Ariel + Editors,
I was hoping you could give me a little feedback on my (and maybe others’) concerns regarding the submission of content for the Offbeat Empire.
I was married less than a year ago and have been meaning to submit my wedding for consideration to be posted on Offbeat Bride. It may be in the near-ish future that I can see myself submitting content to Offbeat Families and Offbeat Home and Life as well.
However, with the recent hateful post on another site regarding a lovely wedding featured on Offbeat Bride, I’m a little afraid to submit ANYTHING. I know that the internet is a public place and we can’t control what others see or how they behave. But, I can image how devastating it would be to submit my life to what I consider to be a loving, supportive, community — only to have another website pick it up and openly mock and chastise me and the choices I make.
Do you have any tips on getting over this and ignoring the hatefulness should it materialize? Or is this simply a matter of ‘if you don’t have a thick enough skin to withstand this, maybe submitting your life for all to see isn’t for you?’ I’d hate to not participate in a wonderful community out of fear, but I don’t know if I could let this type of potential hurtfulness roll off my back.
Any thoughts you have would be appreciated.
Hey, K. I’m not sure if you’ve seen it before, but I actually wrote a post last year about how to deal with it if your wedding goes viral. Many of those same lessons could be applied to other situations where something you share on one website, in one context, gets shared on some other website, in a very different context.
Ultimately, however, I don’t have a magic bullet for you. Like any form of sharing, there’s a balance of vulnerability with community support. Any time we reveal a piece of ourselves to anyone (whether face to face, or online) we’re taking a chance. As you point out, we can’t control the response to what you put out there. The best you can do is balance how much you reveal and how you reveal it so that you feel as safe as possible…
This is a super hot issue for me personally… I started blogging in 2000, and did so very publicly for almost a decade. I dealt with all sorts of internet abuse — a dedicated reader who commented on every single post that I was fat/ugly/stupid/whatever, another reader who emailed my then-boyfriend (now husband) inventing elaborate stories about how I was cheating on him (!?!), rad-fem bloggers writing epic essays about how I was a bad feminist, etc x 500. I developed a super thick skin over the years… but ultimately I decided that I needed a more private space to talk about more vulnerable issues without worrying about being attacked, so I made my personal blog members-only. (It’s still chugging along, with about 100 monthly readers instead of 2000).
Only you can know your own comfort levels. While my editors are committed to protecting Offbeat Empire contributors from hateful comments and snark on my websites, it’s a great big internet out there… and there’s nothing I can do about the other people, other than to urge you to ignore them. That’s all anyone can do.
I’d love to encourage you to contribute — there are ways you could do so, like using a pseudonym, not revealing overly personal details, etc — but ultimately only you can know your own comfort levels with the exposure.
Comments on If I submit my wedding to you, do I risk getting mocked online?
Speaking as someone who moved from reader to contributor and staff member, my general approach is to stick my head in the sand (the sand being Offbeat Empire, everything else being the rest of the internet). I have shared a very personal post on the Empire, had my wedding profiled, and wrote a post that resulted in a request to write a free-lance article. I do not go looking for any reaction to what I’ve written outside the Empire though. I know it could happen. I know lots of comments on the free-lance article were icky. But when it comes down to it, I wanted to share that stuff. I am still glad I did. Even if someone wrote something hateful later, I am happy that I did share it. I think that’s the line you need to draw. Someone will always say something negative or think it. That’s the world and the internet especially. But if you have a reason for sharing, then that helps support you. Plus the comments on the Empire are always a major boost and help remind you awesome people exist.
If negative comments about your appearance, your words or your hard work will devastate you, sharing on the internet probably isn’t for you, no matter where you choose to do it or why. But I will say that if you choose to do so, ignoring the negative stuff out there can be easier than you might think. You simply don’t click the link. You don’t let your eyes pass over the comments. Evasion is a perfectly sound solution here! 🙂
The thing about contributing to a site as overwhelmingly positive as the OBE is that, in a small way, you’re changing the dynamic of the internet. Rather than snark for sport, you’re supporting and participating in a conversation that’s one of support. I think that’s the best reason to share.
I submitted a guest post on a blog without realizing that the topic was ripe for a negative reaction. The editor made no mention of it, and within a few hours, there were tons of comments about what a terrible and cheap person I was. I even got twitter messages from people!
Now, I did learn that I am naive about certain things (and the article showed it) and that I have to consider the audience when submitting a post, but I was a little annoyed that the editor didn’t mention anything about the reaction it may receive when he probably knew what would happen. He did say he felt it was honest and they liked to give different opinions, and he encouraged me not to take offense to anything. He also said replying to the comments only fuels the fire, so I stopped reading them after, oh, 100 or so, and never said a word.
I wouldn’t submit there again because I still feel really weird and embarrassed about the article, the reaction and all of it.
