"Breathe. Know that the Internet has no eraser." -- Liz Strauss

Some years ago, I started one of those MySpace pages, but quickly, like within a day or two, changed my mind, and deleted it. I registered at one time on Facebook, and on Twitter, but took those accounts down, too. I had browsed a number of blogs at the time and found some of them interesting, not enough to keep me coming back to them, however. And then a few years later, there was a subject that was very much on my mind that I wanted to discuss. I searched for message boards that covered the topic but none of them were on the point that I wanted to discuss, and what’s more, some of the boards wouldn’t even allow discussion of the points I wanted to cover. So I decided to start my own blog.

I searched the web for a good place to blog, found one that was easy to use, formatted it, gave it a catchy title and added photos, wrote a number of posts, first drafts, then began to edit some of what I had written, then once I had enough finished entries to start out, I posted them and launched the blog. I invited a few people from other blogs and message boards to read my blog. Word quickly spread. The blog almost instantly generated a large number of hits; the link to the blog was being spread via all the forms of net interaction, and I was getting a fair number of comments on some of my blog entries, readers were also contacting me privately, off the blog.

Many of the comments thanked me for opening the blog and allowing free discussion of this controversial subject, added their own thoughts on the subject, expanded on my points. As I edited and added more entries, to the point or on related topics, the reaction was gratifying, comments ranging from stunned because they had not thought of this or that point but that it was clear now what was going on or what I had written made perfect sense, to compliments on the actual writing, and comments that I should write a book on the subject.

I was pleased with my writing on that blog. While I am not naturally or by training a good writer, the subject had inspired me. Not only was the quality of the writing good, but the quantity was astonishing to me, the words just poured out, driven by this overwhelming need to express my thoughts in a cogent and persuasive discussion on the matter. I was coldly objective, analyzing the subject from a number of angles, driving my points home one after the other, providing evidence to support each point, tying the points together, links in the chain of what I believed to be, and the comments supported as being, a devastating argument.

This was a themed blog, and I was pushing on toward the final post, or posts, in which I would wrap everything up in a sort of final summation. I was completely immersed in what I was saying on the blog entries, in the discussions, and in the convos I was having re the subject of the blog, and though I was often writing day and night, the work was effortless and satisfying on every level.

One day, someone wrote me privately, off the blog. She said that I was a hater, and a sanctimonious twit and that what I was writing could cause pain to certain people. That stopped me dead in my tracks. Not the personal comments about myself, but the idea that something I was writing might be hurtful to people I didn’t know. I had allowed myself to believe that I was objectively analyzing a subject of great interest, without considering the further possible ramifications.

I wrote this person back and said I had taken her comments into serious and careful consideration and that the final posts I was writing might cause her to think differently on the matter. I then wrote her again and said having considered the matter further that within the next twenty-four hours I would make the decision whether to continue or close the blog. I tried to work on the posts I had been writing, but my thoughts had completely come apart, I couldn’t remember what I was going to say or how I was going to say it, in fact, I stopped writing the post altogether, never even went back to it. I could only think about the possibility the woman had outlined in her message.

I added a post on the blog telling my readers what had happened, what this person had written me, without naming her, and said that very likely I would be closing the blog soon. Some readers urged me to ignore the comments, begged me not to close it, suggested that I convert it to a private by invite only blog, but I had no interest in doing that; obviously, anything I wrote on the blog could be shared by copying and pasting. I also knew other people had written on the topic in harsher terms, but I couldn’t control that, I could only control what I wrote. I was done. Within the allotted twenty-four hours, I had erased all the content of the blog and closed the blog.

When I thought about it later, the whole thing was a bit scary. During its short existence, the blog had had quite a bit of success with the potential to become huge; with very little effort, it had grown in readership, and I realized I could have easily acquired a bigger audience through adding a few more key contacts. Even the fact that it had the followers that it did troubled me because I couldn’t unwrite what they had read: Though I had done what I could to limit the potential damage, to some extent, I had shaped people’s thinking on a subject, to an unknown extent after that, they would share that thinking with others. I suppose all bloggers want to be successful, though I hadn’t considered that when I started the blog. In this case, how would success be measured?

