We Interrupt This Broadcast

Comments 23

interrupt this broadcast


Hey guys.

I’ve never written a Purpose Statement for MBTTTR, but if I ever do, I imagine it will be something close to this:

To use honest storytelling as a tool to help people achieve healthy, lasting relationships by raising awareness of uncomfortable truths regarding the things commonly causing divorce and human conflict. To courageously demonstrate personal accountability with hope that others will too. To challenge the status quo. To fight for people, all of whom have intrinsic, immeasurable value and are capable of intensely heroic, beautiful and inspiring things. To encourage men to be great. To encourage all to choose hope.

A Peek Into My Life

I’m just one guy. Divorced with a shared-parenting agreement. I’m 37, but you’d never know it from my behavior patterns.

I’m looking around at piles of papers and unopened mail and unread books on my kitchen counter. There’s a frying pan on my stove top that I didn’t clean after cooking breakfast for my son and I yesterday.

We had a Cleveland Indians-themed (Go Tribe!) casual day at work Friday and I waited until that morning to hunt around my house for the Indians hoodie I wanted to wear. I couldn’t find it, until I went down into my basement laundry room and realized it was one of three sweatshirts matted down and covered in cat hair because my old pet cat Eli used to lay there all the time.

And that would be all well and good except that Eli died the day before Thanksgiving LAST YEAR.

I wake up in the morning and I go to a job for more than 40 hours per week. At that job, I have many meetings and things to do.

Additionally, I am a partner in a young digital marketing agency which we started last year, and is now officially the thing taking most of my time.

I have a little boy at home with me 50 percent of nights and weekends. A child who has homework assignments, food and clothing and bathing needs. A child who needs lunches packed, haircuts, and new clothes.

During the rare moments we are not doing things we MUST do, he craves his father’s attention very much.

My life is:

  • Wake up.
  • Go to work to pay for house, vehicle, child needs.
  • Build business in effort to create more flexible lifestyle.
  • Write here, when possible.
  • Repeat.

Things like grocery shopping, lawn mowing, house cleaning, and laundry steal time from these things. Traveling steals time from these things. The now-ultra-rare social/family event steals time from these things.

I want no sympathy. I choose to have a full-time job. I choose to grow my side business. I choose to write here.

If I want things to change, I’m responsible for making different choices. (The idea is that once my agency is my full-time work, some of these time constraints will vanish.)

This is not meant to convey that anyone should feel sorry for me. Not by a long shot.

It is meant to help you understand a little more what my life looks like.

Which brings us to…

The Comments-Section Shit Show

I do not possess the powers of omnipresence.

I don’t even possess the powers of people with average attentiveness skills.

I am a highly disorganized ADHD-diagnosed, divorced single dad who is NEVER caught up. With anything. Ever.

What that means is, I don’t see each and every comment that comes into this blog. And when I DO see comments, I am mostly seeing them out of context on my phone’s WordPress mobile app. It’s a back-end admin tool, and things don’t look anything like what they do when seeing them on your computer or phone.

So, if you read something and think to yourself: Isn’t Matt seeing this?! WTF?, there’s a pretty good chance I haven’t.

Because, I assume, the kind of people who tend to be dickless wankers in internet comments don’t often read 1,500-word blog posts about relationship-related things, the comments section of this blog has never had any problems.

Until recently.

And as a STAUNCH advocate of free speech, I’ve always been inclined to let comments stand. I’ve been called plenty of bad things, and those comments are easy enough to find if you feel like reading through 4,000+ on the dishes post, or any of the predictably cliché blame-shifting ones from butt-hurt guys in the Shitty Husbands posts.

That’s a personal belief. That truth matters. That we must navigate life even when we don’t “like” things.

I live in the United States where every time a president is elected half of everyone is pissed off. And I feel like you can be the kind of person who takes their ball and goes home when things don’t go your way, OR you can take responsibility for helping people see things your way, so that maybe next time, the candidates who share your smarter, better ideas can win.

We MUST navigate life even when conditions aren’t optimal. Conditions are rarely optimal.

Thus, I’ve been ultra-hesitant to silence voices in blog comments simply because I disagree with them or simply because others don’t like them.

This is where I write. Plenty of people have not liked things I’ve written. But I’m not going to stop, nor change what I’m writing to placate anyone who doesn’t like my ideas.

But Then There’s This Other Thing

Despite my many shortcomings, I’m self-aware.

I KNOW that I don’t know many, many things. I KNOW that I’m statistically likely to be wrong about all kinds of things.

