The internet is a rough place. If the internet doesn’t like something you say, it can destroy you. I’ve seen it happen in real time. People attribute it to the way the internet is broad, anonymous, impersonal, and reactionary. That’s all probably true.
Also, people are stupid.
Obviously, I’ve got experience talking about things that various groups might consider controversial, as a rule. See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Oh, and here. And those are just some posts on THIS blog, not counting the other sites I‘ve contributed to over the years. Also, twitter and facebook.
I don’t do it all the time, or all that often. I don’t have the stamina for that. But sometimes I feel like something needs to be said. And I would be lying if I pretended that, every single one of those times, I didn’t hesitate to click “publish.” Of course I did. You can’t open some boxes without expecting hell to come pouring out. But sometimes, the compulsion to say something has to override the fear of consequences. Andrew Breitbart called it “walking towards the fire.” There are times when something has to be called out. It takes courage, even on the anonymous, impersonal internet, to take a stand and stick to your guns.
It’s that second part that’s the most important. Sticking to your guns. People often ask, “If you could give one piece of advice to a new blogger, what would it be?” It would be this:
If you care about something, if you took the time to state your position, put your passion into it, and then put it out there for the world to see – stick to it. Don’t back down because you get pushback. Is that easy? Of course not. But if I was going to write about any of those subjects up there without the expectation that someone, somewhere was going to disagree, and probably even tell me so in a rude manner, then I shouldn’t be writing about them. Period.
It takes practice. It’s an acquired skill, and a balancing act between not taking to heart how people react, and caring enough to say what needs to be said in a way that can be received, by those open to receiving it. Or, at least said in a way that will stay with someone until they are ready to receive it.
And at the same time: people are stupid. (aka JG’s Rule #1) It doesn’t matter what you blog about. You can have an entire blog devoted to your favorite candies and people will still give you pushback. Consider the recent Hershey’s/Cadbury controversy. There were lines drawn, man. (I’m Team Hershey. ‘Merica.) Over candy. Again, no matter what you say, there will be people who disagree with you. Angrily disagree with you. Hatefully disagree with you.
I’ll end with this: there was a bloghop recently that I didn’t participate in. But, lots of other milspouse bloggers did, and when everyone was marching out their posts together, everyone was strong and motivated. Then the trolls came, and they came in fierce. And people got hurt. Some even deleted their blog posts. And I don’t blame people for being upset, being emotional, and needing to regroup. Trolls are evil, evil creatures. I get it. I’ve been there. Politics is ugly, my friends.
But – and this is a really big BUT – those posts shouldn’t have been taken down. This is me, who wasn’t even part of the party, saying they shouldn’t have been taken down. If the bloggers genuinely believed in their cause, those posts deserved to live. Your words deserve to live. Your blog deserves your loyalty. I’m not saying there are never cases where someone should retract or apologize for something that has been written. But those are different cases than a bad reaction to a topic.
Perspective: ISIS is literally threatening milspouse bloggers. Just for existing. The ones who have been threatened personally aren’t backing down. If anything, they’re doubling-down, making their presence even wider by making their stories as widely known as possible. We don’t need to treat trolls as though they’re more powerful than ISIS.
I don’t mean this as a criticism as much as a challenge: Let’s accept that blogging and interacting on the internet in general can be a minefield. Let’s accept that some topics provoke strong reactions in others. Let’s also accept that, as often as not, we know when we’re writing about one of those topics. And let’s keep writing about them.
By no means should any blogger be afraid to write about something they are passionate about. Walk towards the fire. If you get burned, treat the wounds. But don’t let the fire win by retreating. As Breitbart also famously said nearly 3 years ago:
Apologize for WHAT? @KRAUSEEE— AndrewBreitbart (@AndrewBreitbart) March 1, 2012
Your words deserve your protection. Your blog deserves your loyalty.
Stand by your blog.