Thursday, April 15, 2010

Anonymous guest stars today.

I noticed that I attracted the attention of "Anonymous" yesterday. Anonymous left me a comment on my post yesterday. I could have deleted Anonymous' comment. I responded. Then I thought, why not put that baby into a post of it's own? Clearly, Anonymous has some feelings to work through. 
Here's Anonymous' comment to me and my response. Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...
While I appreciate your candor, I think you need a reality check. Being a member of the FS is a privilege, not a right, even if your husband is improving his German at 5:00 am. Your blog entry is full of self-pity and self-indulgence about how long your husband has to wait for a government job that you somehow suggest should be his (with you benefiting) automomatically because you both are "sacrificing" by being willing to leave your predictable, superficially comfortable homeland community. Such an attitude is not exactly in the spirit of the Foreign Service. And I mean Service.

I quite wonder, after reading your entry, how you properly would behave in far-off "hardship" overseas places representing our country, especially with your spouse being in the PD cone. I suspect you, with other Embassy staff unhappy to be abroad rather than at the nearby suburban Mall, would be complaining all the time, longing, with other homesick, parochial Americans in our fortress embassies for your comfortable community back in the US of A, all the while getting their federal employee checks and building up for retirement.

Are you sure you really want to be part of the Foreign Service?

FS, Here we come said...
Hey, Anonymous,
I appreciate your candor, too. I'm not sure how you stumbled across my little blog, but I think you may have mistaken it for some kind of political statement. This blog is merely a chronicle of what I'm going through as my family makes a major life transition. You're right that this blog and many like it are full of self-pity. I think I and others post so that we can feel a sense of community with the only people who can understand what we're going through.

And just what are we going through? It's not torture. It's just angst. (Hey, another German word!) I know that there are many people in the world who have much more to complain about in life than I do. In fact, I've posted frequently about how fortunate I am to have lived the life I have here in the United States.

But you're wrong to assume that I'm unwilling to sacrifice for my country. Heck, I won't even be working for the Foreign Service and I know my family and I will sacrifice. That's why the angst. In many ways, I have no idea what I'm getting my family into, but I trust that the experience of getting outside of this comfortable life and learning new languages and cultures will be good for our family. Just because we're willing to serve doesn't mean we don't have fears. Just because my husband has been deemed qualified doesn't mean I expect it to be easy. But I think it's OK, among friends who understand, to complain about life's difficulties.

Just to clarify. My husband is the public diplomacy guy. He always says the right thing to calm tensions and help people see each others' point of view. Me, I'm the artist. I'm the one who has to bite my lip sometimes. So that's why I'm not telling you off or anything. Next time, though, you might post a bit more about yourself so we know where you're coming from. Or what's on your agenda. Or when your dreams of becoming a PD officer were dashed.


Connie said...

A week or so ago, an Anonymous visited my SIL's blog with some snide comment, I replied "Look it's the ever thoughtful Anonymous who only ever offers kind and helpful advice and commentary. How odd a name, but I see this person everywhere! Strange that people with more common names, or with links to their own blogs/sites, never give feedback like this??"

I have this idea to start a blog on behalf of Mr/Ms Anonymous, you know, because he/she is far too shy and timid to do it alone. Posts could be all about what we learn about Anonymous by observing his/her words and actions on other peoples' blogs. On my SIL's blog, there was evidence of jealously and financial ignorance. Here, we learn that poor Anonymous has some bitterness issues regarding the foreign SERVICE, is woefully ignorant about life at post, and has difficulty excepting reality - meaning, of course, that real bloggers are allowed, even encouraged, to gripe - it helps them, and others in the same situation. (note: I said 'blogger' not just some faceless person with access to internet)

I think I could find enough about Mr/Ms Anon out in blog land to post every day... after awhile, I could probably just sit back and let other writers send stuff that they have discovered. I'm not sure who would actually want to read such dross, but I suppose I could always embellish... I mean, who would correct me, right? It's not like Anonymous is the kind of person to stand up for him/herself in public.

holtzab said...

Perhaps you should become a PD officer, as your response was much more diplomatic than mine may have been.

For the record, I don't think your blog comes off as being full of self-pity. Nor do I think you suggest many of the things anonymous claims. Becoming part of the foreign service is no doubt a big change and to pretend it isn't - to pretend there should be no worries, angst, hesitations or stress - seems unrealistic.

Jodi H said...

Right on!

Connie said...

(btw you asked "Any thoughts?", and I went off on Anon - I was paying attention, really, in reply to griping, service, rights and privilege, I had already posted a comment on the original post.)

Bfiles said...

I would love to know why this person bothers. I mean, really, every one of us knows that there are people suffering through worse things than what we're going through right now. That doesn't mean our concerns aren't valid.
And I agree, you were very diplomatic.

Jill said...

Welcome to the world of blogging, where rude people write comments in the hopes to make others feel bad.

It's horrible.

I'd say don't take what this person wrote personally... but it's hard not to. The thing is, when you blog publicly, you open yourself up to negative comments. And for whatever reason, there are way too many people who hide behind anonymous comments rather than openly stating what they thing... which frankly, doesn't really matter, because this is your blog. Your feelings. Your opinions. Your heart and soul.

I wish I could say this will be the last time it'll happen... it won't... but at least you got your first one out of the way!

One thing you can do - change your settings so that you're not able to accept anonymous comments.

Donna said...

My blog is set to not-allow (is that a word??? Maybe in German?) anonymous comments. But I still get some awfully strange ones. If they annoy me, I just hit "delete" over here in my little corner of the internet.

Personally, I didn't think your "whining" was excessive. It's truly difficult not to think about it constantly when your whole future path depends upon that place in the register. Maybe you get it, maybe you don't - and it makes a BIG difference in where you go from here. So: not whining, just normal angst.

