Much more is said than blogged or tweeted. There is a swirling mass of jealousy, hate and everything else in between laying just beneath the camaraderie. I am not saying it is all a lie but I blog because I enjoy it. If the bitching, sniping and snarking was the majority of the communications then there is no way in heck I would continue to blog. I was in high school once, I teach it now, I don't need to repeat old behaviours.
We have cliques.
We have grudges.
We have personal vendettas.
It is socialisation at its worst but if school, work and clubs aren't spared these things ... why should the blogosphere? As a female and as a teacher I've seen the toxic aspects of social groups from both inside and outside. It sucks either way. It immediately makes you doubt yourself, feel about 2 inches tall and then want to lash out, cry or both. It is sometimes easy to forget that people have feelings whether you fail to speak to them or communicate with them online. It's easier to remove someone's feelings from the equation when they are only a Blogger template or twitter username.
I have been guilty of behaviours that I have mentioned. It shames me that I haven't completely evolved from the insecure teen in high school. I still want to be liked and I still want to protect my friends. The only difference now is that I engage in the brouhaha much much less and when I do, I usually back out immediately. Cooler heads prevail. I try and be the voice of reason if possible. If it is not, then I remove myself from the situation. I just wish I wouldn't involve myself in the first place...but we all have things we need to work on and I have mine.
Here's some recommendations about staying out of the brouhaha:
- Don't tweet about a conflict... It's easy to tweet something in the heat of the moment but it will ultimately come back to bite you on your glutus maximus. This is a mistake I continue to make...I tend to delete my vent as soon as I have clicked on the tweet button but I shouldn't bring it up in a public domain regardless. Our twitter accounts contain bloggers, authors and publishing people - even if you are the wronged party, you end up sounding petty if you tweet it.
- If you don't have the cojones to leave a comment with your name attached, you really shouldn't post it.
- Comments shouldn't need to be asterisked...use big words, people. Not their nasty, ribald cousins.
- You are allowed to disagree with others. Give your two cents in a clear and concise fashion (without insults) and then back away. Engaging in an argument in the comment section of someone's post is poor form. Exacerbating a situation doesn't make anyone look classy...know when to shut your trap. I learnt this one just in time for the Wings review debacle...you know the one :)
- If you are going to bitch...do it privately. (If you claim you never do this, I think you might be heaven sent.)
- Copying or being "inspired" by another bloggers event will inevitably get you in trouble with the original blogger and that blogger's friends. It's not worth the grief and gets you a bad reputation with fellow bloggers. It's like learning your best friend's intended baby name and using it yourself...really poor form (and likely to become a toxic issue). If you haven't asked them if it is okay...you already know you are doing the wrong thing (unless of course you are genuinely unaware of the event in the first place).*
- Never post someone's private correspondence with you on your blog unless you have their express permission. (I would apply this to comments as well, though it is debatable. The person who comments means for it to be in the comment section, not a post of its own.)
- If you have a troll or a verbose objectionable commenter, swim through their offensive wording and see if there might be a grain of truth to the comment. Sometimes there is, sometimes there's not.
- We fight over books, not friends/boys so it is slightly different from normal high school. Don't brag about your book haul or the ultimate "get". It's okay to be excited, just don't cross the line. If you are lucky enough to receive plentifully, make sure you fulfill your end of the bargain with the publicist/author. What bargain? In accepting review copies there is an understanding that you review it. You might not like it, finish it or have time for it thus not being able to review it - you then have the responsibility to tell the publisher this, review it accordingly or tell the publicist's you may need to be choosier in the titles received. It took me a long time to realise this but I am happier to have less review titles and reading what I want to read. Having a large IMM haul means you have an impressive post, not an impressive blog. Reviewing all the IMM copies makes your blog impressive. Not reviewing plentiful hauls is the quickest way to anger your blogging colleagues. If you want to have a life and get great books, be realistic in the number of review copies you accept. You can always say no, or cut back a little. Publicists won't blackball you for saying this, they appreciate the honesty.
- A constructive criticism is different than a troll comment. On my PSnark survey last week a reader made a comment about how often I mention something. I won't say what is was as I've vowed to not do it anymore. I was initially hurt, offended and then angry. I quickly realised that they were right. Their scaling of my reviews and blog in general were very generous, they just had one criticism. It was something I had already thought to myself. Their comment (and my hurt) confirmed that it was something I needed to stop. Learn to recognise the difference to make your blog better - just don't tweet about it in between your meltdown and self-realisation :)
- If you have a beef with another blogger, deal with it yourself. Don't rally the troops and spread discontent. Polite emails can and will do the trick. But remember, not discussing the problem with the other party won't make it go away.
The points I listed above are lessons I have learned the hard way...through being in the situations. I don't want to be a hypocrite so I've only mentioned things that I have made the mistake of doing once, several times or still. Perhaps you can learn faster than I do and then mentor me :)
*There is an extra clause here. If the blogger you've copied or been inspired by is one of the biggest blogs, like The Story Siren, you have no grounds for saying you weren't aware. Everyone knows that IMM or Books to Pine For are Kristi's events. If you were to start a Book Blogger Appreciation Week...I would say My Friend Amy's been doing that for years. There's obliviousness and then there's the truth.
So I ask you, what have you learnt about your conduct the hard way in the blogosphere?