The falling-out-of-favor phenomena

Tis the time of the year for New Years posts. For top ten and bottom five lists (of course, it’s always time for a bottom five list), for year-in-review reflections and what-is-hoped for posts and all of that but I just can’t seem to wrap my head around any of those. When I think of writing one I get nothing but that empty wind sound between my ears.

I got nuthin.

So I’m going to avoid them, at least for now. Who knows, maybe one will come to me in the next few days but if nothing does? So be it.

In the meantime I want to discuss something much more uncomfortable – something I call the falling-out-of-favor phenomena.

(If you’re thinking that you’ve never heard of the falling-out-of-favor phenomena that’s because you haven’t. I just made it up, right this minute, to easily encapsulate what I’m about to write about.)

When I say the falling-out-of-favor phenomena (thank you alliteration! and thank you even more, cut-and-paste) what I’m referring is that strange circumstance of liking someone just fine one day and then the next realizing that you don’t anymore. The person has done nothing to offend or upset you – they don’t seem to have changed in anyway you can articulate – and yet you just don’t seem to care for them like you did before. It’s happened to me several times in my life and I’m assuming it’s happened to others as well. Maybe it hasn’t. Maybe this is the post where I write about what I assume is an ubiquitous situation only to find I’m singularly affected by it.

And singularly a terrible, horrible bitch.

I think I first noticed it happening in college, on my dorm floor. People I liked just fine suddenly rubbed me the wrong way. I could never discern a defining moment that caused the shift but it was always swift and definitive, and it almost always a one-way occurrence (as in once I stopped liking them, I never went back).

After college I noticed it with colleagues. Staff that I liked just fine one day were suddenly grating the next; where I had once been amused by their antics I was now only annoyed. Despite the fact that nothing specifically had changed my opinion of them, their behavior was suddenly viewed through a seemingly different lens. It was so odd.

There is one thing all of these kinds of people have in common: I never know them very well, not before or after the “shift.” This has never happened to me with someone I would consider a friend. They are all acquaintances at best.

I wonder if the falling-out-of-favor phenomena is the natural result of just getting to know someone you don’t really know, just a little bit better. I suppose one could argue that you learn more about a person with every encounter, so maybe what happens is my attitude towards people is generally positive and then as I get to know them better my impression of them builds until it solidifies as either actually positive (now with data from past encounters to take the place of the benefit of the doubt I was providing before) or, in the remaining few cases, definitively negative. The only reason I might doubt this hypothesis is because of the seeming surprise with which the negativity hits me. Wouldn’t encounters accumulated over a period of time suggest the final verdict to be negative even before that negative opinion solidifies? Certainly that happens with some people. Why then, with others, does the sudden falling-out-of-favor happen seemingly over night?

The reason I bring this all up here is because lately I’ve noticed this falling-out-of-favor phenomena happening with blogs I read. Women that I’ve genuinely enjoyed following suddenly start to rub me the wrong way. And I’m not talking about women who have experienced huge life changes (like pregnancy, childbirth or loss) and are now approaching life (and their blog) with a new outlook and direction (because not fully embracing how someone manages those kinds of changes I understand) – I’m talking about women that I’ve read, sometimes for years, suddenly grating on me for no reason that I can explain.

I have to admit, it’s really upsetting.

I mean, I like these women. I’ve invested years of my life following their stories. I’ve commented on their blogs. I’ve even corresponded with some of them via email. I’ve enjoyed their “company” through my computer screen for a long time and now, seemingly without reason, I find myself not wanting to follow them anymore. And I can’t figure out why! Seriously, what is wrong with me? Am I changing fundamentally as a person? And if so, is it a good change? How can it be good if it makes me dislike people I used to enjoy? Disliking people is bad, right? So the transitive property would lead me to believe that this change is also bad.

I’m assuming that this abrupt shift is about me and not about the women I’m reading. I mean, they haven’t changed in anyway that I can see, at least what they write hasn’t. I can go back and read past posts looking for some evidence of a shift in tone or subject matter but when I do, I don’t find either. So the change must be in me. And unfortunately, I don’t have the empirical evidence of past thoughts recorded for posterity to understand what inside of me is processing these women’s words differently.

