Dealing with Offense–When is It Okay to Lecture Others?

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Welcome to my humble home…

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Social media is becoming more and more a part of our everyday lives, and this means that we are coming into contact with more people than ever before. We do more socializing on Facebook than we do in person, but the impersonal nature of technology can get us into trouble if we aren’t careful.

The “impersonal” nature of Facebook is deceptive. Yes, we sit behind a screen and know people by monikers and avatars, but there are real people on the other side, so we need to take extra care to remember that.

We “Know” Others, but We Don’t KNOW Them

I go out of my way to always be positive on Facebook. Granted, I try and make sure I am “real.” I am not all fake buckets of sunshine, but I do respect the fact that we all struggle and most of us live in a perpetual state of being stressed out. Social media offers only a limited glimpse of who I am and what is going on behind closed doors.

Why?

If I shared every trial, challenge and illness, pretty soon, you guys would need a drink. You have your own troubles and don’t need me being a Debbie Downer.

Ah, but just because someone isn’t talking about their trial, that doesn’t mean they don’t have any.

I once made a real OOPS on a blog post about the dangers of premature editing. In fact, I made more than one OOPS,  I made THREE. I had THREE major typos. I had a guy leave the nastiest comment that challenged my right to even breathe air after my faux pas. What this person didn’t know was that I made the errors because I was up all night with my aunt who was dying and who finally passed away at 2 a.m. after we’d been caring for her for months and months of illness. I erred because I was exhausted and grieving.

Give the Benefit of the Doubt

When it comes to others on social media (and in life) try to make it a habit to believe the best. If someone gets out of line, we can take it personal OR we can stop and remember times we showed our @$$es and offer grace. We don’t know if this person just lost a job, experienced a death or is worn out from caring for an aging parent or a sick child. Sure, this person might just be a jerk, BUT maybe they are having a rough time. Compassion is always the best choice in my book.

Resist the Urge to Publicly Lecture

We will never fully agree with everyone. In fact, if we want to live a conflict-free life, then we need to just move to a deserted island. People hurt, they experience loss. They get in over their heads. Sometimes they believe differently than we do or support another political agenda. We won’t laugh at every joke and we won’t agree with every quote. That’s just reality.

This said, if something REALLY bothers us, we can confront, but we should do so in love and privately.

When I was in college, I was on a full Air Force scholarship to become a doctor. This meant that I was in A.F.R.O.T.C. There was an upperclassman who LOVED to berate people publicly. He would LOOK for an infraction and then take great joy in shaming us in public. Trust me, we ALL hated him.

We should avoid lecturing others if possible. Most people will just get ticked. Granted, there is a way to confront, but please do so in PRIVATE. Posting a lecture on someone’s wall is just going to put them on the defensive and it’s a good way of starting a public Facebook brawl.

If we are on social media any length of time, all of us are going to post something that unwittingly offends someone else. Often this is because others, due to their limited knowledge of us, may not understand or may misinterpret the intent.

For instance, I recently posted a gingerbread house that was made to look like a trailer…because it looked EXACTLY like where I used to live even down to the white car on blocks. The owner of the property was a hoarder, and every time he found spare tires, appliances, wood, scrap metal, he put it in the back yard in one big pile. He would also buy car bodies he was going to restore, but he never did and they just sat outside and rusted away.

I used to have a refrigerator on my back porch. NOT…KIDDING.

So my landlord was a hoarder and my neighbor was an animal hoarder who “owned” at least 75 feral cats. I didn’t sleep for months, because the cats used to keep me awake all night fighting/mating outside my window. Oh, and they ALL used my gravel drive as one giant litter box.

But, you know what? I MISS that place. It taught me to be so grateful for everything I have. I didn’t have any money, but I had good friends and a lot of love. And what seemed like hell back then are now some of my most cherished memories.

Careful When Confronting

Anyway, I posted the image of the gingerbread trailer home because it made me smile and reminded me of hard times, but some of the BEST times. I wasn’t making fun of people from the trailer park. I was remembering a time that was very happy for me. Yet, a couple of people felt that was I was being an elitist mocking those less fortunate and that posting the image was un-PC of me.

I would have been open to correction. I mean, I would NEVER want to hurt others. And maybe I didn’t think it through before I posted. BUT, I resented that I was being lectured over my own wall.

The offended parties could have messaged me privately and explained their side and I could have explained mine. Then I would either have the option of leaving it or quietly taking the image down because I didn’t realize it might be hurtful to others. But, since the confrontation was public, I feel it placed me in the spot of having to defend.

None of us like being treated like we are three. If someone is posting stuff on your wall, that’s a little different. They are not respecting YOUR space. But, when the “offending” material is on their own wall? We aren’t the manners police. We can either send a polite private message, hide the person’s feed, or unfriend because we aren’t a good fit.