I had been in over my head and didn’t even know it.

Comments

MsGrant Dec. 20, 2009 @ 9:15 a.m.

Huh. I'm really not sure what to say. Were you afraid of success? I mean, look at Oprah. Not many people have the ability to shape how others think and what they do. Sure, it's scary, but you obviously knew your subject matter. So what if one person took offense? Yes, I know, even one person is too many, but every person that has strong opinions on something of a personal nature and shares them with an audience is going to encounter resistance. That should not stop anyone from moving forward unless what they are doing is of an evil nature, such as a cult or wacky theology that attacts directionless lemmings.

0

skennerl Dec. 21, 2009 @ 10:09 p.m.

Without the details of your blog and opinions expressed I am not sure whether I agree or disagree with your removal of the blog. Have you kept the original material? Would like to read it if so!

From what I know of you I guess that I would say you should have left it out there!

"The Power of the Pen is Mightier than the Sword"

0

CuddleFish Dec. 21, 2009 @ 10:41 p.m.

Was nothing wacky, MsG, and I don't think I'm afraid of success.

That was exactly why I removed the blog, sken.

The power of the pen is mightier than the sword.

0

skennerl Dec. 22, 2009 @ 4:18 a.m.

Yes, well on the subject of the Pen overriding a Sword we should view the Copenhagen climate change summit with great concern. There is the intention to Sign a treaty which will form a World Government. This treaty will take precedence over any member country's constitution. There is no mention of democracy in this document.

But that was just an aside.

Seriously, if a person cannot make a reasoned, documented and persuasive comment on a subject for fear of causing others pain, then we are resiled to a changeless future. If the truth hurts, far better to know the truth than to live a lie - even if that lie was learnt in innocence or through naivety.

0

CuddleFish Dec. 22, 2009 @ 8:23 a.m.

Ooooh, sken, I hadn't heard from your black helicopter persona in a while, you go, girl! :) What's worse, I wonder, (theoretically) giving up the notion of free nation states in order to clean up the environment, or not having an environment and therefore no free nation states? I will say, in one narrow sense I agree with you, we are signing an agreement that doesn't get us what we need and were supposedly pursuing. If we're going to get in bed with the New World Order, we ought to at least cover it with a decent pretense instead of that flimsy one we're getting, don't you think?

As to the truth of a matter, I guess that was why I pulled the blog: In this case, it was probably better not to (continue to) look too closely at the situation.

0

skennerl Dec. 22, 2009 @ 4:54 p.m.

Yes a cleaner earth is what we all desire - well almost all of us. So all manufacturers need to filter emissions, and all countries need to develop clean and truly renewable energy sources being solar, wind and hydro. However the cost of manufacturing rises if emissions are filtered, and there is too much money to be made from nuclear power which is 'sold' to the public as clean, but produces toxic waste.

The climate change issue is a big corporate lie. Al Gore has made billions out of this.

0

antigeekess Dec. 22, 2009 @ 7:26 p.m.

"Seriously, if a person cannot make a reasoned, documented and persuasive comment on a subject for fear of causing others pain, then we are resiled to a changeless future. If the truth hurts, far better to know the truth than to live a lie - even if that lie was learnt in innocence or through naivety."

Agree with skennerl 100%.

As Campbell said in his interview with Bill Moyers, "Everything you do is evil for somebody." We can never know the full effects of our actions, because they are ripples in a pool that goes on forever. He goes on, "The best we can do is INTEND toward the light."

As long as your intention is positive and not malicious, you have nothing to apologize for, and no reason for a guilty conscience.

What was the subject? If I had to make a guess: Abortion.

Am I right?

0

CuddleFish Dec. 22, 2009 @ 9 p.m.

Thanks for your comments, AG. No, the subject was not abortion.