So, in the absence of having any idea why this is happening or when it will strike next, I’m writing a post about it. I don’t know what I hoped to accomplish – maybe in the writing about it I might better understand it, have an epiphany about why it happens. Maybe I hoped you all would have similar experience and be able to explain it to me, or at least assure me that I’m not alone. Maybe I just wanted people to call me a bitch (as I suspect I am because of all this) and leave it at that. I’m really not sure.

Has this ever happened to any of you? Do you have any insight into why it might be happening to me? Do you fancy me the bitchiest of bitches now (it’s cool if you do, I totally understand)? Do you think I should stop reading the blogs I now dislike or keep them in case the shift reverses? Do you wish you hadn’t read this bullshit post all the way to this, its penultimate line?

Are you wondering whose blogs suddenly rub me the wrong way?

(PS If you’re reading this I HIGHLY doubt yours is one of the blogs I’m referring to).

35 responses

  1. I get you. Sometimes blogs I’ve followed annoy me, usually when something the writer says seems inauthentic or, if something hurts my feelings. Generally I don’t like posts that tell me something I didn’t do was the Best. Thing. Ever. and I suck for not doing it (like breast feeding) or if a writer is humble bragging. IE: Today I saved the world, won the Nobel Peace Award, made $1 million dollars, all while raising 25 kids! but it was just a mediocre day in the life of lil ole me, gee shucks. Those annoy me.

    • I also loathe inauthentic, humble brag posts. Maybe people start sneaking them in and I don’t realize it’s happening, or I let them slide for a while and then suddenly I can’t anymore.

      If I ever start becoming either of those things (especially humble-braggy) PLEASE TELL ME!

    • My favourite ones are the ones that write: “Junior is a little rapscallion and made quite a mess of the kitchen, but that’s only because he wanted to bake his mommy a cake for her birthday!” And then the picture is of a perfectly clean child save for a spot of flour on his cheek holding out a piece of cake to the camera. Her largest problem is the mess in her kitchen… but it’s only because her kids like her so damn much.

  2. Interesting. First, I must say that I’m not really reading blogs right now. (Except yours and a few others maybe). I’m blogged out I guess. Just sick of the whole thing right now. I can’t say that I’ve experienced what you are experiencing though. In other words, if blogs start rubbing me the wrong way, I always know the reason. Usually it’s blogs that are pushy with their opinions regarding breastfeeding, religion, etc. I hate to say this, but I do tend to stop reading blogs in which the bloggers life is perfect. It’s not that I think they’re fake or wrong for being perfect, but I am jealous. It’s the ones where their life is perfect and they don’t realize how good they have it that really get to me. I’m not following anyone like that right now. Anyway, I can’t say I understand where your coming from because it’s never a mystery to me why people start bugging me. I don’t think it’s wrong though. You have every right to stop reading blogs. Maybe see if there is a common thread between them? I hope it’s not me 😦

    • It’s not you! I promise. But, your comment got me thinking. Maybe I should go back and look at the general message of the blogs. Maybe it’s the message that has started to bother me, and I’m attributing it to the people. Off the top of my head I do see a similar world view being presented on a couple of the blogs, I wonder if that is my problem, and not the women themselves. If that is the case maybe I can put that aside and still read them, or decide that it bothers me too much and stop. Either way, it’s nice to have some idea of what might be causing it.

      Thanks for the insight! I really appreciate it!

  3. This really resonated with me… I ended up writing so much, I just put my thoughts over on my blog.

    I think this is normal… I think we live in a new world where we can have so many chance encounters, but now it is possible to stay in touch long after you normally would (this in contrast to that conversation you had with a person on a plane, at a conference, while walking on the sidewalk… where there is no expectation of staying in touch afterward, you might, but it isn’t expected or necessarily easy)

    For me… my blog reader now has sections… one is titled ‘I read a good post here once’ and it is filled with blogs where I read something and thought ‘ WOW I am going to love reading this blog….” but then that only held true for awhile. It felt like work. And so I move that blog to that section of my reader. Occasionally I pop back in… but I figure that no one wants their words read if it isn’t clicking. For people I’ve read for a long time and I think they’d actually know me from comments, sometimes I started an email conversation. And sometimes I’ve just let things drift. I feel no guilt about that.