All of us run across content that makes our hackles go up, but we need to just let it go. It’s unrealistic of us to expect to “like” everything posted. Just move on. If it really is bothersome, send a private message. Remember all of us have different backgrounds and experiences. What is fun and innocent to one person can be a capital offense to another. Just please bear in mind that most people don’t go out of their way to be deliberately mean.

As I mentioned earlier, it is best to assume the best and give others the benefit of the doubt. Just because someone posts something funny about a trailer park, doesn’t meant that they aren’t living in one. Trust me, you live somewhere bad enough and humor is all you have to get you through.

It is impossible to post content that EVERYONE loves. Some people love cats, others hate them. Some people love guns. Others think we shouldn’t be armed with anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Some people love inspirational quotes. Other people think they are sugary crap drivel. Some people have no problem with excessive profanity or vulgar jokes, while others keep everything G-rated.

The only way we can hope to get along is to just learn to pay attention to what speaks to us and ignore the rest. If it really is an issue, just message the person privately. They might actually agree and change or take down the post. They will at least be grateful that we acted discreetly to get the matter resolved.

Anyway, what are your thoughts? Have you had someone publicly shame you on social media? How did you take it? Do you have some advice? Other tips on how to lovingly confront? Have you lived in a trailer park? Do you still live in a trailer park? Share your stories! I think trailer parks are one of the most interesting places to live :D.

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of December, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of December I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

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  1. #1 by alexlaybourne on December 12, 2012 - 12:25 pm

    Reblogged this on Official Site of Alex Laybourne – Author and commented:
    As always, a wonderful post Kristen Lamb

  2. #2 by Danika Stone (@Danika_Stone) on December 12, 2012 - 12:28 pm

    You’ve really captured the truth about online interactions. It’s funny how the anonymity factor changes things. Great post!

  3. #3 by alexlaybourne on December 12, 2012 - 12:29 pm

    I could not agree with you more. I wrote a post earlier this week.. or maybe it was the end of last week, I forget. Anyway, in it I complained about how many authors over describe things to the point where the clarity is too pure and the image becomes vague. I mentioned in this post about how readers are partly to blame because they accept these books. In the post I also used the word lazy. As it transpired, I had made a few typo’s in the post and this caught the attention of one reader. However, he had clearly preconceived your advice because he emailed me via Facebook and had written up a response regarding my criticism of readers, and also pointing out these mistakes and how my use of the word lazy seemed fitting to my post. He did also point out that maybe there were circumstances behind the errors; which for me are 4 hours of sleep per night and a small blog writing window at around 04.30.

    While this guy ripped me a new one, he did it in a good way and for all the right reasons.

    As always, a great post Kristen. :)

  4. #4 by billgncs on December 12, 2012 - 12:37 pm

    I also found that most don’t want actual conversation that might challenge their view point. Best to just pass on by for them.

    The danger of this media is that we fall in love with the fiction of who we present, and that can distract us from improving the who we are.

    • #5 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 12, 2012 - 12:57 pm

      You know what? You NEVER know. This is why I am always open to those with a different opinion or another perspective. I don’t expect others to be robots who think everything I do is awesome. If I’d been confronted in private, likely I would have just taken it down to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. I forget that I wasn’t always so “evolved.” I’d like to think I would have laughed if I’d still been living in a trailer park. Heck, I laughed about it a lot back then, but who knows? Anyway, the person would have gotten further if the confrontation had offered me the ability to save face.

  5. #6 by Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom) on December 12, 2012 - 12:38 pm

    This is timely today. Not only is “faux pas” a word of the day with my middle school students, but my post today is called “The Elf on the Shelf…and Hate Mail.” Yes, I get some too. It mostly makes me laugh; ultimately, when people criticize the person (as opposed to the idea), it tends to make them sound sanctimonious.

  6. #7 by keelaurow on December 12, 2012 - 12:39 pm

    Must re-post. Great advice.

  7. #8 by Roni Loren on December 12, 2012 - 12:42 pm

    Ah, gotta love the public lectures. I got a giant dose of that when I posted about my getting sued over that blog photo. In the post, I said that I made a mistake and was ignorant of the rules. I took full blame–even when I could’ve vented about other parts of the situation. AND I didn’t have to come out and tell anyone what happened. I could’ve let everyone go on in blissful ignorance–like I had been operating under–and putting themselves at risk for getting sued. But I’m not built that way. I wanted to tell everyone because I wanted to help. And most people took it for that, and I got so many lovely comments and emails. Even the CEO of the company that helped the photographer in my case contacted me with a thank you letter for spreading the word.

