Stoning our Fellow Bloggers
March 17, 2009 10 Comments
There is a danger to being a blogger – the same danger experienced by all public figures. Your every mistake is magnified, and that means you may end up with a target on your chest.
Yesterday, a well-known blogger made a posting that was quite controversial. Suffice it to say that some of the reaction was downright nasty. I am not going to link to the post in question, or mention the blogger’s name, or even describe the controversy, because I really don’t want to call any further attention to it. Instead, I’d like to draw some larger lessons from the incident.
Here’s the main thing: we’re all going to make missteps. We’re human; we say and do things we shouldn’t; we occasionally react in the heat of the moment; and sometimes, we make the wrong call when trying to counter-balance competing interests. And in the age of instant publishing and networked communications, our fallibility can be magnified rather rapidly.
Before you hit that “Publish” button with a comment or a post ripping up a fellow blogger, let me recommend that you pause and consider the following:
- Have you ever made a mistake? Have you ever written or said something you wish later you could modify?
- Has this person for whom you are sharpening the knife actually been, by-and-large, a value provider? Can you couch your statements in that light?
- Do you think this fellow blogger might really need another public kick while he/she is down, or would perhaps a quiet back-channel word of encouragement be more helpful, along with a gentle expression of your concern for the specific action?
- Are you prepared to be treated in the way you treat this fellow blogger when your foibles are publicly revealed?
For the most part, the social networking crowd is a sharing and generous community. However, we need to be careful not to shoot our own when we make our mistakes and show our humanity. We don’t need an overly-hysterical “Motrin” reaction when people, companies, and brands try to put their toe in the water and get it wrong. A sense of humility is far more winsome than a self-righteous judgment on all those who don’t meet our standards. And, again, before you press “Publish” – if you’re about to pass judgment on someone’s character or motives, ask yourself if you really know that person’s heart.
“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” said a great teacher from centuries ago. Do we serve as correctives to one another as we evolve in social networking? Sure. But it’s far less important to prove that you are right and someone else is wrong, than it is to display a generous and gracious spirit when your fellow blogger is down.
It might just be you next time.