I’ve recently taken more notice of individuals on the internet who spend a great deal of time picking apart bloggers. There are even websites devoted to this. In order to justify what these people are doing, I’ve heard the statement, “If they [bloggers] are going to put it out there, they are going to be judged.” And, “They wanted the attention! Now they can’t handle it?”
These justifications don’t even begin to make sense to me. Furthermore, I think they miss the point of blogging.
I began blogging openly not because I wanted attention or recognition, but because I wanted to keep in contact with family and friends who didn’t live nearby. As time went on, I also found blogging to be a useful way to connect with others I would not normally have access to – typically others in a similar stage of life as me and/or looking to exchange information about parenting. Suddenly I was no longer a lonely mom living in isolation and trying to raise my child in a better manner than I was raised! I had a community of people at my fingertips at a time when I rarely left the house for fear of disrupting the nap routine.
I had always loved writing just for writing’s sake. But writing online – blogging – gave me a sense of community that I was lacking in my life.
Don’t get me wrong – I like to be recognized for my writing ability or smarts or whatever! Compliments make me feel good! I bet it works that way for most people. But if I only wanted to write – without that connection to others – I would write a book, not a blog.
I blog for community.
I do not blog to improve upon my writing or gain notoriety – those are side effects.
Now, let’s think of blogging in terms of other social activities. A blog post is a way to begin a conversation, just as if I were to broach the topic using my words, in person. I am usually more than happy to have more people join in the conversation – on my blog or in person. I’m a fairly friendly and chatty girl, after all. What I don’t expect is to be judged OUT LOUD and disrespectfully for what I’m contributing to the conversation. This would not be tolerated in person, in my space – a person who offered that kind of verbal assault would be summarily removed from my house. If it was a public place, I would take my leave of the conversation. I would disengage and go on with my life, although I might be a bit miffed at the person’s lack of social etiquette.
After all, it’s simply impolite to make judgmental comments about someone within their presence – especially without being invited to do so. Everyone’s heard “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Not everyone agrees with it, but most operate within limits.
Sure, we all overhear things said by a group in another booth at a restaurant, and most of us have our own thoughts or judgments, but do we start a conversation within earshot of them about what awful people we think they are? HELL NO. We mind our own goddamned business and continue on with our meal – focusing on OUR lives. We might, in the privacy of our cars or homes, make comments about what we heard and gossip about it. But most people – even those severely lacking in social grace – aren’t going to be rude in person.
In the “real world,” there are pretty immediate consequences for being an asshole, such as people avoiding you. Online, this behavior is not only tolerated more, but it’s even commended as “constructive criticism” in some cases. You don’t have to be a psych major to know that slinging insults about another person’s life decisions isn’t constructive – it’s hurtful!
So, why is it that on the internet it’s okay to throw social etiquette out the window? Does the switch in mediums – from speech to written word – really mean it’s suddenly perfectly fine to openly criticize others?
And why is there no recourse online? Why do these websites get away with supporting and encouraging this kind of vitriol – even while bullying is being squashed in schools and workplaces more than ever?
Should bloggers be judged, criticized, and their reputations ruined just because they put their thoughts down in writing and some people disagree with them? Should they lie down and take it?
Should the blogging community tolerate it?