A few years ago I made quite an Internet name for myself by dissing Gwyneth Paltrow. Those posts (there were two of them) garnered me more than a few Facebook followers and the respect and admiration of lots of Internet strangers. When I look back at them now, I cringe a bit, and then I sigh, and then I feel gratitude that each day I forge what I try and forge on this here Internet, I am not the blogger I was in early 2011.
But still, no matter how much I try and distance myself from disrespecting Gwyneth, despite the public mea culpa post I ran in 2012, many, many folks still associate me with my public slamming of her. This does not make me proud. It shames me, honestly. I am not that blogger anymore, but the Internet has a long, long memory and for many, I will always be that gal who hates Gwynnie.
So now, when Gwyneth Paltrow is in the news for one thing or another, people take time out of their day to tell me about it. They post links to news stories on my wall, they goad me to say something mean or shaming, they send me private messages thinking I take glee in her troubles. I do not. I have moved on. I no longer have the time or inclination to devote blog posts to her parenting or life choices or clothing budget.
But yesterday was a big day for Gwyneth on the Internet. Using her well written goop site, she and Chris Martin announced their “conscious uncoupling.” It is their divorce, to be sure, but they chose to refer to it as their “conscious uncoupling” and followed that announcement with an erudite discussion about marriage and the difference between divorce and conscious uncoupling. Hey, you know what? To each their own.
A few of my friends are going through divorces and good God, the shenanigans they are exposed to during this painful life transition sound horrendous. Spying and abuse and hiding of assets and the like — I look at my husband and it scare the bejesus out of me. To think that this person you loved and vowed to honor and share a life with is now working to alienate friends and family against you or poison your children with untruths about you or actively working to minimize income or assets so you and your children do not get access to very needed funds, well, forget it.
If Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin embrace the life of “conscious uncoupling” that involves none of that trickery or abuse, well, hell, who am I to judge? Maybe they’re on to something. Or maybe what’s happening to them is too painful to associate with the finality of divorce, so they soothe themselves with the idea that their divorce can be different, wholesome, an evolution in their parenting relationship that will never truly end and certainly not negatively impact their beloved children.
The truth is, no matter what happens to Gwyneth, or what she chooses to call her divorce, it doesn’t impact me in the least. Not. One. Bit.
But you wouldn’t know that in social media circles yesterday and today. There is honest to goodness glee over the news of her separation. There is joy that she is getting her come-uppance. Ha! Even divorce is too good for Gwynnie, she has to be “consciously uncoupled” — whatever the hell that is.
Well you know what? She shares her philosophy about what it is and it didn’t bother me in the least. I encourage you to READ IT to judge for yourselves, rather than let TMZ make it a sound bite. Now, mind you, it’s not for everyone, as it is erudite, as I said, and anthropological and psychological and spiritual in its justification, but with a clinical background, I found it to be on target. Maybe if more folks followed a similar philosophy of divorce and separation, the big winners would be the kiddos. Hell, maybe if you or your own spouse are considering divorce or separation, you can use it as a primer or blueprint to seeing your divorce as an evolution rather than a failure.
If it makes divorce easier and more compassionate, why would anyone have an issue with conscious uncoupling?
Sigh. Life is so very hard, you see, and those of us who spend a lot of time in social media see this every day. So many folks on the Internet take their pain and anger and turn it into rage against easy targets. Just like I used to do with Gwyneth.
The other thing that happened when I wrote about her was my introduction to Internet rage. Have you ever been on the receiving end of Internet rage? I have and know from experience that it sucks. It messes with you and makes you feel horrible and heavy and exposed and vulnerable and utterly, utterly alone. Internet rage is something I would not wish on anyone.
How Internet rage works is that I write a post calling Gwynneth pretentious or out of touch or some such high toned and justified, I thought, criticism, and then it gets shared and shared and shared, cause there are a lot of folks out there who don’t like Gwynnie, and all of a sudden, my wall and comments are full of people calling her a See You Next Tuesday. Yeah, I don’t do the “c” word.
That phenomenon always depressed me. I did it twice, realized it wasn’t my cup of tea, and I haven’t done it again.
It happened again, that Internet rage, a few weeks ago when I wrote about a woman annoyed by our presence at a local restaurant because we brought our children. My writing about annoying a stranger quickly morphed into it being okay for readers to repeatedly refer to that stranger as “an infertile bitch” or the contrary opinion that I was a narcissistic, uptight, unattractive bitch for paying attention to the rude woman next to me.
Us bloggers don’t always realize the reaction our words will create until we’re faced with comment after comment that takes our own indignation and uses that as justification for hate and rage and angry yuck. Are we complicit in that? Sure. I’m still learning, myself, clearly, but I try not to make the same mistake more than once or twice.
So, in that spirit, I wish Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin nothing but peace in their conscious uncoupling. And may the two folks most impacted by their ending marriage — their little ones — be protected from the Internet rage their mom experiences on a very regular basis. A rage that I, personally, refuse to participate in any longer.
Namaste, Gwynnie, namaste.
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