    And then discover a blog I loved… and as I go back in the archives realize that it is VERY good that I discovered it when I did, because I wouldn’t have connected with the earlier posts the same way. guess its about timing.. and context. Thanks again for the interesting post.

    • Oh, I can’t wait to read what you wrote on your blog. Can you email me the URL? (esperanzasays -at- gmail -dot- com) It doesn’t look like you included it when you commented.

      I really love the idea of your blog reader’s sections. That is fabulous. I have to admit, I’ve never gone back as much to someone that I’m not sure I’ll like. But there have been times when I’ve read one post I LOVED and then put someone on my reader and quickly realized they didn’t belong there, mostly because content ends up being different from what interests me.

      I’ve rarely gone back and read through archives of a blog that I love only to find I wouldn’t have loved them before. This is all so interesting to me though because it paints a picture of a blog/reader relationship that really mirrors a real relationship, which validates a lot of how I feel about blog reading. Thanks for your comment! I can’t wait to read your post.

  4. Hm. I do think something similar happens to me, although I think it’s a slightly more gradual process as a result of cumulative exposure to the person – as you hypothesised. It happens the other way too, when I realise I like someone I thought I disliked!
    I’ve had the experience with blogs as well as people but in those cases I think it was simply a fact that I hadn’t read the blog long enough to realise that I didn’t like it. At some point the writer posts something that makes me realise he/she wasn’t someone I wanted to keep reading. It never happens with blogs I’ve ben reading for any length if time though, so I can’t help explain that for you! I definitely don’t think you’re a bitch though!

    • I’ve also had it happen to me with someone I didn’t think I liked and then realized that I did like them. That has happened only a few times though and never with a blog, probably because I never read a blog long enough to have that happen. But it has happened with people I’m forced to be exposed to in real life. Thanks for reminding me of that.

  5. Interesting. This doesn’t happen to me. But I frequently start out disliking people when I first meet them, which is equally irrational. Then I often get to like them later. Once I like someone, I’m pretty committed to that. Especially with blogs – I am very hesitant to ever take someone off my reader, even if I’m finding their posts totally uninteresting. I just recently removed someone when, every time I saw she had a new post, I found myself saying “ugh, not again” (sometimes out loud). So I guess I don’t experience this exact phenomenon, or one as alliterative, but I can understand the irrational like/dislike of people. I am glad it doesn’t happen to friends, though, just acquaintances!

    • I have also not liked people right away and felt that was irrational, and then later, after I’ve gotten to know them more, realized I do like them, sometimes a lot!

      I’m also very hesitant to take someone off my reader if I’ve read them a while, even if I have a similar reaction to yours when I read them. I’ve never had such a visceral reaction to anyone that just randomly started bothering me though, only to people that I don’t like because of a worldview that I can pin point. Even in those cases though, it takes me a long time to cut the cord and take them off my reader.

      I’m also glad it doesn’t happen to friends! Thank goodness!

  6. This happens to me, too, especially with blogs. And yet, if I just take a break and check back in a few weeks later, sometimes those same annoying blogs fall back in favor. In real life, I think I’m more forgiving, though I have the same problem others describe above of sometimes disliking someone when I first meet them, only to fall in like with them after a few more encounters. In fact, some of the people I’ve disliked at first in real life end up being close friends.

    p.s. thanks for your comment on my last post. It really helps to feel less alone in times like this!

    • Taking a break might be a good idea. Maybe if I check back in later I will find that the grating has lessened or ceased all together. Maybe it’s not reading the person, per say, but just the cumulative effect of reading so many people every day. I’ll give that a try.

      And I hope my comment helped. I really do think you have more options right now than you may realize. I hope you feel better soon.

