Facing a Social Media Apocalypse? Sometimes We Need to Mend the Hearts We Hurt

Original image via WANA Commons courtesy of Cellar Door Films.

Original image via WANA Commons courtesy of Cellar Door Films.

When I wrote my new book, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World, I picked the title for a very good reason (aside from the seriously cool Terminator reference). We are HUMAN authors in a digital world. We aren’t machines.

Since this week’s theme is “apocalypse” (carrying the torch for Piper Bayard), I thought this would be a good topic to discuss, because when we do screw up and hurt someone, it can truly feel like the end of the world.

Truth is, we are flesh and blood people with bad days and baggage. Granted, the lessons in the book (and this blog) are designed to help us navigate the sea of 0s and 1s with greater ease, but to assume we won’t ever oops, bungle, or just plain show our butt is unrealistic.

Last week I wrote a post Are You Alienating Friends on Facebook & Fracturing Your Platform. There was a writer, who quite unwittingly, offended me. Being overtired and touchy, I reacted. Now, I could have left my far-less-than-ideal response out of last week’s blog and looked like the Shining Pillar of Awesome, but one thing I’ve always striven for in my relationship with you guys is authenticity.

I want you to know that even “experts” have bad days. We check messages when we know deep down we need a pizza and a nap. We screw up.

Sigh. No Social Media Sainthood for Kristen.

Yeah, This is Gonna Hurt

We live in an age of authenticity, and to be authentic sometimes…well, sucks. I’d love for you guys to think I’m pink and fluffy and better than unicorn stickers. But I goof. Granted, I make it a point to goof as little as humanly possible, but sometimes? I stick my foot in it….and then in trying to get my foot out of it, stick the other foot in and then fall and get a mouthful and both hands and face stuck and….yeah, it becomes an On-Line LaBrea Tar Pit.

Original Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Spasoff

Original Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Spasoff

Even those of us who know better can get touchy and type before thinking. We err. It all goes with that “being humans and not robots” thing. Hey, I regularly tell you guys my book should be named I Did All the Dumb Stuff So You Don’t Have To. While it’s a humorous title, I am not kidding. I really have done all the dumb stuff so you don’t have to.

We can talk about ways to avoid these pitfalls, but I’ve already done a lot of this in my blogs and book. I think the bigger question today is, “What can we do when we’ve shown our butt and are staring down the barrel of a brand apocalypse?”

Own It

About two months ago, someone started a Facebook thread regarding a certain celebrity. The tone of the question that began the thread hinted that it wasn’t a serious discussion. Just a discussion of whether we thought celebrities were nuts. Yet, as the thread evolved, there became a distinct mixture of serious and joking banter.

Soon, it became difficult to decipher which was which.

Instead of me just shutting up, I tried to bring a balance of debate with humor into the thread. Big problem though. We don’t have the benefit of facial expression or tone of voice and humor can easily be lost or misinterpreted. I failed to see that point when I just needed to be quiet and I very unwittingly hurt some feelings.

My humor was taken as insensitivity and my passion on the matter was taken as bullying. I didn’t mean to bully. Doctors misdiagnosed me for two years with epilepsy (was actually a SEVERE gluten allergy). No matter how much I protested the diagnosis was wrong, the doctors were relentless.

They were top neurologists and what did I know?

Eventually, this misdiagnosis destroyed my career and my health, bankrupted me and left me homeless and unable to get a job because no employer was going to take on an epileptic (which is how I became a writer, ironically). It took nearly ten years to dig out of the financial mess and I still suffer long-term effects from taking medications I should never have been prescribed.

So I never intended to plow over people, but my own experiences have made me very wary of trusting everything a doctor says.

But looking back? This thread wasn’t the proper forum for that discussion.

The next day, when I realized some of what I’d posted had been taken very differently than intended, I feel I did two important things (that weren’t easy, btw). First, I clarified my position, but then I didn’t defend beyond that. I took the mea culpa and admitted I was wrong…because I was.

I was dead wrong.

Beware of Shifting Terrain

I believe as the digital world changes and evolves, sometimes we don’t see the Social Media Fault Lines until we are stranded under a pile of debris begging for someone to throw us a rope. It’s why I added this FB thread experience to my new book.

Oh, sure, I knew not to get in rants in blog comments or froth about politics and religion…but celebrities and medicine?

Never saw that going sideways. Seriously.