Question for you editors: Do you “warn” your folks about a post beforehand if you feel it’s a touchy subject?
We don’t warn; we edit or decline.
* If there are a couple turns of phrase that we suspect would make commenters flip out, we’ll edit the post. We do this a lot.
* If it’s really touchy, we just decline the post. Since we don’t pay for guestposts, I don’t feel right about asking people to revise or rework their writings based on higher-level editorial concerns.
Because of the Empire’s comment policies, it’s not in my editors’ best interests to publish incendiary posts, since it creates a HUGE amount of moderation work. (Related post: Clean it up, shut it down.)
But it’s not just about editors… I honestly just don’t like throwing guest posters under the bus. If I know a post is going to make the internet freak out, we just decline it. (Even if it might mean we’d get tons of trainwreck clicks. I’m not in the business of producing hate-reads.)
Every once and a while we’ll get blindsided by a negative response to a post. It doesn’t happen all that often, but I always feel terribly when it does… and am usually in close contact with the author to strategize how to respond.
It’s good to know there are sites like yours that don’t try to cause controversy.
Lately I’ve fallen into the trap of visiting sites that seem to purposely want to cause all kinds of comment drama. It’s fun to read sometimes, but after a while, I just have to back away.
I used to do freelance writing for Yahoo!Sports. The fact that I was a chick got several negative comments from people, without even reading the article. Then there are those who called me an idiot for my opinion (hello…the whole point of the article was a “fan’s take”, meaning that my personal opinion WAS THE POINT!) Sometimes I’d read the comments, often not. You can totally read the comments here, and then ignore them if the subject/article gets picked up elsewhere.
However, posting anything on the internet comes with the risk of dramaz. You can do all you can to minimize it, but it will happen. The nice part is it usually blows over quickly, as the trolls move on the to the next pitchfork mob.
Thick skin + not giving a shit = happiness.
I only heed the opinions of those I consider valuable or that appear to have any content that’s not super hateful.
I think it’s because I don’t care about others opinions of things I say OR the fact that I’m always sticking my foot in my mouth. Shoes are becoming quite the delicacy! My mouth has been getting me in trouble since I spoke my first word. People say I don’t have a filter which isn’t true. I’m not afraid to say what everyone else is already thinking. Maybe that’s it? Somewhere over time I’ve built up a tolerance towards it.
The other thing is if someone can’t talk to you (argue, debate, or whatever) without name-calling, don’t engage in that conversation. Walk away. Literally put one foot in front of the other and walk. That person is beneath you and thinks like a child. You are an adult and deserve to talk to an adult. The name caller 9 times out of 10 can’t get past their own shit in order to have an adult conversation.
OK final thing and this was hard for me but with practice I learned. If you and the person arguing are face to face, tell them that you understand they are upset. You need 10min (or however long you think)and go sit a min away from each other in separate rooms. Give each other plenty of time to calm down where you think w your head and not emotions. When enough time has past turn off all distractions especially cell phones. CALMLY say you want them to go first. Listen intently DO NOT INTERRUPT THEM and then say I hear what you have just said. Please listen to my sidenow that I’ve heard yours. Please don’t interrupt and aged I finish we can see what needs to be done to solve whatever. It works like a charm!!!
Just try it and see you have nothing to lose
Four years ago I was active in the tribe, had submitted posts, and was planning to share my wedding (a dungeons & dragons themed winter elopement) when a post I submitted was edited to the point that it no longer actually reflected my views (my husband’s name was removed and the essay was edited into language that was very general and made it seem like I was telling everyone how THEY should be a wife rather than what I appreciated, very specifically, about becoming my husband’s wife). The negative backlash was really difficult to take, especially since I was being criticized for words that weren’t actually mine but were credited to me (coinciding with some major personal stresses offline which made me more vulnerable/sensitive to harsh words, even from strangers). I asked for that post to be removed, and thankfully it was done so quickly but not before it soured my stomach. That was about four years ago, and I only returned to this website at all a few months ago (having never submitted my wedding and closing my account on the tribe). There is still one essay on here written by me that was untouched/unedited and still receives comments (positive), and that makes me happy. It reminds me of my really positive experiences here. I’m trying to focus on that as I slowly and tentatively return to this website. None of this is a criticism of Offbeat or its editors. I’m just sharing my experience, how it affected me, how I responded, and how I wish I had been 1. notified of the edits to my writing so I could have at least approved them before having my name attached, which would have alerted me to the change in tone/message (which I could have addressed before publication) and 2. better prepared to expect and handle online criticism and place it in a greater context than the initial sting that it gave to my (especially sensitive at that time) heart. I’m thankful for this post and wish I had read it four years ago before I made my mistake.
Hey, I’m so sorry this happened to you at all, and feel terribly that it happened on Offbeat Bride. If you ever want to talk it through, please feel free to get in touch with my personally. This form sends straight to my inbox.
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