April 12, 2007
Bad Moon Rising
This is a long post that has to do with blogging - not really knitting - and there are no pictures. You've been forewarned.
The other day, after receiving a not so nice comment, reading this article, and hearing from blogger friends who had been abused in comments and blog posts recently, I came up with a BRILLIANT IDEA! I sent out this email:
BRING IT ON! An Experiment in Blogging
Dear Friends and Fellow Bloggers,
I hope this email finds you happy and arms full of yarn. So - I've had a CRAZY idea. I know, you're shaking your heads, but this one is even CRAZIER than usual and I'd love to hear your opinions.
I'm thinking of a BRING IT ON day on the blogs - or at least MY blog. Lately I've had some not so nice comments - both on the blog and behind the scenes - directed at me and my life and coupled with the article that appeared in the New York Times the other day, I thought that it would be really really interesting to just see the comments fly. I'm proposing a 24 hour period where people could leave, in the comments, the best criticsm they could come up with for me. I would set some ground rules - nothing about my family or religion or stuff like that - just about ME. I would ask them to stick to what they've seen or read on the blog - or if they've met me in person - but it's okay if they don't stick to it. And I would welcome anonymous comments.
What do you think would happen? Would I need to be in therapy for another fifteen years? Would friendships be lost? Or would all the negativity cancel itself out and eventually, reading all those awful comments, people would see how stupid it really is. That the adage - if you don't have anything nice to say - don't say anything at all - really DOES make the world a better place.
I just hatched this idea. But I think it could be extremely interesting, probably very hurtful, most likely entertaining and hopefully a learning experience for all involved - bloggers and commenters alike. I'd like to think I'd be putting my money where my mouth is - but maybe I really have knit one too many miters.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Have a fantastic day!
One by one, people responded back and were overwhelmingly negative about my proposal - with some very good reasons. It would probably devolve into silliness - like a sixth grade slam book with comments about how my feet were ugly and my breath bad. Or that I'd actually be overwhelmed with POSITIVE comments instead of negative. Or that it would truly get very, very ugly and I might not be able to recover from it. That when the 24 hr period ended, I'd get even more badness for closing it down. I thought, the worst that could happen is that I would take down the blog. And I don't want to take down the blog.
I needed to further examine what I wanted from this experiment. Did I want constructive criticism? Not really. I'm plenty critical of my life and I have a VERY honest husband and family who tell it to me like it is, not to mention an excellent friend who's ready to call me on all aspects of my life. I often call Ann and ask her if I'm being ridiculous about something - and she always lets me know how she really feels. Honesty is a fantastic gift in my life, even if the criticism is sometimes hard to hear. But there's a difference between criticism delivered safely, lovingly, RESPECTFULLY as opposed to just dumped in your lap without regard. You catch more flies with honey than you do with shit.
Speaking of shit, I was working with an analogy when I came up with this experiment. I thought, if I fill the room with shit - here I'm talking about the comments - and people really really let me have it - let out all the petty jealousies, the legitimate gripes, the suggestions on how to make my world better, i.e. more like THEIR world - well then, in the end all the badness might cancel itself out. Like if you fill the room with shit - eventually you're not going to smell it anymore. You know what I mean?
If your blog has more than one reader (who's not your mom - or maybe it is your mom?) chances are someone's thought ill of you. Either they thought your knitting skills sucked. Your design was a rip off. They could DEFINITELY do better than you. I would assume that the more readers you have, the more that negative number rises. I'm no saint here - of course I've thought (and even said) not so nice things about other people - even other bloggers - but I've never deliberately gone out of my way to make someone feel bad in public. Whether on my site or someone else's site or on their own site. In fact, I try to adhere to a strict policy of never saying anything negative about anyone in emails, let alone blogs. Does this make me a hypocrite? Sure! I can think it! But do I have the balls to put it out there?!? I'm not sure it has anything to do with balls. I think it has to do with thought and action. We can think many many negative things all day long, but it's acting on those thoughts that really says who we are. At least that's how I think about it. I'm not above petty jealousies. I'm not above lashing out if I think someone I love has been hurt. I'm not above idle gossip. Please. I'm a human being. But I don't think those are the types of things I want lasting forever - like emails or blog posts. They're not constructive. They don't help anyone (but maybe me for like five minutes and then oftentimes I feel guilty.) And they don't do anything to change a situation.