  7. Yes, this happens to me. When its IRL, I realize that the person is suddenly just too annoying for me to handle anymore, whereas before I could give them the benefit of the doubt. I’ve always attributed it to pure bitchiness on my part. Thinking more about it, the phenomenon may have more to do with my emotional state–whereas I could tolerate the people previously, maybe whatever else is going on in my life renders me incapable of tolerance anymore and the switch just flips. Once it flips, its hard to go back, because I’ve already labeled the person “annoying” or “unfriend-able” in my mind. Wow I really do sound like a bitch. Its very rare and usually with people that others agree are annoying. Still, I don’t like that I do this (though I’m glad I’m not the only one!!)
    With blogs I can take a sudden dislike to either style or content. Sometimes I read a blogger whose writing style I don’t love, because the content is interesting; but after a while, the content isn’t enough to overcome the style (not necessarily bad writing, just personal preference). In terms of content, the few blogs I remember abandoning were: too positive (my life is all sunshine & roses!), too negative (constant whining for months at a time seemingly without perspective), or pushing an agenda that I just couldn’t ignore anymore (religion, usually).

    • Such great insight here! I bet it has everything to do with my own state of mind. I know that there are so many things that I can tolerate when I’m in a better place, but when I’m more fragile, and the every day stuff requires more effort, then stuff just starts to get to me so easily. I bet that is when the switch flips and then, as you said, it’s hard to go back when you’ve labeled them in your mind. And just so you know, I don’t think it sounds bitchy, but maybe i’m just saying that because I do the same thing! 😉

      I also love what you said about blogs. Maybe it does have something to do with tone or writing style versus content and when I’m in one place I can let one thing slide but in another place I just can’t. Very interesting. Thanks so much for your thoughts!

  8. I can’t say this really happens to me in blogland – I get bored but not annoyed. This post reminds me of law school when we came back after the first semester and grades weren’t in yet but my torts professor told us that everyone did really well in the class and only two failed. Everyone in the room immediately just KNEW they were one of the two. (Moral of the story: I really hope I’m not your two but you don’t have to volunteer that info.)

    Random: I automatically really like people who use the word penultimate (because of the Monty Python sketch The Penultimate Supper. Google it.)

    • I think that boredom has a lot to do with it actually.I’ve been finding myself very bored lately. And it’s not that people aren’t writing good things. I will actually read something and think, that was well written and I liked the content but i’m just bored right now. I’m even bored with my own writing. I don’t know what it is, I think a need a new challenge but I’m not sure what it should be. I definitely don’t do well when I’m not looking towards something in the future. And it’s not like I don’t have a ton of stuff to work on here, like the state of my house or the state of my mind, I’m just bored by that stuff too.

      God, I feel like one of my snotty 8th graders. Maybe they are rubbing off on me. I need a break from middle schoolers! AH!

      I will definitely check out that sketch.

  9. It’s happened to me so many times! And more often than not it’s had nothing to do with pregnancy. Most of the times it’s been because a person’s attitude has changed completely, they expressed a surprising opinion that made me look at them in a different light, or more often than not, let their blog devolve into a series of sponsored and meme posts. I think those are the ones that disappoint me most of all.

    • I’ve had a few people I read devolve into sponsored posts and it really bothers me. I want to stick around for the occasional good, heartfelt post but when they are so few and far between I just can’t do it. And it makes me really sad. I also know what you mean about someone showing a side of themselves that they hadn’t before and realizing you don’t like that side at all. Maybe this happens more subtly sometimes and it takes an accumulation of those kinds of moments before I realize I’m not into it anymore.

  10. I guess my only nugget of insight might be, If you don’t enjoy a blog, if it brings you any measure of annoyance, step away from it. Stop following. Life is too short and your already limited time is way too precious to waste it on reading something that doesn’t uplift or inspire you. You don’t owe it to them to keep reading. Blogging–writing AND reading, that is–should be about support and connection, and if you’re not feeling either of those–be that because your mindset has changed or because the tone of thier blog has changed–move on. If it feels unhealthy or toxic…excise it. No big deal.

    I know a long time ago we both talked about how reading such tragic, sad blog posts were having a depressing effect on us, but we kept reading them because we felt a sense of duty and honor to do so. We both recognized that reading those posts over and over and over simply were doing us no good, and yet we felt as if stepping away from all the sadness was tantamount to turning a back on a friend. I see your falling-out-favor feelings in a similar light… it IS okay to take a break or even to just stop following. It’s not turning your back on someone. It’s taking care of yourself.

    I have felt myself pulling away little by little from certain bloggers, too. Sometimes I simply cannot handle the negativity, no matter how much I empathize and care about their wellbeing. But if a post grates me or leaves a lingering stink on my day…why should I repeatedly expose myself to that? Sometimes a bit of discomfort in reading *is* healthy–it challenges you, and that can be a good thing…but ALL. THE. TIME.? Not good.