Original image vis Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Gabriel Pollard

Original image vis Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Gabriel Pollard

But I do now. Kristen CAN be taught! *happy dance*

I can guarantee I won’t make that mistake again (just New and Improved ones :D). I learned. I’ve seen similar threads since then and my first thought? Kristen, you do not have a dog in that fight. Even threads that look funny on the surface. If they are regarding something people can get emotional about? I steer clear. Hey, live and learn *shrugs*.

Do We Want to Be Right? Or Be Happy?

In my mind? I choose happy. The next day when one of my followers blogged about Mean Girls on Social Media, she didn’t name names because she was classy like that. She gave me an opportunity to own my mistakes.

Embarrassing as it was, I outed myself in the comments and apologized. I never meant to hurt anyone, but I did and that’s all that mattered. So I needed to apologize and ask forgiveness.

Same thing with the message from last week. My next message to this person after our tiff?

“Please forgive me for being a touchy @$$clown. I was tired and had the skin of a grape and there’s no excuse. I deeply apologize. What can I do to help you with your new book?”

I’m super happy I swallowed my pride because I made a new friend, FOR REAL. We have had so much fun talking and sharing content and this person writes in a genre that is one of my favorites. Just like this writer was going to miss out on a potential BFF by dissecting me from his FB following (and hurting my feelings), I very nearly missed making a BFF by being a touchy jerk (and hurting his).

Never Underestimate Falling on Your Sword for the Greater Good

Just like that writer had no idea he would hurt me, I’ve had times I’ve said things I had NO CLUE might wound others (like the notorious Celebrity Thread of DOOM). For me not to extend the digital olive branch would be hypocritical.

We all have bad days and if we want grace, we’re wise to be liberal at offering it, too. It’s no guarantee we can right the wrong (which is why staying out of trouble is still the best option), but it is still a step in the right direction. Building hearts is always better than trying to repair them.

We All Know the Basics

Don’t rant about politics and religion. Don’t rant when we get a bad review. Don’t leave mean/hateful comments. Don’t react out of anger. Most of us do a pretty good job of keeping that stuff straight. It’s the gray areas where we get in trouble. Sometimes it’s tough to sense when we are too tired, strung out and should just find a cave somewhere. Sometimes we are trying to be funny or poignant and blow it.

If we spend any amount of time on social media, we are guaranteed to step on toes and hurt feelings. The key is to remember that love should be paramount. Pride and “being right” is highly overrated. And often, when we do own our mistake and ask forgiveness, the relationship is stronger. So never be afraid to just say, “I’m sorry.”

What are your thoughts? Have you ever put your foot in it and had to make things right even though it sucked? Come on! I can’t be the ONLY one….please. Have you ever taken the high road and it worked out for the best? Have you fallen into some social media traps we might not be aware of? Have you ever been a super awesome person who forgave someone like me who acted like an @$$hat and were you glad you did?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of July, 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. 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).

NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale, but I am updating them and will re-release. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.

Also, Remember there is a class on Antagonists THIS Friday (recorded if you can’t make it). Use WANA15 for 15% off.

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  1. #1 by Veronica on July 23, 2013 - 8:21 am

    I love your imperfections. It means you aren’t a cartoon character or a fictional character of a 1950s sitcom. Being authentic sucks sometimes, but ultimately you will find it leads to better relationships both personal and business. The people that can’t handle that shouldn’t be in your life anyway.

    I made one Facebook comment about politics a few years ago. WW III erupted and I fractured an entire local group in my community. I’ve since cleaned up most of the damage, but lived for days with a knot in my stomach and the need to move to a new town. Even my children felt the fall out.

    Will I screw up again? Probably. I’m only human, for better and for worse.
    -V

  2. #2 by mandasiefert39 on July 23, 2013 - 8:22 am

    i TOTALLY UNDERSTAND UR POSITION. ALMOST THE SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME. IT TOOK ALMOST 12 YRS. FOR IT TO EVEN RESOLVE A LITTLE!!

  3. #3 by Jayde-Ashe on July 23, 2013 - 8:23 am

    Excellent post. I am one of those people who are super cautious about being taken the wrong way…which at the end of the day, can be also called chicken shit. I will never forget a graphic, offensive mud-slinging match that erupted between two friends on my Facebook page. Where was I? Cowering in the corner saying nothing, refreshing the page every 30 seconds and guiltily giggling at the carnage that was emerging.

