What I Learned the Day I Blogged about Single People

Once I wrote about blog about how sometimes the church mistreats single people. I learned a lot in the wake of the response to that post. Here’s what I learned the day I blogged about single people.

I learned that I must have touched on something really important.
Who knew that blogging about what my single friends have felt and experienced would create such a firestorm? Yet I had single friends cheering, married friends staying silent, moms all upset, pastors’ wives nervous, home school moms in a tizzy, single guys agreeing, and cousins arguing.

Church, take note. Something happened here. What was impressed upon me was that many people, from all different walks of life, feel misunderstood in their communities, to include church communities. And many people, it seems, from all different walks of life, could do with a little thoughtfulness, kindness, and hospitality. Let’s not take this lightly.

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I learned that bloggers don’t get to choose which of their posts go viral.
I care about how single people are treated, but I am WAY more passionate about topics other than this. If any of you happen to stick around, you might get to hear about some of those things.

I learned what it’s like to get thrown to the wolves.
Helloooooo, internet! I have never met you before, but apparently it’s totally okay to judge a person you have never met. Since my very first semi-viral introduction to the internet, I have personally been called “rude,” “hostile,” “judgmental,” “whiny,” “catty,” and “ignorant” by people I don’t even know. (And yes, this is different than calling a group of people “rude,” which is what I did in my generalized post about the church.)

On the other hand, I have learned how incredibly supportive readers can be! First, thanks to anyone who bothered in the first place to read my work AT ALL. But also thanks to many of you who have shown your genuine support. It truly means a lot.

I have learned that we still have work to do in the English classroom.
Apparently, in high school English class, we need to keep drilling the difference between satire, sarcasm, and irony, and we need to continue discussing its place in journalism. Satire is “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.” Satire is sarcasm that is not intended to hurt, but rather is intended to effect change. I’m amazed at how many people took my tone seriously and not with a grain of salt like I intended. I hoped you would laugh along. You took this seriously? In my last post, there was a picture of a MAN DANCING WITH BUBBLEGUM. How could you take that seriously?

Secondly, in high school English classes, we need to keep teaching students how to understand the theme of a written work. MANY PEOPLE apparently got hung up arguing about who’s busier, married people or single people. That is not the point! The point is that a lot of my single friends have been mistreated in church contexts, and I think we need to talk about it.
At my Christian school, I train my high school students to pick out the theme of a work, rather than get hung up on superfluous details that might tick them off. I have always said: “The sign of education is listening and not reacting.”

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I have learned that the internet is a tricky thing.
I think I’m writing this tiny little blog for a few close friends and family members, and WHAM-O! My audience changes overnight! Audience is SO important when it comes to writing and speaking, and if I were to write a speech about these issues, I would have taken a much different approach.

Many people who know me weren’t offended in the LEAST by what I wrote. The key here is that they know me. Writing responsibly means that I am responsible for how I come across to people who don’t know me. Looks like I’ve still got some work to do in how I come across on the internet. Was I a little too brutal? Probably. (Know how I know? I asked my mom. She’s always my voice of reason. Thanks, Mom.)

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I learned that blogs are a really fun way to practice writing voice.
Fellow writers! Wasn’t this little experiment SO fun?! One commenter pointed out that overall it seemed that many single people took it well, but many married people had a problem with it. This totally has to do with voice! In the post, I set up this us/them dichotomy, where the singles were the “us” and the marrieds were the “them.” Nobody likes to be the “them.” (Yet the marrieds were the “them” for a split-second while they were reading the article, and they were not happy about it.) I’ll just let that sink it for a bit.
Also, would the post have had the same effect if I had changed my main points from “You are rude” to “We are hurt when…”? If it wouldn’t have had the same effect, would it have been more or less useful? So many questions.

To sum up:
1. Maybe I should get a new hero other than Sara Willis Parton. (But she is SO FUNNY.)
2. One thing that is really cool, whether you agree with me or not that single people are mistreated sometimes, is that I’m pretty positive that this whole blog has sparked some pretty important conversations everywhere, and that’s all I wanted.
3. Yet, as one friend pointed out: “It’s not like we can really ‘argue’ here. I mean, who really wants to argue that single people should be mistreated? Who’s really going for that?”

Finally, to people who know me, including friends, family, and fellow church members past and present: I have not experienced every single one of the points from my last post, and some things were written tongue in cheek, so don’t go trying to match these examples with places I’ve lived in the past. I currently attend a very welcoming church, one whose friendliness on a single Sunday prompted me to start attending there full time. However, many of the examples have happened to single people I know, and unfortunately, they are VERY believable, and therefore, I included them.

