«

»

Mar 14

First Impressions, and The Worst Part about Blogging

A happy bird.

A happy bird.

I realized something sort of huge tonight.

All this time, I thought that the thing I liked least about blogging was the negative comments.  If you asked me, even this morning, I wouldn’t have hesitated.  ”The negative comments! The people who call me names, the people who call me judgmental, the people who make unfair assumptions!” And don’t get me wrong, I don’t like that part.  It’s not enjoyable.

But it’s not the worst part.

Tonight I was told that I “justified judgement, arrogance, and condemnation.” Now that’s certainly not the worst thing anyone’s ever said about me (heck, it probably wouldn’t even make it into the top ten), but it still stung.  Because while I can intellectually realize that what strangers say about me doesn’t matter, and that what other people think about me is none of my business, and all those other cliches that everyone likes to remind me of when I start to feel beat down by the negativity….. emotionally is another story.

Us introverted writers are a sensitive bunch.

But after I followed a dear friend’s advice and hugged a kid, hugged a cat, and had a drink (in exactly that order) I realized that I’ve been bothered by the wrong thing all along.  I really didn’t care what this stranger had said about me.  What I cared about was the fact that in that moment, in that blog post, to that woman…

I had failed.

When someone follows a link and comes to my blog for the first time, I have ONE chance to win them over.  And I don’t mean “win them over” in a slick salesman, motivational speaker kind of way.  I don’t profit in any way from my blog, and I have never written with a goal of getting more readers.  But I do want to connect.

I don’t like superficiality, I’m terrible at small talk, and I’ve never been accused of being the life of the party.  But if you want to have an actual conversation?  I’m your girl.  Which is why, when someone comes to my blog and promptly decides I’m judgmental/arrogant/a generally sucky person based on one post…. I feel like I failed. Conversation’s over before it started.  ”But she doesn’t even know me!” I’ll often lament to husband, who will respond with something to the effect of, “That’s right, so why would it matter?”

It matters because maybe we could have had a conversation.  Maybe we could have connected in some positive way.  Maybe you hated, absolutely HATED the first blog post you read by me…. but would have loved the next twenty.  Maybe you would have discovered I’m not so awful after all.

I’ve carried a little metal link on my key chain for the past several years.  (It was given to me by a Church of Christ minister, lest you read my story and I think that I only harbor negative memories.  I don’t)  It serves as a reminder that we never know when God might use us as a link for somebody else.  A link to God, a link to kindness, a link to compassion.

link

The really great thing about blogging is that it allows me to be that link fairly often.  Connecting with others and supporting each other on our journeys is sometimes the only thing that keeps me from pulling the whole thing down.  I get that not everyone is here to connect, and/or thinks I’m a terrible writer or has zero interest in anything I have to say.   That’s cool too, when you leave quietly and I don’t have to actually be made privy to anything I just mentioned.

Oh, but the ones who come out of the gate with the insults……

I try to give the benefit of the doubt, because their first impression of me is also my first impression of them. But, well, it’s hard to shake hands with a fist.

And so, I’ve nothing to do but to think of the quote from What About Bob:

 

You know what I do? I treat people like they’re telephones. If I meet somebody who I don’t think likes me I just say to myself ‘Bob, this one’s out of order. Just hang up and try again.”

Out of order phones. I just need to think of it – of them – as out of order phones. If for no other reason, because it’s a whole lot better than thinking that I failed.


signature
  • http://mommainprogress.blogspot.com/ Valerie @ Momma in Progress

    I’m pretty sure I know post you are referring to; it showed up in my newsfeed last night but I did not comment on it. (I was busy losing readers on my own page after posting about vaccinations. ;-) I’ve been following your page/posts for a long time now, and I agree with probably 95-99% of what you share. I have to admit, though, these types of posts make me uncomfortable. Not just the actual posting of them, but the comments that inevitably follow. I saw folks saying this woman should have never had kids, and making assumptions about her childhood (among other things). Based on secondhand information of a 10-second observation of a stranger. If I didn’t already know about your blog, and what awesome things you post and share, I might have gotten the wrong impression from this as well. To be perfectly honest, I’ve not followed blogs (or unfollowed ones I had already “liked”) over less. And while I know you have no control over what people comment (unless you want to start deleting them), the followers of a page do give an overall image of the page as well. If this were my first experience with what you share, and this post was all I saw, I probably would have kept scrolling. For the record, I know folks probably came to my page last night and thought the exact same thing.

    • http://www.jennifermcgrail.com/ pathlesstaken

      It actually wasn’t even about that post, but I got caught up this morning, and um… wow, that got interesting fast. :-/ I totally get what you’re saying here, and am glad to know that other blog owners can relate! PS You rock for being brave enough to post about vaccines. :) That’s one of just a very few things on my “won’t touch that one with a ten foot pole” list. :)

  • Lisa from Iroquois

    Just for the record – I’m not a parent, I don’t home school, I don’t do yoga anymore, I live in the cold northern end of this continent vs your southern heat and dryness. Heck, I’m not even a Christian and in contrast to your dreads I’m trying to screw up the courage to just shave off my hair completely. I’m essentially a stranger to you though you might recognize that I’ve commented a time or two in the past – but somehow I feel a connection, a familiarity, when I read your blog. It’s there in your humanity, your compassion, your passion – and so I keep reading. Not everyone connects with everyone else, so please don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes noise, or emotional static gets in the way, sometimes it’s just timing – you’re brave to keep putting yourself out there, and honest in a way that only some people can even aspire to.

    • http://www.jennifermcgrail.com/ pathlesstaken

      Lisa, thanks so much for those kind words. And I absolutely recognize your name. :) It means a lot to connect with someone who, on the surface, you don’t have much in common with, and I so appreciate your reading and commenting!

  • Erin

    Jen. As someone who has respectfully disagreed with you before, I also wholeheartedly agree with you the other 98% of the time. I’m so glad you are processing the negative comments; and while I know some come from the right place, many don’t or are just mean/unkind. I know when I come to your page that I can connect with a like minded mama on several different levels. And for an introvert mama in real life, that means a lot. Thank you for doing what you do, and putting yourself out there, despite what the yucky side of blogging brings you. Hugs.

  • Rita

    Jen, my original comment was not meant for you, but for your friend who posted your link. But she pulled you into it, I’m not sure why. Please understand that all I did was disagree with you and try to explain why. I don’t think you’re a sucky person and I don’t think you’re awful. I was just trying to have that conversation that you are referring to above. I have no ill-will toward you. Matter of fact, I’ve been praying for you. Please forgive me for making you feel bad.