    I have an extremely difficult time saying I’m sorry, so I generally end up saying nothing at all. Which has its own downside, as I worry that I can often be viewed as opinion-less, which is far from the truth. But I completely agree that social media is a minefield which should be navigated with care on a daily basis…much like real life, I guess. Glad I found your blog :)

  4. #4 by broadsideblog on July 23, 2013 - 8:26 am

    The problem with social media is…it’s social (which gets messy) and it’s media, which some of us perceive as a free, enormous bullhorn with which to get really shouty and boring. I politely disagree that one should never blog about religion or politics, as I have blogged fairly often and very passionately about women’s reproductive rights, the f-bomb included. Readers love it and often re-blog it.

    I agree that ranting is stupid. Ranting about anything is boring. Persuade me. Amuse me. Move me. But don’t rant (she ranted.)

    Many bloggers, especially women, seem to shy away from anything that’s not all puppies-and-rainbows for fear of…? If you’re going to seek public attention, you’re going to take some hits along the way.

    I was wrist-slapped fairly tartly by several of my followers for taking down a blogger whose post (and whiny POV) I found dumb. They were disappointed in me (one un-followed but later returned) and said so, politely and clearly. It was useful. It forced me to re-think my position on that issue. I didn’t apologize but it was a useful insight into what readers want or expect from me.

    • #5 by Author Kristen Lamb on July 23, 2013 - 8:29 am

      I don’t mind per se the blogging on religion or politics (especially if it is part of our brand), but the ranting just causes indigestion and ranting by definition is rarely well-thought out. I never mind a thoughtful discussion over an opposing viewpoint, but being called names is a bit much. So that’s my concern.

      • #6 by broadsideblog on July 23, 2013 - 11:37 am

        The one and only time someone dared to call me a name I trashed the comment — then blogged about why I had made that choice. Without civility, this is all a big waste of time.

  5. #7 by Margaret Taylor on July 23, 2013 - 8:28 am

    Oh Ms. Kristen…

    You’re not the only one who has “Foot-In-Mouth Disease”. I have a huge case myself. My cure though is to try and think before I post…most of the time. But, I’ve also learned about what I call a “Dipo Filter”. It’s my diplomatic filter, that thing between my brain-mouth-fingers that I have to reinstall at least once a week, that keeps me from typing first and regretting what I typed later. It’s not always easy to listen to said filter, but it is there…*grins*

  6. #8 by Victoria Grefer on July 23, 2013 - 8:32 am

    A brilliant and beautiful post. Hits me right in my perfectionism :-) We’re aren’t and don’t need to be perfect (though we should always do our best.) It’s totally okay to slip up sometimes…. Just take responsibility, admit mistakes, and when possible, do everything you can do fix it.

    thanks for the reminders, Kristen!

  7. #9 by Jessica Thomas on July 23, 2013 - 8:34 am

    This is very timely, Kristen. Last night I was lamenting my social media fatigue. Sometimes I think it’s best if I just shut my trap and avoid social media altogether. That way I won’t say anything dumb or hurt anyone’s feelings. But I’m still looking for a balance somewhere in the middle.

  8. #11 by Paul Anthony Shortt on July 23, 2013 - 8:36 am

    This is so important. Not just for an author’s social media presence, but for life, too. I’ve made some bad choices that have led to difficult conversations before.

    I have recent experience with needing to be aware of how careful a writer needs to be online. Two friends made comments on an update I made about my WIP. They meant them as jokes, but I didn’t realise it from what they’d said, and was very upset. But I knew it would be extremely difficult to respond in a way that stood up for myself, but also allowed me to remain professional.

  9. #12 by Betty Bolte (@BettyBolte) on July 23, 2013 - 9:05 am

    Kristen, I mostly read your posts via email so haven’t taken time to comment previously. However, I wanted you to know that it’s your sincerity or “authenticity” that speaks to me most. It’s never an easy thing to out yourself, of course, but it is so important to do so, to admit a mistake or faux pas and then move on. On the flip side, it’s just as important to accept an apology and let the incident go into the “history” trash bin. Thanks for the reminder!

  10. #13 by Shea Ford on July 23, 2013 - 9:09 am

    I’d have to say that to my knowledge, I haven’t had this misstep on social media. At least no one has called me out on it anyway, so if I have, I’m not aware. I don’t say this to toot my own horn, but give praise to my mom. She always put a lot of emphasis on thinking about what I say before I say it. I’ve had gaffes in face-to-face situations, but I try to be extra careful on social media.

