At the age of 18 I was one of 16 girls from college that decided to go to Malia, Crete, as part of an 18-30’s holiday (one of them met her future husband there) and we spent two weeks lazing about in the sun, drinking far more than we should and dancing the night away. I had a good time, but the trip was somewhat marred by the fact that one of the girls was openly hostile towards me right from the beginning. She activitely avoided engaging in any conversation with me, snapped at me on many occasions and at one point I think I remember that she shouted at me. I was confused by the situation and bent over backwards in an attempt to get into her good books with no avail. I knew that I hadn’t done or said anything to offend her, but at 18 years old I was quite a timid character and so allowed her to treat me badly as I was too scared to confront her about it (this would be very different now). After we returned we never spoke again. I have been offered a few explanations by mutual friends since, namely the fact that she had been going through a traumatic time in her personal life, but these don’t make sense to me as she was perfectly fine with the other girls. The only plausable reason for her behaviour was simply the fact that she just didn’t like me.
While this one particular girl’s opinion doesn’t concern me, this is a fact of life that I still find quite difficult to deal with, even at the age of 32. I’m now a much stronger character than I was in my teens and am perfectly capable of standing my ground, but I have still have an inherent desire to please people and would be lying if I said I didn’t care about what others think.
Ultimately, I want to be liked. Most of us do.
The original purpose of starting this blog was to try and rid my brain of the messy thoughts that had been plaguing me for a long time through the process of writing. I was in the throes of a bad bout of depression and didn’t think anyone would read it, but as my following has grown beyond all expectations I have become far more paranoid about what I write. I read and then re-read my posts before I publish them, sometimes keeping them in the draft section until I am sure that I am absolutely happy with what I am sending into the blogosphere and I question myself all the time. Do others enjoy reading my posts? What if I offend someone? Why has that person unfollowed me? Is my writing good enough? What if someone I know reads it? Am I going to put somebody off with yet another picture of my cat? As a self-proclaimed stat obsessive I have also been known to worry about the lack of feedback I’ve received on posts that I have deemed to be good. Judging from a number of recent posts I have read recently, there are lots of bloggers who feel the same way.
But should the opinions of our potential readership determine the way that we write, and what we write about? Are we limiting our creativity and holding back our thoughts in an effort to please others?
The inspiration for this was based upon this post that I read about a week ago. The author clearly wasn’t bothered by the backlash that he must have known that he would receive and while I disagreed with the generalisations he made, I was almost envious at his confidence to post something despite knowing that he would ruffle a few feminine feathers.
Generally I have to be careful about the content of my posts because of the nature of my job, and anything that can be deemed to bringing my place of work into disrepute could result in my contract being terminated. Initially, I was paranoid about revealing too much about certain areas of my life and the ‘real me’, despite the fact that I sometimes actually wanted to write about it. I was scared of the reaction from others – I’ve always felt that issues of mental health are still quite a taboo subject and others don’t always want to hear about it.
Good news – how wrong I was! Over recent months I have been a bit more daring and started to divulge information on a more personal level, and have been pleasantly surprised by the positive feedback and support that I have received.
I found a brilliant post from The Sits Girls that offered a perspective on the same subject.
‘We all have that innate predisposition to worry about what someone will think of us if we let them see the “real” person behind the blog. That is human nature. But bloggers who have actually gone deep on a particular subject, sharing some personal stuff, are usually glad they do. The feedback is almost always positive because people can relate. Being a write-from-the-heart kind of blogger is very rewarding on a personal level. You don’t always have to bare your soul, but doing so every now and then will endear you to your readers.’
However, if you are still concerned, I have a few hints and tips that you may find useful (and which I am going to try and follow myself).
- Stay true to yourself. Don’t make things up in an effort to please others
- Seek out people that share the same interests or who have experienced similar things.
- If you are going to discuss a subject that may be deemed to be controversial, do so in a respectful way and avoid generalisation and being judgemental. Writing a post that insults an entire community of people is not going to do you any favours.
- If you wish to remain anonymous and still promote your blog, create a separate Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest account to link your posts to and avoid telling friends and family about it.
- If you genuinely don’t want an element of you or your life to be read about, don’t write about it on a public blog.
Your blog is your blog. If you have an opinion about a subject, you are perfectly entitled to discuss whatever you like and my general experience of the blogging world is that it is a happy, supportive place. However, it is also important to understand that there are often those who may disagree with what you have written and accept that it is impossible to please everybody. In some cases, some people aren’t happy with anything and take great delight in ripping others apart.
Learn the difference between someone who offers constructive criticism and a troll.
I’ve been lucky when receiving feedback from others – the majority of comments offered have been respectful, useful and encouraging and I generally view the blogging world as a supportive community. However, I have noticed that there is a distinct correlation between a bloggers popularity and the amount of negative comments that they receive, some of them being outright disgusting. While a public blog is open for anybody to read, there are several ways in which you can deal with this.
If someone offers constructive criticism:
- Listen to what they have to say – they may actually have a point that you may not have considered
- Respond politely
- Ignore it
- Carry on
If a troll leaves a comment:
- Change your settings so that you have to approve the comment first, or disable the comment section entirely
- Delete the comment
- DO NOT respond to the comment
- Report the comment (again, on a public blog there is very little that can be done about this unless the comment is extreme)
- Carry on and do your best not to allow what they have written to affect what you think of yourself and your writing
When it comes to blogging, the only opinion that should matter is our own. Do you enjoy what you have posted? Does it make you smile? Has it helped to heal some wounds? Have you made some new ‘friends?’ Then it’s worth it.
The important thing is that we don’t limit ourselves to what we are fully capable of on the notion that somebody might dislike what we say. And if somebody doesn’t like it… well, it’s their loss.
Carry on blogging!!!
What about you guys? Do you get paranoid about what you write? Do you hold back from writing your true feelings about a subject in case you offend someone?
You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @Suzie81blog
Don’t forget to check out the winners of the New Year week 3 competition!!