So, when I cringe at things I read in certain comments AND dozens of people share my reactions, it’s all very hard to ignore.

I am divorced today because I denied my wife’s right to her own reality. I repeatedly told her throughout our relationship that her emotions and thoughts were “wrong” or “crazy” or “unfair.”

And I am afraid that my instincts to stand up for the rights of people to say unpopular things may be the wrong choice here.

So, Here’s How It’s Going to Be

I’m pissed about this.

I have enough life problems and tasks. And that I have to babysit these comments and take crap from people for my lousy moderation is aggravating.

To be crystal clear on this, I’m NOT saying people don’t have legitimate gripes. The gripes are totally legit. I’m saying people have unrealistic expectations.

I’m both unable and unwilling to moderate these comments to the level required.

There have been tens of thousands of comments left on this blog since it launched in June 2013, and until now, there hasn’t been problem.

But now there is.

How We Say Things Matters

One commenter in particular leaves unpopular comments with regularity. I equate this commenter to the guy I used to see standing up on park benches outside my university’s student union screaming judgments at people walking by.

He’d hold up the Bible and yell at sorority sisters, calling them lesbian whores who will burn in hell. He’d yell at groups of friends minding their own business telling them they’re frat-boy sinners who need saved.

As a baptized Christian and churchgoer, I think there is merit believing in—and living for—things greater than yourself. In loving other people and ourselves. In pursuing truth and trying to live a meaningful, spiritually healthy and balanced life.

But that guy standing up on the bench? EVEN IF every word of the Bible is 100% true, the reality of life is that you can’t communicate with human beings in that manner and expect them to listen to you. If his goal was to GENUINELY “save” people and introduce them to his faith in an effort to help people discover Truth, he was never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever going to accomplish it by calling people sinners and whores.

Jesus, not one time in any recorded text, treated people that way nor taught anyone else to.

Thus, misrepresenting the faith is either an accidental disservice to good Christians, OR a deliberate attempt to fuck with people under the guise of trying to “save” them.

Either way, I don’t like it.

We have a commenter here who kind of, sort of, does that same thing. He believes certain things and shares them. Maybe he’s genuinely trying to help people consider an alternative perspective. Or maybe he’s deliberately fucking with people under the guise of trying to be “helpful.”

Either way, NO MORE.

I would—under no circumstances—allow that asshole preacher guy to stand outside of my house and yell at people visiting my home, my neighbors, or the people walking or driving down the street. Free speech, be damned.

Moving forward, if someone I know to be aware of this post and nonsense side drama writes anything that violates this…

To use honest storytelling as a tool to help people achieve healthy, lasting relationships by raising awareness of uncomfortable truths regarding the things commonly causing divorce and human conflict. To courageously demonstrate personal accountability with hope that others will too. To challenge the status quo. To fight for people, all of whom have intrinsic, immeasurable value and are capable of intensely heroic, beautiful and inspiring things. To encourage men to be great. To encourage all to choose hope.

I’m deleting the comment just as soon as I’m aware of it.

I’ll have tolerance for people who might not know better.

I’ll have little tolerance for people who intentionally engage, or bait, or flame someone whose ideas they disagree with.

It’s totally possible to read things on the internet and not reply to them.

It’s IMPORTANT to understand the perspectives of people who think differently than we do, because we get to use that information to correct false beliefs, or reinforce existing ones.

But in the end, all I’ve ever asked for is basic decency and kindness, and that’s apparently too hard for some.

Life tip: When 30 people tell you the things you say are indecent and unkind, it’s an indication of a problem.

I think Louis CK said it best: “When someone tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.”

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

23 thoughts on “We Interrupt This Broadcast”

  1. WORD.
    It’s your space, and you have every right to get rid of the assholes who are being assholes for the sake of assholery.
    That Louis CK quote is one of my favorites.
    Keep on being you, because you’re one of the good ones.

  2. Matt,

    Just curious. From your description of your life right now, it does indeed sound like you’ve got your hands full. What with working on your career and finding time to parent, which is obviously very important.

    So I was wondering if you do any dating. If not, do you think about maybe doing so in the near future? As I suppose it can take quite a while to feel “ready” after enduring the trauma of a divorce. What qualities would you be looking for? And do you think you would just prefer casual dating, or that you may be looking to remarry at some point?