    I once, in a forum, took an unual “middle of the road” stance on a hot topic that most people are right or left on. Basically my mantra was “stop hating.” Another member didn’t understand my position at all and never seemed to read all of my posts. She kept ranting about me being a hater anyway, citing examples that I’d clearly opposed. In the end, everyone else ignored her because they knew she had no idea what she was talking about. lol

  11. #14 by Jennifer Cole on July 23, 2013 - 9:11 am

    What a really good post Kristen. I find myself trying to be sensitive to others feelings on social media for the simple fact that a smile said on your face as you type a response can be seen as a condescending. I am in several FB groups from a faith based standpoint, and we discussed an issue that is a hot topic among faith circles, and he made a comment to the extent, ‘Women like you–,”

    And being the crazy psycho woman I am, I went off on the gentleman and was quite frank with my response. I told him that he didn’t know me and that he can’t assume to know anything about me and some other choice words.

    But then, I found out the man was like in his late 70’s and I felt crushed. I would have never spoken to an older person like that in person as I have been taught to respect my elders, regardless what they say. Even though he had been wrong in his assumption about me, my mother raised me to respect my elders. So I ended up apologizing to him for going off. He didn’t necessarily apologize back because he thought he was right but we ended being, not necessarily BFFs but we do talk off and on and have let it go.

    I know the example is not in the gray area of topics but I still think it applies since we DO NOT see these people up close and personal. I believe someone said that most of what we say on line we would never say in person to other people. Which is probably very accurate. Date: Tue, 23 Jul 2013 13:04:15 +0000 To: jlynncole@hotmail.com

  12. #15 by LucyPireel on July 23, 2013 - 9:13 am

    Great post on this matter Kristen! But then there are also those people who, even if you apologise from the depth of your soul for something that was said with the best of intentions and in private, who will not have them and stay mad. :-(
    And far too often people indeed jump the gun and draw conclusions based on a few words in a comment which can be read any way you are inclined too. It is after all a matter of perception. If you are inclined to see humour in most anything, not much will phase you and make you throw a hissy fit, but if you are easily hurt, or mostly see how people are out to hurt you, you will read an innocent remark as an attack, so a lot is also due to reader’s perception. Lacking facial expression and tone of voice we should all take in account that the meaning of the written remark can be completely different from what we as reader see in it.
    But anyway, I am me. Try my best to be as friendly and helpful as I can be towards fellow authors and readers alike, but even then I do put my foot in it sometimes without me even knowing it. I only hope that the one offended will contact me and let me know, give me the chance to say how sorry I am for hurting feelings and not just unfriend or block me.

    • #16 by Author Kristen Lamb on July 23, 2013 - 9:23 am

      The other side of this is that there are people who are always looking to be offended. Every day is an “off day.” Blog trolls often fall into this category. If someone can’t accept a sincere apology (and we aren’t making a habit of being a non-stop jerk)? Then they would likely find something else to be offended about. Do your best. Be you and the rest will sort out just find. Good people know when someone just had an off day or when something was meant to be funny but came off wrong.

      • #17 by LucyPireel on July 23, 2013 - 9:41 am

        I know. :-) But still when you encounter one of those Gloom and Doom people I’m always a bit taken aback by it.
        But then I shrug it off and move on. Like I said, I can only be me. :-) And me isn’t a person who’s out to hurt people.

  13. #18 by D.J. Parsons on July 23, 2013 - 9:23 am

    Great Post! This is why I rant about Religion and Politics… I never hear religious leaders or politicians say they they may have been wrong about something. Only calculated cover-ups and side-steps. It is my understanding that Christianity is all about saying your sorry. Thank you for your good example of eating crow. I know I’ve eaten my share!

  14. #20 by Melissa Bowersock on July 23, 2013 - 9:31 am

    Great post; it’s always nice to know we’re not the only ones who put our foot in our mouth. I’ve found one thing above all else that helps me keep perspective, and that is time. If a post sends my blood pressure pounding and my brain into overdrive thinking of tart zinger responses, the best thing I can do is walk away and give it time. Oh, sure, for the next hour or two I will be writing and re-writing more zingers in my head, but beyond that I will generally get past it to some sort of clarity. Very often I’ve found that the best responses are minimal, something like, “Thanks for sharing,” or, “Guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.” But of course making comments that I believe are plain vanilla bland but someone else feels as daggers is another story. We’re human, and we all view things through our own individual lenses of experience. No getting around that, ever.

  15. #21 by Rebecca Bradley on July 23, 2013 - 9:31 am

    I love this post. It’s so real. Sometimes it’s so, so hard to stay out of discussions and debates. You’re really itching to say something. Even on a relatively “normal” day when what you want to say seems fine if you can just word it right. I lost a follower last week for having an opinion on green energy. It was a different opinion therefore it was automatically wrong.

