved "Decorno", but there were times that I was uncomfortable with her blog; so I just didn't read it for a space of time (I do miss her blog). I also am very uncomfortable with ego-driven people (what in the world am I doing in this business?); so I will stay away from those situations until my spirit settles. But most blogs have some vital bits of information for me and the connection is very stimulating. Addictive? I don't know. Your blog—LOVE IT.
    Have a great day with "those boys."

  24. I will give the blog author several tries and if my opinion does not change, I will just stop going there.

  25. I really don't read blogs I dislike, but it has nothing to do with subject. A writers voice is what draws me to a blog above all else. A writer I find interesting can make me read about a topic I might have no interest in.

    Conversely, one could write about all my favorite things but if I don't find the voice somehow compelling I won't be back.

    And then theres my dirty little secret: When I feel the need to mentally get down in the muck, I adore celebrity gossip. The Awful Truth,, Crazy Days and Nights, BuzzFoto…love them all.

  26. Ditto La Maison Feu…..I just don't have the time. I try to support my friends who have blogs, and those who've supported me. Cheers!

  27. I was reading your post thinking, "Why would she read a blog she doesn't like?" Now that I've finished the comments I'm dying to know what the really terrible blogs are…so that I can go check them out.

  28. "I'm dying to know what the really terrible blogs are…"

    A few that are widely loathed are also among the most frequently visited (according to the numbers). Bringing up another reason bloggers read blogs they dislike: to luxuriate in jealousy.

  29. Anon 4:10 – I think that is an interesting point. That seems to be a common thread among commenters – that all bloggers are frantic for fawning or hits or comments. Perhaps some are, but if we are all aware that controversy drives hits, why are we lurking and wringing our hands when we could just be posting nastiness ourselves? If I were interested in increasing my readership I could be doing give-aways or posting several times a day or, even better, taking pictures of myself going to the bathroom in nice stores.

    And, if a blogger is not advertising, what difference does it make how many hits they are getting anyway? I read some of them and think they are entertaining, but I am not envious of them. I could do that if I wanted to.

    But, again, and it seems you might be the right person to ask – I'm not talking about the appeal of the "honest" blogger – I get the train-wreck craning. I am wondering why the anonymous commenters are reading the blogs they find so "boring?"

  30. "if a blogger is not advertising, what difference does it make how many hits they are getting anyway?"

    Human nature. People are wired to seek attention. The act of starting a blog demonstrates that.

    And I don't think it's an either/or thing:

    –"Either a blogger is interested in more readers, or is not."

    –" Either a blogger does write posts to bring in traffic, or he doesn't."

    In most cases, the truth lies in between.

    I am wondering why the anonymous commenters are reading the blogs they find so "boring?"

    They may not be. Maybe they came by once or twice, found the blog "boring," and didn't return…but months or years later still hold the same opinion. And post it on other blogs.

    I'm wondering the opposite: Whether bloggers visit popular blogs they only pretend to like, and leave signed comments just to get the names of their blogs out there, and seen by lots of readers.

  31. Anon 5:37 – I get your point. That being said, how many hits would it take? If I get 3000 a day that seems like plenty of attention. But you could be right.

    Also on the boring piece, yes, but sometimes those commenters seem to have a lot of knowledge – they quote posts and retell bits of stories. Seems like some are stopping in at least every now and again.

    That last little bit is intriguing though. I wonder that sometimes, too. I will tell you, and I could be wrong, because it is a little tricky to pull apart the ball of string, but I think I get more referral traffic from bloggers who post that "update" feature in their blog roll – do you know what I mean? Mrs. Blandings with a picture and "2 hours ago" – than I do from commenting here and there. But, I am a lazy commenter so that could be off. I am about a year past, "great post!"

  32. I'm surprised the comments are pretty tame! Decorno must of run her course! I visited once or twice but the language was a turn-off. So on to other blogs. There is not enough time in the day to read them all. There are a few that are so annoying, because they just post pictures from the current design mags.
    I like the lists vetted by Washington post or some other group of the top design blogs, but I don't always agree with them. My favorite all-time blog is Styling by Coty Farquhar. She is always consistant with beautiful images.

  33. I use Cote de Texas as my link to other design blogs. Seldom do I just go to their main page. It seems to be easy to keep up with updates, without being a follower.


  34. Ha! I have had the exact same conversation with my ever-practical husband.

    I culled the offending blogs from my RSS and have been trying to remember that life is too short to spend it doing things that give me agita. (But that doesn't mean I don't sneak over to the offenders from time to time just to make sure my nostrils will still flare.)

    Also, not to sound like a stalker but I'm in Kansas City for a wedding and I wanted to run by the tables last weekend to see yours in the flesh. Unfortunately there was not quite enough time, but the intent was there. 🙂

  35. I have a category in my Reader called "Loathsome People." As you know, some of the nastiest people in history had fabulous style. Joan Crawford was not a particularly warm person, but man, wouldn't she have written a great blog?

