Skip navigation

The other day I had an event tantamount to losing my virginity occur. Like that fateful evening it was awkward, unexpected, and inevitably led to a long internal monologue about whether or not I was a good person. Unlike losing my virginity it did not include a girl, the back of my father’s Jeep, a parking lot, and mall security.

The other day I received my first bona fide hate mail.

Upon first receiving it I had to read it over a few times, the punctuation wasn’t great, though I can’t blame the sender since commas are my personal downfall and the reason why I keep Simon around. Then I had to scan the email again for tone. Was it a joke? Someone I knew? Could a person really take a Twitter posting so seriously, and misinterpret it so much?

Immediately I got Tool’s “Hush” in my head, just as I would have at the age of thirteen, only with more perplexed head scratching and less aggressive eye-rolling.

As a girl privileged enough to experience the higher education system, I’ve often been called upon to analyze an author’s work and intent, especially within the scope of the public eye. In this day and age of YouTube, MySpace, blogging, reality TV, oversharing, and the general clusterfuck of exposure, where nearly anyone can be considered an “author” or an “artist” simply because there is this seemingly limitless platform for self-expression by way of the Internet, it’s hard to determine how to be aware of your audience, or even if you should be aware of it at all.

When I started writing, years and years ago, before menstruation or experimentation, before I even had anything half-way funny or interesting to offer, I used to spew ink in a journal. If you’d asked me back then why I wrote I would have said some convoluted version of “to express myself” and gone on to say that I never intended on anybody reading it.

Granted, back then, if you’d asked me what I wanted to do with my life I would have said “be a professional gymnast” or “play bass in White Zombie.” Without bills to pay, and with college offering me the promise of a rosy future, filled with an full-time job, guaranteed paychecks, and the dream of homeownership, I could have truly believed that I would’ve just written for myself and gone on to have an illustrious athletic or music career, with a nice single family home in New York. No dice.

I write because you read it. Period. I write to make people laugh, or maybe make them think, but I write because I hope that someone reads it. And I hope they offer me money to write more. (Granted, again, this ties into the free milk from a whorishly generous cow theory.)

The Internet, and writing as a whole, affords me a persona that is not too far off from the actual me, but it is, of course, a persona. For example, I do not post about the minutiae of my day, like how I purchased a box of Corn Flakes or that it is sunny, unless I can tie it into a euphemism or violence. This is because I understand that those things, without embellishment, are boring and ordinary, and although I have a megalomaniacal sense of self, I do not expect you to truly be interested in what I am doing on a minute-to-minute level. I do not use microblogging or blogging as an excuse to say that I am at the mall or that I am just hanging out, unless I can do so in a manner that I find publicly engaging, witty, or unique. In spite of what the hate mail alleged, I don’t actually do this for popularity or in the hopes of one day becoming an Internet celebrity (the very notion of such a thing is a fucking joke, in my opinion, considering how fleeting and ephemeral this medium presents itself, unless the entire world gets itself on Adderall I don’t foresee my shelf life extending beyond this very word that I’m typing.) I do this because I want you to read it, yes, and because I want you to want to read more…and possibly find a way to pay me for it. But I do not do it because I want to fuck you up the ass with a strap-on, or be your best friend, or feel better about myself as a human being. That’s not your responsibility as a reader. Just as it isn’t my responsibility to truly wonder what you think.

Wait a second
, you say. That’s a contradiction. You want me to read, but you don’t care what I think? I smell some serious bullshit, Ainsley.

Sure. But, really, if you’re a conservative, pro-life, homophobic, upper-class Bible thumper who is reading my Twitter feed or my blog, well, you kind of know what you’re in for after a very brief amount of time. You don’t like vagina humor , vicious sarcasm, or ultra-violence? Well then don’t read me. You won’t like it. And all it will do is make both of us feel uneasy.