    I realize these are personal questions, so if you decide not to answer them that’s cool. I’m just curious. And since your blog is pretty personal in the first place, maybe you don’t mind sharing on this topic…

    1. I sporadically go out with people I already know. Two first dates in the entirety of 2016.

      I have very strong feelings about the amount of energy and sacrifice required to make relationships work. As such, I’ve been unprepared to venture down that road.

      Do I date? Sort of.

      But it’s not going to be purposeful until my life is structured to accommodate it.

      1. Makes sense. Not to mention, people oftentimes seem to make the common mistake of rushing right into something they may not be ready for.

        I’ve always been a big believer in the positive aspects of casual dating, when you’re not ready for anything serious. About a year before I got married, I was in a church youth group and I dated a number of the girls in there. Didn’t get serious, just kept it casual, but I enjoyed those experiences as I think they did as well. You get to practice your social and dating skills and learn a lot more about yourself…and esp what works for you in a romantic partner. I kept in touch with a number of those girls for years later, but eventually lost touch.

  3. Matt,
    Believe me- I am going back and forth about writing this, and what exactly I need to write.

    I know I am not one of your favorites, so I know my words don’t carry as much weight or influence that others might. I also know that you are angry with me.

    I sympathize with you being (literally) tired of dealing with problems on the blog.
    I am (literally) tired of it, and it’s not even my blog. Which brings up all sorts of questions that I need to answer for myself.

    What I have said, and what I and I am sure others have said, is that the reason we care is because what was happening was significant. It was important, and real- like reflected in day to day life real. Like, profound shifts of the (metaphorical) ground – real. (if that makes sense) .
    A lot of that was because we believed in you and what you were writing.
    I still believe in you. I still believe in what you write is from the truer parts of you.

    Oddly enough, I understand your values and your commitment to your values.
    I have similar things that I feel strongly about that people may not agree with or get.

    So, I am not writing this to tell you what to do- I am not trying to convince you to take any action.

    I am just trying to bring up a point for you to grasp and think about.

    Which is- in all love and kindness: Your commitment to those values is compromising the emotional safety and well being for a large portion of your readers.

    The question then becomes about priorities.

    A value that you believe in vs. what upholding that value creates in the everyday life of this blog.

    I know values are way high up there for you. They are for me, too. I will defend my worst enemy if I feel like they are being ganged up on. Period.

    Maybe the feeling that we aren’t safe wont be a permanent condition. Maybe things will change, but in the meantime there are a lot of things that wont happen and wont grow for what MAY happen.

    Someone, who will remain anonymous unless they want to speak up, equated it to you leaving your wife in the hospital to get some rest. That it feels like abandonment.

    I am not saying this to shame you, either.

    I am just saying- could it be that your convictions of what was right vs. wrong be the thing that got in the way of you validating your wife’s experience?

    I know a lot of us use this very blog to exercise the things we are learning. I know that we never really stop learning those things. So, I am just bringing it up to ask, do you think that you upholding what you feel is right vs. wrong interfering with you understanding the effects of what upholding your values is actually doing?

    It’s still a hard call, because without values- and integrity to those values, where would we be?

    But, I also believe in priorities of those things.

    Do I value an ideal of free speech or do I value a safe place that fosters personal growth more? (I know that last description may not be what you have in mind at all for this blog, but I think that is what a lot of readers have come to take it as)

    I hope you aren’t too angry to hear what I am saying…
    And, I hope we are still “Blog friends”…mostly..? a little bit? ..maybe?

    1. So, I mostly regret sending this.
      I’m taking a hiatus.
      I really do feel l have an ulcer, and I am way too involved here for my own good.
      I appreciate your writing.
      I appreciate your story, and your walk.
      Still trying to figure out my own.
      In that, I feel like we have kinship.
      Can you please let me know you don’t hate me?- Don’t, if you do!
      Thanks a bunch :). Linds.

      1. Goodness. I most certainly don’t hate you, nor do I almost kind-of, sort-of dislike you a tiny bit.

        Yeah, I was a little pissed. And that’s because you intentionally posted things which violated the agreement.

        It’s not possible to have respected policies when they are not fairly enforced.

        I also fundamentally disagreed with the interpretation of one JS comment in particular, and as it turns out, OKRickety made my point for me today, and I’ll leave it at that.

        I can’t tell you or anyone else how to feel.

        But I also can’t ban people just because someone asks me to.

        That’s not a precedent I’m willing to set.

        Moreover, there are A LOT of things going on here.

        1. Everyone I interprets words differently. And yes, in this instance, I am hyper-aware that my experiences differ from others, possibly keeping me from feeling what a properly calibrated person should feel to take action.

