I was slow to the social media thing in my cancer career. No, scratch that, I was slow to the social media/internet in general. I mean, in the 2000’s I used the internet for work, but nothing else. I got my first laptop really late–2005–and just so I could work while away from the office. So it was not until I completed treatment and quit my 9 to 5 that I really USED the internet the way it was intended–to watch cat videos! To share silly memes! Oh yeah, and to find others who shared my disgust with breast-cancer-as-pink-party. I began my cancer blog late 2012, around the same time Grumpy Cat started to get popular. So I’ve always felt a little kinship with the cute little critter–partly because I began living on the internet so much and she was everywhere, and most importantly those “I had fun once it was awful”-style memes featuring her.
Now, before I continue, I should say I love Grumpy Cat and understand she is not really grumpy–the “look” on her face is a result of dwarfism. But I love the hoopla that surrounds her–messages of holiday joy interrupted with “NO”, or the aforementioned “I did xyz once, it was awful” line that pops up a lot. I love the attitude, her face–the whole grumpy she-bang.
Well, of course I do. I’m a grumpy cancer patient!
But of course, when a cat is “grumpy”, (wink wink, because she isn’t really), it is cute and funny, and it sells crap to make her humans rich. But grumpy cancer patients are not regarded as cute and funny. And I, for one, have not acquired fame and fortune for my curmudgeon-ing.
The correlation I’m feebly trying to draw here is that the grumpiness has its benefits. Tardar Sauce (her real name) has reaped rewards for her grumpy shtick, or at least her humans have, and she isn’t really grumpy. While my curmudgeon-y blog isn’t a shtick, I’ve reaped rewards as well. For one, this blog functions as a way to let off steam. And to connect with others with similar views on the idiot cancer culture. To joke around with the lovely people I’ve met on the internet. To re-learn a love of writing that I thought I’d lost. In short, I’ve actually found joy in the act of being a grump about cancer.
I’m sure this won’t make sense to most people. I suspect those folks who like to get on FB and say stuff like “I’m choosing to be happy about my cancer”, or “why are you so angry, don’t you want to be happy”, don’t understand an essential aspect of being a Curmudgeon. And it is this: I’m usually happier when I’m grousing about something.
I know, I know. I can feel/hear/see/imagine readers of a certain ilk shaking heads and thinking: “what a miserable old bat, what a way to live your life finding things to fuss about”. Well Hell’s Bells, I don’t have to find them–there is almost always something to fuss about in cancer culture. When I first started blogging I was naive, thinking if bunches of us wrote and pointed out all the BS wrong with cancer culture, especially pink culture, surely, SURELY, change would happen. (I’ve often said I’m a cynic, but remember cynics are usually disappointed idealists. “But in retrospect, being cynical just meant that you cared. There was something at stake.” –Stephen Malkmus.) That is where the “anger is a useful tool for change” theory comes in. (Remember Barbara Brenner in “Pink Ribbons, Inc.”, as she relates a tale of being told not to be so angry, and she countered with her view that anger was a great motivator for change–love that part!) I no longer expect much in the way of cultural change. Well, I’ve noted in older posts–can’t remember which ones–that I think the tide is turning a little bit. I noticed locally that one run/walk has a sub-slogan: a fun event for a serious cause; and another annual, local run in the name of a late metster has just this year removed the “Brews for Boobs” title. Did someone tell them how stupid it is to giggle about boobies when death is involved? If so, then I wish to thank that person who got pissed off enough to confront them. Score one for anger, or for being offended, or whatever!
It bothers me still, but also makes me laugh these days, when I see FB or blog comments telling me or others not to be so angry, that having a positive attitude will make life more palatable (why yes, I DO mean ol’ Joan, but some other random commenters too). That might work for the one saying it, and it proves that s/he has no idea what makes MY life palatable to ME. Running around pointing out how damaging Pink culture is, connecting with others so we can each say “whew, thank goodness it’s not just me”, now THAT is what makes cancer life palatable, for me, and some others I know.
Finding and sharing truths about the shittiness of cancer has been satisfying. Confronting facts comforts me. Yet so many people perceive it as “being negative”. My message to them is this: “Stop it right now. You may think you are spreading your sunshine, but you are really raining on my grumpy parade. I was having a good time and you wagging your finger at me and my attitude is what is REALLY getting me down.”
Let Grumpy Cat enjoy her grumpy meme-y success. And let me and my friends Curmudgeon. Some folks like the sickening fear of riding roller coasters, being turned upside down at horrifying speeds. Personally, I hate that. But I’m not scolding anyone for getting on that terrifying ride. So stop scolding me for my idea of fun.