Those in Glass Houses Will Throw Stones

The vast blogging world, consisting of 70 million blogs and countless readers according to Eric Holter (“Blogging: The Bedrock of Advertising 2.0”) has felt like a small town in the last week. I am referring to the curious case of Get Off My Internets’ near demise, and its dramatic rebirth.

I feel the events have a lot to say about the way blogs have changed, what writers should think about when they blog, what readers should expect from bloggers and what the whole movement of bloggers as brands means to all of us.

In the Beginning…

Blogs were once the domain of “tell-all” self-deprecating writers who presented a warts-and-all portrait of being single, getting married and then having children or even struggles with infertility. Some of these Gen X trailblazers gained traction that remains to this day. I would cite Ayelet Waldman’s short-lived blog which detailed her ambivalence about being a mother, or Heather Armstrong’s stark depiction of her stay in a mental hospital while suffering from PPD (which I couldn’t find, alas) as examples of this style. A lot of writers used snarky humor and sarcasm and many referenced the beloved pop culture of their childhood: think Funyons, Rubik’s Cubes and “Saved by the Bell.” Usually the stated goal of Gen X bloggers was to get a book deal and some of them did.

But as these writers have aged, the next generation has taken their noted earnestness and emphasis on being unique and really has rocked the habitat. Now, many bloggers showcase their beautifully photographed lives with lovable babies and exotic travel and domestic homeyness and hipster fashion and healthy food. Good examples: Bleubird Vintage and Oh, She Glows. There is great appeal in this style of documentation for two reasons. One, these blogs (whether about parenting or design or lifestyle) are rarely controversial and often gloss over the writer’s difficulties. (Or don’t even mention them.) Consumer brands love the most popular of these writers because they reach a coveted demographic of women looking to emulate their lives, from what shoes they are wearing to the moccasins on the tiny and precious feet of their infants. Two, the economy has been in the crapper and the realities are more difficult than ever, so the pleasure of seeing a pretty lady arranging flowers in a mason jar is a pleasant escape.

I knew something had profoundly changed when a woman at a holiday dinner mentioned to me that she is obsessed with a certain lifestyle blogger. She told me sometimes when she is having a bad day, those few moments when she sees what the woman is wearing or making in her kitchen lift her out of her funk.

Oddly enough, both styles of blogging have their perils.

What Are Our Responsibilities As Blog Readers?

This article brilliantly highlights the dangers of bloggers becoming a brand. You should read the post, but in a nutshell: when you sell yourself as a product, people are going to begin to think of you as a reviewable product. They may start to dislike your aesthetic or your recipes or your own branded products if you’re bigtime. You would need a tough skin for this.

But even worse could be the fate of the earlier trailblazers, writers whose words are judged. What they wrote was and is poignant, honest, true, often times coming from a place of vulnerability, reaching for the great circle of support that their readers can provide. Writers who perhaps never dreamed they would become known as a “persona”, who didn’t want to become a brand based on their personality, are nevertheless known as brands.

This is a pretty illuminating (and long) article about mom bloggers of both types, and how they have fared and why they write. It also mentions GOMI.

GOMI is a very controversial yet popular site. It has both fans and detractors. Some claim that the site encourages constructive criticism and even investigative journalism, discovering inconsistencies in blogger’s stories, (James Frey-esque) and clearing the air on the bad advice and expertise of so-called “experts.” Others say it’s bullying and shaming and mean girls running amok. There are claims that it has lost writers’ business and clients. I’m inclined to think that ALL of this goes on there to varying degrees, but YMMV.

The C-ville article mentions an interesting motivation as to why some bloggers have so many critics.

Many or most lifestyle blogs, Mom Blogs included, are more about presenting a certain well-edited version of life rather than reality. Matchar wrote: ‘This is fine, but it can make readers feel really bad. They assume the blogger is just a regular mom and forget about how she’s also a writer who wants to present a certain image.'”

