Despite the sometimes divisive topics I write about daily, most of the comments people leave under my posts are positive. But don’t you worry — I take my share of barbed rebukes as well. Since it can be terribly difficult for some to take criticism, I thought I should share what I’ve learned.
To show I’m an equal opportunity kinda guy, let me start by sharing the not-so-nice reactions readers have had to my work of late. This one came from a guy who didn’t like my tone in the CSOonline Salted Hash security blog when I told people to stop passing around a hoax Facebook message about privacy rights (or the lack thereof for those who insist on posting everything about themselves):
Wow. Have you ever considered writing in a slightly less condescending, obnoxious manner? It might improve the rate at which your message is successfully received by others … that is, of course, premised on the notion that your words function as a means for communication and not as a tool for artificially boosting your self-esteem.
My response was this:
Sorry you feel that way. It’s not about trying to be condescending. It’s about forcefully arguing a point. You are, of course, welcome to stop reading. No hard feelings.
It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he were one of the people who fell for the Facebook hoax. If he’s embarrassed and lashing me makes him feel better, I’m fine with that.
Yesterday’s post on dealing with dysfunctional family got me a flaming response from a relative who told me I should stop being mean. It was the kind of message that had various words in all caps and lots of exclamation points. In an act of mercy (I didn’t want people to see this person making herself look bad), I deleted the comment, which is rare for me.
Angry comments from family tend to be toughest to digest, but given the semi-autobiographical nature of this blog, I’d be a fool to expect all sunshine and roses.
Happily, most family members who read my posts get where I’m coming from. And I’ve said it before: My memories are my memories. They may not represent the whole unvarnished truth, and there’s always another side to the story. But I tell you things as truthfully as I can, based on how I remember events. It’s but one perspective.
I could stop writing or limit what I do write to the type of stuff that never offends and never tries to get at the truth. But that’s not my style.
If you don’t want to offend or be offended, writing is the wrong profession for you. There are times when you have to take clear, forceful views and prepare to be violently disagreed with. There are also times when every unpleasant detail must be added to give readers the clearest picture of the points you need to make. I’ve written about some unpleasant childhood memories, but I’ve ended almost all such posts on a positive note, because I know how lucky I am to have the life I’m living.
If you want to disagree with me, go ahead. If you want me to change my approach or my opinions, you may as well stop reading now.