    However, I also got many nasty comments calling me stupid and “how could you not know” and even someone outright saying I was lying about the whole situation. Uh, yeah. I wish the story had been fiction. But yeah, people love getting on their high horse when they can hide behind a computer screen. :(

    • #9 by Texanne on December 14, 2012 - 5:34 pm

      I was grateful for the information you shared. Many of us are not born knowing all the rules about everything in the world. You did a good thing.

  8. #10 by Jennette Marie Powell on December 12, 2012 - 12:42 pm

    Some people will get offended at anything, and act like freedom from being offended is a constitutional right or something. If I don’t like someone’s Facebook post, I just hide it. I can’t imagine crapping all over someone’s wall just because they posted something I don’t like.

    Oh, and I want that TransAm Hotwheels car. :D

  9. #11 by Tiffany Pitts on December 12, 2012 - 12:47 pm

    I have dealt with this and kept my mouth shut and wondered what would have happened IF I had said something. Thanks for reminding me that no, I shouldn’t have and that I did the right thing.

  10. #12 by Debbie Herbert on December 12, 2012 - 12:52 pm

    Of all my faults, offending others would be my least likely since I hate conflict and confrontation. Even in my novels my critique partners remind me to make my characters suffer. I can’t understand why some people feel the need for a public confrontation. Like you said, mention it in private and I bet the problem is easily resolved.

  11. #13 by lenwilliamscarver on December 12, 2012 - 12:53 pm

    so easy to jump back at a post where someone makes your mistakes public, I find I am slowly learning NOT to do that…it is not easy but I find if I just let it slide by and don’t respond I like me a whole lot better LOL. generally those that jump on the mistakes or verbiage are insecure and the only way they feel important is to belittle others.

  12. #14 by Anna Erishkigal on December 12, 2012 - 12:59 pm

    White trash from a trailer park? High five! I moved into an ancient trailer behind my grandmothers house while I was in law school for 3.5 years. Worked 2 jobs, busted my hump to get through, used money from the jobs to pay tuition, graduated with no student loan debt. The trailer had paper thin walls, was cold in the winter, hot in the summer, musty and never enough room, but I was content there. We had what we needed and it got us through. I’ve learned not to talk about trailer homes, however, because other people who might be living in one jump to the wrong conclusions whenever I dare even make a comment about trailer homes and assume I’m being snotty. No … I’m speaking from EXPERIENCE. Unfortunately, with social media, people never know you’re whole back story, only the narrow slice of your life now, so they foolishly take offense. Oh well, tell them to get over themselves!

  13. #15 by authorleannedyck on December 12, 2012 - 1:04 pm

    Some would warn me against commenting on blogs. You see, I’m dyslexic–capable of making more than three mistakes, capable of misspelling, use the wrong word or leaving letters or entire words out. I’ve spent too much time worrying that someone will berate me for my inability. Regardless, I ventured forth. And found that my social network is full of kind and supportive people. What will I do if (or when) I encounter someone who doesn’t understand or who acts before they think. I may educate them about the challenges I face or I may go somewhere else. You are right, Kristine. We all have different backgrounds. Can we embrace our similiarites and respect our differences? Hopefully. But we are all human.

  14. #16 by mitzireinbold on December 12, 2012 - 1:07 pm

    Kristen:
    As usual I’m sharing this on my FB Author page and tweeting it because we all need to be aware of other’s feelings. I think many FB users don’t understand the etiquette of wall posting vs messaging and they need to learn the difference. And of course, following the Do unto others rule is always the best thing to follow.
    People who rant about something they’ve seen on social media usually have their on set of issues. I try to remember that and not take the bait.
    Mitzi Reinbold w/a Mitzi Flyte

  15. #17 by borntolie on December 12, 2012 - 1:09 pm

    Can’t say that I agree. Personally, I don’t want to “shame” someone privately or in public, and nor do I appreciate being shamed in either context. Also, if a friend of mine posts something that I dissagree with I generally don’t have a problem saying that I dissagree, or wish facebook had an unlike butten, or otherwise comment. I think there are ways to vocally express your opinion, respectfully, and remain friends, even with someone you only know online.

    Agree or not, I enjoyed the post and love reading your blog Kristen.

  16. #18 by annerallen on December 12, 2012 - 1:10 pm

    So sorry for the loss of your aunt, Kristen. The public lecturers, professional fault-finders, and what I call “insult ferrets” think they’re showing superiority over their targets, I think that makes their little lives feel more important. But all they are doing is expressing their own lack of empathy.

    They don’t think of the people online (or on the screen or on stage) as human beings like themselves. They see “public” figures as clay pigeons to be shot down for their own amusement and rageaholic fixes.

    I’m glad you’ve written this to remind them they are inflicting real pain on real people, and in doing so, are diminishing themselves further. Thanks for the brave post!

