Tangled Small Talk: Twitter-style

Twitter makes me uncomfortable, but I'm told it's a good way to "build my brand" (which makes me think of a towering monolith with ill-fitting jeans and mismatched socks and I shudder.) I also get a teeny bit defensive that there are things out there that I don't really "get", but teenagers adopt them with ease. So I must conquer them. It was that or Justin Bieber, and Twitter seemed the lesser of the two evils.

 Twitter combines two of my nemeses: small talk and algebraic looking symbols. But I'm getting the hang of it, sort of. I waded into the stream of chitchat today and saw this Tweet from Kristen* at Four Hens and a Rooster, who has awesome hair and is very patient with my socially backward nonsense:

 We're awesome! RT : Bloggers Launch a JCPenney Shop-In To Support Ellen DeGeneres, Tolerance

 I have heard rumblings about this whole JCPenney debacle, but honestly haven't paid much attention. Apparently JCP took on Ellen as a spokesperson and a whole bunch of people protested and wanted to boycott the store. I'm all for being awesome and tolerance and Ellen and boycotting, but wait! Boycotting? This jangles some sort of socially conscious umbrage from a few months ago, so I Tweet:

  Weren't we supposed to be boycotting JCP over the whole Tshirt thing in the fall? I'm confused.

 We have discussed the T-shirt Thing at home. "What T-shirt?" the jBird wants to know. After hemming and hawing around I tell her outright "It says 'I'm too pretty to do homework, so I let my brother do it for me'." I am uncomfortable to even say the words out loud, even more uncomfortable than I am with Twitter. "Well, that's dumb," she says. "What does being pretty have to do with homework? And besides, that's unfair to your brother. What if he has his own homework to do? And anyway, my brother is in preschool. He would completely mess up my homework." These are all valid arguments. "Who thinks that's funny?" she wants to know. "Um, I don't know, really," I am relieved that she's indignant. "But a lot of people felt the same way you did and decided not to shop at JCPenney because they sold it. So many people that the store finally pulled the shirts." She thinks about this. "Well good. I don't like that store anyway." The conversation then devolves into how I'm such an activist and they totally noticed I was boycotting because I went from never shopping there to decidedly not shopping there. Except now, I'm supposed to shop there because:

  that's old news..;) Yay to JCP for telling one million moms to suck it re: Ellen spokesperson protest

 I appreciate their right to protest and I will defend it, but I really think some people need to find better things to do with their time.

  I can't possibly keep up with such things. I'm all for telling 1m moms to suck it, though. Sadly, I only shop local & small

This makes me sound awesome to some people, but really it's another example of being an activist by accident. My neighborhood is populated with small, local businesses to which I can walk. I loathe the mall and I loathe the driving in traffic and hunting for parking spots. I am essentially lazy in this regard. But my laziness works for me in this case. Except for tomorrow, when I'm supposed to show my tolerance by buying things I don't need from a large, national chain store that I hate.

Because this is small talk and I think because Kristen realized that she doesn't actually know me, she followed up with this:

 unless you're pro OMM, then yes... Boycott away...

I'm down with OPP, but I have no idea what OMM is. Fortunately, this whole thing is taking place on Twitter, where my ignorance cannot be witnessed as a blank-blink-blink stare. I quickly Google OMM so as not to appear the sheltered idiot I am.

Osteopathic manipulative medicine? I've got no objections to this.

Orangetown Mighty Midgets? I'm pro-that, whatever that is, because it's fabulous.

Old Man Murray? Oh my, yes. I am utterly and completely pro-Old Man Murray.**

Somehow, I don't think any of these are what she means. I spend the next few hours trying to untangle this mess into which I've stepped. I like to be a responsible citizen. I like to take a stand for my beliefs. I like to denounce things like intolerance. I really do. But I'm confused about this whole thing. 

Was the hiring of Ellen Degeneres as a spokesperson a calculated measure by the giant store to draw former boycotters of bad taste back into the spending fold? Does the hiring of Ellen cancel out blatant sexism aimed at children? Does JCPenney really care? Either way, they're getting a ton of free advertising (like from me, right now.) How can it be the 21st century and this is what we're discussing? How can you not love Ellen? She's funny and she dances and wears suits with sneakers and shows pictures of cats on her show. What's wrong with that? Oh wait. Is it because she's gay? Are people afraid they might catch gay if they buy their commercially emblazoned children's wear there? They might catch bad taste. And as far as that goes, I wonder how many gay people work for the store (or any store), nationwide? Yet there was no need to boycott (or overshop) before. Why now? What could OMM possibly stand for? Offended Mad Moms? Openly Melodramatic Moms? Obviously Mental Moms? One Million Mothballs? 

I have no idea. I do have an idea about something else, though. 

Take it to the streets, people. Howl long and loud about what it is you believe. This First Amendment of ours is important. Use it or lose it. One woman's insane is another one's cause. Shop there, don't shop there, do what you feel is best. But please, oh please, pretty please with cherries and sprinkles, don't ask me to go to the mall on a Saturday! I'm pro-tolerance and I find it a lot easier to be tolerant of people if I'm not surrounded by them. I'm boycotting crowds. For Ellen, of course.

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