While I was thinking about this grand sociological experiment and how it could or could not work, I started thinking about what motivates people to be so mean. I'm sure you've all heard about the Kathy Sierra incident - a blogger started getting death threats and horrid pictures of her were photoshopped – for instance, a photo of her with a noose nearby - and posted on a blog that seemed to exist only to bash other bloggers. What could she possibly have written to garner such meaness? What makes people be so mean? [Read the NYTs article above and this link I found through MJ. Thanks MJ!]
I can only speak to knitblogs because that's really all I read - so let's talk about them. We've all seen blogs that seem to exist to denigrate other knitters. They're equal opportunity haters too - designers, bloggers, new knitters, old knitters, knitters who knit with one hand, two hands, their feet - whatever - everything's game! I guess a blog like this serves a purpose - on those days that you just hate the world and want to revel in that hate, it's sometimes nice to go over to a blog like this and join in on all the fun. Although at the end of the day, even when I'm languishing in the hate, it just makes me sad. I still don't understand what people get out of bashing other people. Most of all, I'm left wondering, why do people care so much? It's my experience that people don't do things unless they're getting something out of it for themselves - it's rare to find a truly altrustic action. I blog because I want to show off my knits and I love to write and I like to be funny - I get a lot back from it: lots of nice comments, inspiration, new friends. But what do I get back if I trash someone? Do I get to feel superior? Is it going to make my knitting better? Or make me feel better ABOUT my knitting? Anything negative I say about someone else is a reflection on me. What am I so unhappy or upset or unsatisfied with? What can I change ABOUT ME to make my life better?
Let's set a few things straight about what I think about criticism: if you want to criticise a knitting book or pattern or blog, that's perfectly acceptable to me. A designer puts those designs out there and once they’re in the world, you can't control how people see that design. You have to hope they either love it or hate it - some kind of REAL reaction. If you write a pattern and people start knitting it and it's full of mistakes and the schematics are all wrong and the actual finished garment is so ridiculously put together that you can't tell the neck from the elbow, well, then THE PATTERN deserves to be ripped a new one. But not the designer. Wouldn't it be great if we could talk about the problems with a pattern that would actually HELP the designer write a better one next time? Like some kind of collaboration? Why bring the personal into it?
I'm no stranger to criticism. I graduated from an MFA program in Creative Writing which means for two years I got to sit in a workshop where every week another writer was raked across the coals. I would spend hours and hours writing a story only to have my classmates sit around and talk about all the things that were wrong and bad and awful about that story. If you've never been through a critique it's a wonderful thing! Most of the time, the criticism that was valid was immediately apparent to me and I got really good at throwing out the rest of it, but it's still hard to hear negative-ness about your babies.
I’ll give you two examples of criticism I recently encountered. One had to do with a knitting project. A comment was left on my blog that basically said, “Well, I’m glad you’re happy with the project. I think I’ll keep my opinion to myself.” (Which in and of itself is kind of ridiculous because duh – the opinion was RIGHT OUT THERE.) I emailed the commenter and said – come on! Let me have it! Tell me what you really think! And she did. What ensued was a very nice conversation about what makes us tick as knitters and what we like and don’t like and it was civilized and THAT’S the kind of criticism I welcome. That same day I got another comment that basically said I was crazy and that all my knitting was a waste of time and I should be out helping people instead of being dirty and sitting on my ass all day making this waste of money blanket. (Incidentally, this commenter later apologized for her comment.)