  17. #19 by MonaKarel on December 12, 2012 - 1:13 pm

    As I pointed out on the FaceBook discussion, I find this a wonderful use of available materials, far more relatable for someone who lives in a trailer park than the pseudo Swiss chalets covered in kill your teeth sugar icing. Some people choose to be offended by pretty much anything. Lighten up, folks, if you can’t laugh at yourself who can you laugh at? Jeff Foxworthy?
    Kristen, as far as your living situation, what is behind us shapes who we are today. I could share some pretty “interesting” places I lived as well. And I’m amazed you managed to blog out anything after nursing then losing a relative. All I could do was go not so quietly insane

  18. #20 by Rachael on December 12, 2012 - 1:16 pm

    Thank you for this post. I was just discussing a FB thread where I learned this exact lesson. During the elections when everyone was not so quietly urging everyone to vote, I posted that I do not vote. But that I was grateful to live in a country where I had that choice. I had some who agreed with me, but it was those who didn’t that vehemently berated me about it. Some who know me well enough that their comments were very hurtful (my sister for one). I ended up un-friending someone who I didn’t know well and who was extra hurtful. Like you said, everyone has a back story and they don’t always share what it is. Thank you for this blog post. You said this much better than I could have. I’m re-posting because it is perfect! And I’m signing up to get your blog, found you from a re-post. :)

  19. #21 by lynnkelleyauthor on December 12, 2012 - 1:39 pm

    Excellent advice, Kristen. I try to remind myself that I don’t know what problems or grief a rude clerk might be dealing with. I try not to respond with rudeness, but if I’m overwhelmed with problems myself, I have a short temper. Then I feel guilty later. A little bit of kindness goes a long way no matter what situation we’re dealing with, and you’re so right about how much easier it is to mouth off online and not communicating face-to-face.

    Funny comment about guns. My hubby wants to buy another one, but we can’t afford one right now, so maybe I’ll buy him a potato peeler and wrap it up for him for Christmas! You don’t think he’ll be amused? No, probably not!

  20. #22 by Laura Ritchie on December 12, 2012 - 1:50 pm

    Wonderful post, Kristen. And just plain common sense. I’ve never suffered from a social media attack, and I will probably sit down and blubber when it happens. But you are so right to say we can never please everyone. Just gotta keep that in mind, deal with it, and move on.

    Thanks for another great post. Oh, and PS: I loved your trailer pic! :)

  21. #23 by Tasha Turner on December 12, 2012 - 2:12 pm

    Great post. I generally ignore people when they attack me publicly which leads to friends asking me why I don’t respond or attacking the person for me (this really ticks me off). I lost the need to defend myself years ago. Not that I don’t rave privately and unfriend people who repeat the behavior. I have friends who suggest I should be talking more about what I’ve gone/ going through so people would know and be more understanding. But I don’t see how my talking about down stuff is going to make my life better. I’d rather have a few people jump all over me because I didn’t word a post perfectly (is there such a thing?) than constantly be talking about and reminding myself about the crap going on in my life.

    How did I reach this place of “not needing to defend myself”? Looking at myself when I wanted to jump all over someone for what they said and then asking myself why I was reacting so strongly. Looking at what I was being attacked for and asking myself if I might have hit someone’s hot button or if I could have done a better job expressing myself. Realizing that if I’m participating online people are going to be offended by things I say/post for reasons that I’d never have thought of; its the price one pays for being social and for my own mental health learning to laugh instead of feeling the need to defend was healthier. My husband and I also made a game out of judging others favorably – who could come up with the most reasonable explanations for why someone might be “behaving badly” after reading a couple books on the topic.

  22. #24 by MegansBeadedDesigns on December 12, 2012 - 2:17 pm

    Where was this post during the aftermath of the election? I feel terribly guilty now. I did once or twice, lecture some folks on how we shouldn’t be name-calling or insulting those who disagree with us, blah, blah, blah… now I feel terrible. :-(

  23. #25 by alberta on December 12, 2012 - 2:32 pm

    I made myself a strict rule when I got up here in cyberspace not to get involved in politics/religion/current affairs I am up here to learn about writing/publishing/ and to promote my books – I apolgize to readers for mistakes -I am dyspraxic and often make mistakes and miss words – some days worse than others – there is so much that is fun and cheerful to post about – that’s what I try and do – am too old now to waste life in argument:) good post.

  24. #26 by C.S. Severe on December 12, 2012 - 3:48 pm

    Fighting online hardly leads to a resolution until someone takes the higher road and puts it rest. I usually take that route because I find it so senseless and a waste of time. Some people like a good fight because they’ve got nothing better to do or they’re just simply bored with their life. I think sometimes interactions on the internet can reveal a lot about a person in his or her real life. Thanks for a fantastic post!

