Type Something Nice

I know better, and I bet you do too.

After an entirely long day, I busted out my laptop to do a quick revision. A quick look at Twitter. A quick update to some notes. It was three minutes before Jeopardy, and I wanted to do some work. Really quick like. We had just had dinner, so my water-glass was still on the table. So I turn on the computer, do some typing, and then I’m moved to deliver a “You’re-never-gonna-to-believe-the-crap-I-dealt-with-today” monologue and with one wave of my hand, two-three ounces of water spilled on my laptop.

For three seconds time stopped. I don’t think I breathed and I surely didn’t blink. I picked up my laptop immediately and shook all of the water out. The monitor blinked and then went black. Then the keyboard lights went out. I’m not sure how many times I said a word that rhymes with truck. And well, this was my very first time frying anything electronic. I’ve fixed toasters, coffee makers, and overall, I’m pretty good with things electronic. You see, my dad likes to bond with me by saving household projects for when I come to visit. I’ve helped hang a ceiling fan, drywall, shelves, and I’ve painted more walls than a handyman. For “a chick,” I’ve been told, I’m pretty good with fixing things.

But there was no fixing this. No bag of rice was going to work. No heater was going to stop the corrosion. So I waited three days to see if it would turn on, and it didn’t. So this afternoon, I took it to a Mac fixer shop where the guy who helped me was entirely cool. He told me the truth, and he assured me that he could at least recover the hard-drive. And he complimented me for putting the laptop near the fireplace as “a really smart move” (I wondered if he was tempted to say for “a chick” but didn’t. Prolly not, he seemed pretty cool).

So here’s the thing. It was so devastating for two reasons. 1] I bought that laptop with money I won from an award, and no such extra money is coming down pike in the foreseeable future. I was saving a small bit for a new bike. Now I’ll have to buy a lesser computer and accept that the new bike isn’t happening. And 2] I haven’t backed anything up on that computer in at least an year and half. And I know better. (I know, first world problems are mighty unbearable). But if I can continue on my sad sad train; I have to admit that there is research and writing on that computer that I just started again. Just resurrected from the dead, and now I’ve got to wait to see it again. I waited all week to hang out with those thoughts, and I can’t even remember where I left off, so it’s just going to have to wait. I’ll just have to pretend I know where I am next week when I meet with people who hope that I have a plan. I’ll just have to pretend that I’m happy working on other things. And I’ll just have to get over it.

The other devastation was that I lost the main draft of my PowerPoint for my webinar this week, and my oh my, that webinar got a lot of advertisement in the system. I am entirely lucky that the state board folks wanted to lead off their series with my work, and my preparation was derailed by the clumsy drama queen gesture. I wasn’t as “on” as I could have been because I stayed up late to fill in thoughts that I know are better on the fried laptop. My coworker was out sick all week so I was wearing five hats instead of two, and on top of that, we had the additional fun of an OL students behaving poorly. So sadly, a mediocre at best webinar will live on via the Internets. It could have been worse.

Never so happy was I to see Friday, my dears.

So. Back up your work. Watch your drinks around your laptops. And for the love of cats, be nice to other people.

And yes, I’m talking to you, Mr. NotSoNice who attended my webinar. I doubt you’re reading this, so I won’t worry your about comments. Should you want to debate about netiquette I’d be happy to explain the deep flaws in your argument. This was my fourth webinar, and I have to say, it’s a really strange way to communicate with people. You sit in a room and talk to a computer, and then you have a tidal wave of emails or comments about your ideas. Six months later somebody will mention it. A year later another person will link it in an article. It’s pretty fascinating to me, so that’s why I do it. But while I’m talking, I have to ignore the chat window. I’m too easily distracted, and I know this about myself, so I suggested that I ignore the chat while presenting during my first webinar, and it works for me. But every single time, there is always somebody who wants to chat-splain me.

Does that work? I don’t mean to appropriate mansplaining as a term, but I’m trying to think of a way to explain this icky dicky behavior. The chat-splainer usually has a penis, so maybe I should just call it mansplaining. It’s site-specific mansplaining, so that’s why I’m trying out chatsplaining. My first chatsplainer wanted to remind me that not all students could afford cell phones and that I need to be aware of “poor people.” Thank you, upper class academic, I had no idea.

Also, if you are reading this, and you asked me if you just “mansplained” the room as a self-check, I want to tell you as my friend-brah, you don’t have a mansplaining bone or fiber in your body! You just know your shit, and you’re a cool guy that I’m stoked to call my friend (see how academic I can sound?). You don’t mansplain when you respect the rants of females in the room, and you do that quite well.

But you, chat-splainer, I’d like to understand your perspective and I’d love to hear your feedback. The Chat is not the place. Not while I’m talking. You know how you teach your students about appropriate behavior in a classroom–like when to raise their hands, when to ask questions, when to contact you–all those policies you most likely have in your syllabus? Well, you too need to recognize what is good behavior for yourself.

Let me blog-splain you, Mr. NotSoNice, if you were attending my conference presentation, you would just leave if you thought I was wasting your time, right? Guess what, you could log out of a webinar! It’s so easy. It’s just more evidence that sometimes teachers make the worst students.