That one I didn’t like. That one was personal. That one JUDGED ME. When you read someone’s blog, you’re really only getting a teeny tiny glimpse of their life. I share with you what I want to share with you. So maybe I’m out slopping soup at homeless shelters all day long or maybe I’m kicking puppies up and down the street – YOU DON’T KNOW. I would hope that you would judge me by what you read on the page and the way I behave through the rest of blogland without jumping to conclusions about the life you DON’T read about. I know this is a very tall order. We can’t help but draw conclusions – imagine realities that don’t necessarily exist – and pass judgment based on the little knowledge we have. I do it all the time. Once again, I believe it’s part of being human. But we DO have the ability to STOP ourselves and take a step back. In the five minutes you might take to write that scathing comment, take another minute to read it over and really think about what it says. Would you want to receive a comment like that on your blog? What if your friend got a comment like that? What would be your reaction?
And of course, we’re useless when we try to defend ourselves. I put it out there that I don’t shower on a daily basis. So if someone wants to judge me on that fact alone, well there’s nothing I can do. On the flip side, I know all about the arguments of free speech. It's my blog and I can say whatever the hell I want! Then why are we so upset if someone comes and disagrees with us? Why then does it all fall apart into a "you are censoring me because you don't agree with me even though I said these awful things about you on my blog!?" I can count many instances where legitimate discussions have collapsed in blog comments because someone, inevitably, writes "IT'S THEIR BLOG – THEY CAN SAY WHAT THEY WANT!” But what you say and put out in the world in your name has consequences. There are real live people sitting at home behind computers reading blogs.
There’s been lots of talk about codes of conduct on blogs and how we should act and decorum and decency and I’ve given a lot of thought to it in the past few days. I know, that were a code of conduct to come about, that I would have a VERY hard time adopting one for my blog. If I did, it would have to be the most lenient code available. Because, honestly, I do believe in free speech. And I do believe in the free exchange of ideas. And I do believe that I deserve to get back what I put out into the world.
And I believe that criticism can be healthy and constructive and very welcome.
If you threaten me, or my family, or steal from me, or destroy my reputation in some way – that’s no longer free speech. Then it becomes a matter of law.
So I’ve written a really long post, but have I really said anything? I’m not sure. But I wanted to put this out there in the knitblog world because I think it’s important. I really do believe that this is a COMMUNITY in the best sense of the word (and world - which is the first word I typed.) I have been fortunate enough to meet A LOT of knitbloggers and I hope to continue to meet more. One of the reasons I keep my blog as intimate and honest as I do is that when I meet a knitblogger I want them to feel as comfortable with me in person as they do when reading the blog. I’m anxious and crazy and I want you to be prepared when you meet me. No surprises. What you read is what you get. ;-)
Do I think that anything will change because I wrote this epic essay? That would be pretty narcissistic of me, for sure. Hopefully. Maybe a little. I’ve already seen some nice healing just from the email I sent out. Do I think we should all get along? ABSOLUTELY NOT. There are bloggers (and people) that just aren’t going to be your cup of tea. And that is perfectly acceptable to me. And if you have an opinion – by all means SHARE IT! But use a little common sense and common courtesy. Is it really that hard? Really?
In conclusion (thank god!) I would like to see a wonderful discussion in the comments – like the one that went on the other day at Steph’s. Dig deep and tell me why you think you were mean that time. Were you threatened by something? Jealous of something? (I would think that my petty outbursts are the direct response of envy. I want whatever it is that someone else has – as hard as it is to admit it.) What do you think about a code of conduct? Do we really need rules? Isn’t the Golden One good enough? What do you think would have happened if I HAD openend up the blog to all the negativity I could handle for 24 hours?
I leave you with this quote, found serendipitously while reading the NYT's obituary for Kurt Vonnegut:
“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”
From God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.
Why people are willing to suspend the rules of civil society simply because they are acting online and in anonymity mystifies me. My rule for myself - if you wouldn't say it in person, don't say it online.
I always get upset when I read the shit comments you receive. The one you referred to above in particular really bugged me, though I'm glad to know she apologized. There is such a huge difference between criticism and judgment, as you have so eloquently reminded us.
Thank you for the post, and thanks especially for the wise words of a wise man. That one rule - it would be enough, if we would all just live it.