    This is where I start to think a lot about my online activity. Am I just there to dribble about meaningless things? Because an opinion on green energy in which I say,- is just an opinion and both sides are valid and we probably won’t be swayed by the other because we’re so passionate, which is good, – shouldn’t result in unfollowing. Can I not engage in topical conversations for fear or upsetting someone?

    It’s a very fine line. It’s good to be able to accept when you’re wrong, but for me, as long as I’m still thoughtful of the other person, if they are so sensitive that they need to unfollow then I’m not going to mourn that loss. If I recognised it as my being possibly offensive or causing hurt, then yes, an apology is in order.

    It’s been hard not to tap some replys out some days but once it’s been read its been read and we know that. But boy it’s hard!

  16. #22 by Dennis Langley on July 23, 2013 - 9:34 am

    Character is defined by the amount of our own @#%&ups we are willing to admit up to and apologize for. I’d say your character is sound. When I started my blog, I swore that I would not use it as a soap box and except for two minor incidents, I’ve been successful. My father always said that my mouth would get me in trouble. He has been right on more than a few occasions but, I try real hard to keep negative emotions out of my social media platform.

  17. #23 by Alexa on July 23, 2013 - 9:47 am

    Love you Kristen Lamb for your wisdom and your ability to woman-up and say you’re sorry. It’s so much easier to strike out at others when we feel we’ve been wronged, or even if it’s something we fervently disagree about, but what do we win if we’ve lost our reputation? I find that if I go ahead and write a response, and then delete it, I have gotten what I need to say off my chest, but no harm has been done. Then I may or may not type a real reply, but it’s more thought out and reflects a softer gentler me.

  18. #24 by Catherine Johnson on July 23, 2013 - 9:58 am

    Shall we start a foot in mouth group on FB lol?

  19. #27 by Sydney Jane Baily on July 23, 2013 - 10:34 am

    We’ve all done it, Kristen. You just have a much higher profile for making mistakes than most of us. And we writers would all give our hind teeth (cause who the heck needs ‘em anyway) to get that higher profile, even if it shows off our mistakes. Keep on keeping on.

  20. #28 by Robin on July 23, 2013 - 10:35 am

    Interesting discussion. Just this morning I was pulling my hair out on a discussion that I started on a fitness topic that got away from me. I so wanted to speak my feelings but stopped, and thought, and towed the line. I so wish we didn’t have to do that. Sometimes you wonder if that’s why the people who could potentially have the best things to say, might just opt out of the conversation altogether. I also did a post yesterday that was rather sensitive and personal and received a very dumb comment on facebook that required a “duh! idiot!” in return, and I just “liked” it. I feel stupid and not-authentic but I suppose the guy at least took the time read my post?

  21. #29 by creativityorcrazy on July 23, 2013 - 11:14 am

    I try to be overly cautious on social media, because you never know what will hit someone wrong. I’ll still get touchy and occasionally throw out vague face book post, but nothing that would be identifying and most everyone probably wouldn’t even know what I was talking about unless they truly knew my life. I can be sweet, but have unfortunately found when overloaded I can have a passive-aggressive streak. I’m working on it.

  22. #30 by sharonhughson on July 23, 2013 - 11:30 am

    Only one week on the FB scene so I haven’t stuck my foot in it – yet. I do it often enough in real life to know I will have to watch my step in the online realm.
    I appreciate your authenticity and sincerity and have rolled my eyes at a few of your commenters who obviously just wanted to get their panties in a wad. Fortunately (or more likely UNfortunately since it indicates a lack in my posts) I haven’t been visited by any trolls on my blog.

  23. #31 by Mara Valderran on July 23, 2013 - 11:32 am

    I would like to add: Don’t make fun of other books/shows you don’t like to the basics. Learned this one the hard way as I constantly teased friends who were big fans of a certain mainstream series. Now that I am putting myself out there as a writer, I realize just how insensitive that was. It was pretty humbling. So now I try not to say anything. And I refrain from re-posting funny pictures that still make fun of the series, even if they do make me laugh so hard I snarf my breakfast. Hey, I still have the same opinion about the books–just not the people reading them. To each their own.

  24. #32 by Heather on July 23, 2013 - 11:42 am

    I also wonder how to moderate these things too. I asked a simple question about politics (oxymoron – I know!) and it got lambasted by 2 people who wanted to argue about it. I just wanted to know how that particular region did it, not whether or not it was better. But it’s so difficult to do a joke online. It definitely doesn’t come across well, especially if the topic is verging on a serious one.

