Beware of Bloggers, and Other Success Warnings

Recently I witnessed two prominent blogs, each followed by several thousand readers, cause disturbing ripples across the blogging community.

Although I’m fairly new to this arena, I did have contact with both of these bloggers, but it was minimal, and so I watched the dramas unfold from the safety of the periphery.  Nonetheless, it left me unsettled and a little disconcerted.

Writing gifOne of the blog-sites fully imploded due to revelations of wide-spread improprieties toward other bloggers that included bullying, coercion and sexual harassment. That site’s owner/writer ended up closing down that blog and all its associated webpages, but it had run for quite a long time prior because the harassed had been intimidated into silence.  The other had to deal with a very strong backlash regarding a post in which he called out another blogger as less than worthy of public acclaim.  This one also closed, but only temporarily, presumably to lick wounds and regroup.

In both cases, regardless of how much damning proof there was, there remained for both of these bloggers a strong base of supporters who were willing to excuse and even completely overlook the accusations toward these, their heroes, and for many, their  ‘on-line friends’.

In retaliation of the revelations, these supporters were also more than willing to demonstrate their solidarity by writing the victims and/or injured parties and their followers to demean and belittle them and the charges, some even issuing threats. This is a pretty strong example of when people don’t like to admit they’ve made a mistake – especially about someone they look up to. Especially one that questions, “Was I a sucker”?

Each case reminded me of the often repeated cautionary tales that we speak to our kids about when it comes to internet usage – whom to associate with and what we choose to post online.  It also reminded me that we have to re-think how we make heroes out of appearances of success.

In the blogging world, a successful following and  wider readership is attained through, in large part, making mutual blogging contacts and following each other’s work,  but like our warnings to our children, we also need to be more discerning about with whom we choose to support and associate.

In the pursuit of success, we too often, and easily, make heroes out of those we see as triumphant.  We hope to be able to tag onto their success and open opportunities for ourselves.  At least, that’s how it supposed to work and really, that’s how the world has gone around forever.  However, applauding success doesn’t require falling down in worship.

The last few weeks have served as a tough reminder to many of us to remember to be responsible for what we say publicly, or be willing to take full responsibility for the results, and it is also a reminder to behave; act with decent propriety and respect.

In the interest of general face-saving and self-preservation, we should also pay attention to that old adage of listening to our gut.  Follow our heart in what we want to say, but definitely pay attention when our Spidey senses start tingling while we’re writing, reading, or in a discussion.  Let’s face it, in this realm, we really don’t know who we are be-friending. If we back-off from something that feels wrong, that’s a win.  Maybe we will miss out on a chance to step up a notch, but it’s far more likely that there will still be plenty of opportunities to grow.

The last thought I took away from all these events, is yes,yes, yes it is OK to stand up for yourself, respectfully, when you’ve been wronged.  Even in the blogosphere, no one is too big to have to own up to bad behavior.


18 thoughts on “Beware of Bloggers, and Other Success Warnings

  1. Good observation and advice, Robyn! The blogosphere definitely is like an untamed frontier in some ways still… and I think the not physically seeing people can make it easier to get into spats or say things one might not say in person.


    • Hi Diahann,

      Thanks again!

      Yes, I noticed that the one blogger who got into trouble did not post his name, only his blog title, so there was almost complete anonymity – and lots of room for trouble. I think it’s likely that he got caught up in the god-like power his worshipping followers conveyed, and he thought he could do no wrong. (His problems started when the guy he picked on turned out to have his own strong backers and then all supporters were off to the races! – icky stuff).

      Anyway, the whole internet usage, safety and legalities is a big lesson that’s being taught in our schools from kindergarten on, for which I am very grateful.


  2. Interesting and timely. We’ve recently formed a coop blog for sharing our writing. Frankly, I’m leery of linking our blog to others, particularly non-literary blogs–the downside is just too precipitous.

    Anonymity may encourage bad behavior. I’m not as sure about the facelessness–seeing who we’re connecting with is nice, but what guarantees they’ve used their own picture?

    The Internerd attracts many sick people. I hung out briefly in a chat site a few years ago and was appalled by what I saw. Some individuals came only to insult and/or to be offended, and, of course, they succeeded. I guess there’s no way to prevent that 100%, but I have since found a chatroom site with mostly caring adults who at least are trying to act as such.