Bingo. I have been guilty of putting certain bloggers on a pedestal and becoming disappointed when they didn’t live up to my own views of how they should think and write and act. I think it’s human nature to look up to people: so often life seems so random and awful, and there are some select few who seem to have answers the rest of us don’t. We look to them and even emulate their choices sometimes. But no one is perfect and in the end we don’t KNOW these bloggers at all, just what they have presented. We need to remember this.

Now the warts-and-all writers. They are also criticized, and this I must admit, I do not understand this. This is where something stranger takes place. These writers are brave and honest, often baring their souls. I tend to really like this type of writing. I do believe that by discussing horrible things in the open, like miscarriage and loss, they lose their taboo and power to a certain extent.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say this: it appears that the criticism of the brave, vulnerable writers may come from a place of fear. These bloggers quite possibly are too close for comfort for some readers: they may share their weaknesses and are afraid of the bloggers’ realities so the bloggers are turned on and written about really nastily. I wonder if judgement comes from fear.

What Do Writers Owe Their Readers?

I am a blogger, but I come from the place of only receiving constructive criticism. I have never had a troll experience. I am off-the-radar and for that I am thankful. But I thought this comment, from the Six Year Itch post, by one of my favorites The Bloggess was pretty brilliant advice for the many of you I know who HAVE dealt with this kind of thing:

My editor told me that the secret to success was having someone else read your criticism and letting them tell you if there’s something that’s legit that you need to be concerned about so that they can weed out the crazies without emotion. It’s a good idea to let a good friend read that stuff for you and let you know if there are recurring issues you might want to address or fix. That way you can fix the problem or miscommunication if there is one, but you aren’t subjected to the one or two crazies out there who are just insane but will get into your mind and make you doubt everything.

My point is that it’s easy to focus on GOMI because they’re mainly girl-based and focused on other girls, but even if they were gone you’ll still have tremendous criticisms (some critical and helpful and some completely off base) that exist, so I think rather than focus of stopping the criticism (which will never happen) we need to focus on how we deal with that criticism. When do we listen? When do we ignore? How do we (individually) find the best way to deal with criticism in a way that makes us better people/writers? I think that’s a discussion that needs to happen as more people start to have to deal with more focused criticism, unsolicited feedback and (occasionally) mean-spirited and wrong bullshit. It’s the hard part of being a writer, but in my opinion it’s just part of the job.

What do you think? What do we owe bloggers as readers? What do we owe readers as bloggers?



Filed under Blogging, What Say You?

32 responses to “Those in Glass Houses Will Throw Stones

  1. Generally, I would say nothing– blog writers owe no one the whitewashing of their personal histories. Our lives are messy and WE are messy, and we all deserve the chance to seek a little catharsis through our writing. BUT… I feel strongly that bloggers who are elevated to that next level, who have a stable and sizeable audience, and who have benefitted from the positives that a blogging community has to offer DO owe it to their readers to treat them respectfully. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you! That cathartic writing experience comes at a cost, because it only IS cathartic when people care and express that caring through listening to your words, sharing them, responding to them, reflecting on them… The highest honor on the Internet is to have your thoughts canonized rather than ignored, slowly drifting off into the ether. When people read you, love you, remember you and remember your story, when they give you back the thing you were hoping to get from the blogging experience? Be fair to them because in a way, you belong to each other. That’s something I feel strongly about.

    • This is a good point, Jules. I try to embrace all my readers, so everyone who has commented on my posts I add to my reader (which is ginormous) and I try to comment on every one of those blogs at least once. But for a bigger blogger who might get hundreds of comments per post, how would you recommend that they maintain a relationship with their many readers? Giving back via giveaways? Being nice to them if they meet them in person or at BlogHer/Alt Summit? Really curious about this…

  2. Oh my god! I love this post! So relevant and so well written. And, most importantly, thought provoking. (Also, I always love your links–you know of so many amazing blogs!)

