I have not been reading Kathy Sierra’s blog for very long – Bryan suggested only a couple weeks ago that I should check her out. Then yesterday I read about all that has happened to her – the death threats and such.
This is the dark underside of the blogosphere, as Ted Leung put it.
I am not naive to the perils of public journaling, and though I have not received threats or comments as heinous as Kathy has, my blog has not been without its controversy. Ironically, any conflict generated by my writing (so far) has originated from someone in my offline world, and has not come from random internet trolls – I guess you could say I’ve been hit by friendly fire. I have been able to keep these issues offline so far, and hope to keep it that way so as to not distract the point of my blog.
I think often of the paradox of public journaling – the private thoughts laid out for anyone to read. Am I inviting trolls? Threats? Conflict? Rude comments? I don’t know much about Kathy Sierra, and her blog is largely industry-related and not personal, and yet she is attacked. How much more so would I take it personally if someone attacked me so vehemently for expressing my intimate thoughts?
I’d like to think I have a thick skin. The conflicts I have encountered so far have been stressful in that I-lost-three-days-of-my-life-to-the-back-and-forth-discussion-of-this-issue kind of way, but it hasn’t seemed to shake my confidence, or make me doubt why I continue to blog. ‘Compelled’ is always the word that comes to mind, for I can’t imagine NOT writing. It is therapeutic, and only effective if released to the wind of cyberspace, for if it remains in my own head (or in my own computer, as it were), it just continues to kick around in there like a Super-ball in an empty room – full of energy and very unproductive.
My good friend, Jenny, recently wrote,
I write to bring things in to the light, to tell the truth of my experience and in so doing, to acknowledge that the events of my life matter. I write because I can no longer stand to keep silent. I publish in a desperate attempt to connect with someone, to know that I am not alone with the thoughts in my head. I publish in faith, trusting that as readers follow my whole story, they will hear the truth of my heart. I publish to be known, as a dare to those who read, as a hedge against any temptation to wear a mask.
This is WAY more accurate to how I feel than what I wrote in this post nearly two years ago. I called it magic. But I hadn’t gained my footing as a writer yet, and certainly not as a blogger. Now I know the importance of looking at myself objectively, in seeing myself in Third Person on my blog.
Sadly, this experience is causing Kathy to reconsider her participation online, and it sounds as if the world may lose a valuable blogger. In her recent post about the death threats, she writes,
I do not want to be part of a culture–the Blogosphere–where this is considered acceptable. Where the price for being a blogger is kevlar-coated skin and daughters who are tough enough to not have their “widdy biddy sensibilities offended” when they see their own mother Photoshopped into nothing more than an objectified sexual orifice, possibly suffocated as part of some sexual fetish. (And of course all coming on the heels of more explicit threats)
I have not experienced what she has experienced, and I can’t say how I would react if I were in her shoes. I just have no idea. I may live in a neighborhood amidst shootings and riots and feel no fear, but these aggressions are acted out around me, not against me. If someone actually broke into my home I would likely feel very different.
Incidents such as this happen often, as do ‘flame wars’ and such, and each one provides an opportunity for me to reflect and reconsider The Pile I’m Standing In. And when I do, I still feel compelled to continue writing here. And so I do, and I will, until otherwise compelled.
I will, as Bryan once put it, continue blogging as if nothing depended on it.
Kathy, I am sorry. Blessing and peace from me to you.
[edited to turn comments back on.]