Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lessons Learned

I had a blog before this blog, way back in the prehistoric age of blogging six or seven years ago. Blogging was new to me, so it isn't surprising that I made so many ethical mistakes on that blog. I used the blog, in part, to work through my split with the path of wiccan spirituality I had been a part of, so I did a lot of spleen venting there. Ahhh the finger pointing and accusations, ahhh the criticisms. It was - at times - quite intense.

My blog family from that time consisted of people who were also brand new to blogging. We had to all learn, the hard way, not to name names, what was OK to mention in blog posts and what wasn't. We learned quickly (at least I did) that it was very hurtful to be criticized by other bloggers, that it was too revealing to be named publicly, etc. There was definitely an "in crowd" in my blog family at that time so hence a lot of It-Blogger name dropping, i.e. "at lunch the other day with DC Cookie ..." etc. I don't think anyone in my current blog family makes these mistakes. I love my current blog family! Thank you all!

One thing I really love about blogging is that there are no rules, no overlords censoring what gets published, so we have to learn for ourselves through a journey of discovery individually and collectively, what is ethically OK and what isn't. I'm not the only blogger from that era who regularly had to take down entire posts because they were hurtful or offensive to other bloggers.

When I closed the old blog and began this one, I believed I had worked through all the ethical dilemmas of blogging, but I was wrong. Yesterday I inadvertently offended a Really Famous Blogger by assuming she wrote but did not read other blogs; that assumption based entirely on an article she wrote for the NYTimes a couple of years ago. Because I couldn't find a way to contact her directly, I will apologize here: Emily Gould, I am so sorry I treated you as a metaphor instead of a real person. Lesson learned!

Ethics here and everywhere is an ongoing process. Man ... that was interesting!


Expat From Hell said...

As one who is currently standing on the sidelines of the blog world, I have always appreciated and admired your process, Reya. This, too, is encouraging and uplifting that you continue to learn. And improve. EFH

Reya Mellicker said...

Expat I was freaked out to see your Monday post ... and could not comment either! Glad to see you're still around in one form or another!!

Janelle said...

love your blog. love you. totally inspiring at all times. x j

Rosaria Williams said...

As in real life, we sometimes say too much, or don't say enough. Something may irritate another accidentally. We lose friends in real life; we lose bloggers too. C'est la vie!

Tess Kincaid said...

Blogging does parallel real life, doesn't it? I like what someone commented on my blog this week, "it is what it is".

Mrsupole said...

It takes a great person to apologize when they might have done something wrong. Hey you are a great person. Although you did a minor wrong, since probably most of us here do not read her blog and do not even have a clue as to who she is anyway. But we know you and we know that we love your blog. I had to go back and see if I said anything that might offend her, but I was not sure, and so if I did, I too aplogize. I try so hard to not say things that will offend someone but every so often things that might be deemed offensive pop up. But I never purposely try to offend someone because I would not like it to happen to me.

Anyway your are one of our best bloggers and that is all I gotta say. What will be, will be. And you get a lot of great comments from everyone, which is a reflection on what you post. It shows people care about what you write.

Keep on doing what you are doing.

God bless.

Nancy said...

It is a fine line when blogging about other people. I did a post way back that I thought was very cute on a couple of friends who got together against many odds. I didn't use names, but read the post to them one night when they were visiting for dinner. He asks me every time I see him if I'm still blogging, and makes sure that I don't blog about him. I thought the response odd, considering no one I know reads my blog, and I did NOT use names, but I haven't made that mistake again! It sounds like Ms. Gould (I read the NYT article) was blogging specifically about people - and not in a nice way. She also learned her lesson about over sharing. The jest of the article for me was "what goes around comes around." And in the blog world it can be instantaneous.

Ronda Laveen said...

It is almost impossible to not offend someone here and there along this earth walk. We can only hope to reduce the occurances. And, when it happens, to acknowledge and say..."I did not know, my apologies."

Reya Mellicker said...

Nancy - among our early blog community, this kind of thing happened again and again.

I don't expect perfection from myself or anyone else. When I make a mistake, I apologize, learn something useful (usually), then let go.

Thanks Mrsupole! xx

tut-tut said...

Lovely, lovely photos.

And what Janelle said. I second that heartily.

Elizabeth said...

I once had to delete a most inoffensive post because someone was offended who should have been flattered.......
just a culturla mis-understanding and a filure of 'tone to translate'
but it was all very difficult at the time
so I try to stay pretty damn bland

...except about Republicans......hee hee

Butternut Squash said...

Hey Reya,

Your humanity is showing. Luv ya!

Linda Sue said...