  25. #27 by Jacqueline Hopkins-Walton on December 12, 2012 - 4:05 pm

    Politics and religion do not mix in social media, in person or online and this past election has brought out the worst in people. I rarely responded to any posts or posted anything on my wall about politics and religion. I learned real quick how to use my ‘unsubscribed’ feature on facebook as well as how to un-friend someone…all behind the scenes with no rants or name calling before I used them. They were not, as you said, the right mix for my beliefs and what I want to see on my wall or news feed. There is absolutely no reason that I can see to berate people in public or on an online social media — if you don’t agree with someone or like what they have said or done, just quietly un-friend or unsubscribed from them and an move on. Life is too short for the drama it causes if you respond to them. If I feel compelled to respond, I do it in private. Thank you for an eye-opening post.

  26. #28 by Marilyn Hudson Tucker on December 12, 2012 - 4:09 pm

    Thank you for the post. I agree with everything you said. I apologize for the person(s) who took a jab at you. We all need more kindness and compassion.

  27. #29 by Daan van den Bergh on December 12, 2012 - 4:16 pm

    Haha this post fits perfectly with something that happened to me today. But I won’t get into details. This sure gave me a lot to think about though

  28. #30 by Janet Williams on December 12, 2012 - 4:18 pm

    Reblogged this on Janet's Notebook and commented:
    It’s my birthday today (121212) and before the world ends in 9 days, I came across this thought provoking post, which is of great value to me.
    I’ve been chastised recently of being a failure (a failed mother), which upsets me deeply and seriously dents my confidence. I’ve now come to realise it takes a lot of wisdom to give advice to people without belittling them, and support must always come with love and respect. A Chinese saying goes, ‘When you’re at home, your parents are your support; when you’re away from home, your friends are your support.” I’m fortunate enough to have met some wonderful people, both in real life and through blogging. Parenting is one of the toughest jobs in the world. It never gets easy. The other day, my friend Hazel commented with a smile, ‘Ben is a credit to you.’ She didn’t even know how much this simple sentence came to restore my confidence.

  29. #31 by MaLinda Johnson on December 12, 2012 - 4:41 pm

    If some people do not like your content, that is a good thing! It means you are zeroing in on the folks who do.

  30. #32 by crouland1953 on December 12, 2012 - 4:57 pm

    I like what u wrote ,I took no offense, and I own a mobile home,with my two sons.Just started this 2day.I posted but I don’t no where to go and look for it.looking forward to future blogging :-)

  31. #33 by crouland1953 on December 12, 2012 - 5:13 pm

    Reblogged this on crouland1953's Blog and commented:
    Writing has always been a dream of mine I’ve let life get in the way,I’m Fed up with doing that .Like most everyone failure is a big fear.

  32. #34 by Sandra Wagner-Wright on December 12, 2012 - 5:38 pm

    Social media is its own special world. We never know who is reading what, when. We never know if the reader/writer is in a good space. As you say, ‘we are not alone.’

  33. #35 by crouland1953 on December 12, 2012 - 5:51 pm

    I observed a situation at a daycare at the time I did not no the person was the one in charge,here’s what it was I arrived to collect my fabulous grandson my looking about the gym a nd observe a. C h I’ll d being reprimanded the poor kids almost hysterical his eyes darting around looking at all the other kids what hing his humiliation…I walked over and told in a voice I hope she could hear over the child crying that she shouldn’t be reprimanding the child in front of everyone .She did need to be told that. it was impulse of the moment.

  34. #36 by Juliette on December 12, 2012 - 6:41 pm

    “Believe in the best”. Wonderful post. Thank you Kristen! Reblogging (even without the contest) on westcoastreview.wordpress.com

  35. #37 by amyshojai on December 12, 2012 - 7:39 pm

    Thanks for this on-point post. So many seem eager to find fault these days and even if the person is right–nobody enjoys public shaming. A private head’s up is much more palatable so if the person truly wants something corrected (rather than wanting to EMBARRASS…that’s a whole other thing) then the private note is much more effective.

    At least it is with me. Cuz I’ve got teeth and I know how to BITE. Just sayin…*s*

  36. #38 by Tahlia Newland on December 12, 2012 - 7:53 pm

    Totally true. It’s easy to go off at all the ‘bad’ things that other people do, but if we understand that they have their reasons, even if it is just ignorance, it helps us to handle the situation more compassionately and therefore more skilfully. My take on dealing with internet trolls is here http://happyhonkers.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/how-to-deal-with-internet-trolls/

  37. #39 by colinfalconer on December 12, 2012 - 9:18 pm

    I think PC (politically correct) is the wrong acronym. It should be NSOH (no sense of humor). Sigh. I love your gingerbread house. It’s very clever and very funny. Great post.

