Bloggers talk to each other quite a lot. We comment on each other's blogs, we have Twitter parties, we're in Facebook groups.
Thanks to social media, you can chat to people anywhere, any time, about your shared interests and about pretty much any aspect of blogging. This sense of 'community' is what makes it such a popular platform. You feel part of something. You share in each other's highs and lows, help each other out, ask and answer questions, or sometimes just have a general moan.
It was sharing in another blogger's low that inspired me to write this. She'd written to a company asking about any blogger outreach they do for their campaigns and whether she could apply. Who would have thought one simple email - similar to those sent every day by bloggers across the blogosphere - could open Pandora's Box? Rather than reply simply saying no, the company proceeded not only to have an email conversation ridiculing the blogger, critiquing her work and generally mocking her - but actually cc'd her into the conversation. At each point, according to the blogger, she asked them several times to stop copying her in. They didn't.
You can imagine how the experience left her feeling. Distraught wouldn't be too strong a word. Amid her tears, she shared her distress with her blogging pals in a private Facebook group, venting her anger and upset about the unnecessary spite and seeking advice on what she should do. And who can blame her? After all, we're all only human. When someone attacks us - verbally or physically, directly or indirectly, hey even in an email - it hurts.
There were calls to name and shame the company, a flurry of suggestions of how best to take revenge or make them sorry. After what I imagine was a fair bit of weighing things up, this blogger's response was to write a wonderfully well-written poem describing her feelings and posted it on her blog. A classy response to less-than-classy behaviour. It seems they apologised, possibly more for the fact that they'd got caught, rather than for what they did, but it must have brought some level of satisfaction to the wronged blogger.
But should it ever have got to that point? Couldn't a simple 'no' and a bit of courtesy have saved all the heartache? It all sounds very dramatic doesn't it? But that's because - as I've said already - we're all human.
The debate about blogging and where it fits in our world often focuses on the bigger picture - the ethics (http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/relations-with-a-blogger-ellen-manning-eat-with-ellen/), how it's changing the face of so many sectors, from journalism to marketing.
But for many, if not most bloggers, it's a personal thing on all sorts of levels. For some, it's about incredibly personal life experiences and issues. For others, the act of blogging itself is personal. You're creating something and putting it out there for the world to see. That's scary, but part of the joy too. You're writing something you hope people will enjoy. You may have set yourself up for potential criticism, but do you deserve personal attacks as well? I don't think so.
It wasn't that long ago that blogging didn't really exist. Now it's a 'thing', as are 'bloggers'. I haven't even been doing this that long, and already I've had loads of different reactions - most positive, but some not quite so glowing. 'Oh you're a 'blogger', doesn't that mean you just get free stuff?", "blogger, don't you mean 'blagger'", and many many more. Of course, like anything, there are bloggers whose behaviour we might not agree with, who people feel gives everyone a bad name. But that happens everywhere - there's policemen who behave badly, politicians who behave badly, even charity bosses who behave badly. There are two points here:
1. Just because some people who hold that role are 'bad eggs', it doesn't mean that everyone who does that job or has that hobby is like that. So you can't judge a whole sector and everyone in it based on one person and your experience with them.
2. If you don't agree with a particular activity in general, does it make it right to launch a personal attack on someone? Yeah, so maybe you do think bloggers are blaggers, but do you need to complete a full character assassination of them? And the same goes for bloggers' opinions of companies - it's not fair to tar everyone with the same brush.
I'm not saying bloggers are all perfect. I'm not saying you have to agree with what we do, how we do it and what that means on a wider scale. But the important message that we should all remember and consider is that there's a person behind the keyboard, a real person with real feelings. And this applies to both bloggers and companies.
So next time a company has an unnecessary 'pop' at bloggers or bloggers do the same to a company, whether individually or as a whole, I urge you, as the person controlling your keyboard to take a minute to remember that behind all the screen we're all actually real people, with real feelings.
Yes. Bloggers have feelings too.
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