Posted by: earthchick at April 12, 2007 10:54 AM
You don't apologize for taking time and doing the things you enjoy and love. I am constantly feeling guilty for spending time on my crafts, but you don't. And for that, I admire you.
Posted by: Rosa at April 12, 2007 10:59 AM
Very, very well said, Cara.
I too believe in free speech on blogs and the only time I've removed comments is when I thought they would upset other people and cause a big flare-up in my comments.
I'm not sure if that's right or wrong, but my instinct was, for example, to delete the comment that called me a "dried out old hag" because I didn't want that to spawn a discussion in my comments of whether or not I'm a dried up old hag. ;-)
And as earthchick said, she gets upset at shit comments you receive, I don't want people getting upset over negative comments I may receive either. I've got a fairly thick skin, but a lot of my readers don't. My mom reads my blog, and all my comments, and I certainly don't want to upset her!
Posted by: Wendy at April 12, 2007 11:02 AM
I think you've covered a lot of ground and I'm not sure I can do justice to any of it. The Golden Rule works for me and I think it's so important to remember that words can hurt - especially when they are written and not spoken. We've all heard it before about emails and how, without facial expression and tone, things that aren't meant to be hurtful can actually be misconstrued into being very hurtful.
I had someone judge me once on my blog and it hurt. She said I didn't show enough knitting and I used the blog to talk about how I spent my money instead. We passed a couple of emails back and forth about the topic and I told her that she was judging me on the slice of life she saw in my blog. I could be independently wealthy (I'm not) or completely debt free (I'm not) and none of that would be known to a blog reader so why assume that you know anything about me other than what I tell you? But you know, I learned a lot from that experience. I'm not glad it happened because it hurt a lot but I'm glad I got some lessons from it.
One last thing - I always heard that if you fill a room with shit, eventually you'll find a pony.
Posted by: Carole at April 12, 2007 11:04 AM
Last night I couldnt sleep. Why? Because I had read the blog of a v. vitriolic knitter who regularly takes it upon herself to fill her blog with purile commentary, oftentimes under the guise of inspiring a dialogue. Many of the comments left by this blog's readers were directed at two of my friends. Free speech is alive and well and living on the internet for in certain online forums, that sweet little clause in the constitution does not protect those who have been defamed on the internet by anonymous commenters and writers. Unfortunately with the good that the internet has to offer also comes the dark, unseemly underbelly. What to do? Stip blogging? Moderate comments? Keep your blog private? Hope no one Googles you to see what people are saying about you on a number of online forums? Grow a thick skin? Not sure. For now, all I can think is that Pandora's Box has been opened and what has come out has begun to erode an already decayed sense of civility among (some of) us.
Posted by: elisabeth at April 12, 2007 11:09 AM
Yeah. There are blogs I really don't like, and bloggers I *really* don't like, but I don't attack them in the comments or on my blog. I may be catty to my friends about those people, but never on a blog, mine or theirs or someone else's. I don't get people. Then again, I got hit by a car a few weeks ago and the driver drove on. So I really don't get people.
Posted by: itgirl at April 12, 2007 11:15 AM
I do wish that, as you suggested, the Golden Rule was enough. But in blogland, even more than in "real" life, I think, there are just too many self-righteous people who think that either 1) because they are miserable in their lives, everyone else should be miserable, too, or 2)they are always right, always the only ones worth listening too, and always the only ones whose free speech rights are worth preserving, no matter how damaging, stupid or insipid their opinions.
What ever happened to, hey, if you don't like it or don't agree with it, DON'T READ THE DAMN BLOG. Leave the rest of us who ARE civil, and who DO like what's going on in the space the hell alone, and go somewhere where you do like/appreciate/comiserate with what's going on.
I personally think a code of conduct system would be, to some extent, more problematic than problem solving. It would be an open invitation for those assholes who make it their job in life to slash and burn at other people's lives and interests to purposely stab at the sites who try to utilize the code of conduct. You know, be spoilers. And with no way to enforce any of it, it all might elevate the nastiness instead of dialing it down.
It's really a shame that this discussion is taking place at all.
Posted by: AnneMarie at April 12, 2007 11:18 AM
I like a lot of things about your blog, but I think my favorite is that you seem completely heartfelt and passionate about every single thing you write. Just needed to say that.
I guess I haven't been in the blogosphere for long enough to really run into the problems you discuss. They're mentioned enough, obliquely and directly, for me to realize they exist. But I haven't gotten nasty comments myself, nor have I seen many (any?) on others' blogs. Then again, I don't go back and re-read comments to entries I've already commented on, myself. Nor do I read every single comment if an entry already has 50 of them.
I'm not sure why I felt like my opinion needed that qualification, but there it is. :) Knitblogger-newbie or not, I *have* been online and engaging in discussions online since 94, and I've developed two cardinal rules for myself:
1. Never say anything about someone else that can easily be interpreted as nasty.
2. ALWAYS read comments and messages online in the best possible light.
Perhaps because I have an overabundance of faith in humanity, I really believe that those out to do harm number very few. A big part of the problem, I think, is that text on a screen is completely lacking in tone of voice--without this vast wealth of information, it's easy to read something as nastier than the author intended. Ironic sarcasm becomes snark. Attempts at humor get read as entirely nasty. People (and my this I mean nearly everyone I've interacted with online, knitblogger or not) often seem to automatically read the worst intent into any message. Going into my half-assed theories about why wouldn't do anyone justice, but I have found that simply trying to find the best possible meaning out of every comment has served me well.
Thanks for the post, Cara. You really make me think, and I appreciate that.
Posted by: Amy at April 12, 2007 11:21 AM
This (non-knitting) blogger has a post about the same article, which I like and happen to mostly agree with.
Posted by: Adrienne at April 12, 2007 11:24 AM
There are a ton of things that I have to say about this post, but since we know I'm long-winded, I'll spare everyone and leave it to a few thoughts.
First, I have only had two negative comments on my blog - EVER - a surprisingly small number given how long I've been blogging. I feel lucky in this, as more popular bloggers seem to get a TON of these nasty little bombs in their in-boxes. There are benefits to anonimity! Anyhoo, in both cases, when I continued the dialogue with the not-so-nice commenter in a constructive way, it ended well. One of those two people is a semi-regular "nice" commenter now, and I also visit her blog, which I discovered has some prime knitting.
I think sometimes when people reach your blog, they are at the end of a long, crappy day, and they just need to blow off steam. Nine times out of ten, if you politely tell them to blow it the other way, they do. (That tenth person you should just ban and forget - because there's no turning that type.) My strategy, I suppose, is to give the benefit of the doubt and attempt to diffuse the situation. If the comment is so offensive that there is nothing to be gained from interacting with the person (which has yet to happen to me - knock on wood), I would just delete it and not waste my time.
I also subscribe to your credo of kindness, although I would bridle under a code of conduct. Everyone gossips, and I know even my good friends must complain to each other about me at times, but I like what I put out there to be constructive, with the purpose of changing things that I do not like rather than simply bashing them. People don't respond to anger and name calling with anything but the same. If you say something in a calm manner, I think it's a lot more likely to make a difference.
I applaud your efforts to work though this and start a discussion, Cara.
Posted by: Julia at April 12, 2007 11:29 AM
There was an incident some time ago where a blogger (a group of bloggers) lashed out at me and a group of my on-line friends. My biggest regret about the whole thing isn't that the person said what she said, but my reaction to what she said. While I never said anything I wouldn't have said to her face, the comments sent out a negative message. My reaction continues to haunt me and I regret it despite apologies on both sides.
Posted by: margene at April 12, 2007 11:31 AM
Earthchick had a good point. If you can't say it in person, don't say it anonymously. (That goes for driving, too!)
The problem I see with the room full of shit is this: do you really want to be accustomed to a roomful of shit? Yes, it would be nice to be so thick-skinned that meanness doesn't hurt you, but doesn't that take away some of the good experiences too? I'm not sure I want to be that desensitized.
Anyway, if your blog is something that bothers me, I wouldn't waste my time reading it. I get something out of it by coming here, so I choose to spend my time here. It wastes your time AND mine if I come here only to judge you unworthy and tell you all about it. Seems like we'd both have better things to do.
Posted by: Carrie at April 12, 2007 11:32 AM
Very well stated!!!
As others have said it's your blog and you should be able to blog about what ever you wish to share with the world.
I have had one negative comment on my blog and after reading it and re-reading the post, I removed the post for they were right and I was wrong.
People are entitled to their opinions, however, I come from the school of if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
Thanks for sharing with us. I really enjoy reading your blog and love all of your knitting projects.
Posted by: Karen at April 12, 2007 11:35 AM
Well said Cara! The blog world is so like the real world--why do people cut you off when driving? Why do they run to get in line in front of you at the cafe? There will always be people who thrive on meanness and nastiness and unfortunately, they will always be able to affect the people around them. I try to believe in Karma--I try to sit back and think about how their Karma will be affected by their actions (or comments). I also try to think about how my Karma will be affected by my reaction to their bad behavior. As my father loves to say, "What goes around, comes around".....Way to go for putting this out there!
Posted by: victoria at April 12, 2007 11:35 AM
I'm usually a "lurker" on your blog, Cara - but your post is calling me out today.
I love your blog. You're articulate. Your photography is beautiful. You reference books you are reading, music you are listening to, and share your life with us. Admittedly, I don't see myself becoming as enthralled with miters as you are. That doesn't mean I can't take something from your blog right now. The way you play with color and your enthusiasm...I've been there - just with a different project :-)
The Yarn Harlot says that blogs are like livingrooms. We are invited into your livingroom. Just like any good guest, we're expected to behave in a courteous and respectful manner towards our hostess.
My first thought is that if someone don't like a blog, don't visit it. It's really that simple. If you do feel that you must comment, keep in mind that there's a difference between criticism and just plain old being mean. Criticism is constructive. It's not personal, and it's usually said in a civil and thoughtful manner.
I'm not sure how I feel about a "Code of Conduct" for blogs. On the one hand, I think a blog is sort of an online journal and who should tell anyone what to write in their own journal? That smacks of censorship and homogenization. While I don't agree with everything in life that's out there, I do appreciate the diversity and originality of life. I just don't have to sample every dish that's out there. However, I do believe that a line is crossed when threats are made, or someone Photoshops a picture of you into something that isn't true. A certain standard of integrity is expected.
Cara - it's your blog. It's your livingroom. Miter on!
Posted by: Toni Van B at April 12, 2007 11:52 AM
Blog reading is the same to me as listening to the radio or watching TV or going to see a movie - if you don't like something you see/hear/read, don't do it anymore! I have stumbled across blogs that I haven't liked the feel of, that I haven't revisited. Blog reading is something I do to check out what other projects people are working on, what fibers they're spinning, what books they're reading. I came to your blog from someone else's, I'm sure (actually, yeah, sheepfeathers.blogspot.com) and liked what I saw. Your photography is inspiring, your knit projects are beautiful, and so what if you're anxious and crazy? Me too! We'd probably be great buddies! Reading your blog has made me realize that I like blogs that share a little peek of what people's lives are like. It's the voyeur in me. I want my blog to be more like that. So what if I don't like some of the ways a blogger lives - not my life, not my problem. I don't have the time to worry about it!
Anonymity is definitely a bad thing in a lot of cases - if you're saying something you don't want to admit you're saying, you probably shouldn't be saying it. But these things you've already covered, and more eloquently than I. I think it's probably a good idea you didn't welcome the bad comments, too - people have too much capacity for cruelness, especially in such an anonymous setting. But thank you for bringing it to light!