        2. I can’t and don’t see every comment. This right here is a great example. I just read this one right before replying.

        3. I wrote this post we are commenting on for two reasons.

        The first is because some context was DEFINITELY in order. I don’t have magical powers, and am in fact, borderline-handicapped on the blog-management front.

        And second, to make it ABUNDANTLY CLEAR what the litmus test is going forward.

        No more strikes. No more talking. No more explanations.

        If a comment violates the purpose of MBTTTR, I’m deleting it. A repeat offender (and you already know we have one – not you, Linds) will be banned.

        No more democracy.

        1. Thank you for not hating me Matt :)..
          I don’t really want to tangle anymore, with any of this (vacation starts in 4,3,2,…)
          But, I did want to mention two things about the comment that you are referring to. First, it’s not only the words “just lay there and take it”- for me, that is enough, but it is also the fact that he then talks about how much she really liked that- she liked being dominated. And later, in another comment (to me, I might add) he talks about how women have these rape fantasies. So he is definitely talking about a rape fantasy. I don’t really have a problem with that- I have a problem with how he seems to encourage men to do this with their wives (or whoever) with the thought- “o- women really WANT to be raped.” Do you see how that feeds into the whole issue of guy talk, and behavior towards women ?
          The second thing is- I think it is pretty ironic that 3 men feel like the comment is harmless.
          Yet the women have an issue with it…
          Thank you, again for your response.
          Over and out…(until next time 🙂 …

  4. Jeff was given the benefit of the doubt for FAR too long in my opinion. Even in this thread, anyone else feel like these cute questions for Matt are like the flowers and a kiss after the beating he just gave? It’s creepy. Master manipulation. I hope we’ve figured this out now. I don’t think linds is off base either. I can definitely understand the exasperation at having to babysit this place, but it clearly means a lot to many people, and I think it’s a shame that one bad apple has been allowed to spoil the barrel. Defining what your goal is for the blog and the comments and sticking to that was a smart step. Good luck! I hate to see this stuff tarnish the really solid work you do!

    1. You can call them “cute questions”, but they have a serious impact on people. The point I was making was that I think there’s too much pressure in this society that all dating must be “serious dating”. Meaning, designed to lead to marriage. And I think it can cause problems.

      Taken to the extreme, this is the whole “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” movement in fundy Christian circles of “purposeful courtship”. Where the man must ask the girl’s father for permission to even take her on a single date. Which ends up putting too much pressure in play, since asking a girl out becomes the functional equivalent of getting engaged.

      I had an ex-gf like this (she was a Cuban Baptist, I didn’t know there was such a thing, lol). If she went on a first date with a guy, it’s because in her mind they were already married. She would build all this up in her mind, and it never worked out for her (she ended up never marrying, now well into her 50’s). I suggested she just go to a happy hour and meets some men casually, do some casual dating, but she was adamantly against this. Oh well, what do I know?

      I also recall telling that same ex-gf (we stayed friends for years after we dated) that I was taking a young lady from my church group out on a date. The girl was too young for me – she was 19 and I was 30. I tried explaining this to my ex, and telling her the date wouldn’t lead to anything because of the age difference, and my only aim was for the two of us to have a nice time on our date (and this was a sweet, feminine girl…if I was 5 years younger, I’d have considered her). Well, my ex-gf was having none of that: she starts in with “age is just a number” and “this girl is going to be your wife, wait and see”, etc.

      I just found it amazing. So does anybody else believe in the positive aspects of casual dating?

    2. Absolutely agree, especially about the “cute questions…..after the beating.”

  5. Matt, have you ever considered having someone around who can moderate the site for you regularly to take the pressure off and keep things rolling the way you’d like? That’s something I actually do for a living and would be happy to help out or offer some advice on that topic. Just let me know!

  6. I think the most harmful thing has been the distraction from your original message and those of your guest writer. I will remember more about the nature and Tom foolery of the comments than I will about the ‘message’. It’s selfish on the commenters part. I had a point of view that I could have offered on the business of negotiating life as a female in a strongly male dominated field of work, but I refrained as that it would have just been swallowed up by the pissing contest that was occurring all around it. It’s a shame as that the guest writer had some very good and thoughtful things to say and it was (imo) all for naught.
    Onward and upward dear Matt. You’re doing it write/right.