So here I am focusing on the one idiot, when everyone else was oh-so-cool! Maybe I’m Ms. Fool, right? People I respect sent really nice emails, wrote great things on the Google Doc., tweeted things I said. Again, how many times did I have amazing classes and the one student who gave me the ding was the only I thought about? You’ve done this too, right? It’s the same battle with your fragile ego when you present or teach. I have no solutions, but it does make think about people behaving badly on the Internet.

Four teachers came to me this week about students using excessive profanity, acts of bullying, and just plain disregard of netiquette. When I work with new OL teachers, I give them my netiquette statement to steal as their own. I’ve culled a statement together from other sources over the years and I added it to my own thoughts, so I feel entirely obligated to give it away. The new OL teachers are always so grateful, and I even highlighted the sections that are “English teacher specific” so they can adapt it for their own classes. The teachers I talked to this week were at loss about how to deal with this bad behavior. And of course, I’m always more inclined to see the “teachable moment,” right? Maybe you’re the first teacher to tell them something is inappropriate, I say. Maybe they didn’t know they were being a bully, I say. Unlike the chat-splaining Mr. NotSoNice, some students haven’t had the experience to know what’s right or wrong. And there are so many examples of what’s wrong. Read the YouTube comments. Gamergate. Comments on blogs. Twitter. Insults. You name it. There are more examples on how to mean than how to be kind.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am sometimes bitterly sarcastic. I got away with it for years as a waitress because I was wickedly mean to people I despised waiting on, and I was a terrible human being. I had to be nice to them for money, and well, I retaliated by being sarcastic, but they didn’t know it. One night, this guy gave me a $50 bill because I was “so entertaining.” I asked, “what do you mean?” I was waiting for him to ask me to come home with him. You know, waitresses are really prostitutes later in the night. Gross Rich Guys: A Memoir.

He said, “my friend is the biggest asshole and he thought you were flirting with him all night. I loved how messed with his mind! He had no idea there was no hope you weren’t going home with him. Here, I hope this money helps you finish college. My friends and I are going to laugh about this for years.”

I took his money. And get this, for three hours I made this guy think my favorite movie was “Rocky II” and every time I went back to the table I would “wow” him with a reflection about another great scene. I would fill up their beer glasses and imitate Burgess Meredith’s “You’re a bum!” scene from the first Rocky. By the time he was drunk, I decided to share with him that I thought there were deeply homoerotic undertones between Rocky and Apollo that clearly needed interrogation in modern cinematic theory. Mr. DrunkFace said, “Um, yeah. Um. Wow, I haven’t thought about it that way.” Mr. $50 laughed really hard, but I had dismissed him as yet another dumb frat boy too. I was wrong, Mr. $50 knew what a gigantic jerk his friend was who had been calling me “his Adrian” all night. He even yelled “Aaaaddriaaan” like Rocky did in part I. Sigh.

And gosh golly I was mean. That behavior was the equivalent of writing ridiculously mean things in the comments section. In the chat. On Twitter. On the Discussion Board in your class. It’s the same. But I was 25 and angry at the world that I was a waitress. Unlike the mean folks on the Internet, I limited my meanness to one person who was treating me poorly. He deserved it. But that still horrifies me how angry I was. How mean.

But on a lighter note. If you are looking into homoerotic scenes in traditionally masculine films, there is no finer moment than this:

The oiled bodies. The jubilant hugs in the water. The victorious salute after the wet oily hug. The muscles in the short shorts. Let’s just say, Mr. DrunkFace would never understand such analysis. Sadly not even today, all the years later. And I doubt he found his Adrian.

And on an even lighter note, I’ve been listening to Warpaint all week. Woohoo! In particular, their self-titled album “Warpaint.” And holy harmony, Batman, they are wonderful. My car has the best stereo I’ve ever owned, and this song sounds especially brilliant and vibrant.

Reviews are a bit odd about this band, so I can’t link any that I agree fully with–to say that are “female” Radiohead is a bit short-sighted, but I do see how some of their songs sound that way. Not a bad comparison really since Nigel Godrich produced this album. I love this live recording of Radiohead where Thom Yorke says, “This is Nigel. He makes our records.” And it’s so lovely British, that little Thom.

So if you’ve made it this far in my blog post, go listen to Warpaint and be sure to type something nice wherever you are in the digital space. There are enough bollocks in the world, do you really need to add to it?

About Alyson Indrunas

Always learning about instructional design, educational technology, professional development, adult education, and writing.
This entry was posted in All The Things and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Type Something Nice

  1. Buy the bike. Get a cheaper computer. My $0.02.


  2. awritersalchemy says:

    Truck truck truck. I commiserate. Also, we should compare waitress notes sometime.


    • Have you ever read a good waitress memoir? I haven’t been impressed with the two I’ve found. Man, I’ve got some stories. I think I wrote about that because I’ve had a couple of waitress dreams lately, and it’s been years. Part of why I hated the work so much is because I would dream about it–one long day that never ended. I would love to hear your stories of the apron:)


  3. Loved what you shared via the webinar – couldn’t tell that you had fried your computer only days earlier! As for the ‘chats-plainers’, I like Brene’ Brown’s advice… “Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.”


    • Thanks, Renee! That Brene sounds like my hero, and I love love love the “you are not a jackass whisperer.” HA! Going to have to share that nugget of wisdom with my little eTeam.

      Or the title of my advice pamphlet for teenage girls.

      Tentative Title: Don’t Try To Be A Jackass Whisperer; Wait Until They Grow Up.

      Means a lot to me that a smart cookie like you is following my work. Thank you:)


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