    I have to admit, I’m not quite sure how to answer your question. When I think about what I owe another blogger, especially as a blogger myself, I get all tripped up, classifying bloggers as big time or small time or ALI bloggers and tailoring my answer to your question for each one of them.

    But then I realize that this question is just a more general question about humanity. The question really is what do we owe other human beings, and the answer to that should always be the same–respect and compassion and empathy. Or, if we can’t manage that, to just leave them be and go on our way. I think it’s interesting that we tend to categorize other people, treating them differently–holding them to higher standards or expecting more from them–depending on their success. I will admit that I don’t feel as much empathy and wouldn’t feel compelled to offer as much support to someone who seems to have loads of followers or is a big time writer. I have clicked over to plenty of posts and seen the 64 comments already left and decided not to write anything because I was sure what I had to say was redundant and therefore not worth mentioning. I’ve also read honest posts about the troubles of bloggers who enjoy a lot of success and grumbled to myself that they should just be happy for what they have. Of course how many people could read my own woe-is-me diatribes and grumble the same things about me?

    I think a lot of this comes back to the dark underbelly of humanity that the Internet exposes, both in its offer of annonymity and in the opportunity to “speak” to someone from a protected distance (almost anonymously). Sites like GOMI highlight how cruel people can be and I think you’re right, that the posts and comments on those sites do come from a place of hurt in themselves, though most of those people don’t know it. I know the posts that frustrate and infuriate me the most are the ones about issues that remain unresolved in my life, like attachment parenting or being a SAHM. While I realize that my anger comes from a place of hurt and fear inside of me, many adults have not figured that out, so they lash out at the people who touch that hurt, however unwittingly.

    Again, great post. Thanks for starting a conversation about this.

    • Oh so much to dissect here. I agree: the GOMI situation does have a lot to say about human nature, for sure. Like you, the posts I don’t like are definitely the ones that make me feel like a loser and I fully admit that’s on me 😉 You know, posts that talk about how the ONLY/BEST way to do something is the way I COULDN’T do it, no matter how hard I tried. I try to avoid writing that way because, well, I wouldn’t want to read that. I also avoid reading posts like that.

      I also usually don’t comment on posts that have a million comments. What is there to say that hasn’t been said already in a million different ways?

  3. This is such a lovely and thoughtful post. Thanks for that.

    I’m one of those open and honest bloggers, and I’m absolutely full of warts and lumps and bumps and contradictions. I tend to blow up – often online – and I often regret it.

    I’m a frequent GOMI target, and I’ve been thinking long and hard about the things said about me, trying to tease out the threads that might actually be stuff I need to address. I’m also working hard on finding a way to let it go and find forgiveness, which is a total struggle, I confess. But I’m trying.

    As for what I owe bloggers and readers, well. I try to think of them much like I think of the people I meet through recovery; some are crazy and smart and fun, and some are so mentally ill they can’t be reasoned with, and some are quiet and need hugs. I try to both reach out and protect myself. I absolutely love my readers and understand how precious the relationship I have with them is. But I also know that I’ve changed over the nine plus years I’ve been blogging, and I don’t owe any reader an explanation for those changes, you know? People move apart from each other, and that’s okay. If you no longer like what I write, I’m sad to see you go but I understand. Why someone would take that personal disappointment and turn it into anger, I don’t get. But I don’t have to. 🙂

    • Thanks for responding Cecily. I seriously can’t even imagine how difficult it would be to become a target for GOMI. I found your blog through Stirrup Queens a few years ago when I was going through shitty infertility stuff, and it was a Godsend. You are/were so articulate and honest about going through horrific losses and treatments. So many in the ALI community blazed trails based on your writing and we all benefit today from the openness and community that was created in opposition to society’s tendency to keep our disease “quiet.”