  38. #40 by mapelba on December 12, 2012 - 9:35 pm

    Once on FB a friend posted a joke that I thought was racist. She also added to the post that she knew it would offend someone but she still thought it was funny. I commented that she was right about offending someone. She and I actually managed to keep the argument in reasonable tones, but someone else she knew but who I didn’t, jumped in, and then we ended up in one of those FB brawls. Really, i felt bad for even taking the bait, but I did comment to the woman that we didn’t know anything about each other and that the comments were just slices of our lives, and I added all the good things I knew about our mutual friend. She told me I was too obtuse to discuss anything with. Lesson learned. I don’t comment on other people’s provocative posts anymore.

  39. #41 by Marcy Kennedy on December 12, 2012 - 10:12 pm

    Great post. I have a pet peeve about people who feel they have the right to publicly criticize others. It’s so easy to feel like you know the right answer when you’re on the outside looking in and so much harder when you’re the one trying to first find all the pieces of your life before you can decide whether crazy glue or duct tape might be the best choice for putting them all back together. I believe there’s a difference between respectfully disagreeing with someone else’s opinion and reprimanding them. The first can lead to a great discussion in public or in private, but the second should always be done one on one, in private, and always with an attitude of love and humility rather than superiority.

  40. #42 by MuseOfHell on December 13, 2012 - 3:15 am

    I was somewhat naive about commenting on a blog where the majority of the followers were of a particular and rigid political stripe. I am a very tactful person — I’ve been told I’m TOO tactful at times — and I posted (what I considered) a very polite and reasonable comment regarding the fact that since the election was over, it would be good if we could get our elected representatives to stop fighting and obstructing one another and go back to negotiating and compromising… activities that at one time were expected of members of both parties in order to get anything done in Washington. I was careful to point out that there was plenty of blame to go around on both sides but that it was time to set that aside and get back to business.

    WOW! I was eviscerated verbally by several people, one in particular who actually wished harm to come to my children and grandchildren (if I had any) because I was personally responsible for the downfall of democracy, the United States and, additionally, had personally ruined this woman’s life! I really wish blogs that cater to one particular belief system would warn people that only one set of views were supported there. The blog was NOT a political blog, but a blog about writing and the business of publishing. That particular blog post was, as far as I knew, a one-time comment on our current political situation and worded in such a way that it was not slanted toward one side or another (unless I don’t understand the “code” words).

    I was so shocked at the responses I received I responded by asking when it became acceptable to viciously attack someone they did not know simply because they politely expressed a different political opinion than the majority. I was then told I had no right to “scold” them and I should just go out and step in front of a bus; that I was a “troll” and everyone should just ignore my “nasty” and “insulting” comments. Needless to say, I did not bother to respond. It is amazing to me that people not only feel it is perfectly all right to be that rude and vicious to someone they don’t know but that they immediately assumed I was crowing and lording it over them because my side “had doomed the country to fascism and socialism and it would never recover.” I guess because I was raised by parents who were of the depression generation, you know, those folks who were taught good manners and passed it along, I believe that disagreement can be handled civilly. That has apparently gone the way of the rabbit-ear antenna…

    • #43 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 13, 2012 - 8:53 am

      First of all, a writing blog had no business blogging on politics. Secondly, it is the responsibility of the blogger to make sure that followers are behaving in a respectful way even to those who disagree. One of the main reasons I warn writers away from blogging on volatile subjects is it turns ur blog into a barroom brawl very easily. Sorry about your experience, but Yeah, this is why I just move on and don’t comment on these types of blogs.

      • #44 by museofhellheroes on December 13, 2012 - 10:08 am

        Well, I learned my lesson. I’ll not comment on anything even SLIGHTLY controversial until I give others time to comment and see if I have unwittingly entered a “free fire” zone. I must say, however, that I was shocked and disappointed that the blogger said nothing to the commenter and apparently just either agreed with them or felt I deserved what I got…

  41. #45 by Chris van Soolen on December 13, 2012 - 10:10 am

    Thank you for this post, it’s truth. And I believe that people can agree to disagree and have very productive discussions. But wow, the name calling and dressing-down stuff, that’s not only inappropriate, but it completely removes any respectability from the one doing the ‘shouting.’

