Welcome to The Internet.

posted in: Day In The Life, Work 20
Is that better?
Is that better?

To encounter one or two people in your life who don’t like your face, just get out of bed in the morning. To have a sizable number of those people, you’ll need to be on television.

Sipping my coffee this morning, feeling fantastic about wrapping the latest 2-week taping of Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting, I accidentally found a gnarled thread on the Fons & Porter Facebook page. The venerable, incredible teacher and company founder, Liz Porter, visited the set to film two (excellent) episodes the other day and a picture was taken of us at work. I love working with Liz and felt quite chipper about it all until this morning.

“If they would just film with MaryAnn [sic] Fons instead of that nitwit daughter.. all would be good,” commented one Cora McDivitt Darrin, upon viewing the photo. Virginia Anne Lewis felt similarly, adding, “I wish mary [sic] would stop making faces and nodding and shaking her head.” Four people Liked that. And from the lady so irresistible she has not one but four last names, Pat Stubo Erickson Sullivan lamented, “I’m almost ready to stop watching….Mary drives me nuts. She talks WAY too much and her waving hands are so distracting. I’d rather have MaryAnn on alone with guests if we can’t have Liz back!” Various other folks digitally nodded their heads (not so vigorously they might’ve strained their necks, I hope) in agreement.

I took another sip of coffee. The cream was curdled.

Every well-intentioned mother in the world, including mine, would advise me to “just ignore it.” Just ignore it, the well-intentioned mothers say, shaking their collective heads, “some people are just negative.” This is the part that catches in my throat along with the hot tears in my eyes: Why do negative people get a pass for being wretched? I’m not negative. I’m all good. I’d never call a well-intentioned human a nitwit. Look:

nitwit |ˈnitˌwit|
noun informal
a silly or foolish person (often as a general term of abuse).

I’ll claim silly. I wear silly with pride. And perhaps in affairs of the heart, I am at my core, a fool. But you don’t know that, Cora darling, and since I don’t speak of my love life on Public Television, and since I know my job pretty well, I’d say that makes the word “fool” off limits. Besides, once the word “abuse” pops into the mix, you have wronged your fellow man. Ask around; it’s unanimous.

But hey, if you don’t want know strangers’ opinions of you, Mary Fons, stay inside your house. Strangers will still have opinions about you (you’ll be the crazy person who never comes out of your house) but you’ll never know what they’re saying, which is good if you’re a sensitive gal. But I did leave the house. I’m on a show that broadcasts to 93% of the PBS markets in America. I chose to approach this circumstance and I’ll lay in it. If I spent time whining about how a stranger in Montana (or hundreds of strangers in Texas) don’t adore me, I’d actually be the nitwit Cora believes me to be.

I can’t complain about negative comments happening. They’ll keep happening. But I can call people out for being simple and mean to me. Your name is as public as mine when you write on walls in binary code.

So: Does it feel weird to be talked about so intimately by someone you don’t know? It’s crazy, right, ladies?! Feels kinda crappy. Makes you sorta mad. But who should you get mad at? It’s hard to know! I know!! Such an impotent, helpless feeling. Just do what I do: try not to let this webpage ruin your day; instantly fail. Clench your jaw a few times, click over to Amazon and try to forget about it. Click back. Read your name again. Feel like a failure. Burn. Get paralyzed for about an hour. Literally, physically shake “it” off and set about your day. Eventually forget whatever nasty thing Person XYZ said about you, but not completely; no not completely, because they did say it and a bunch of people saw it. You mustn’t cry, though, even if you feel like you got punched in the face. If you cry, you’ll really feel dumb because people will say that if you don’t like it, don’t work.

As for all the strangers who said lovely things, I’d like to thank you individually for your your charm, your intelligence, your flawless skin, your timeless elegance, and those swan-like necks! Ms. Susan Parrish admitted to missing my mom and Liz but managed a sincere tally-ho: “[Liz and Marianne] made such a good team,” Parrish said, “But I like Mary as well; she is doing a great job. Keep up the good work.” The incomparable Leslie Fitzgerald went to bat for me, wading into the fetid comment stream to say, “For those of you who have been bashing Mary, what happened to the old adage, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” Sheesh!”

Ah, but Leslie. This is the Internet. Welcome to the Internet. Leave your face at the door.

p.s. Enjoy.

20 Responses

  1. erika
    | Reply

    Wow, that kind of sucks. What ever happened to “The Golden Rule?”

  2. joanniek820
    | Reply

    Hi Mary, I have just discovered you and Quilty, and I have been systematically working my way through the videos, and enjoying them very much, and learning, too. I find you to be refreshing, and I love your sense of humor. And, believe me, there is nothing wrong with your face. I don’t know why it is that people feel free to say such cruel things online when they wouldn’t have the nerve to say them to your face. I loved your response, too. You’re feisty, and we all need a sense of feisty to get us through when unfairly attacked. Take a deep breath, and reread the good comments as much as needed to put the few negatives behind you. I have been ‘trying?’ to learn to quilt for years, and I think I might actually be successful now that I’ve ‘met’ you online. Have a better day now, and please know that I sincerely do enjoy watching you on Quilty, and I plan to see if I can find you on PBS stations here.

  3. aprille
    | Reply

    That would hurt my feelings too. I would probably cry and cry. I wonder if it would influence that commenter’s behavior at all if you left a reply of your own–nothing rude or defensive, just something simple and honest that lets her know you read what she wrote and it had a negative impact on you. People say all kinds of things in comment fields (oh, hi!) that they’d never say to your face. Well, what if you showed your lovely face?