I am not an asshole or a troll, an expression that I only learned the other day as a result of said letter. I’m not going to go onto a conservative website and spew venom (unless they pay me to do so) and I’m not going to pick a fight with someone whose viewpoints are diametrically opposed to my own (unless FOX News is paying me to do so) and I’m not going to expect you to like everything I write (unless you are paying me to write for you.) Hell, I’m not going to expect any of you to even read my stuff. Like I said, I’m blindly hoping here. And I’d continue to write, and to hope, even if I had no subscribers, no comments, and not a single person donating or emailing me. The fact that I got hate mail means that I’m doing something right, I suppose, but it also means that I’ve reached a somewhat critical juncture where I need to express some fundamental truths that I hold to be pretty fucking self-evident.

I am not what you read. This goes both ways. You are not what I read on your social networking pages, on your Twitter stream, or on your blog. We are doing a burlesque show, and an amateur one at best. Some days are more titillating than others, and some disclosures are more honest, relevant, and immediate. But we know, or we should know, sort of, what is in store with regard to the writer-to-reader relationship.

I also feel the need to address that the Internet is not a fucking window, although I’m somewhat certain that I’m preaching to the choir here. After all, I have gotten a lot of very positive, very funny email from strangers, and that’s what makes me post as regularly and as happily as I do. It’s what makes this much, much more than a Hello Kitty  notebook with a lock on it. But I also know that most of you couldn’t pick me out of a lineup (shortest one, with the questionable gender, also probably looks sort of bored) and that you read what I want you to. If I get a book deal the same thing goes, I will write what I am paid to write. If I‘m not being paid, well, then I‘ll write whatever the hell I want to, that I think will generate readership. I could continue on this stream of thought and yammer on about James Frey and public accountability and the psychological implications of open source media, but I won’t. Just suffice to say that I love doing this, I wish I got paid regularly for it, and please keep reading and sending your feedback, yes, even if it is hate mail.

Only one suggestion, though. Be sure that when you send me hate mail, it’s well-punctuated and well thought out. For example, if I say that I’m going to break someone’s legs, it doesn’t mean that I hate people with disabilities. The same way that if I say that I’m going to rape your chihuahua it doesn’t mean that I condone violence against women or think that PETA is an organization that should be gassed. And when I say gassed…I won’t even get into it.

For those of you still confused, buy Tool’s Opiate album and listen to it all the way through. Hell, buy any of their albums, or take a peek at some of their exquisite videos on YouTube. The relevance is simple, they were what I was listening to when I stopped thinking that the journal was for my eyes only and started to realize that the reason why I did this little finger exercise was to hopefully get some money, and definitely to get some attention.

And I guess that includes hate mail.

Send it. AinsleyDrew at gmail.

Advertisements

8 Comments

  1. I’m guessing some of your readers will be jealous that you even received a “hate mail”. Keep it coming and I’ll keep reading.

    Peace,
    Jamie

  2. Ainsley,

    I hate you so much for raping that chihuahua with a strap on (yes, the chihuahua was also wearing a strap-on. nice touch.) in front of my dinner party full of PETA members.

    >>NOT COOL<<

  3. I can’t believe that anyone would send you hate mail. What a jackass. Keep on doing what you’re doing!

  4. Ainsley, you’re so awesome, as soon as my husband gets a damn job I’m subscribing to your newsletter. Until then, let me know when you need a free massage here and there, okay?

  5. Can you share the hate mail with us and include what Twitter it was in response to?

  6. Keep it up. My days would be boring without your delicious twitter posts and blogs!

  7. I’ve been reading your blogs and following your twitter for a few months now (which sounds kind of creepy really…)

    I conciously check into this blog every couple of days and it’s one of the few things that manages to get me through the work day!

    Hate mail is a nasty form of criticism. Don’t take it too much to heart…you are who you are and if someone doesnt like what you write on your blog…they can read elsewhere.
    Simple, no?

  8. Ha…Tool…haha


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: