A little while ago I put together a little community post on Karandi’s blog, combining what several bloggers would have liked to know when they first started their blog. It was a fun project. However, one response stuck with me and I realized that I wanted to come back to it. Aria had an unusual answer:
Sadly, it was only after the post had been published that I realized what I wanted to say in this regard. In fact, this is also something that I think is important to know when you start a blog and to be reminded of once in a while: you just can’t please everyone.
Fact is no matter what you say, someone out there will disagree with you. Occasionally they will do so very forcefully. Even if you actively strive to stay far away from any type of controversy, you probably will have to deal with an unhappy reader at some point. I’ve had people chew me out in comments over what I thought were offhand remarks or simply for stating personal opinions. Sometimes very neutral personal opinions at that. The same drive that pushes me to share my thoughts on anime will push someone else to comment on my thoughts. Occasionally they will not be pleased with my thoughts.
I could say you just need to thicken your skin a little or it’s just comments by strangers on the internet, no big deal. But I’ll admit I also found some of them to be hurtful. And I’m generally fairly insensitive. The bulk of these comments in my experience are hilariously unjustifiably aggressive (or passive-aggressive) and often contradictory when you take a step back. However, even the funny ones get a bit exhausting.
One thing I have noticed when talking to other bloggers is that you definitely get some things lost in translation. I have seen bloggers get very upset over comments that seemed pretty innocent to me and I’m sure the opposite has happened as well. I try to remember that communication, in general, is a skill and it’s even harder online. Someone may just be clumsy rather than malicious.
However, as Aria said, sooner or later, as a blogger, you are likely to attract some negative attention. Even a relatively small blogger such as myself goes through it. That’s simply the way it goes when you open yourself up to a large group of people. Some of them are going to disagree with you. Occasionally, loudly. We all have different opinions and beliefs after all. That’s not a bad thing.
It’s the second part of Aria’s comment that struck me more though: eventually, you are going to disappoint someone. To me, that sounds like a more painful situation. I don’t think I’ve ever disappointed anyone. I just never got the impression my readers expect all that much of me. But I worry about it.
(Someone did comment once that they were disappointed in me but as their only previous comment on my blog was that my post was too stupid and badly written to read past the first paragraph, I ended up just a little flattered they still read my stuff at all. I also doubt they would bother to have any expectations of someone they think is an absolute idiot. Should I make an Irina reads mean comments post? On Twitter, this idea got a fairly positive response.)
I can see where Aria is coming from if I look at it from the reader side as well. There are a lot of bloggers I look up to. Whether consciously or not, I do expect certain things of them. For the most part, I have not been disappointed but on a few rare occasions, let’s just say I’ve had to readjust my expectations. Sometimes that was my own fault. Projecting my tastes or values on someone else just because we *seem* similar, is unfair. That’s why I can’t really say disappointed. Same thing when bloggers move on. I am disappointed I won’t get to read their thoughts anymore but I’m not disappointed in them. It’s absolutely fine to change hobbies.
I wonder if that’s really what Aria meant. I might be reading too much into it but to me, there was a tone of melancholy to that message. I really should have picked up on it sooner… (Yes I could just ask, it feels a bit invasive though.)
Or maybe we are talking about the big struggle we all go through at some point: disappointing ourselves. Whether it’s not living up to the goals we set for ourselves or realizing something we published isn’t up to our usual standards, it’s not uncommon to feel like we’ve let ourselves down now and again.
The way I see it, both these outcomes do hide something positive under them. Even if it may be hard to see at the moment. People that get upset by your opinions must respect them on a certain level. If your opinions didn’t matter at all then why would anyone be affected by them? I don’t get angry when small children disagree with me….much… As for disappointment, the way I understand it is that you failed to live up to something. Sometimes that disappointment can be justified other times it would have been impossible for you to know the expectations. Either way, the one you disappointed believed in you in some way.
I once had a professor tell me that any discussion of any importance at all will upset someone. That’s how you know it matters. And the only way to avoid disappointment is to assume no one (including yourself) has anything of value to bring.
And so I go back to my first thought, you can’t please everyone. And that’s ok. Some of you found this post trite or boring. Possibly both. I’ll try to be more entertaining next time. I know I can still improve so it’s ok if I get criticism. There are good things to get out of these less pleasant moments.