  4. lynda
    | Reply

    I have to say that I like your face, especially your dimples! More importantly, I like you or rather the you that we see on F&P and Quilty. Your personality perfectly matches your face – sparkly and bright – and I’m so glad to have your perspective on quilting. I was also a Paper Girl reader and was especially interested in your IBD experience as I have one of my own. By sharing your experience you helped me through mine.

    Thanks, Mary!

  5. dianejfa
    | Reply

    Mary, I have been reading your blog since hearing you speak at Quiltcon (online) but have not felt compelled to reply until today. I love your writing style. I love your animated quilty videos. I find you clever and entertaining, not to mention knowledgable. I love your love of words. I am a huge fan! I don’t know what to say about the hurtful comments. I just want to let you know that there are those of us out there who think the world of you, even though we don’t know you. I hope you can figure out how to get past the hurt feelings. I know I would be devastated. Oh, and I am not some ‘young’ modern quilter. I am closer to your mother’s age than yours. Hang in there.

  6. rocky2004
    | Reply

    Mary, I like your face and I like you. Wish I could see Love of Quilting in my area but unfortunately it does not air in my community. It did several years ago and that is when I first saw you on the show with your mom. I was always a fan of Marianne and Liz. The three of you are very classy ladies. By the way, love Quilty. Catherine

  7. melissews
    | Reply

    I love Quilty- I have all of the issues on my nightstand and they are often what I relax with before bed- love it! I haven’t watched a lot of your videos (yet), but so far, I love them! You are fun and adorable. In an adult way, of course. I don’t know what people think when they say nasty things in comments. If you wouldn’t say it if the person were right in front of you, why do you think it’s ok to say it in comments like that? Try not to let the haters bother you. You have lots and lots of fans and we love you!

  8. craftytammie
    | Reply

    I made you something.

    [img src=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/craftytammie/9828944535/” width=400]

    • craftytammie
      | Reply

      well, that didn’t work like I thought it would. My point was, lots of us love you and well, haters gonna hate 🙂

  9. princess
    | Reply

    Dear Paper Girl, I am reminded of an awesome slam poet. Perhaps you should check out this posting of her amazing words and take them to heart. I love you! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fj1YdcfBgaU

  10. cminor75
    | Reply

    I actually think I watch more now because you are on the show. I can appreciate your mom (and like her a lot too!) and Liz – but it has a different feel with you on the show. As a newer quilter (how long do we get to say that??) I love the way you look at things a little less traditional.

    Keep up the good work…you look like you are having fun and it makes others have fun. Don’t worry about sassy pants that have nothing nice to say….there is always someone trying to bring us down.

  11. angietree
    | Reply

    It is easy to see that you are a half full type of person. Just keep smiling your wonderful smile and keep counting your blessings! AND don’t LOOK at any more negative comments!:) They aren’t worth your time and energy. For me, when I let those things get to me, it sucks all my energy and creativity out of me. Sending you smiles and hugs!:)

  12. mamasuze
    | Reply

    I love your face! And your smiles, and your enthusiasm, and your talents… and on and on. I love watching you on TV and Quilty is my very favorite magazine. Please keep your chin up; there will always be unkind people who think they have to spew their nonsense. Just remember that there are plenty more of us who think you’re wonderful!

  13. auntmarti
    | Reply

    Oh, Mary, I am so sorry those people were mean. Several years ago, my 15-year-old son and I went to hear a famous knit author (the Yarn Harlot) speak. Jacob proudly wore the new t-shirt I bought him; it read “K2P2K2P2, Ribbed for her Pleasure.” Several “old ladies” commented that his shirt was inappropriate, and Stephanie wouldn’t think it was so cute if he showed up at her door to date her daughter of Jacob’s age. I was amazed that these people, who had never even laid eyes on Jacob, could be so mean in their comments! (here is the link: http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/archives/2007/04/10/denver.html) It made me realize, in a tiny little way, how real celebrities must feel when people say mean things about them! Non carborundum illegitimi est!

  14. […] week, I also read this blog post by Mary Fons, about a quilting tv episode she had filmed. In response to that filming, a photo was […]

  15. Sylvie
    | Reply

    Well, that may not mean much, but *I* like you. Not to say your mom and Liz are old, but it’s nice to have somebody I can relate to. And you bring joy to the show so…

  16. […] 6. I pledge to ask anyone mentioned in the blog if I may use their name. If they do not give permission, I will change their name. Direct quotes published in print or online are, by journalistic standards, fair game. See this post about mean people on the Internet. Suckas! […]

  17. […] NB: You told me you wanted to talk about a comment someone made online. I assume it was something hurtful? […]

  18. […] (e.g., parents’ divorce, grave illness, your own divorce, having a new job in the public eye where people can say mean things about you on the Internet), you become very good at not caring about silly things like how you have pale skin. There are […]

  19. Betty
    | Reply

    My husband and I love you! We watch Love of Quilting together every week (we have to record it and watch it later since it comes on when we’re at work) and we love the chemistry between you and your mother. We’re always a little disappointed when you have a guest – not because we don’t enjoy the guest – but because we just love watching you and your mom. My husband came across some of those negative comments about you on one of the forums he reads and now we joke about you “mugging” on camera. We love your liveliness and “mugging” and can’t believe people would actually complain about such a thing. Keep it up!

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