  25. #33 by cynthiagrstacey on July 23, 2013 - 11:46 am

    I am fairly new on the social media front so I don’t think I have offended anyone yet. I add the yet. My mother taught me if you don’t have nothing nice to say don’t say anything. Words I try to teach my own kids. I am human however so If I do offend I try to amend (hey that rhymes..lol) good advice Kristen and great post. I’ve always liked your honesty and integrity. (and your humor too!)

    • #34 by Author Kristen Lamb on July 23, 2013 - 12:02 pm

      Yeah, well a lot of people laughed at my humor on that thread…it was the ones that didn’t *hangs head*. Humor can be great but it can hit hot buttons too. I think that’s why comedians change the world (namely because we are self-deprecating and cute) :D.

  26. #35 by Yvonne Hertzberger on July 23, 2013 - 12:06 pm

    An honest apology and an attempt to atone for our mistakes are the signs of courage and integrity. I wish more people would understand that. So many hide away and never admit their mistakes.

  27. #36 by corrinestewartwrites on July 23, 2013 - 12:18 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. We all have “days”, some more than others, but to have the courage to admit our faults and voice our apology is almost a lost art. Thank you for just being real.

  28. #37 by Melissa Lewicki on July 23, 2013 - 12:28 pm

    I so agree with the “falling on the sword” thing. Sincere apologies can make such a difference. I used to work in an office where we would bring in 20 to 30 people at a time to explain their benefits. Sometimes we would run late. If I would go out in the lobby explain that we were running 10 minutes late and apologize for the inconvenience, the whole cranky tone in the lobby would change. When those folks came in for our meeting, they were friendly and gracious. If I had not apologized, it would have been a far different story. It takes so little effort to say “sorry” and treat people well.

  29. #38 by Brett on July 23, 2013 - 1:08 pm

    Great points! Thanks for sharing your experience. I think it’s very relatable–and honest.

    I’ve been lucky enough to avoid any major incidents, but I certainly feel constrained and guarded whenever I say anything on social media. It’s all about finding the right outlets, I think. That said, I remember once I was tired and irked about things and I posted an intense tirade against consumerism, etc. When I woke up the next day, I logged on, preparing to delete it, bracing myself for some fighting words. Instead, I had a salvo of likes and some great comments. People even told me how much they liked it in person.

    Sometimes, you never know, I guess.

  30. #39 by jennymilchJ on July 23, 2013 - 1:46 pm

    It’s so hard when we are minus tone and facial expression and body language. You are such a gracious person, but I agree…sometimes what’s needed is to admit how ungracious we can be, even if we didn’t mean it.

  31. #40 by laurieboris: on July 23, 2013 - 2:05 pm

    You’d think the years I spent as a communications professional would prevent foot-in-mouth, but I’ve done my share. We’re all human and as JennymilchJ just wrote, since we have no visual and vocal cues in our online messages, a huge part of the communication is lost. Sometimes I’ve tried to be clever with the wrong people at the wrong time and it’s blown up in my face. Apologies go a long way. Thank you for this post, Kristen. :D

  32. #41 by Julie Glover on July 23, 2013 - 2:51 pm

    Your story made me think of a recent time when I posted something on Facebook and a friend privately messaged me to say that it came off all wrong. I honestly didn’t know. What I posted wouldn’t have bothered me, but once made aware, I took the status update down. I never meant to offend anyone.

    And that’s what I think is key. If you say something and it comes across in a way you didn’t intend, you have to be willing to talk it out and change direction. Also, you can’t conclude that someone’s a total jerk based on one tweet or status update. Seriously…give the benefit of the doubt.

    A little grace goes a long way in social situations, including social media.

  33. #42 by M T McGuire on July 23, 2013 - 3:37 pm

    Excellent advice and very true.

    Cheers

    MTM

  34. #43 by bwcarey on July 23, 2013 - 4:28 pm

    you should be on the bill o’reilly show, he likes no nonsense folks who are not particularly correct and don’t mind blasting off, even if they get it wrong quite a lot, you obviously have talent and you don’t care if people dislike your opinions, and as for your observation of the truth, 100%, people prefer being lied to, good for you.

  35. #44 by LillianC on July 23, 2013 - 4:37 pm

    Love that line, “I do not have a dog in this fight.” I’m going to hang on to that and make it part of my mental yardstick for measuring whether or not I want to get into a potentially volatile discussion online. Thank you!