    But, some of that pulling away also has to do with reclaiming a bit of time for myself–a bit of internal re-centering, if you will. I stepped away from Twitter largely for that very reason. I simply felt a desire, a drive even, to be present in other areas of my life, to find fulfillment in something a bit more…deeply engaging. Could that have anything to do with how you feel? That maybe there is something pulling you somewhere else?

    Well, this is a lot of drivel, but I guess my point is that you can give yourself permission to just take a good ol’ fashioned vacation (permanent, even) from the people who bring you down.

    • So many good points here. So much to mull over. I think you’re right though, that stepping away from these blogs would be good for me both in limiting the negative exposure and allowing me more time for myself. I’ll definitely take that into consideration.

  11. I’m so glad you wrote this post because YES, I’ve experienced something similar, but not quite the same, and you helped my thoughts on it bubble up and form.

    My difference is that there are bloggers I follow because I get a positive charge out of reading them, and then one day I notice there is no charge. It’s “meh.” Usually not negative, just neutral. And I can rarely pinpoint exactly why it went all “meh.”

    I feel, also, that i have been on the “meh” end with, as well, where someone is at some point no longer in to me. It’s like we’re connected for awhile and then we’re not.

    And yes, I did wonder if you were talking about me. Because I’m self-centered that way (aren’t we all?).

    • It’s so good to know that I’m not the only one who has experienced this. It really is. Thanks for letting me know that.

      And no, it’s not you! 😉 I meant it when I said that if you’re reading my blog it most definitely isn’t you. I don’t think any of these women even know who I am!

  12. For me, the falling out of favor is based on where I am in my life personally and emotionally. Sometimes it’s clear as to why – I’m just not in the same place in my life as they are in that moment. Sometimes it’s not as clear. But like the others, stepping away for a bit usually resolves it one way or another. Either I’m bothered enough to send an email and clear the air, or it’s clear that I need to stop reading. Or I go back and remember why I like them.

    But I have found in my years blogging and reading that it’s okay to take breaks from both blogging AND reading. Sometimes you need to take time to cocoon. When the energy returns to reach out again, then you can go back and see if it still works.


    • I think you’re right, that it can be really good to get away from blogging. It’s true that blogging is a kind of reaching out, and that it requires a lot of energy. I forget that sometimes but would do well to remember.

  13. This is EXACTLY why I was so hesitant to start blogging, and didn’t for a very long time. I was so afraid I was going to be boring and/or annoying. I didn’t want people who knew me to be turned off once they started reading more intimate details of my life.It’s gotten easier, mostly because I really love to blog, but there have been times where I haven’t posted something that I wanted to write due to these things. I try to be authentic and honest (as much as I can be with my IRL audience contstraints), and I know some of my “baby bragging” posts may be annoying to some, but I guess I have to write my blog for me first, and then others.

    This does happen to me reading other people’s blogs though. I think my experiences this year have really influenced who and what interests me and who I want to influence me. It’s interesting that so many of the other commenters have mentioned breastfeeding, because even over a year after that door closed on me, it still stings to hear people blog about what an amazing experience it is.

    The way I dealt with those blogs that just rubbed me the wrong way- I bookmarked them on my computer, but unsubscribed from my reader. Then if I missed it or became curious what was going on with them, I went to their blog, then decided if I wanted to re-add them. So far, I haven’t re-added any.

  14. In real life, it only happened to me being on the other side of the “fence” – ME falling out of favour. It happened 2-3 times – in high school years – and it always hurt. And most of the time, there was no real reason that I could find. I then observed those people befriending others, only to “dump” them, too.

    I personally take a long time to get attached to someone – but once I do, I cannot let go. Even if I start feeling annoyed or even estranged from the person (no more common interest, etc.), I still keep in touch. My childhood friends are still present in my life 🙂

    Today I am blessed with having lots of friends I can (and did) rely on in hard times.

    With blogs, though, it’s different. I choose blogs solely because I am interested in their content – and if my life changes and those things don’t interest me anymore (and the blogger rarely writes about anything else) – I stop reading them without regret or guilt.

