A few months ago, I devoted this space to some of the positive feedback I have gotten since Mr. Smith was born back in September. It was kind of my you-like-me-you-really-like-me moment, if you will. It was pretty one-sided, all about the love.
Now that a few more months have passed, and I am getting into a Mr. Smith groove, I wanted to take a look at some criticisms. There are a couple of reasons behind the introspection.
I am still trying to sort out what this column is and what it should be. I want to get your advice, so I urge you to let me know what you think I should be writing. Some of you apparently think I am an ignorant asshole, and that I shouldn't be writing. Maybe. But I actually do care what you think ... if it's reasoned. If you want to attack, I will repeat from my first column: Fuck you. I don't have time for haters.
Issue 1: The pseudonym
J.M. Smith is not my real name, and I've taken some heat for using a pseudonym, mostly from people using pseudonyms.
I am using the fake name because it allows honesty with less fear of retribution. Lest you think pseudonyms detract from our mutual Internet experience, check a recent analysis by DISQUS, a company that created the comment format used by CNN, Time and Fox News, among others. The company looked at almost 500 million comments from 60 million users and found that pseudonym users' comments are "liked" and replied to more often than those of anonymous or named users. Pseudonym users' comments are also less likely to be flagged as spam or removed.
So my pseudonym is not a block to the truth or hindering our interaction in any way. Said Mr. Smith ;)
(Editor's note: I wanted the writer of this column to use a pseudonym because at some point, one of the jobs of the columnist will be to review dispensaries—and we don't want the columnist to get special treatment when he shows his Arizona medical marijuana card. Thus ... anonymity.)
Issue 2: WTF are we smoking?
What I should call marijuana keeps coming up. I have called it pot, dope, marijuana, cannabis, weed and a few other things. Some of you don't like calling it pot or weed, but don't mind marijuana. Others don't like marijuana and want me to use cannabis. Some of you don't care at all.
Personally, I have begun to shift from using my preferred "weed" in daily life. I still call it that, but with the advent of the legitimate medical paradigm, that word isn't rolling off my tongue the way it used to. I now sometimes call it "meds" or "MJ," but I don't see MMJ as medicine in the traditional American sense. It is much less controlled than traditional medicines, as it should be. I see MMJ as an herbal remedy. Maybe we should settle on calling it herb. Dunno.
Issue 3: Seriously?
The what-should-we-call-it discussion is linked to a deeper concern that my tone isn't serious enough. Yes, I talk about MMJ in the way I have for most of my life—the way most of you have and probably do at home. But when I write that way, some folks think I am leaning too far away from the medical world. Cannabis (see how I did that, using a new name and all? I can learn, dammit!) still has a lingering aura of recreation. That will probably never change, and I don't intend to ignore it. A lot of my terminology comes from the recreational paradigm—as do all of the MMJ strains you are smoking and eating and dribbling on your salad.
In the end ...
I'm not really sure where the Mr. Smith column will lead me—professionally (yes, I am a professional, I promise), intellectually or emotionally—or where it will lead the guy who is my pseudonym. In any event, I plan to keep doing what I have been doing: looking around for interesting MMJ tidbits and weaving them into tales that you can enjoy, learn from and maybe offer some feedback on.
Whether you use your real name is entirely up to you.