Let me see if I can think up an analogy. Let's say you admired a popular local politician, seems to be a kind and decent guy, good husband, generous, espouses the right values, had a bit of a rough few years, say his son died of cancer and he lost his last race. Then it comes out that this politician had an affair with his campaign manager, let's make it higher stakes, the lady is pregnant, and the pol has acknowledged that it is his child. You obviously couldn't talk about that on his official website forum. So you start a blog to discuss that topic, invite others to participate in your discussion, cover all the ground and even throw in some speculative arguments on what in his life caused him to do this, what kind of person she is, how this was a terrible conflict of interest and maybe this is why he lost his race, and now his career is ruined, and you are winding up to your final argument, whatever it is. The blog is popular and growing in popularity, you are getting a lot of hits, lots of discussion, lots of admiring comments. Obviously you've struck a nerve, and possibly a gold mine. Then someone sends you a message and says, you are a hater and a sanctimonious twit, and if this gets back to that politician and the lady in question, it would be very hurtful. Now it may well be there are similar blogs out there, and certainly other people have been taking shots at the pol, so it isn't just you. On the other hand, this is your blog and those are human beings with feelings and lives and a baby on the way.

Would you close the blog?

0

nan shartel Dec. 27, 2009 @ 12:02 p.m.

tuff decision Cuddles

i hope u save ur blog on a hard drive somewhere because i imagine the task of writing it illuminate ur mind as well as ur readers

judgement by the way of words on a screen can be taken or left alone...like minded people on any subject have the right to gather on a street corner or cyberspace

discourse is for the most part beneficial to unraveling ones thoughts

the brain poked with a stick isn't really always a bad thing...and pain provokes growth hunnybunch..among mature adults..I'm sure antiG with "Buddhist Bent" would agree it's just another way of "smoothing the stones"

u have the courage to voice ur opinions with delft and gracefulness if needed...that spoon full of sugar effect...all that u r or write has value for never forget that

and even the rats agree!!!

0

CuddleFish Dec. 27, 2009 @ 2:25 p.m.

Thanks, nan, it wasn't a difficult decision. What others choose to do is up to them, In that analogy, I can't see possibly hurting an innocent baby by my remarks, even if the parents had acted rashly.

0

BradGad Feb. 3, 2010 @ 3:56 p.m.

This is a powerful little narrative.

I got caught up in the drama, but am disturbed by the conclusion:

"Even the fact that it had the followers that it did troubled me because I couldn’t unwrite what they had read: Though I had done what I could to limit the potential damage, to some extent, I had shaped people’s thinking on a subject, to an unknown extent after that, they would share that thinking with others. I suppose all bloggers want to be successful, though I hadn’t considered that when I started the blog. In this case, how would success be measured?"

The "damage" you did was, as you say, that you "had shaped people's thinking on a subject."

Cuddlefish.... why would you equate the latter with the former? Expressing one's best thoughts as best one can, in order both to influence others and work toward a shared understanding... that's called "civil discourse". Active, well-honed, well-intentioned civil discourse is the best possible tonic for a moribund society, and lord knows we got one of those!

It truly distresses me that you would feel that you had damaged others by shaping their feeling on a subject. This is Political Correctness in its most virulent form, and someone I love has been hurt by it (you). Cuddlefish, Step Away From The Koolaid.

I don't know what you said on your blog (you didn't say), but I do know you. You didn't damage anyone, and -- I believe this -- you have a civic duty to express your best thoughts as best you can, in order to both influence others and work toward a shared understanding. Our society needs people like you, and when you let this poisonous twat scare you off, you faulted at your post.

You're right... once you say something, you can never take it back (and that was true before the Internet). But, that simply means we need to say what we mean, and mean what we say. I'll bet you dimes to Starbucks you did that with every post on that blog. And I bet you know that to be true.

0

BradGad Feb. 3, 2010 @ 4:09 p.m.

