Saturday, March 10, 2007

Revisiting Dooce

Call me weird, but I'm always encouraged by the sudden appearance of maturity in people I have previously written off as selfish or immature. There's a huge difference between being self-aware and being self-absorbed.

Back on October 23 and 24, 2006, I did two posts on the young woman who introduced the word dooce to the Internet when she was fired for writing very inappropriate material about her boss and co-workers on her blog.

While Heather Armstrong was obviously a bright and talented writer, I was horrified by both her lack of judgment and her inability to predict the consequences of her actions. In my first posting here, I described her firing in 2001 and, in a second posting here, I described an incident that occurred in 2006 where the same destructive tendencies got her (and her husband) into a legal battle with the publisher Kensington. At that time, I said:

Charming and self-absorbed people make me uneasy. While I'll be the first to admit it's fascinating to watch their often thoughtless and impulsive behavior, it's also excruciatingly painful. There's a very thin line between self-absorbed and spoiled. Between self-absorbed and selfish. Between self-absorbed and destructive.

The recent firing of Jason Pinter (see my post for yesterday) reminded me of Heather who, of course, was the first person ever dooced. I went back to her blog and spent some time catching up on what has been going on with her since October.

Hence this post.

There was, of course, the usual drama that accompanies people like Heather. She'd lost and later found her dog Chuck (whom I'd concluded back in October was the most mature member of the family) not once, but twice. The blog was still filled with the humorous commentary that has made famous. But I was interested to see that there was much less focus on Heather's personal health and more on that of her young daughter.

Then came the post that prompted this blog today. On February 28, Heather posted a thoughtful and very self-aware (note: not self-absorbed) post about her firing six years earlier. She said:

I do feel like I have been very wrong for not yet apologizing to that woman [her boss] publicly, and do I ever owe her a huge apology. I know now that my frustrations had nothing to do with her personally, and that how I wrote about her was incredibly tacky. She had actually been a very gracious boss, had brought me into the company herself when she knew I was looking for a new job, had been an advocate of my design work to other executives in the company. What I wrote about her was just gross and clearly indicative that I had serious issues with myself. I do hope that she will one day forgive me and know that I could not be more sorry for hurting her.

I felt like cheering. In a few lines, Heather acknowledged her inappropriate behavior, recognized its source and apologized to those she had hurt by her thoughtless actions. In four short months (and I'm going to make a leap here and assume some heavy-duty therapy), Heather has come a long, long way.

You can read this new post here. I've also added to my links on the right side of this blog (under Fun Links). Heather is a talented writer, and I'm looking forward to reading more about her life and career.

Way to go, Heather.

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