Okay, and on the topic of German: don't worry so much about it. When I placed on the register, I had to test in Russian (passed, go me, so rocketed to the top of the list). But the test was only a phone interview, and they never told me how I scored, only that I passed, and that I'd have to re-take the full test in person if ever I actually accepted a job offer.

Make sure hubby knows a few key phrases that he can toss into a lot of different conversations. That way, if they ask him to describe the public school system in the US, or the variety of health care options, or something he likely knows nothing about, he can start by saying fluently "I've never thought about the problem in detail, but I'd imagine that..." or something like that. If he can't actually answer the question, but he can comfortably explain that he can't, then it's all good.

Keep on whining. No complaints from this corner.

Digger said...

Send me an email. I'll tell you a little story about anonymous.

Camille said...

What a jerk! You have every right to have a little anxiety about the future, it's completely normal. This FS process is so ridiculously looooong and putting your life and your family on hold is so hard - you (even though you weren't really before) can complain all you want. I certainly do :)

Camille said...

Oh by the way - Hello! Nice to meet you, my name is Camille and I love your blog :)

Digger said...

Oh, and you should out him. My commentor rule is that people can be asses, or they can be anonymous, but not both.

oh! the possibilities! said...

I just wanted to say I have been "lurking" for a few weeks now, on your blog as well as most of the ones you follow. I am just starting the process, and have my interview early in May. It is comforting to know that I am not the only one whose thoughts are constantly on the FS>
Having said that, I am a realist and know this will be a difficult process. I enjoy reading your (and others) timelines about where you are in the process, your wait, and your experience with getting to the place (or post) that you are at. It encourages me. It makes me want the job even more, and it lets me know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I also really enjoyed your post Nature Girl--because it reminded me that even though I may not be successful in my pursuit of my FS dream, what I have here is pretty awesome too.
So, for the record, please keep blogging about your 'angst' because it certainly helps me with mine. :)

FS, here we come! said...

Thanks for the back-up friends. I think we can take him. I'll whine and complain in self-pity to distract him while you all throw bon-bons at him.

Seriously, a big 'ole fist bump in the cyber-sky to you all. I appreciate it.

Shannon said...

I think it is perfectly normal to use the blog for a little whining. Somethings you just can't talk to your friends and family back home about. They don't get it, especially if they are not being supportive about of the idea of the FS. I didn't have a blog back when my husband was going thorough the application process, but you can be sure there was whining a plenty during bidding last fall. We all need to whine and vent sometimes and I for one am more than ready to listen when you need an ear.

Brian... said...

Anon could be a her, just to be fair. There are plenty of nice guys who leave kinder, or at least more constructive comments with their name attached! Ha, I only noticed the gender because Digger's post on labeling has me extra-sensitive to gender labels. I blame her/him/it!

I understand what you're saying, and what Anon said as well. I also firmly believe Anon's point could and should have been delivered without the snide remarks.

The lesson I walk away with is that one has to be careful what they say, and even when one IS careful it could still be construed in a negative way. I've learned this a few times (or maybe I haven't actually learned it, since I seem to keep "re-learning").

In other news...good luck to you and your husband! I know a good story about an FSO who persevered, I can email it to you if you'd like (at least I thought it was awesome).

Jen said...

Mmm, I believe I have seen Anonymous elsewhere, and definitely think this person is male. I think addressing it straight on was definitely the correct approach.

Given that we all have had FS-related angst at times (forgive me if I am generalizing and some don't), interesting that he has targeted so few of us. If he comes back, send him my way and
he can have at me when I get whiny about being a single parent for a year starting in July...

Daniela Swider said...

Yeah, I agree, comments like the Anonymous one are disheartening.

They are hard to ignore and hard to respond to but I think you did a good job.

We are all doing this to inform each other of what we are going through but also to vent. We are all trying not to cross the lines of propriety because we wouldn't want to cause problems for ourselves or our husbands/wives.

But the waiting and the risk are integral parts of the job not just for the employee but for the whole family. Different people deal with it differently. Some blog openly about it, others discuss it in private and others still bottle it up. I, like you, blog about it. That doesn't make it right or wrong. It's just one way of dealing with the situation. And if it works for you, more power to you.

Don't let comments like that get to you. Your blog is very engaging. People come back to read what you have to say because it resonates with them. Keep it up!

A Daring Adventure said...

It's Friday, and that means that the Weekly State Department Blog Roundup is up - and you're on it!

Here is the link:

(If I quoted your text or used your photo(s) and you would rather I had not, please let me know. Please also be sure to check the link(s) that I put up to you, in order to verify that they work properly. If you would rather that I had not referenced you, and/or do not want me to reference you in the future, please also contact me.)


Natalie Buda Smith said...

Also can look at it positively, your blog is meaningful enough to make this person feel like they should comment, and your community commented further. That is a reflection of a great blog.

I wonder why some people believe that you can't express negative feelings as you make sacrifices. This image of the idealist martyr is unrealistic.

Expressing the positives and the negatives humanizes the experience to make it a stronger service for yourself and others.

LeesOnTheGo said...

Your blog. Your space to spout off. Your thoughts & experiences. Bottom line~ Anonymous is welcome to hold an opinion but clearly, he/she would be wise to hold it to themselves next time. Being nasty is never nice.

I do have to say that my favorite line was the reminder that it is the foreign *service*. SERVICE being key. Well, duh!

FSO-In-Waiting said...

You don't come off how "Anonymous" alleges you come off. The wait is indeed maddening, and I've appreciated having someone to keep me company along this crazy journey.

Bryn said...

you were very diplomatic with your response. It's because of people like that that I will have one blog that's personal and private, and one that's FS and open!