If i say something that offends someone- it is unintentional- just me voicing my opinion or my perception- so, too bad- their bummer. I reckon crazy religious nuts and crazy republicans(Sarah and Glen B) are fair game- If I offend- I say "job well done" and high five myself...I am not as nice as you are by any measure.

Cyndy said...

One time I posted on my blog about what I thought was a very interesting philosophical discussion on someone else's blog and later I found out that there was a lot more going on under the surface than I could possibly have known about. I felt terrible about it and took down that post right away. Now I just blather on and on about myself. Lesson learned!

Tom said...

i'm planning on learning from your mistake...because i mope when people yell at me.

Barbara said...

Thank you for sharing what you have learned over the past couple of posts! I read blogs for a very long time before starting my own blog. In that reading I learned to be careful about what I post. Sometimes no matter how careful you are someone can take offense. It is an interesting process for sure. Who would have known that this blog author would have read your blog and taken offense to your interpretation and perspectives regarding the NY Times article. I guess you just never know.

Something I do know is that I love reading your blog and am thankful that I found you.


Reya Mellicker said...

I took a great ethics class one time (required to keep current with national certification in massage therapy). The teacher said over and over again that the only way to learn to behave ethically is make mistakes.

Yes I made a mistake, not by having an opinion but by treating a human being as a metaphor. She gets to have her reaction, and I get to learn a good lesson.

Elizabeth you are NOT bland, and Linda Sue I am NOT nice ... though I do try, I'll admit. And when someone yells at me, I'm always so surprised. Interesting stuff.

Meri said...

It's a fine line, I agree, but after I wrote that piece about "one thing my ex did well," he sent me flowers. I wonder if his wife (the former "other woman") knows?

mouse (aka kimy) said...

aren't humans a complex and sensitive species and blogging and the cyberworld certainly adds new dimensions to our experience with others of our kind

i hope your apology is read, accepted and understood by e. gould

thank you for always putting your self out there and writing with honesty and passion

Barry said...

You were probably right to apologize, Reya; but, what an amazing testimony to the power of your blog! Not only do you have Ms Gould for a reader but you've teased Expat out of retirement.


Will JD Salinger be next, tempted back from the gave?

And, by the way, thank you for your bell ringing support. I am over whelmed!

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks, Kim!!

And Barry, we all benefitted from the bell ringing, we did!! Good stuff.

Susan said...

I keep telling myself that when my foot gets stuck in my mouth, I should be grateful my feet are big enough to hold me solidly to the ground.
But man, it does get wedged some time.
Life is one big classroom, and anyone who never makes a goof isn't learning anything, in my opinion.
I think you handled this beautifully.

C.M. Jackson said...

honesty is what we have come to expect here along with your unique view of the world--thank you and keep telling like you see it--best c

Rebecca Clayton said...

Reya, I think you're a very generous blogger, so it's in character for you to respond kindly to Ms. Gould.

I think, though, that it's above and beyond blogger-to-blogger courtesy, since you weren't responding to her blog, but to a very long feature article published in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, accompanied by a cover photo of Ms. Gould in her bed.

If you publish an article in a major newspaper, and pose for a picture in your nightie, you are asking for attention, and when you get lots of attention, some of it may not be to your liking.

I also think that she missed the point of your blog post (as I read it), that we should blog thoughtfully, and pay attention to what others have to say.

You did both, while her history is an open book.

Deborah said...

well at least she read YOUR blog

what is that fave saying of mine
oh yeah
if you can't be a good example
at least be a horrible warning

well you are the former and a great woman who owns her mistakes and takes in info with a loving and open heart

i totally love and admire you
as do numbers of the families
in which you are a family

love you so,

Deborah said...

I meant--in which you are a member.

Ruth said...

You really have been around a long time in blog years. I've had my share of goofs. Recently I posted that the "Turkish" rescuers in Haiti were Armenians. I had a few not very happy Turks visit and let me know I was wrong. Yikes. All we can do is take a breath and correct as we can, which you did graciously.

Reya Mellicker said...

Ruth? Oops!!! Oh well.

Rebecca you are actually absolutely correct. I read the on-line version of the story that did not feature her in her nighty. I love the way you think. Thanks for this.

As for being graceful about apologizing, I've learned through LOTS OF PRACTICE how to do it well. Practice makes perfect. Sigh.

Cheryl Cato said...

Wow! I wrestle with this ethics problem in blogging. I generally end up omitting something I feel quite passionate about rather than risk offending someone... and I can almost always envision the person or people whom I may offend. I'm still crawling in blogdom & hope to learn as well as you have. You are forgiven for any Emily Gould error you feel you made.

Anonymous said...

i dont get it reya... i dont understand what was offensive? that your experience is different doesnt seem offensive to me.. but admittedly my "cosmology" seems a bit off of late..