Satire aside, I stand behind my post.

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Internet, it’s been nice knowing you. Why don’t we all move on to bigger and brighter futures where speaking, listening, and understanding (and maybe even a little forgiveness) are commonplace?

Let’s also be on the lookout for ways we can encourage and include our single brothers and sisters in Christ.

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35 thoughts on “What I Learned the Day I Blogged about Single People”

  1. Amen to all of the above. 🙂 It’s amazing to have a free, open platform to practice your art, but it also gives overwhelming opportunities for misinterpretations and being criticized by people who aren’t familiar with your work.

    Keep it up, though. Don’t let the negative side-effects keep you from influencing people with your words.

  2. I don’t know you but I think your post was spot on! I’m newly married so all these experiences are fresh in my mind and I’ve seen many of my single friends go through it. There are always exceptions, but that doesn’t mean your point doesn’t stand.
    I’m glad you’re standing behind your post (loves the picture!!!) and don’t weaken your voice or worry about coming on to strong. I love that the Mennonite world has people like you! If I had met more, I might not have left.

    Also, for every opinion on the internet there are countless opposing opinions. Relish in the controversy, you obviously said something important. If people are defensive then they’re excaxtly who needs to hear this!

  3. Dear Esther,
    Thank you for words that beg to be heard. From a middle aged homeschool mom who knows that life is for learning, for all of us.
    And you’re welcome at my house anytime. If you don’t mind that my table is maple. 😉

  4. I like it that you “stand behind your post” (satire). I’m sure you can keep drilling it into the minds of your English students what is satire and to pick out the theme etc. and etc. However, you can probably not overturn ages and ages of Mennoniteish prooftexting and propensity toward literalism all in an effort to achieve the high value of literal truth telling, satire is its rumspringing cousin. And the amen corner frowns in disapproval.

    1. I don’t think it was a “Mennonite” misreading as you imply; I’m usually pretty good at identifying satire… this just didn’t quite seem to get there.

    2. Actually, there is this thing called “hope,” and it drives and guides a lot of what I do.
      So. Can I “probably” influence our Mennonite communities toward a higher level of scholarship? No.
      Can I “possibly”? YES!
      Do not underestimate your influence.
      “Hope is the thing with feathers – / That perches in the soul – / And sings the tune without the words – / And never stops – at all.”

      1. Influencing *anyone* in our culture toward a higher level of scholarship is laudable; I would venture to guess the average level of scholarship in our Mennonite communities is higher than the average level in our society at large… but go for it in every realm you traverse!

  5. You made me laugh. I’ll be honest, I was a little slow in “getting” the satire at first, but thank you for sharing your thoughts on some of the struggles singles face. We may not know if you don’t tell us. I may be a smidge frightened about blogging and having something like this happen to me (so I hide under a rock and write in my journal). Keep writing!!!

  6. “I have personally been called “rude,” “hostile,” “judgmental,” “whiny,” “catty,” and “ignorant” by people I don’t even know. (And yes, this is different than calling a group of people “rude,” which is what I did in my generalized post about the church.)”

    And that surprises you? I’m one of those who doesn’t know you, and when I read your post regarding single people it sounded like something written by exactly that sort of person. Based on the comments for that post, you’re apparently not (which is great!), but don’t fault strangers for drawing conclusions about you based on your writing…. I’m not condoning snap judgments such as that, but not making them requires a level of active discipline that not many of us have (particularly on the internet!). 🙂

    P.S. Are you suggesting that it’s not okay to malign the character of a blogger based on a (admittedly minor) sample of the blogger’s work, but it is okay to malign the character of an entire group of people? Or am I twisting what you said?

    1. Regarding the P.S., yes it is “okay,” as you put it, because I am not basing my post on a small sample of treatment of singles, but actually a rather large sample, coming from my own experience, the experience of those of my single friends, and the experience of a bunch of single people commenters who found what I said terribly funny because it was in alignment with their personal experience.