Posted by: Amanda at April 12, 2007 11:52 AM
Not only did you make an excellent and elegant point in an excellent and elegant way, but you also closed with the quote from God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater that hangs in my cubicle (and which I've been looking at almost nonstop since hearing the news about Kurt Vonnegut). There's so much I'd like to say right now, but it all becomes redundant after "Thank you, Cara," so I will just say "Thank you, Cara," and leave it at that.
Posted by: Bakerina at April 12, 2007 11:56 AM
(((((applause)))))))for your very well written post. I, for one, am quite often astonished that my experiences in blogland parallel my experiences with people in real life. People have disliked me in life for the same reasons they dislike me in blogland. Oh well. I am who I am, and I'm going to say what I feel needs to be said. If one feels the need to hit the "unsubscribe" button, because of something I post, or how I respond in a comment, which may have been well-intended but poorly put, or because I'm clearly a liberal, and one of those hated attorneys, there's nothing that I can, or will do in response.
As for a "code of conduct," I fear that I, for one, would probably feel stifled by the imposition of rules. I tend to subscribe to the "golden rule," as well as a rule from my father: Save your reactionary comments for your relatives.
I think that I will continue to find blogging fascinating. Thanks, Cara, for contributing to make it so!
Posted by: christine at April 12, 2007 12:11 PM
I'm glad that you didn't do the negative comment thing. I can't see much good coming out of that.
I'm reminded of an experience I had once at an airport. The guy behind me in the security line was *really* crowding my personal space. I was getting annoyed and started to feel a little hostile. And then I noticed that he was wearing a hat very much like the one my dad wears. In fact, he was about the same age and looked a lot like my dad. I started to think about how I would feel if some twenty-something girl was hostile to my dad, and it made not feel so hostile to the nice man behind me.
I try to think about this when I'm reading blogs. The women (mostly) behind the blog are people a lot like me, or like my good friends. I'm forgiving of myself and my friends when we mess up-- I should be of others too.
Posted by: Kristy at April 12, 2007 12:21 PM
You have me worried and second guessing - was it my comment about channeling Sol LeWitt? Me and my sarcastic mouth. I totally hear you Cara - I just wrote a post yesterday in response to a comment a person left on another blog - people can be so horrible and with emails and comments they are shielded from any immediate accountability.
And as far as judging, it is something I have thought about too. How one presents oneself in the real world - you only see what the person wants to see. The clothes they wear, how they speak, how they carry themselves, all a construct both unconscious and conscious, somethings with in their control, others not. But blogging is like a further remove - the construct is all self-manufactured, what you see is what I choose to put put, post, upload.
I adore your candor. I am a fellow non-daily showerer and that post about no-dinner-dog-shitting-in-the-front-hall, is still with me. People wonder how I knit or make so much gosh-durned stuff - well things suffer or slide, priorities shift and well you did put it best.
I'm an MFAer too, though from the poetry realm and you learn pretty quick, workshop after workshop, it is all about decorum and check your ego at the front door. Take care.
Posted by: Sonya at April 12, 2007 12:25 PM
It's hard to come up with something original to say, after 1) your very well-thought-out and well-written post, and 2) all of the well-thought-out and well-written comments that came before mine. :)
I guess what I want to say is that I read your blog daily, and marvel at your skills and laugh when you screw up because you laugh when you screw up (also because I would have probably screwed up worse). I read your blog and peek into your life a little bit because you're so different from me, but still a little bit like me. But differing tastes and personalities are no reason to shred someone, especially on their blog. It takes all kinds to make the world go 'round, right? Except for the puppy-kicking kind. We can do without those.
I get annoyed when people act according to their basest inclinations just because they have the veil of anonymity--which doesn't mean that I haven't ever flipped off a particularly jerky driver on the road, but I generally try to conduct myself in a manner that wouldn't make my mother cringe. It seems that some people don't. And for that I am sorry.
And while it sometimes feels pointless to be nice to people when other people are just jerks, and it seems like it just keeps "going around" but never quite gets to "coming around", I guess that's where either faith or a incredible sense of self-superiority comes into play. I guess.
