Alright, folks. I'm shoving the 'Merry' under the bed for a few minutes and borrowing my sister's ass-kicking boots. If me standing on my soapbox is going to tarnish your image me, please hit the 'back' button and step away from your monitor. This could get ugly, but I'll try to keep it a little humorous. Hey, if you can't laugh at yourself, your sister will shove you down the stairs and laugh at you instead. Right?
It seems that a few misguided souls seem to think that it's okay to shed manners while playing on the 'net and that unkind behavior in online forums is not only acceptable, but encouraged.
I know what you're thinking. "Oh, kids these days."
Sorry, folks. These are grown-up, adult-type people with jobs and educations and the ability to KNOW BETTER.
Remember the bully who used to throw spitballs at the girl with one pigtails shorter than the other? Well, apparently he grew up and discovered the internet. And he has friends who are just like him.
"So, why do you care, Oh Merry One?" you ask. Well, because over the last three months, I've found this problem becoming more and more common and it bothers me that this is becoming an acceptable online behavior. In the last month, thanks to Google Alerts, I've found two online communities flaming yours truly in such a caustic fashion that I wouldn't dare fart in their direction for fear of incinerating myself. It would be one thing if they had legitimate complaints against me, but these are people who have never even worked with me. These are groups of people who enjoy reenacting and place historical accuracy at a high priority.
I don't have a problem with people who enjoy historical accuracy. In fact, I have many friends who strive for the highest level of historical accuracy possible. Even *I* love making historically accurate attire (when I have free time). But I would never, in a million years, try to force my preferences on the rest of the world. If I did, the rest of the world would be wearing pink bunny slippers and eating a gallon of Flavocol every year. I don't need (or want) the rest of the world to be exactly like me, and I can't figure out why these rudely-behaving people feel the need to pee on everyone else's petunias just because the rest of the world won't think like they do.
So, you ask:
Did you do something to offend them? Nope. I simply exist, and in their eyes, that's enough.
Did you screw up an order they placed with VMS? Never once. These are not my customers.
Do they know anything about you? Nothing more than the few seconds they took to look at one or two pages of my website.
Have they ever taken the time to get to know you as a fellow human being? Not even for one second.
Why do you care what they think? If they were picking on me for my ridiculously large feet or my bad haircuts, that would be one thing. I'm pretty thick-skinned when is comes to playful ridicule. But when someone attacks my business, my source of income, my reputation (that I work damn hard to keep positive) just for their own personal amusement, I'm going to get angry, and rightfully so. What these people seem to forget is once they type in my company's name, it is indexed in search engines. When a potential new customer performs a quick Google search for my business and pulls up that horribly negative discussion in their list of links, those comments are going to unfairly tarnish my name and I will lose business as a result.
THAT is why I care.
"So ,why do they behave this way?"
Well, friend. They are doing it for personal fun and entertainment.
Yes, that's right. There's this online trend where people are encouraged to throw kindness out the window and pick the hell out of people in online public forums, unconcerned if they destroy lives, businesses, reputations of fine, upstanding people and companies - all for their own personal pleasure. They are unconcerned about the consequences of their behavior, because what's important to them is that they have an opportunity to laugh at others at someone else's expense. Enjoyable, right?
I mean, isn't is rollicking fun to spend an afternoon on the computer making fun of and causing pain to others?
The reason these folks have targeted me is because the majority of my website contains garments that are not historically accurate.
You ask, "Par-dough-nay-mwahhhhh, but didn't they have manners back in the Renaissance?"
Yes, dear readers, manners DID exist during the Renaissance, which makes these turkeys not only historically INaccurate, it makes them hypocrites.
Let's see if we can cover the basics about what I do, just so there's no more confusion and we can avoid situations like this forever:
1) I am a professional seamstress and clothing designer. To boil it down: I sew in exchange for money. I make whatever my customers pay me to make. I am not a purist. I will not try to talk my clients into buying a fancy, hand-sewn, historically accurate garment unless that is what they want me to make for them. MY CLIENTS are the boss. I am their humble servant. I am pleased to make any garment they desire and I refuse to make anyone feel apologetic for being unconcerned with historical accuracy. If it makes my customer happy, then *I* am happy.