  7. Really, this happened because the voice you used was intended for an audience that knows you, right? I read a really fascinating article recently regarding the phenomenon of social media outrage; they spoke with several people who fell victim to this over the last few years and ended up losing jobs/promotions/etc. I wish I could find it to link it for you, but in those situations what happened was exactly what I suggested above: a satirical tweet or post intended for an intimate audience, that ended up going viral and becoming the sole perspective on the person for a huge, unintended audience…

  8. I read it as satire, but I still felt it simply had a rude voice. I was trying to think why I felt that way. I thought it was because I’d never read your blog before (I clicked from facebook), but I got to thinking about the perspective it was written from. It was valuable in that it served as a reminder to married people what it was like being single and how things felt, but it came from a complete lack of understanding of how married people feel. You can’t know this, having never experienced it, so your point of view was one sided. I think that is where my gut reaction of “sheesh!” came from. There didn’t seem to be any attempt at understanding the other side. I understood the point of the article and what satire means, I just thought the message you were trying to put out there might not have been a good fit for satire.

  9. Lovely response to your initial post! I love how you took the good out of the criticism and turned it into a learning experience. Keep wrestling with writing and life girlfriend!

    Blessings! 🙂

  10. I don’t do the Facebook and the few times someone has shown me something, wow, people can get pretty carried away out there. I will stay here where it is safe in the Blogland. I don’t even want to think about some of the things that may be out there…trolls and flames, are those the terms? I think you have a good audience here on your Blog. Keep writing and keep those students reading and writing…give them assignments for the summer!!

  11. I don’t know you, and had never before heard of you before I followed a Facebook link to your blog and read your post. I apparently was one of the minority of your readers who completely interpreted it as satire, and thought it was humorous. I also thought about the way I (married nearly 15 years) interact with singles, and wistfully wished that our church would actually have some so that I could put some of your ideas to good use.

  12. I like the gifts this blogger has. Some very important thoughts about our Mennonite communities and reaching out to singles. We should do all we can to have our homes open for anyone (including those outside our churches) for meals, visiting etc. However using sexual slang words and satire may not be the most effective way to reach the target audience. The written word is most often accepted at face value and one will be much easier misunderstood then in face to face conversation.

    But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. Matthew 5:37

  13. You really got the “quiet in the land” talking, that’s for sure! I enjoyed the post as I know it’s a reality for some of my friends, but thankfully not for me. It’s a good conversation to be had and I hope people take the heart of it and good change happens. I am being sorely tempted to do a controversial post on a similar topic on my blog, but after seeing the reactions on here I’m both terrified and excited 🙂

  14. I don’t know…it rather appears to me you are hiding behind the post, not simply standing 😉 at any rate, I personally enjoyed the original post, most likely because I can relate to much of the content. Reading that some considered your tone rude gave me pause, as I typically do not appreciate rude blogs. Did I not pick up on any supposed rudeness here because I identified with the ‘us’? And do I really not recognize rudeness if I happened to agree with the viewpoint? Remains to be seen, but food for thought indeed!

  15. Thanks for posting and sharing your perspective. It was a good reminder to be hospitable, tactful, and kind It does, however, seem like your post was quite “inciteful”. Our family has some singles stopping in at our home usually 1-3 times a week. We try our best to let them know that they are always welcome. We do, however, appreciate when they give us a heads up a day or two in advance before just dropping in for a meal. 🙂 We have numerous singles who we consider our friends. However, there are a few that we don’t bother inviting very often because we get the impression that they feel we are boring. These are the ones who have to ask who else is coming over before they decide. If no one from their clique is coming over, they don’t want to either. If an entire clique is invited, they will come and spend their time just talking among themselves and laughing at their own inside jokes. The conversation tends to be just one sided and only about themselves. They don’t seem to be even remotely able to carry on a conversation if they are not with their peers. Also, I get the feeling that there really is no reason to try to communicate verbally with these people since they are spending half of the time texting their friends or talking on their cell phone. This type of single person may come over for a meal but then they will leave as soon as possible because they just received an urgent text that someone has just organized a spur of the moment volleyball game and they need some more players. It has become much clearer to me that rudeness is not exclusive to one group. Before reading your post I thought it was mostly the singles being in the rude, narcissistic group. (Truthfully, I never gave it too much thought.) I believe that following the Golden Rule will go a long way in helping us bridge the hospitality and understanding gap.

