Yesterday I was catching up on BlogHer conference recaps and read a post that made me realize something I had said during the conference upset someone. I had no idea. My comment wasn’t meant in a mean or derogatory way, it was an attempt at a joke to ease a tense moment another friend was having. (I am being vague on purpose.)
Seeing how something I had said had harmed someone, and not just any someone, but a friend, was terribly upsetting. I couldn’t do anything else until I made the steps to make it right. I sent my friend a message letting her know I had said the words she had just written about, the words that had shadowed an entire experience at the conference for her. I briefly explained why I made the comment, but mostly offered my sincere apologies for being so obtuse.
Knowing that my words hurt someone, my idiotic and thoughtless comments, well there is nothing worse in the world of friendship. Apologizing is the only action I had, that and leaving a public comment on her site owning my actions. No, it wasn’t some hurtful troll that had said the awful remark, but a friend.
I should know better. I really and truly should. Words we put on-line can do powerful things, amazing things, life changing things. But they can also crush and damage.
One of the reasons I know this is because I know of websites dedicated to “helping bloggers be better” or is it “helping bloggers be accountable”? Wait it’s “helping bloggers talk about other bloggers because you know that’s what we do, right?”
These are popcorn sites. You sit down and open a forum dedicated to your favorite blogger and just munch away on all of the brilliant comments and observations about the people on the internet.
What most don’t realize is that for every well-meaning observation or comment on such a site there are twenty hurtful comments. Pointed comments. How DARE you be on the internet comments. That is actually the purpose of one the sites, to kick bloggers in the shins enough so they turn off their wifi and leave the internet.
There are forums dedicated to every blogger you read and within these forums hate lives.
I hesitated using that word as “hate” is not a word I use freely, but I honestly can not fathom any other reason behind the comments or remarks. I can understand the need to hold other bloggers accountable, especially in a world where so many of our sites are earning money and experiences. I can understand someone wanting to raise their hand and ask for clarification or a back story. What I don’t understand are the comments about blogger’s children. I don’t understand the need to make comments about a blogger’s size or appearance.
I don’t understand how a person could put forth hate and be ok with it.
Yesterday, as soon as I realized I had said something upsetting to a person, I took immediate steps to make amends. Explanations, apologies, public ownership of my actions. It still doesn’t make what I said ok and since I am a fretter by nature I know I will worry for ages about the long-lasting effects of my foolish remarks.
I can not imagine how it must feel to make hurtful and cruel remarks, on purpose, all day, every day. It makes me terribly sad for the people who do this. What happened to hurt THEM? Why are they lashing out? Do they feel better after reading the sites or posting there? I may never understand.
I am sorry for the words I have said on the internet that have hurt someone.
Image Credit: Eugène Atget, George Eastman House Collection