2) The majority of my clients are brides and their wedding parties. I love all of my clients equally, however, I do play favorites sometimes. As long as you know that you, yes, YOU are my favorite, that's all that matters.
3) Despite the fact that most of my clients are brides and their wedding parties, I do not discriminate against anyone. I will sew any garment for any customer. I have a loyal list of the most amazingly joyful and friendly clients including, but not limited to drag queens, cross-dressers, prom girls, sweet 16 birthday girls, actors and actresses of all shapes and sizes, children, senior citizens and people of every age in between, reenactors, movie stars, strippers, porn stars, furries, mascots, Halloween customers, movie companies, television producers, musicians, Vegas showgirls, psychics, Trekkies, Wookiees, and a guy named Ferb.
4) In the ten years I have been in business, I have had one, ONE customer who has ordered a truly historically accurate garment. I LOVED making it for her, and LOVED the research involved. However, if I limited my business to working exclusively with people who desire historical accuracy, my babies would starve and we'd be living in a cardboard box. One order in ten years ain't gonna put white cotton undies on my fat ass forever, folks, so I gotta do whatever I need to do to keep it covered. Trust me, life would be scary if I walked around naked, so really, I do this for you.
This means I must sew what my paying customers ask me to sew. AND I LOVE WHAT I DO. Do not expect me to apologize for making clothing that is not historically accurate. This is MY JOB, and since I don't question your ability to do YOUR job, don't questions mine.
Understand this: Unless you have ordered a historically accurate garment from me and I was incapable of fulfilling your order, You don't have the right to discuss my ability or inability to create historically accurate clothing.
5) That said, my training is theatrical, which means I love to incorporate artistic expression into my designs. I am diverse. I am educated. I understand how to research and am completely capable of doing it, but because my work often is theatrical and artistic, or because my clients do not desire it, it does not mean that I am incapable of doing research or making historically accurate clothing. I can offer clothing of ANY kind to my clients and not be a complete bastard about historical accuracy. So, why are YOU being a complete bastard about it? Is it so impossible to understand that a person who runs a custom clothing business is likely going to be capable of sewing anything their customers want?
Research is available to EVERYONE. It's not exclusive to purists. One does not have to be an intellectual, elitist snob to learn how to hand sew a garment or buy historically accurate patterns. I make what people pay me to make, and since the majority of my website is filled with garments that are not historically accurate, guess what that means: It means that the majority of my customers are unconcerned with historical accuracy.
Because my clients are unconcerned with historical accuracy does not mean that I am unworthy of kindness. It does not entitle you to behave this way, nor does it justify your behavior.
If you have a personal complaint with me, email me. I want happy customers, always. Don't cower behind an anonymous online identity and attempt to ruin my reputation as a businesswoman just because YOU desire historical accuracy. I care about the happiness of my clients, and just because your number one priority is to clothe yourself only in historically accurate attire, does not mean that my clients must do the same.
Shame on you for expecting it of them. And shame on you for your online behavior. I hope this is not how you behave offline. If it is, shame on you again.
To you, the few who think that this type of behavior is acceptable: If you took the amount of time you spend online spewing hatred and unkindness and instead spent it helping an at-risk teen, or reading a book to someone confined to a nursing home, or even spent those minutes with your own child or another family member, think of the positivity you'd be spreading in this world. Just think of the wonderful, exciting things you could accomplish.
Behaving like an asshole makes people pay attention to you for a couple of minutes, and when they look back at their time spent with you they'll think, "Oh yeah, he was an asshole." Being kind to others makes people pay attention to you forever, they'll remember you fondly, and sometimes, if you're really good at it, you'll get your picture in the paper with a caption that says, "This person is super-duper nice."
Be excellent to others, people. Not just for them, but for you, too. You'll feel so much better about yourself if you simply make that shift from hostility to kindness. For real and for true.
Oh, and "K," Mark, Joe, yes, I'm addressing you: Don't be surprised if sometime, somewhere, when you least expect it, karma comes up to you and says, "SMILE, FOLKS. THIS WON'T HURT A BIT."
*Takes off ass-kicking boots, locks them away forever. Pulls the 'Merry' out from under the bed and skips away*
Now, go play with Google Alerts. It's awesome fun.