Burned by Blogging

An article from the latest email newsletter from Writer’s Digest shares a bad experience a writer ran into with blogging. The writer, I believe, didn’t do anything wrong. Successful blogging requires authenticity, but the writer got burned instead.

Sandra Scoppettone, the blogger mentioned in the article, regularly blogged about the writing life. Then trouble came with this blog entry. The article summarizes what happened as a result of the entry:

Two Novembers ago, she blogged about her editor’s departure from publishing and laid bare her anxieties about her future as a published writer. By day’s end, Scoppettone had been pilloried in the comments section of her site — as well as on others’ sites — for her ‘ageist’ attitude and for complaining about the lack of follow-through on promised marketing plans. What she believed was an honest, thoughtful post brought her nothing but scorn.

Was it wrong of her to write about her feelings? Her blog was about the writing life and she was honest about how the changing of editors affected her. Perhaps, it would’ve been better not to discuss the age issue, but look at it from an “experienced” standpoint.

That’s one nice thing about working virtually with my clients. I have no idea what they look like, how old they are, or anything else that would be given away if they should walk into my office. Some judge me as soon as I open my mouth and make a sound. If it weren’t for email and the Internet, I would most likely not be the writer I am today. People get to know ME without letting my speech or trouble understanding their speech interfere.

While blogging, I try to remember to ask this question, “If I were interviewing for a job or freelance work, would I want the potential employer or client to read this?” Of course, you want to remain honest and real. It’s about balance.

My oldest is big on MySpace. I had a conversation with her where I warned her about how she represents herself on MySpace. College admissions personnel and future employees could read that stuff one day. It was a challenging conversation and I hope she understood.

Seriously (Thank you, Grey’s Anatomy). Short of not talking about themselves online, how can teens avoid anything that might not go over well with a future employer? Kids will be kids. They’ll pull pranks, do things they regret. That’s growing up. They learn from experience. Some grow up maturely and others don’t mature till later.

Heck, Steve Wozniak of Apple fame pulled a prank during Apple’s big and first event where the company introduced the Apple II. In reading this story in his autobiography, I expected a fallout because a prank would affect the company’s reputation. It worked out in the end, but this is an analogy of what you could “write” online that would be considered “politically incorrect.”

Now I’m wondering if this discussion about teens is ‘ageist’ and will get me in trouble. Unwritten rules for what to write on the Internet continue to get more complicated.

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