    • #46 by museofhellheroes on December 13, 2012 - 11:19 am

      Some people tried to tell me that the blogger didn’t say anything to these people because it would just start a “war” if they tried to intervene. Somehow, I don’t buy that argument, especially regarding adults over 25. I was taught to always be civil, no matter how much I might disagree with someone — just regular politeness and respect you would give anyone. I guess that has gone out of style along with shirtwaist dresses…

  42. #47 by akreed on December 13, 2012 - 11:09 am

    I’ve nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger award. I read your blog often and your writing inspires me!

    http://oedaday.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/flattered/

  43. #48 by Tamara LeBlanc on December 13, 2012 - 4:15 pm

    That public lecture sent to you on your wall about that cute gingerbread trailer was not nice. I would have been ticked, too.
    And, hmm, A.F.R.O.T.C? And I thought you were amazing even before I found that one out :)
    Sorry I’m late, Kristen, but I wanted to make sure I read your post.
    Love the gingerbread by the way, and the little arrows pointing to memorable spots, very cute!!
    Have a great weekend!
    Tamara

  44. #49 by Pauline Baird Jones on December 13, 2012 - 5:15 pm

    My mom always taught me not to let other people’s words have power over how I felt. I’m amazed how much the world has changed and how being offended is so common. Why give ANYONE power over your emotions or life? Being offended is a CHOICE to let someone else decide how YOU feel. If I don’t like what I see, I mute the post. If its chronic, then I unfriend. It’s that simple. Oh, then I get on with my life. LOL!

  45. #50 by Undine on December 13, 2012 - 7:04 pm

    A very wise post. I think what offends me most about the internet is how perpetually offended so many people seem to be.

    A friend of mine lives in a trailer park, incidentally. It looks like Versailles compared to my house.

  46. #51 by snowtrill on December 13, 2012 - 7:17 pm

    I enjoyed your post. I use facebook and my blog as a personal platform more than a business. I try to keep my posts positive and even when I’m having a struggle I try to use dry sarcasm rather than negativity. My blog is intended to be quick and fun, if someone laughs or smiles when they read a post, I’m happy.

    I don’t normally have too many people being critical of me because what I post is much more of a personal nature right now. If they do and I find it inappropriate, I will remove it. If it’s just different I will respond and offer my opinion hopefully in a way that doesn’t diminish theirs.

  47. #52 by Richard Snow - Writer on December 13, 2012 - 8:21 pm

    Kristen, this is one of the best posts I’ve ever read. I’d like to reblog it. Is my memory right that you have no problems if people repost?

  48. #53 by Mari Adkins on December 13, 2012 - 9:57 pm

    I hear all the time people saying, “but nothing online is real.” And I just don’t understand that. This is a great post. I’m going to share it on Facebook. LOL :)

  49. #54 by PA Lassiter on December 14, 2012 - 10:42 am

    You never know what someone else is going through. You NEVER know. I make a point of thinking about what might be happening to someone when they post something that annoys me. It’s incredibly shaming to snark at someone only to find out that they are struggling with something profoundly difficult and perhaps made a mistake. The benefit of the doubt…a good way to live.

  50. #55 by nancyelizabethlauzon on December 14, 2012 - 12:57 pm

    So true. I think people get offended way too easily and should get over themselves. I was once walking from my car to a store and got chewed out by a woman who was trying to park, and she took offence because I happened to be walking through ‘her’ parking spot. Really? LOL. You have to laugh.

  51. #56 by hcfbutton on December 14, 2012 - 2:33 pm

    Excellent post, however I’d like to disagree with you on one item: “In fact, if we want to live a conflict-free life, then we need to just move to a deserted island. People hurt, they experience loss.”

    And if we don’t have anyone physically there to disagree with, our own brains will start making someone to argue with… I know this is true cause I argue with myself and my husband is starting to wonder. At least I’m not arguing with him…

  52. #57 by dlb on December 14, 2012 - 8:25 pm

    As usual, this blog is spot-on for my circumstances. This week has been horrible due to one of my aunts publicly shaming me and my parents on FB. She’s convinced that the whole family is against her, and her attacks are getting worse every day. She’s jealous, bitter, and willing to run all of us off in order to have her way. We are a close, loving family, and losing one of our own goes against our hearts.

    I took the conversation out of the public eye by hiding the post, and I messaged her privately to tell her how hurt I was by her accusations. She responded with more hurtful things. I’m torn between blocking her and keeping her around so I can watch what she’s up to and maybe warn the family if she goes completely bonkers. It’s a tough choice.

    I decided to not argue with her, however, even in private. I’ve let my family know everything that’s gone on, giving them the transcripts of the FB conversations so that those affected by her accusations could deal with them. It’s bad enough when someone you don’t know or only know in passing reams you out over something; far worse when someone you know and love chooses to be spiteful.

    Thanks, Kristen, for sharing your experiences and for offering encouraging words.

  53. #58 by Skip Prichard (@SkipPrichard) on December 15, 2012 - 11:09 am

    I really appreciate this post. When people criticize, they often don’t know what people are going through. It’s important to open a conversation. I often end the sentence with a question mark because I may want to share a perspective. I realize that my interpretation may be wrong. However, from your earlier post, maybe they are wearing clothes that are just too tight. Yeah, that’s gotta be it!