      I think your approach sounds really great and healthy. Keep on keeping on 🙂

  4. I think that being online, deciding to write publicly, entails risk. You open yourself up to a kind of criticism that you wouldn’t if you were writing in private, or at least drafting in private, or even writing a book and publishing it only to hear reviews of it later. But the positive side of blogging is that you get a chance to evaluate and re-evaluate your perspective in real time, because there’s a possibility for conversation, even if it’s not happening in your comment section (e.g. if you turn comments off). I think what bloggers and readers owe each other is what we owe each other in real life: respect and civility. There’s something about hiding behind a computer screen, about the anonymity, that often makes us forget that … and we lash out or react in ways that we would never react if we had to say such things to someone in person.

    I don’t think that we need to necessarily be supportive of every blogger. I think that there’s room for criticism. But there are ways to do that which don’t tear people down, which aren’t just about fear or jealousy or whatever misplaced anger we have, but which are about a community of creative thinkers and writers … perhaps what could be, if a utopia like that were possible.

    This is a great post … and questions that we will come back to again and again if we are blogging and reading ethically, responsibly, with integrity.

    • You are so level-headed and awesome, Justine. I remember your amazing post about the whole Mckmama scandal. Yes, I agree that by writing we do open ourselves up to criticism. And constructive criticism is well within the boundaries of what is fair to expect. My dad got his share of critical letters to the editor over the years. It was part of his job. I think it’s fair to expect the big bloggers who write advice about cooking, dieting, style, fashion, to be open to readers saying: that recipe was too salty, the haircut you recommend unequivocally won’t work for most people, when you do too many sponsored posts, it’s hard for me to take you at your word, etc. Some big bloggers are making a great living advising people on how to do things, and if their advice is poor, well, that’s fair game, I say. In a constructive way.

      Bloggers who are writing about their feelings and seeking support from a community: well, that’s another matter.

      You are right. These are issues we will come back to again and again.

  5. Oooohhhh I wanted to post about GOMI but was honestly afraid to do so. I’m a fan. I admit it. What’s really hard for me is reading about people I know or have met. For example, I’ve met and hugged Cecily. I’ve gone to lunch a few times w/ BA (formerly of The Heir to Blair, now OkayBA). I feel uncomfortable reading their threads and not jumping in to set the record straight, especially when body snark is going on, so I avoid them. It’s cowardly of me and probably makes me a hypocrite.

    I agree with Jules that technically bloggers and readers owe each other nothing. However, I think bloggers owe their readers a little respect in that these are the people reading and commenting on your words. Try to interact. Try to take criticism constructively. Readers owe bloggers the respect of remembering that they are real people and not characters in a book. If a blogger is doing something you have a concern about or you don’t like, surely there is a more constructive way of saying “wow. you’ve really gotten fat.” Or sycophantly loving everything I blogger posts. I value the dialogue blogs can create, and I think both bloggers and readers need to focus on that.

    I’m really concerned about bloggers becoming brands and what blogging loses and what the blogger loses when that happens. I’ve written a few times about that, and I think the comments on GOMI threads point out what happens when you become a brand, not only making it possible for you to be the target of such criticism but also the comments on content, one-way communication, deleting comments, etc.

    The warts and all writers…I don’t know. I value openness, but where is the line between openness and oversharing?

    • The Fadra Blogma 12: I was really honored! Some really fantastic posts were in there. Thank you 🙂

      Great points.

      On the oversharing: do you mean when parents talk too much about their kids? In the case of the ALI world I’m kind of for oversharing gory details because it’s all about getting rid of the secrecy that adds to the high depression rate among those who suffer from loss, failed treatments, etc.

      Thank you for the Atlantic article: so many interesting points! I’m going to read it again tonight…

  6. Oops, meant to post this:

    Also, I was very glad to see you featured on All Things Fadra’s Blogmas 12 series 😉

  7. Wow. You’ve presented a lot of food for thought. I think a big thing each blogger needs to address is why they are writing. Is there a particular goal for the blog? The post? By really understanding the purpose, it allows you to better assess criticism. That said, I really appreciate Jenny Lawson’s advice. There are people out there who solely exist to spread negativity.