  36. #45 by Imelda Evans on July 23, 2013 - 5:21 pm

    I have found that, with good people, a willingness to own your mistakes and genuinely apologise will usually handle it. I’ve been pretty lucky so far on social media, in regard to not offending people, but that’s mainly because I’ve had a LOT of experience of accidentally upsetting people in real life to learn from. I am never deliberately rude (well, hardly ever) but I seem to have something of a genius for doing it accidentally. It’s one of the things that I hope is improving with age (there have to be some compensations!)

    I think one of the hardest things about online interactions is that we can’t hear or see those tells that show humour or hurt. I think that’s what bit you in the behind on that thread, Kristen. What was funny to some was really not to others and missing that gap ended up being like when you miss a step that you didn’t know was there. You’re just cruising along, not a care in the world, and all of a sudden, you’ve broken a heel, bit your tongue and thumped your arse on the concrete.

    But like you say, those incidents, painful and embarassing and hurtful as they are, are what make us human. Getting back up again, owning our falls and mending the damage is what makes us awesome humans. You’re an awesome human, Kristen. We love you. Keep being real and showing the world how it’s done. :) xxoo

  37. #46 by Stephanie on July 23, 2013 - 5:55 pm

    I’m so glad this got sorted out. It definitely got an eyebrow raise from me last week when it happened, but we all make mistakes and we ALL have bad days (or weeks … ) So glad it worked out for the best. :)

  38. #47 by Kitt Crescendo on July 23, 2013 - 7:08 pm

    Falling on your own sword–one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but the loyalty I gained by protecting my people by doing so made it worth it. Back when I worked in management, it was that kind of behavior that had my employees willing to walk through fire for me when my peers would struggle. Best advice a boss ever gave me. Whenever I’ve been placed in a leadership role my position has been…if it’s bad, I’ll take the hit for my employees and we’ll talk about it privately later. If it’s glory…Let THEM take all the accolades. It’s not always easy, so you have my respect for “owning” it.

  39. #48 by Amber West on July 23, 2013 - 7:36 pm

    “because she was classy like that”

    I don’t know about that, but glad you thought so.

    When I wrote my post (http://withoutsushi.com/facebook-angelina-jolie-and-mean-girls/), it wasn’t meant to call anyone out.

    The reality is that the FB thread showed up in my feed despite the fact that we are not FB friends (curse you weird privacy rules), and you were not the only person making statements that I could see were hurting others. And I also wasn’t necessarily disagreeing with the heart of your statements.

    But the thread came on a day where I saw a lot of what I call “mean girl” behavior. I had enough. I needed to address it – mostly because it IS so easy to fall into that type of talk.

    And I do appreciate that you took the time out to “out” yourself, when you could have stayed at the sidelines and ignored it. No one would have known (unless they were following that particular thread) that you were among those who were on the receiving end of my ridicule that day.

    I’m often the “funny girl” in groups. And I know how fine that line is between humor and offense – and I can’t say that I’ve never crossed it. But it’s something I work on, and something that I felt the need to comment on that day because I see it so much.

    So, good on you for letting people know that no matter what your INTENT, sometimes it’s good to see how your words come across. It doesn’t mean you have to alter your opinions or personal beliefs – it just shows the maturity to acknowledge that sometimes we say things that hurt others, and sometimes, a lot of times, that matters.Taking a moment to acknowledge that there might be a better way to address an issue you feel strongly about goes a long way.

    • #49 by Author Kristen Lamb on July 23, 2013 - 8:11 pm

      Well, I think the heart of communication is people receive the message you are trying to convey. I was in NO WAY intending to ridicule anyone, just caution that this is a SERIOUS decision and be careful listening to all doctors tell us (because I did and they damn near killed me as I mentioned). My INTENT was to try to balance the conversation with levity, but that came across and heartlessness and thoughtlessness. All that was left to do is take the hit and say, “I’m sorry.”

      Whether we intentionally shoot someone or accidentally shoot someone, they still have a gunshot wound. Same with words. We all struggle to improve our communication in this new world and frankly, sometimes we blow it. It stinks to admit I am very imperfect, but all I can do is try to repair and mend the relationships that were damaged…and in the future be FAR MORE CAREFUL.

      And you handled it masterfully. You confronted and those of us willing to go, “Er, yeah, that was me.” We learned and had a forum to offer a heartfelt apology :D.

  40. #50 by pamelacreese on July 23, 2013 - 8:39 pm

    Gluten allergy? Kristen! dahling… another point of connection. Miserable thing, since so many people rate it with say hayfever instead of where it belongs…right up there with peanuts!