    Part of the problem, in some cases, may be “noble cause corruption.” Creating a tribal entity to promote or discuss a worthwhile cause often gives its members the notion that they are, ipso facto, holy. If you oppose them, according to this logic, you must be evil. Therefore, anything they say or do against you is not only justified, but virtuous. They are unreachable by any other logic, so there’s no point in arguing with them.


    • Your point about about no point in arguing with a certain group of tribal mentalities is well made. Not that the rest of your comment isn’t also insightful. I know for some, the only point of their involvement is to incite argument and generate garbage talk. I’ve been watching some of the fall-out of the fallen supporters and there would be no way to get through to them about any points that aren’t of their own. Utter waste of time.


  3. Very well said. It’s as important to be as selective in choosing your on line friends as it in choosing your friends in the flesh. It’s wise not to share too much with either. I think it’s true to say that one only ends up with a handful of real friends….if you’re lucky,


    • Merci beau coup! I appreciate your kind input, especially from such a polished wordsmith. You are definitely correct when it comes to friends who are really friends. It’s too bad that sometimes it takes a real shake up of one’s world to sort out who is who.
      Thanks again!


  4. Both sides lose in these blogger battles, really all internet fights. Once it goes from discussion to insult it’s as good as over for everyone. I’ve watched the fallout from a couple of mob v mob blowouts. It is a good reminder to be aware, and step back before getting carried away in the hype of something.


    • Hello Melanie, yes, you are so right. It’s amazing how much is taken to heart by people that they wouldn’t even say hi to in the real world. Seriously, in the end, I wonder why people don’t ask themselves more often, ‘how does this really affect my world’? Thanks so much for your comment.


  5. I guess I don’t get around much and (thankfully) haven’t been aware of these goings on you speak about. Electronically or physically, we all put our best foot forward when meeting new people. But really you can’t hide your true self too long when you are a blogger because your work will give you away.


    • Hi Mary, you are lucky for sure, and I have to say that my own direct experiences have been very positive as well. In fact, at times, I find it can get a little too distracting because there are so many really wonderful writers able to express incredible amounts of interesting thoughts. I agree with you that the kind of people behind the words do shine through at some point. Again, I’ve been privileged in this regard too.
      Thanks so much for coming by my little page, and for leaving a note!


  6. Great points, Robyn. Sometimes the blog-o-sphere reminds me of high school, with cliques and drama as certain folks jocky for acclaim. Also like high scool, how you interect with that world, and deciding who your friends and heros are, is ultimatly up to you. I’m peripherally aware of the situation you’re talking about, and have chosen to keep walking past the scuffle because, in my opinion, those involved have brought it upon themselves.


    • It has been a bit of an education for me in this sphere. I’ve been very lucky to have had mostly really wonderful and helpful encounters with other writers. So when I saw that high school exists even here, and how disappointed I felt about it, I guess I realized how much naivete I still bring with me to new worlds. On the up side though, I was happy to see that a couple of times, my instincts guarded me against wading into the detention room, and that I became aware of it relatively early in my new blogging life.
      Thanks for your read and note Ned. I suspect that you are an example that a few of us follow for how to do things in this area.


  7. Robyn I had heard nothing of this incident but it sounds awful. I appreciated what you said about building followers though contacts.I learned early on that the relationships I make far outweigh the metrics for my own blog. It is by the people meet that i gauge my success.


    • Hi Tom – thanks for the visit! Yes, I’m sure these incidences were pretty horrible for everyone directly involved. I know it made me feel pretty sad just as an observer. I agree that you can meet a lot of really good people, and make some genuine friendships too. It can be tricky sometimes though, and that’s why I try to pay attention whenever a red flag comes up. I also like the way you gauge success.


  8. Thanks for restating one reason I am slow to dive into any pool. I often feel the parade may be passing me by, but the thought of getting caught under a runaway float keeps me cautious.


    • Yes, following the wisdom of caution is a good thing, but despite how it looks sometimes, I always remember that the world offers far more good than not, One of the good things about this part of my world is that I can control what to read, what to allow on my comments, who to follow, and who to unfollow if I’m not comfortable. After all, we’re only obligated to our own hearts here, and if it resonates with another, we’re doing our work. I’ve often found that sharing some vulnerability often creates more strengths than more hurt. Thanks so much for your visit. I hope I see you again.


What's on your mind, let's talk about it...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s