  36. For the same reason some of us eat too many Chips Ahoy cookies once in awhile. Or spend an hour watching an entire episode of Law & Order complaining loudly throughout how violent TV is these days and when the show is over, remarking that I should have vacuumed the downstairs and gone to bed early instead.

  37. I think this is such an interesting topic.

    I have deleted my email subscription to 3 different blogs recently (the bathroom pic that you referenced was what put me over the proverbial edge for one particular blog, I mean really).

    Why is it so hard to do? Mainly I think I fear I may be missing something. Not necessarily life changing, but missing something nonetheless.

  38. I'm a (very sadly relocated) native, but thank you kindly!

    I couldn't manage to wedge in a visit to 45th and State Line and the Symphony House. Guess I'd better warn my mom to keep the guest room ready…

  39. somebody went to the bathroom in a nice store and took a picture of it…for their blog??!?! so gross.
    and yet so awesome.

  40. 0I am referencing the remarks of a friend from across
    the pond, who takes a rather skeptical view of much
    of what the blog world offers:
    "They seem to be written by self-regarding people
    who want to teach us manners."
    Of course those blogs will remain nameless; but don't we all know exactly where they are, and don't we read them in spite of ourselves?

  41. I find this absolutely fascinating!
    1) I thought when I went to Decorno; and it got pornographic; I had gone to the wrong site by accident!
    2)I think "anonymous" should be banned! (make up a name….you are still anyonymous…but we won't get confused!)
    3)I don't go to any blogs I hate…..I barely have time to go to the great ones…….(the one good thing about business being slow)
    4)Joan Crawford, I believe, would have made a terrible blogger! No!! I am wrong! She would NEVER have been a blogger at all! She was a TAKER!! NOT A GIVER!!!!!! Most bloggers don't get paid! That would have been like getting blood out of a stone! (I didn't know Joan)…..I did know Bette Davis…..she would have had a contract a mile long before she would have written even a two syllable word!

    5)I love that you can read blogs ……or not. I don't understand complaints sent in comments. Does their delete button not work?

    Fascinating topic!!!! Thanks for bringing it up!!!!

  42. Penny – anon comments don't usually bother me. I've gotten great feedback through anonymous comments. It is tricky to correct someone nicely and I think regular readers use anonymous to that sometimes. But, I do wish I knew "which" anon sometimes as it would make it easier to follow the thread. Actually, most of us when we started did not publish our real names.

    And, on the Crawford/Davis bit – I met a writer in LA who could barely speak to me so disdainful was she of those who write for free. I get that, too.

  43. hehe. God, you make me laugh.I would love to be really honest here, but, oh well.

    here goes – sometimes you read a blog where you hate the blogger to get a good laugh? I do. mostly. there are only one or two of those for me.

    the others that I don't read, i just find boring I guess. i have to admit – though it's not correct these days, i like good snark. to me – well written snark is funny. note, well written.

    I do watch Bill O'reilly and hate him more than life.

  44. What do they say? Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer? It's all blog and games until someone gets cropped.


  45. I don't read Blogs I hate. I don't even read blogs I don't like. Not because I'm above it but because I can spend the better part of a day reading the ones I've bookmarked that I really enjoy and can learn from. Yours it at the top of my list because I know I'm going to read something smart and clever and informative. And If I allow myself to follow the other suggested blogs on the blogs I enjoy,well it's not going to be an outwardly productive day. But inwardly, I'm pretty pumped!

  46. Funny — I took Decorno off my blog role probably a day or two before she retired — I felt like her posts were just being called in (I didn't like when she would just post a picture with no comment and leave it up to the readers to do the commenting).

    Anyway, I think we all like to rile ourselves up sometimes, or maybe even feel superior when we see something written or said that we think is stupid. Yes, human nature!

  47. I don't know why I used to read blogs that bothered me, but I know why I stopped. Slowly, I came to the realization that I wasn't terribly happy or pleasant to be around, that I was becoming overly snarky (that is, not the fun kind but the toxic kind) and unpleasant even to myself. After thinking for some time about the source of the problem and a potential remedy I understood that I had been spending my leisure time reading – and absorbing – unpleasantness.

    So I stopped. Not surprisingly, I came to feel less agitated, less (bad way) snarky and less overall mean. I may not raise my brow in arch amusement as much anymore, but I sure am happier these days.

  48. Hi, I am fairly new to blogging and brand new to your blog. I have started reading several blogs, some of which i enjoy more than others. I stick with my least favorites to try to improve my own blog. In other words, I note what I don't like and try to avoid it! I would stop reading the blogs if I found them truly offensive. Lynn

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