    I admit I have been less than tactful in some of my comments and social media attempts. Thankfully, I do not yet have a ‘name’ and no one will likely ever remember (as they probably never even READ any of my insignificant comments). However, when I have known I was wromg or offended I did try to offer amends. Sometimes they accept; sometimes they cut ya off with no means to approach them. Door slammed.

    I might ask, is there a proper response in such an instance?

  41. #51 by donnajeanmcdunn on July 23, 2013 - 10:35 pm

    I too had to learn the hard way to be careful what I write on social media. I made a comment about an author’s book. I was trying to be funny, but I should have simply said the truth, that I had checked it out but didn’t purchase it because it was a genre I didn’t read. The poor guy thought I was attacking his book. I wasn’t and I promptly apologized but I felt like I had destroyed this poor guy even though I hadn’t meant to. I’m hoping that at least maybe his sales went up because of my stupid comment.

  42. #52 by ontyrepassages on July 24, 2013 - 4:46 am

    I can’t think of specific instances, but I know I’ve misread the tone others are using and have had my dry humor taken the wrong way. No matter what I apologize for the misunderstanding and continue to try and be more cautious. If it’s humor I make sure they know it. Too, I sympathize with your misdiagnosis. I was misdiagnosed back in 2009 and was on the wrong meds for 9 months. When I insisted I was getting worse the doctor sent me to a psychiatrist. I ended up in the hospital and permanent lung damage. I helps keep me in my chair more often to write is the way I look at it now.

  43. #53 by Jade Reyner on July 24, 2013 - 4:57 am

    Thank you for such an honest post which is a sage lesson to us all. :-)

  44. #54 by Nikki Starcat Shields on July 24, 2013 - 9:58 am

    Hi Kristen. I’ve just discovered your blog and books recently (I’m reading Rise of the Machines and love it!). I have a question about learning the craft of fiction. By way of background, I’m a nonfiction writer, and my main focus is personal spirituality. My first book was just published this past winter, and I’ve just written a second one, which I plan to self-publish this summer (by choice). I’m having SO much fun writing, and am starting to get the hang of promotion and the use of social media. I’ve been blogging for quite a while, already, so that helps.

    Anyway, to the point, I want to start delving into fiction. My plan is to set up an outline and get things ready, then do NaNoWriMo in November to begin work on my first draft of a novel. My question: what craft books would you recommend I read in preparation? In your blogs you refer to things like character arcs and 3-acts and other things I’m not super familiar with. I’m part of ROW80, and my fellow authors over there also refer to a lot of these common fiction-writer terms. I realize that practice is essential, and I’m already writing every day (not fiction, but I will be once I start the novel). I want to learn the key things I need to know as I set up my outline and start my new adventure in fiction writing. Thanks in advance for any recommendations you can provide. I’m so thankful for your blog – your writing is not only informative and helpful to me, but also a whole lot of fun to read.

    Blessings,
    Nikki Starcat Shields

  45. #55 by Kate on July 27, 2013 - 10:22 pm

    It wasn’t social media, but an email that caused me anguish. It was pre-election of Obama and I was bombarded in emails and social media with all sorts of bad mouthing about him. And not because I was voting for or against him, but I was tired of it. Tired of the mean-ness, tired of the negativity, the veiled discrimination comments, etc. Most of the emails came from my dear sister-in-law. Someone I love deeply and is the sweetest person I know. It disappointed me greatly that she was forwarding these hateful, hurtful messages. One particularly bad day I was in a foul mood. And opening my email to find yet again another Obama bashing email…I snapped. I hit “reply all”, clicked on the dreaded “all caps” and wrote back that I was tired of it. I didn’t want to get any more of these types of emails. They were wrong, misleading and hurtful. And I would vote for whoever I thought was the better candidate to lead this country. I hit “send”, and heaved a sigh of relief. Felt like I took a righteous stand in an otherwise down and dirty election campaign.
    That was short-lived. Next thing I knew I received response after response from all those on my s-i-l’s contact list. “How could I yell at such a sweet woman?”, “You are a mean-spirited person to yell at a nice woman”, was called many names not fit to print, etc etc. One person even began to spam me with even more hateful msgs about Obama.
    I then realized that I had just acted like the mean girls I don’t like, the ones I want to stand up to, the ones that I wish could be banned across all social media platforms. I had become one of THEM! And had hurt someone I love deeply, all because I had a bad day and pointed all my anger over the mean campaign msgs toward her.
    I apologized over and over and over, and till this day I still feel like I’m trying to mend fences with my s-i-l, (though she’s always telling me that its not necessary, says she totally understands).
    So now I’m a big proponent of the “stop and think before hitting send” style of commenting/replying.

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