  16. I personally find your sense of humor very amusing! Sorry that so many people didn’t. And good for you for being so honest.
    I learned quite some time ago that anything witty, sarcastic, ironic, etc., will inevitably be taken the wrong way if I put it on the internet! (See internet, this is why we can’t have nice things.) But your post was a very timely reminder to me to think about others and try to view things from their perspective too, instead of sticking only with mine and coming across as rude. I think that’s a good thing for everyone in any life situation to keep in mind.
    So thanks for writing. See you at our wedding next weekend! Hopefully you didn’t have to cancel any other “plans” to be there. ;);)

  17. I checked your post out after seeing it referenced on Dorcas Smucker’s Blog, which I love! It interested me because of it’s reference to singles, and I’m single. I don’t think people realize that they treat us differently, necessarily. It’s just that we live such different lives that they have a hard time “seeing” things – and we probably do, too. However, I’ve never known a married woman who would want to trade places with me, so they must have some kind of an idea that it’s a bit difficult. What I wouldn’t do for a hug from time to time!!!!!!! Spot on. Because it is tough to see all the affection and care among families and feel outside of it all – I think that’s actually the toughest part for me. I’m sorry some married people were bothered by your post, but I think they honestly wouldn’t want to trade places with us, and I think they would no doubt have some of these same thoughts were they to walk a few days in our shoes. Then again, they have some valid points, too. So, you’re right, we all need to try to understand and help one another 🙂

  18. Just so you know. I loved loved loved your original post. And I don’t even know you. There was such humor while still speaking huge mouthfuls of truth. I get it. I am single. And I got it. Personally, I felt like you were speaking truth frankly with a big grin on your face. I also like this post. (Especially the photo of you standing behind it). And folks, sometimes truth hurts. Get over yourselves and stop whining about stuff that wasn’t the point.

  19. I don’t know how viral you went. I do know (from riding your coattails via a link in my comment) that my numbers of silent browsers jumped to record level numbers.
    The judgmental responses probably say more about those posting them than you. We see things as we are, not as they are (or so goes the quote you can Google to attribute properly) and many people don’t ‘get’ humor. Not saying they are miserable people. Okay, yes, I am saying they are miserable people.

    The funny part is that my own initial reaction was negative. It was that “rude” word that just seemed unfair. That and the fact marrieds couldn’t do anything right. But the truth of the matter is that I too got done being unreasonable about the matter of my pastor brandishing the glorious reality of his wife who made him who he is, etc. It was that I didn’t like seeing my own reflection in the mirror.

    For the marrieds who couldn’t take the criticism. Could it be pride? I mean, how dare some internet blogger call my kind (by this I mean their kind) rude, right? Humility rarely takes offense…

    Whatever the case, I definitely agree you tapped into a real reservoir of emotion. I do think singles are too often forgotten or an afterthought.

    Thanks for making me slightly popular.

  20. Pretty sure I just spent hours reading everything I could that was attached to your posts, plus thinking over it, and discussing it with a few friends – both single and married. 😊 I have to confess, even though I know you, my first response was to agree with everything you said, but cringe at the execution of it. Probably mostly, the simple word “rude”. Mostly because, while I’ve experienced so so many of these mentioned things personally, the majority of the time, I feel like it was out of ignorance rather than pure rudeness. However, after reading it a 2nd time, along with comments and etc, I quickly saw how desperately you were just crying out from your heart to be a voice for so many. Not even to condemn those who may be responsible, but to bridge the gap between ignorance and awareness. To open dialog and communication between the silent and the unheard. So for that I say thank you. Thank you for baring your heart to protect” ours “. Thank you for standing confident through the barrage of more “rudeness”. 😉 I personally was encouraged by the affirmation that so many replies held. I hope they encouraged your heart far beyond any bruising the offended and misinterpreted may have caused! I will say, though I have experience too many of these points than what I believe should be in the church, or more specifically Christian relationships as a whole, I also can say that there are people out there who have been sensitive, affirmative, and accepting, by both validating and loving me as a “normal” human being. It’s refreshing to come across those who expect that I have something of value to offer, rather than being a tool to remind me of where I am – or am not in life, and only intensity the battle against the lies that I will only “reach the goal” or, “be in God’s plan for me” once I “attain” marriage. I thank God for the people who remind me that I am enough! I truly hope and pray this will continue to explode, but for God’s glory, on both sides – not ANYONE’S judgmental playground.
    Sorry for the ramble but it definitely hit my heart! 😊 Stay confident in Jesus and keep standing out when He asks you to!
    p.s. Keep writing with the great personality that you have, and keep having your wise, sweet Mama read these things! 😘

  21. What a storm in a teacup…I loved it all! As ‘newly widowed’ I experience some of the same. But truly, it is up to me how I respond to whatever incident it may be. Ex. I was asked by a thoughtless sibling if ‘I’m lonely’ at the first family reunion after the death of my husband. I was speechless! I could do one of two…let it spoil the rest of the week end or forgive…I chose forgiveness. 🙂 I’m now a new follower of your blog. 🙂

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