    For me, blogging has given me a forum to share my story in an honest way. The goal of this is to add to the growing numbe of examples of how life-changing infertility and loss are. What has happened (which was completely unexpected) was that I found support. Hence I now feel like I have a responsibility to my readers to be mindful of how I portray events while being honest. In other words, I don’t know if I could ever paint things as being 100% rosy, but I also feel I need to be honest with each part of this journey; both the good with the bad.

    • I think this is so important for the ALI community: “The goal of (my blog) is to add to the growing number of examples of how life-changing infertility and loss are.” So many people NEED to read the honest stories so they don’t feel alone. I know I did. Thank you for making that point.

  8. Great post. I couldn’t agree more with the two different kinds of bloggers that you have described. I can completely understand how a reader could become discouraged if they buy the portrayed image of a lifestyle blogger, hook, line and sinker.

    That being said, and having written a memoir that was mostly liked but sometimes criticized, I think receiving criticism about a writing style or paint color is uncomfortable but expected. Writers can’t please everyone. What I take issue with is when critics start to hit writers below the belt. Accusations of neglecting children, or damaging a marriage; criticisms of reproductive choices; and other deeply personal choices made by a writer are more painful to read. After having been on the receiving end of all those kinds of criticisms, I admit my skin is so thick that I may not even recognize a legitimate concern if one existed.

    What proves to be even more difficult is squelching the desire to defend myself in the face of “below the belt” criticisms. What I’ve learned, however, is that when I engage with someone spewing that kind of vitriol, they truly aren’t interested in hearing me defend myself. They are usually pretty hateful, and their mind is made up. It’s futile.

    GOMI exists. If GOMI didn’t exist, some other site just like it would. I’m certainly not condoning such sites, but I’ve surrendered to the idea that internet vitriol is just not worth getting myself all tied up in knots over.

    • I am really glad to hear from you, because you have really been in the limelight a lot because of your story. You’ve been there and lived it. The “below the belt” attacks: that’s horrible. Good for you for being able to ignore the scary vitriol spewers who don’t want to listen. That would be really, really hard. And again, thank you for sharing your story, especially on Dateline a couple of weeks ago. There just aren’t enough honest, real depictions of infertility out there, and yours was just that. I keep hearing from non-ALI people who saw it and thought it was an amazing and inspiring story.

  9. Wow! Great post and comments! I’m afraid I won’t do them justice with my comment, but I’ll try.

    First off, I have to point out the irony in the fact that I found your blog through GOMI. There’s a silver lining to everything.

    I operate a blog of the warts-and-all variety with a very small following. I had no idea GOMI existed until it did a post on me a little over a year ago. At the time, I found it odd because most of it’s targets were bigger bloggers who sugarcoated everything. After discovering GOMI and reading the posts and comments, I hated to admit it, but I found some of it very funny. However, I thought most of it was just plain nasty. I’ve been reading the site occasionally over the past year and have learned to enjoy the funny moments and leave the rest.

    As a blogger, blog reader, and target of GOMI, I feel I’ve experienced this issue from every angle. Over the past year, I have thought A LOT about the questions that you have posed here. I’ve struggled with criticism and how to respond to it, I’ve struggled with my feelings towards bloggers who portray a perfect life, I’ve stuggled with the undeniable appeal of GOMI despite the nastiness, and I’ve written it all down on my blog. The conclusion I’ve come to is a very cliche one but so true: You have to believe in yourself. If you believe in yourself and what you are putting out into the world then it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Yes, there are things we can all improve about ourselves, and it may require someone else pointing them out before we can see them. If you find yourself questioning whether the negative things being said about you are true, I agree it’s good to ask someone in your life who cares about you and will be honest with you what they think, but ultimately you have to keep your own council.