  54. #59 by ramblinann on December 16, 2012 - 7:51 am

    I used to clean for some elderly who lived in a beautiful over 55 trailer park not far from here. It was perfect. All on one floor, maintenance handled trash p/u, and snow removal, etc… I wanted to move in. LOL

    When my boys were younger, their step father and I had to move them to a bad part of the city into a triple decker. For this area that can mean the inner city version of a trailer park. To say I felt like the worst mom on the planet would be an understatement, but if someone had dared to call me that online I would have come out swinging. We were there because of circumstances beyond our control. It has been 8 years since we moved out of there and I can finally laugh at some of the things we endured.

    Oh and we now live in a “prefab” with three indoor cats, but my neighbor’s cats come over to pee outside my back door, and the feral’s use the spot directly under my bedroom window as their honeymoon suite.

    Personally I try not to publicly criticize anyone. Especially those I don’t know personally. As you said, I don’t know what happens in their life when the computer gets shut down.

  55. #60 by The Hook on December 16, 2012 - 8:29 am

    I think you’ve struck a chord here, Kristen – with virtually all of your readers. Who hasn’t been the subject of a virtual “Gotcha!!” and scorn? I’ve recently challenged an individual with some very pointed views on the hospitality industry and its workforce in particular. However, I’ve attempted to be respectful at all times.
    Sometimes you HAVE to speak up, but in a civilized manner, of course.
    Once again, thank you, Kristen.

  56. #61 by Diceyblog on December 16, 2012 - 6:44 pm

    “The only way we can hope to get along is to just learn to pay attention to what speaks to us and ignore the rest.”–Very true. Social media has us reaching people with different ideas and sensibilities. It’s impossible to please everyone all the time. All we can do is think about what’s important to us, yet still entertaining, and try to be positive. At least we can be comforted in knowing that we had the best of intentions, even if someone finds a post offensive.

  57. #62 by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria on December 17, 2012 - 5:41 pm

    Reblogged this on The Peoples Republic of Northumbria and commented:
    what a cracking blog and so right about social networking..

  58. #63 by Russell on December 18, 2012 - 6:14 pm

    As a humor writer, I find it can be a fine line between being funny and being a smartass. I like to build the humor around the situation or action and let my flawed characters be themselves. We all have a cousin Eddie–and if you’re a hillbilly like me–several of them. There is plenty to write about without attacking others or tackling subjects that open yourself to attack.

  59. #64 by Richard Snow - Writer on December 20, 2012 - 9:14 pm

    Reblogged this on Richard Snow Writer and commented:
    This blog post was by Kristen Lamb at warriorwriters.com. It’s one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read, and it’s about avoiding public fights and slanging matches on social media.

  60. #65 by cestgigi on December 27, 2012 - 12:46 am

    It’s strange; I just started a new blog, in addition to one already in existence. I wrote a post on the new one just yesterday about whether anger makes writing easier, remembering a FBook haranguing by a stranger. I had written a three-thousand word essay about the ‘haranguer’, who was a bully. I had tried several times to bow out of the conversation on a mutual friend’s wall, but she would have none of it. I had made the colossal mistake of expressing my own opinion, albeit respectfully, and I had made some historical mistakes in my comment. She began cyber stalking me, and her posts were detrimental to my reputation and character. Those comments are there potentially in perpetuity for the world to see and read. Finally, I wrote a post about the incident, after which she backed off and actually contacted her attorney! I summarily told him that writing the truth is never actionable. The point is, incivility on her part ultimately hurt her more because she is a published professor, and my article is up to stay on my blog. I spent hours on what I consider wonderful turns of phrase in my post, fueled by righteous anger. Right or not, I don’t know- but I wouldn’t have done it for an ordinary and respectful difference of opinion.

    I have also been ‘defriended’ for a teasing general remark after the election, and again for a difference of opinion about mainstream vs alternative medical care, of all things! The discussion was civil, the post I put up was on my wall, and this woman had joined the conversation. And, I’ve been banned and had nasty comments sent to me for writing reminiscences that didn’t happen to jive with the white-washing of other flight attendants about flying with Pan Am. I thought being banned was a hoot, like I was on a par with Lenny Bruce, or something. It actually motivated me to write twenty-plus stories about my flying years, memories I had previously just been sharing on a FBook forum.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that the ‘defriending’ and banning were done by women; most men seem to be able to have a disagreement without breaking off the connection, behavior that is typical of seventh-graders. I came to the conclusion that to be and write anything other than what you are, is foolhardy and impossible. I am not a mean, offensive, or aggressive person, so go figure. I am just glad I have the internet to write it all out. I am working on a new post, ‘Being Fey In America’. I’ll vent some more in that-

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