8: ... Let me see if I can think up an analogy. Let's say you admired a popular local politician... and if this gets back to that politician and the lady in question, it would be very hurtful.

I hadn't read this when I wrote my comment. And, it's relevant. And, I stand by what I said.

Would you close the blog?

Hell no!

I would instead take every step to insure that what I said was defensible, and said with conviction.

And that would remind me that that would be a good policy regardless.

0

CuddleFish Feb. 3, 2010 @ 4:47 p.m.

Hey Brad, thanks for reading.

That's why I talked about it here, to see what others thought.

0

SDaniels Feb. 3, 2010 @ 5:05 p.m.

My two cents: (too broke to offer many dimes for Starbucks :)

Once you start a blog, it becomes the domain of the collective--of all of the people together who contribute to it. Sure, you can take on a moderator's position if you like, but it isn't really necessary, unless you're a stickler for staying on topic. I like to consider myself as at first, the 'owner,' who is complimented by others who bring the gift of connection to a space I carved out in the blogosphere. But rather quickly, I am happy to morph into just a fellow contributor, the only difference between myself and other commenters being that I started the blog, if not the thread, chose the topic, and set the tone. Now it is up to the public to jump in and have fun with it, and the greatest fun for me in all of it is to just see where it goes, and what people make of it together. It is now beyond me, and bigger than me; it will grow, change, mature and cure, and hopefully, will provide some lasting intellectual sustenance or deeply quenching humor to me and others.

I do believe the best blogs are organic products of loosely formed groups of commenters, and represent the work of thinking and connecting, tearing apart and rebuilding. This is why I am taken aback at the practice of pulling threads, the thought of which never even occurred to me until recently.

After all of the time put in, and the work of intellect, sense of humor, personality and perhaps even courageous expression of emotion--all of the human effort that has played out on these pages--to have that just disappear at the whim of a single person, even if s/he started the blog, just makes it seem not worth the while. I like to think of a blog thread as something not subject to the elements; it stands there in the rain or sun like a public monument upon which someone may come and inscribe something years down the road, reacting to the words of people who might have different opinions now, in a new job or city, or passed on. It sits there at the crossroads, with the evidence of a myriad of egos inscribed on its surface, yet open to whomever might stop and read, and perhaps contribute further to its history of connection and variation.

In short, I suppose I am considering it as a form of literature.

0

BradGad Feb. 3, 2010 @ 5:13 p.m.

OK, a proviso to what I have said.

Internet dynamics can insulate us from human consequences, such that we become overly enamored of rhetoric, and forget that for every speech there is an audience, and that audience comprises people... people.

Or, as my dad says, "Sometimes my alligator mouth overloads my tadpole butt."

But... I stand by my points on civic discourse.

0

CuddleFish Feb. 3, 2010 @ 5:24 p.m.

Daniels,

People say things and it causes, or may cause, pain. I didn't want to be the venue for causing pain, at least not in this case. What others choose to do is up to them.

0

BradGad Feb. 3, 2010 @ 5:32 p.m.

Well expressed, S (may I call you S? that's not too familiar?)

Part of what's going on in this instance, I think, is that Cuddlefish had not only a theme and a thread... she had an agenda: "This was a themed blog, and I was pushing on toward the final post, or posts, in which I would wrap everything up in a sort of final summation." Editorial-by-installments, I suppose it was. I've actually had no first-hand experience with that. That's an oddball creature, genre-wise, no doubt with its own dynamics and aesthetics.

I agree. And, I also know that I have written things that make me cringe and squick, and have been happy to wave the wand of deletion (though I also know it never really goes away).

My points had less to do with the morality of retraction and deletion (or its impact on this new thing that is in many ways literature), than with the impulse that motivated it. "The idea that something I was writing might be hurtful to people I didn’t know..." the impulse to avoid that is admirable. "I had shaped people’s thinking on a subject"... the impulse to avoid that is not.