    To answer your questions, though, I don’t think any of us owe each other anything. I think we owe it to ourselves to be true to who we are and not put too much value on the opinions of others. Everything else will fall into place from there.

    • Thank you so much for commenting! It’s great to hear from bloggers who have been written about on GOMI, and this is a very thoughtful response: it sounds like you can see ALL sides to the GOMI issue, which is very admirable.

      I really like your advice a lot: “The conclusion I’ve come to is a very cliched one but so true: You have to believe in yourself. If you believe in yourself and what you are putting out into the world then it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.” I wish I could believe this more, especially in general with just life. I struggle with this…

  10. To me it’s very simple – we owe each other the respect and and treatment that we would expect in return. I am of the simple mind here – if you don’t like what you’re reading, just click away. No one is forcing you to read me. No one is forcing me to read you. If I write something that offends you, or makes you feel a little weird, then just click away. And I will do the same.

    This, of course, is just my opinion. I read blogs for the sense of community, connection, etc. I do not allow myself to read blogs of people who annoy me. Those days are done. Blogging, and reading blogs, makes me happy and I see no reason to bog myself down in blogs or writers with whom I feel no connection, or worse yet, writers who I simply do not like.

    I know that’s overly simple, but it’s how I conduct myself, and hope others will conduct themselves when reading me.

    With that said, I love nothing more than reading a post that really makes me think, really makes me question WHY I feel the way I do about a certain topic. I will always comment my opinion if I feel the urge, even if I disagree, but it will be done in a respectful manner. I did NOT post a comment respectfully several years ago (long before I was blogging) and I still feel bad about that to this day.

    • I totally understand this, and I believe this way of behaving is the right code of conduct for our community. Unless there is a discussion going on about ideas or POV, this is how I conduct myself too in the ALI community (I hope! I try!) because at the end of the day, we’re all just striving to support each other since we are all so alone in the real world.

  11. I have always felt that blogging is a personal experience but if your going to put your entire life out there then do not get upset when people do not always have the most nice things to say. Not everyone is going to feel the way you want them to be.

    I know for me personally I much rather read a small then the larger ones bc to me the bigger ones are just so fake. All they talk about is what they got for free and its just tacky and laughable to me.

    I am not sure we owe anything to anyone in blogging but we should be try to be respectful in every way. Respect comes in all forms just not comments or forums. If a blogger wants respect then hey do not be fake, right? People are not stupid and that stuffs easy to see through.

    • Julie

      Yes to everything you said.

      • Thanks so much for these great points: I thought about talking about sponsored stuff, but then the post got too long. I totally feel you on the sponsor fatigue. I mostly read small bloggers too. And if the big bloggers want to stay authentic (which is probably what attracted their followers in the first place) they really need to be careful about publishing too many sponsored posts. I understand a few here and there for products they have really tried out/test drove and believe in that really support their brand, ethics, etc. But they risk alienating readers with too many/or bad fits.

        I have received feedback from people over the years who didn’t like my POV about something, or my arguments in favor of something, or said my posts had typos and spelling errors. I think this feedback was fair and I took it to heart, tried to improve. I definitely feel this type of feedback is part of the the blogging game.

  12. I spent a fair bit of time reading GOMI trying to decide how I feel about the site when it suddenly occurred to me, over & over again I read about how a poster had followed this blogger or that blogger, but that the blog had changed or that critical, non-abusive comments were deleted & the blog subscriber felt that she/ he was not being heard or dismissed as a troll. Clearly a lot of these people had formed connections to the sites in question & feel betrayed or discounted.. rightly or wrongly.

    Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t agree with slamming people based on their appearance or taking pot shots at people’s kids & seeing women addressed by the “C’ word makes me wince but disregarding some of this to look at the underlying emotions at play might serve us all well.

    A lot of GOMI members had an emotional connection to blogs they are now bashing. My takeaway from this is the question, how can bloggers grow their sites while remaining responsive & connected to the audience who helped bring them up the ladder? How can our sites evolve while still remaining loyal to those who helped us to grow?

