Once in a while you’ll read someone waxing philosophical about how blogging is changing – maybe even saving – their otherwise troubled life. Now that I’m up to my elbows in reader comments and WordPress plug-ins, I understand this more than ever.
Especially lately. Because lately one of my guest blogs on a major writing site has come under full frontal attack. Not because I put something out there worthy of the smackdown it became, but because I lent a truckload of passion and attitude to my post, which was totally killer, by the way.
Some Readers Just Don’t Appreciate Passion
Especially when what you’re saying makes them wrong. Or even just feel wrong, when that wasn’t remotely your objective in the first place.
You don’t have to encounter many blogging tips, here or elsewhere, to come across the sage advice to stand up and state your case loud and proud. To be bold with your positions, to challenge the norm, to rattle a few cages.
That’s what other-than-boring bloggers do.
But take caution, because with that stirred-up territory comes the likely possibility that you’ll piss someone off in the process.
And therein is presented the life-altering moment from the blogging gods – how you react to someone who is suddenly up in your grill triggers consequences… not for them, but for you.
Because the biggest mistake you can make is to engage with your attacker, however off-the-mark they may be, on an emotional level. Even when what they’re calling you tweaks every street-fighting instinct left over from your bar days.
As it did mine.
Just Don’t Go There
If you do, you’ll be dragged down into the mud in which your attacker dwells – the same mud found under the rock beneath which she or he has emerged.
And it’ll end up on your face first and foremost. Remember, it’s your name up there under the headline, and like a teacher in front of a class, you are bound to a higher standard.
The nature of my controversial blog isn’t the issue here. Could have been anything that raises the collective blood pressure of some readers. But by now you’re probably curious, so here goes.
On this blog I was exploring the process of writing fiction using an outlining approach versus an organic exploratory approach, which is a bit like debating health care in the States these days.
Bring this up in a forum full of fiction writers and yes, there will be blood.
Ironically my position didn’t advocate one process over the other. It simply stated that both approaches will work if the writer brings storytelling competency and skill to the task, outline or no outline.
And if they happen to be clueless, both approaches will tank.
One reader – and only one – was outraged. She first called me foolhardy, then called me a prick. When the moderator of the site intervened, the rampaging commenter repeated the assertion that I am indeed a prick, apparently simply by suggesting that her way of doing things wasn’t the only way.
Distortion and Misinformation Ensued
Let me assure you, I wanted to respond in kind. I’ve wallowed in more than a few pits of mud, and I was ready to put this misguided commenter in her place, face down.
But I’d been in this situation before on a writing forum in the first week of my tenure as a blogger, and I got my head handed to me by not taking the higher road. Still have the scars to prove it, too.
This time, though, I remained calm and professional. Which leads me to the two lessons I share with you, my fellow passionate bloggers, here.
Life Lessons From The Blogging Pit
First, readers on that site flocked to my support. They said everything I’d wanted to say, and from a third party source the message was much more effective. Had I sunk to her level of name-calling and obvious neurosis, I would have trampled by a rushing throng of condemning standard-bearers.
It’s a lot cleaner on the high road, above the dust of the skirmish.
And second, that high road is the optimal vantage point from which to lay down a barrage of irrefutable return fire that totally decimates all insult-slinging comers. It’s truly a kill-em-with-kindness approach, thinly and quite acceptably cloaked with the veneer of unflappable professionalism.
So next time someone wants to take you on, take the high road and watch your stock, instead of the hair on the back of your neck, rise.
A life lesson, indeed. Even for a prick like me.
Image credit: PetroleumJelliffe