Was anything Cuddlefish said malicious? Did she indulge in ad hominem attacks? We don't have the deleted docs, but I very much doubt they were. Could they have been hurtful to people she didn't know? Possibly. Sucks to be a grown up, don't it? It might well be that by speaking with conviction on an issue she knew, she gave others pain.

0

BradGad Feb. 3, 2010 @ 5:38 p.m.

I love my dad too. He has a way with words! I really should be compiling notes, toward a future volume.

He calls opera "cat killing music", fr'instance. How great is that?

And, he is the world's preeminent master of the malapropism. You know those wiggly creatures under the microscope? Those are "spurtazurmas". You know those creatures that eat other creatures? Those are "predicators".

0

BradGad Feb. 3, 2010 @ 5:43 p.m.

Hell, he can mispronounce initials.

There's a bookstore in Asheville, NC, called "Malaprop's". He likes it. He'll say, "Let's go to Missus Mapplerops!"

0

nan shartel Feb. 3, 2010 @ 7:52 p.m.

ur one smart guy BradGad...and so is ur daddy

0

SDaniels Feb. 3, 2010 @ 8:29 p.m.

True, the dilemna remains. I have often considered how many family stories there are to tell; the characters would just roll onto the pages, practically writing themselves. I wanted once to write about an elderly relative with a reputation for uncomplicated, nature-loving sunniness, who also sufffered a secret, painful depression and anxiety, or another's tragicomic, brilliant battle with alcohol, played out verbally and creatively, with a loudly proclaimed aesthetic derivative of Kafka's and Sartre's existential philosophies; I've been tempted to take one or another of these fascinating people and just write a character sketch. Because there is really no way to do these in a way that would satisfy all parties originating these characters, I can't do it. Chaos and hurt and betrayal--the likes of which I'd never want to be the originator myself--would likely ensue.

Thus, probably some of the best writing of my life will not likely happen, unless I hid it from those I love best, who do occasionally read what I've written. In so many cases, like the one described in this thread, the ideas involved seem to call for expression, safely nestled in under an ethic of intellectual production. Yet if the lives of other people are the focus, with the everpresent chance that they will feel hurt or slandered? I guess it is best to abstract the experiences to the point of unrecognizability,and make it an everyman sort of scenario? Though even this can be problematic, and the dangers still lurk...

0

CuddleFish Feb. 3, 2010 @ 9:03 p.m.

Gosh, I wonder how all those memoirists do it?

0

BradGad Feb. 3, 2010 @ 9:16 p.m.

S.... as you sketch these sketches, I have a sense you could write them with love. I think you could write them well and respectfully. But, you'd be most rarely blessed if they could be read that way, so I grok the fear. I can write about my dead great uncle, who I last saw picking imaginary bugs off his clothes and spitting without spit into a coffee can at his feet, and my mythological great grandfathers, brothers who dueled with shotguns in the East Texas woods, and both lived to tell the tale, but never spoke to each other again, but I cannot write about my mother, who is a malevolent fruit bat. Because... she could read it and they could not.

So, we both sublimate. At best.

So, yes.

0

BradGad Feb. 3, 2010 @ 9:27 p.m.

nan... I suppose you realize how hard it is to come up with a graceful response to such. I am unequal.

0

BradGad Feb. 3, 2010 @ 9:37 p.m.

See... I'm already wanting to retract "malevolent fruit bat", because it's only part of the story. But, it is part of the story. And I can't tell it. Gah.

0

CuddleFish Feb. 3, 2010 @ 10:31 p.m.

Awwww, I'm sure you'd write the cutest malevolent fruit bat ever! :)

0

antigeekess Feb. 3, 2010 @ 10:34 p.m.

"malevolent fruit bat"

Unfortunate that it's too late to sic her on a certain retarded badger we just got rid of around here. Could have been a truly epic battle.

As for writing about one's relatives, surely the names and identifying details could be changed to protect the guilty? I think most people are too vain and in denial to recognize themselves in print anyway.

Behold, le double entendre visuel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYQYHs...

0

CuddleFish Feb. 3, 2010 @ 10:45 p.m.