    Hmmm. Unless I met those bloggers in real life. In that case I keep briefly glancing and occasionally posting so as not to hurt the (now) friends.

  15. Er… (Melissa uncomfortably shifts and assumes that she must be the subject of this post because her self-esteem is that low).

    I think it’s a bigger problem in the face-to-face world vs the blogging world. People slip away, stop reading blogs, etc without saying anything. It happens every day. Most people don’t think too much of it. On the other hand, in the face-to-face world, it might demand an explanation if you continuously have to see the person.

    I haven’t experienced this — when there has been a shift in feelings towards a person, it has been marked by a big moment; an event in the relationship from which we can’t recover. They may not even know that I experienced things that way, but I can always point to a moment when everything changed. Has it ever happened with someone you’ve known a long time? A family member? A close relationship? Or is it more people on the fringes to begin with?

    • I think you’re definitely right, that this is much harder to deal with when it’s a flesh and blood person you’re seeing than the writer of a blog. And just to put it out there, when it is a person in real life I never say anything to them, I usually just try to avoid them. Like I said in the post, it’s never happened to a friend that I had to actively disengage from.

      As far as blogs, I think that in most cases this has happened to me after a big shift and I didn’t realize their outlook had changed because of the shift for awhile, so it seems sudden and maybe unrelated but it probably is.

      And don’t worry about being the subject of the post! Why does everyone thing it’s them!

  16. Now I just went back and read the comments from the bottom up. I’m at Missohkay’s and I just want to say that I’m going to use the term penultimate as frequently as possible from now on in order to win her love.

  17. Well, here I am catching up on blogs, and I’m positive that you are writing about ME because I’m feeling like my blog has lost its energy lately. 😦

    I find that this does happen to me when the blog-writer gets into a rut … they don’t really have anything to post about but they post anyway, sort of like when people post mindless FB updates … that annoys me, too.

    I read you, and Keiko, and Mel, and Jjiraffe, and think, wow, they have things to SAY.

    I try to give a blogger a break for a while if they’re losing steam, because it might just be that they’re not finding their muse … it sure happens to me. But if it goes on, then I delete them. I have a lot to read, and I like to comment where I read, so it’s a lot of work to read posts I’m not enjoying!

    • Hahaha! I love that you think it could be you. It’s not you. Trust me.

      I didn’t intend for this post to be the kind where every thinks it’s them. I hate that kind of thing. That is why I wrote what I did at the bottom – I meant that! The blogs I’m talking about are not written by people I “know” or who comment on my blog, at all. I wish everyone believed me.

      And I’m sorry I haven’t been commenting on your blog as much. I’m not at my computer when I read posts and I’ve been so busy during the day I haven’t had time to go back and comment. I need to be better about that.

      And please know that it’s not you! PLEASE!

  18. Oh yeah, this strikes a chord. I have approximately one zillion folders in my Reader because I hate to hit the unsubscribe button. I just shift blogs down the priority list. But at the same time, I hate hate hate having unread posts and hate hate hate having to declare “reader bankruptcy” so I eventually get to them.

    My solution is that twice a year (usually New Years aka right now and mid-summer) I move all of my subscriptions to one folder and then reclassify And it’s the only time I click through on blogs that I read but don’t comment on. I use my gut reaction to see if I want to unsubscribe based on the recent most posts. And if they’ve not updated in a while (usually a few months), then they’re out of here as well.

    My goal is to get down to 50 blogs from a high of ~120 in last summer. I started off this purge with ~85 and am down to 75 a few days into it. I did wipe the slate clean of 2011 posts (except for my Priority One folder ;-)) so this is only based on what’s been in my Reader since the new year. It’s actually been a bit refreshing and freeing.

  19. Hmm, you’ve given me a lot to think about. After returning to the blogosphere after years away (though “knowing” some bloggy friends on Twitter which is VERY different), I still feel like I’m dating blogs and bloggers, so I haven’t loved someone and then stopped yet. However, I can say that I’m still trying to decide how I feel about some blogs I read because I’m not sure if our personalities or life experiences match enough.

    On the other hand, I always feel like it takes people a long time to warm up to me and get to know me, so I always think I’m the disliked, cast-out one.

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