    • This is a fascinating insight: readers had emotional attachments to the blogs but then something happened (they were disillusioned or treated as trolls) and they feel betrayed. I didn’t realize that.

      I think big bloggers (the lifestyle/design/fashion ones) who grow in size have to be very careful to stay true to their roots and stay level-headed. I would imagine that would probably be a struggle, as some opportunities would seem hard to resist, but it’s interesting to think about what is the future for these big bloggers? Without a happy audience and traffic, there is no future.

      Thank you for bringing this up…I’ll be thinking about this for a while.

  13. Thank you 🙂 this was just the sort of soul search provoking I needed!!

  14. It took me two days to read your post because it led me to some fascinating links, both in your post and in the comments. Really well done. You’ve made everyone think and that’s the mark of a great post.

    I agree with some of the commenters before me that say we owe each other respect and golden rule treatments. And also with Justine that when we put ourselves out there in any arena, we open ourselves up to others who may not offer respect and golden rule treatments.

    I suppose being “out there” is a big exercise in figuring out who you are from the inside, independent of what people outside us say. Sometimes we shouldn’t believe our own positive press and sometimes we shouldn’t believe our own negative press. As my yoga teachers say, “Core!”

    • It’s so funny: at the end of all the responses I made, your comment sums up my learnings from all of these brilliant comments (SERIOUSLY: HOW SMART ARE THESE COMMENTS?!) very well. It’s a conclusion I hadn’t made and needed to.

      “I suppose being ‘out there’ is a big exercise in figuring out who you are from the inside, independent of what people outside us say. Sometimes we shouldn’t believe our own positive press and sometimes we shouldn’t believe our own negative press.”

      This. Thank you.

  15. m.

    Like Lori, its going to take me a few more days to digest this (esp since I’m down with stomach flu, part II today.) But I had to chime in now if only to say, what a thoughtful post. And the comments, wow. When we talk about feedback and reader input, this thread stands out for me.

    Like many here, I’m a warts and all, dead babies and not, unapologetic Gen X, uncensored blogger who is kind of, sort of, but not really, anonymous. And while yes, I’ve put myself out there, and that is my choice, I think there’s a difference between disagreeing with opinions and words and putting someone’s life choices or appearance on blast. One is easy. One takes a bit more thought. I am so so lucky – no trolls or nasties on my site. Disagreements? Sure. And I dig those. Because it tells me a reader is reading and processing and taking the time to respond. Not sure about my views on Choice? Let’s talk about it! Want to say something about my daughters….best keep that to yourself.

    Thanks again for putting this all into words.

  16. Pingback: news item: blogging about your kids – PAIL Bloggers

  17. Great post and thank you for linking to mine.

    I know that the GOMI thread about me was started with malicious intent, but the rest of the comments are completely fine and some made me laugh. GOMI is a place where I often think — wow, these women are hilarious — but I wish they channeled it somewhere else. In combination with reality tv, I keep going back to why do women consistently feel the need to play pseudo detective and “expose” other women for inconsistencies, perceived slights, etc.?

    When my writing was published in a newspaper, I received all kinds of crazy comments. Friends reached out to offer support and I let them know that the comments on the online version of the article didn’t hurt my feelings. I always feel that for every mean-spirited comment on a heartfelt post that attempts to reach a truth, there are at least 10 silent people nodding their heads in agreement. I write for the people nodding their heads, not for the people with the bullhorn.

    But to your question: what do I owe people?

    Nothing. I don’t refer to readers as “my readers” because I don’t own them. I think there is a lot of misplaced possession that goes on between bloggers and readers — on both sides. I am thankful for every click, view, comment, share, and moment spent on my slice of internet. But at the end of the day, I write because that’s what I’m good at. My goal has never been to make me into something but to make my writing into something. That, at least to me, is an important distinction.

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