  7. Well said…
    I like reading your blogs, I’m probably quite th opposite to you.. I like everything to have a place and a place for everything, order routine ect.. I live by the clock most of the day.. I really enjoy reading what you post, it gives me some insight to a mans mind.. I am on my second marriage, first was a gambler and I felt like a slave.. my second is better, but again a it like you he leaves things lying around and we have this pat, if I cook he cleans, but he always does bits of it and I get so uptight about it, washers half then leaves pots on the stove unwashed.. I’m trying to figure out what I can do or say that will make him want to clean it perfectly.. I struggle to juggle work, 4 kids, cooking cleaning, ferrying kids around to sport etc.. I have my work cut out but if only I had some help.. I constantly think I should have not got married again and I’m better off on my own.. marriage just isn’t for me.. I just get too worked up over small things that haven’t been done..
    So I love reading your prospective just to see what I can use in my everyday life..
    Keep doing what your doing…

    1. Are the 4 kids from this marriage or from the prior one?

      Taking care of them and running the household is a full time job in itself. If you also work a job outside the home, IMHO you’re going to burn out.

      1. Two from first third child is my 2nd husbands and she lives with us full time and fourth is from our marriage together.. I’ve been doing this since the birth of our son, I only took six months off and believe you me, the fourth has really put the pressure on.. I really want the marriage to last so an insight to men is why I read this blog, why do men make you feel guilty for lack of contribution financial, only reason I went back to work.. searching for that happy medium..

      2. Jane,

        First of all, blended families are hard. Everyone knows that.

        Secondly, I agree with you about your contributions to your family. I can’t answer why “men make you feel guilty for a lack of financial contribution” because although a man myself, I don’t think that way. For example, my wife hasn’t worked a job or earned a single cent in over a dozen years (since we started having children). Nor will she ever. Because I view it as my responsibility as the husband and father to earn the income to support the family. I think asking you to mother 4 kids AND work is asking too much. You have to know your limits.

        But I also know that my wife mentioned that some of her girlfriends are complaining that now that their kids are in school full time, their husbands are pushing them to go back to work. I don’t do this, because I want my wife to have some down time and be able to enjoy herself…esp given what a good, loving, surrendered wife and good mother she’s been for all these years. And btw Jane, for several years my wife was not only raising kids at home, but also taking care of a non-ambulatory elderly family member we had living with us for almost 3 years. Talk about having a full plate! (And it pretty much all fell to her, as I am away on business typically about half the month)

        So when wifey has a lunch date with a girlfriend, or goes to the nail salon in the morning to be pampered with a mani and a pedi, or goes out to view real estate showings (a hobby of hers), or whatever…I don’t begrudge her that, even though I’m busting my ass at work to financially support the family. It comes down to what I see as the “teamwork” concept.

        Not sure if this is any help to you though. Here’s another thought: in addition to taking a minimum of 4 vacation weeks annually as a family, I have oftentimes given my wife the gift of some getaway time. Basically bought her 2 or 3 nights at a hotel, even in just our local area. I’ll try to make it a nice one, with a jacuzzi in the living room of the hotel suite, etc.

        And I’ll stay home and be Mr. Mom for those couple days so she can have a break from it all. She can have alone time, and she can also invite a girlfriend or two to join her for dinner or drinks or whatever. Granted, the laundry and housework is waiting for her when she gets home (I don’t do laundry)…but she comes home refreshed and rested (besides, our daughters are getting old enough to help Mom out with the housework now). I would try to give her one of these little hotel getaways maybe 3 or 4 times a year. If money is tight, you can always pick a seasonal time of the year where vacancies are high, and therefore room rates are cheaper. Plus you can find special offers or coupons online.

        Do you think doing something like this might help you keep your sanity a bit longer? Maybe your husband would be open to the idea…

    1. I think what I’m doing is the opposite of appeasement, Anne.

      I tried my best to be fair and inclusive. It didn’t work.

      So, I’m not doing that now. If someone’s an asshole, I’m banning their IP and afterward, I’ll be happy to have an email conversation with them about why.

      I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to compare a man not doing a great job at his main job (one of public service, no less) to a guy struggling to keep up with comments on the #5 thing on his Life Priority List.

      One that is often thankless and pays approximately negative (however much hosting and domain fees and hours not doing billable work is) dollars.

  8. Very interesting read. This is your space to write what you feel and it is know ones place to tell you it is wrong. If they don’t like what you have to say it is very easy for them to exit your blog and move onto something else. So keep speaking your piece screw them if they don’t like it. 🙂

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Matt Fray

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