Dang it, AG, why don't you warn people????

I cut it off the second I saw what was involved!!!

Lord, woman!!!

0

BradGad Feb. 3, 2010 @ 11:09 p.m.

I cut it off the second I saw what was involved!!!

Could it be, Cuddle, that you're not exactly a snake aficionado? Is that what you're hinting at?

0

PistolPete Feb. 3, 2010 @ 11:12 p.m.

LULZ! "Do it." The comments shot back at Maverick were f***in' comedy gold too.

0

SDaniels Feb. 3, 2010 @ 11:18 p.m.

re: #29: AG, change the "identifying details," as in things like the name, such as where they live, etc.? That goes without saying. They'd still know, no matter what I did.

re: #19: "(may I call you S? that's not too familiar?)"

Hey Brad, you know, the "S" would just be too lonely without its "D," ;) Everyone here calls me SD or Daniels, just like back at school ;)

re: #20, 21: Fan-f'in-tastic! We are going to love having you around! And...any chance your dad'll make a guest appearance? Get a blog?

re:#26: Yeah, even those who read-read could still misread--it's about YOURSELF, for chrissakes. Never easy for a person, although I'd be flattered beyond beyond if someone chose me as worthy of it! Sigh. Anyway, you've got your dead bug-picking uncle, and mythological grandfathers!

Blog forthcoming? :)

0

BradGad Feb. 3, 2010 @ 11:26 p.m.

SD... (I kinda like S, still)...

Blog forthcoming? :)

No.

Poems, prolly. A novel, possibly. A blog? No. I grasp your sense of this as lit, but if I'm to go balls to the walls with these things, I want a genre that backs me up and lives after.

I am a poet. A futzing, slap-dash, clumsy fumbler.. but a poet.

0

SDaniels Feb. 4, 2010 @ 1:02 a.m.

Well, hell. Slap us down some verse there, laddie--a nice tall frosty one, please ;)

0

antigeekess Feb. 4, 2010 @ 7:09 p.m.

Re #31:

No wikey the snakies, Cuddle? :)

Actually, I was quite disappointed that the traditional battle did not ensue in that all-too-short clip. No idea why the guy cut it off at 37 seconds. But the "Do it!" made up for that. http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f297/EmilyHoppe/8934492_l.gif

You may be comforted by the fact that the mongoose usually wins. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEy0Mc...

Aaaaand that's lunch. It's like watching some twitchy little speed freak outmaneuvering a too-confident ninja. The cobra may have some killer ammo on board, but it doesn't make much difference if he's tardy on the trigger.

Honey badgers can kick some cobra ass, too. (Do cobras have asses?) No matter. Pooh badger likes to eat the head first anyway.

Wanna see it? :D

0

CuddleFish Feb. 4, 2010 @ 7:45 p.m.

Well at least you warned us this time, I didn't have to open the link! Arrrgggghhh, why must you know these things, AG?

0

SDaniels Feb. 4, 2010 @ 8:38 p.m.

re: #39: This is the only side of you I KNOW I don't want to know. Ya know? ;)

0

MsGrant Feb. 4, 2010 @ 8:44 p.m.

Survival of the fffsssssssttttiisttt - oh, sorry, cobra.

0

antigeekess Feb. 5, 2010 @ 3:55 p.m.

I take it you enjoyed this episode of Wild Kingdom, Pete? Okay. I'll take that as a request for the honey badger vid. It's even better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua3M1O...

Ah, a nice big meal followed by a snooze with your goodies in the breeze. The simple pleasures, ya know?

:)

0

PistolPete Feb. 5, 2010 @ 4:21 p.m.

LULZ!!!!!!!!! Move over Huggie Bear, I'm Honey Badger and I'M the boss! How'd you get footage of me on YT so fast? ;-D

0

Sign in to comment

Join our
newsletter list

Enter to win $25 at Broken Yolk Cafe

Each newsletter subscription
means another chance to win!

Close