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One of the more depressing things about clutterers' boards is the number of people who have "messy" or "pig" in their handles. MissMessy, Pigpen, MrsMess, MissPiggy. People who have come to identify themselves as their mess.

One of the other depressing things is the animated smiley abuse, use of ellipses or dashes as periods, and inability to type the word "lose" without sneaking in an extra letter or two. But, uh, I think that's just the Internet.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 17th, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
I've heard the same elsewhere.
"...my identity has become tied up with being a slob, just as Woody Allen's is tied up in being a hypochondriac."

-Michael Rosenwald in the Washington Post

via BoingBoing
Jun. 23rd, 2010 06:02 am (UTC)
Re: I've heard the same elsewhere.
That's an amazing article. Thanks for pointing me to it.
Jun. 23rd, 2010 02:57 am (UTC)
May I add you to my friends list? I found you via a reference to your sick systems post in a friend's LJ, but this post really caught my eye. I've been on clutter boards since Messies Anonymous started on Yahoo groups, have been a Flybaby for-freakin'-ever, and agree with your observation.
Jun. 23rd, 2010 06:09 am (UTC)
Sure! I can't promise to friend back--nothing personal, I'm just so bad at keeping up with LJ that nowadays I rarely add anyone who's not a RL friend.

The whole Messie/decluttering/dehoarding forum subculture is fascinating. I'd love to have your take on it. I can't read the forums for long because they frustrate me, but there's some interesting stuff going on with gender, family dynamics, and role expectations.
Jun. 27th, 2010 02:43 pm (UTC)
Don't worry about friending back - I rarely post, and when I do it's usually either ex-husband/custody issues with a tight filter or "hey, I decluttered my shoes today! Woot!" :)

The gender, family dynamics and role issues on the clutter boards weren't immediately obvious to me, because I started out going there as an antidote to my own overwhelmedness and didn't have the mental distance to be aware of them. I did quickly learn, though, who was there to change themselves, and who was there to get validation for staying stuck. I think the messie boards were one of the first places I learned that hostility and condescension are often employed by people who are scared and trying to protect themselves. Before that, I had often internalized those responses from other people IRL, and it was eye-opening for me to watch the same dynamic on the boards. It's so much easier to see what's going on when it's not you in the middle of it.

I don't think I've ever seen a guy post on any of the boards, not even to say "hey, my wife's a slob, how do I fix her." The women have mostly internalized that idea (that they are the broken ones in their family and need fixing, because then their husbands will be happy with them), and feel awful about themselves. I did too, when I was at that point in my life. It's hard for me to read the boards now without impatience and anger, because I recognize all my stuckness and thinking errors in them, and it reminds me of how I used to be. I would love to pretend that those thinking errors never happened or were never a part of me, and find it intensely uncomfortable to see them in others. I suspect part of that is being terrified of ever being that person again, because of how thoroughly it sucked and how much I disliked myself then.

I think my situation was pretty typical for what's on many of the boards: not very organized person with hoarding tendencies, over-tasking, and a critical spouse (also with hoarding tendencies). Either the spouse or the poster (or both) often had a very organized mother and some fairly conservative expectations of family roles. As I got more organized and capable of handling things, the marriage deteriorated, because he was invested in me being a slob. That only worked as long as I identified with that role as well, and once I no longer did, we had problems. Especially because I was the primary wage earner (he was frequently unemployed) but could not negotiate any sort of shift in the expectation of also being the primary home and child carer. Then I started demanding that he work on his own issues, since I had been working on mine and had started to resist being both the sole focus and initiator of attempts to "fix" things, and the relationship went completely to hell.

I think what Flylady says is true (oh, gods, I'm one of those lame people who quotes Flylady in public!) that clutter masks other problems, which quickly get pushed to the surface as the clutter and disorganization improve. As long as I was able to stay messy, and in that way stay complicit in hiding our larger issues, my xh was ok with things (despite the criticisms). But once that was no longer the case, the larger issues came to the fore, and everything fell apart. (Probably because one of the huge issues was our mutual incompatibility and the fact that we shouldn't have married to begin with.)

The utility of the boards for me, I think, was seeing exactly that sort of dynamic play itself out in other people, as a sort of rehearsal for handling what was going on in my own life.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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