So much for brevity. :)
Posted by: Amanda at April 12, 2007 12:26 PM
Excellent post! This whole issue is, sadly, one of the main reasons I don't yet have a blog. I don't have a very tough skin when it comes to meanness. You've raised some very delicate points in a very articulate way, and given me a lot to think about. I generally subscribe to the Harlot's idea that the comments space is like the blogger's living room. How many of those commenters would still have the gall to say those comments in a live, face-to-face setting, I wonder?
But I don't know if a code of conduct is the right answer, either. People blog for different reasons. A while back, I was thinking about reconnecting with some old friends through their blogs, when one day all their blogs (about 5 or 6) went private, and I no longer had any way of contacting them. This was a group of girls I'd known from high school, and the incident (to me) smacked of cliquishness. My gut reaction was something along the lines of "Oh I see, I'm not allowed in your special club." I was a bit offended until I realized that they probably had reasons for setting their blogs to private that had nothing whatsoever to do with me (especially since I hadn't spoken with them in 6 years). I like to think of myself as a fairly optimistic, easy-going person, but my initial reaction was very negative. The fact that I was ready to open up to these people again and put myself in a vulnerable position emotionally meant that my walls were all the more ready to spring back up at the smallest perceived threat.
I think that we mostly sit here reading these blogs in our homes (sometimes in our pajamas) and we're deep in our personal comfort zone, and that means the emotional defenses are cocked and at the ready to protect that comfort zone. In the midst of that, we forget that we're also deep in someone else's comfort zone, their blog, and it's not wrong for them to expect politeness. Thanks for your post, and I'm also glad you didn't do the negative comments day. I've seen so much friendship and kindness on these knitting blogs. I, for one, don't really want to know what people online are capable of on the other end of the spectrum.
Posted by: Jessica at April 12, 2007 12:26 PM
As I read blogs mostly in stolen moments at work, or after a long day, I rarely comment or read comments to a post, and I never read someone's blog if I don't enjoy it and feel inspired afterward. In this way, I suppose I've insulated myself from the hateful people out there, but I've also preserved the good will I feel toward the blogosphere.
However, there ARE hateful people or nice people who say hateful things...and that's life. It is wrong and unnecessary for people to act in this way...but they WILL act in this way, code of conduct or not. I'm certainly NOT saying we, as a community, should accept it, just as we wouldn't accept a disrespectful child. But when a child's disrespectful, we don't take it personally and we tell them it's not acceptable. This, I'm afraid, is all we can do with mean commenters...have these discussions, tell them it's unacceptable, but chalk it up to THEIR issues, not ours, and move on in our community, continuing to share and create friendships.
Posted by: tara at April 12, 2007 12:34 PM
Blogged this at BlogHer and invited the conversation to continue there.. with a personal confession in the comments.
Thank you for writing this and taking the "high road" in the discussion.
Posted by: Debra Roby at April 12, 2007 12:35 PM
It looks like (unless I've misread) you changed your mind about inviting a negativity free-for-all. I am glad for this. It can be easy enough for someone to indulge in negativity, meanness, and pettiness without encouragement. The more often one engages in this type of behavior, the easier it becomes. There is opportunity for growth and improvement from being critiqued. However, it is probably not the best idea to ask others to fill us in on our every fault, mistake, or annoying idiosyncrasy. It is an easy way to get an inaccurate view of life. People might tell us things that they would not normally have told us in order to comply with a request. That criticism may not have been important enough to mention, but when put on the spot, they share. It gives a skewed view of other people's opinions.
This makes me think of one wishing to be able to read minds. While this could be useful sometimes, more often, it will only cause more troubles. As you have written, we all have less than lovely thoughts cross our minds, even in reference to lovely people about whom we care very much. These thoughts do not reflect the way we feel overall. However, if we could read minds, those things would hurt. It is far too easy to pick on ourselves and feel less than stellar without asking people to let us know any way in which we are not their ideal.
Those who care about us and want to help us grow and improve will let us know things in a constructive way when they think it will be helpful. Sometimes they will see something and keep quiet because they know it is not the right time to say anything, and it would not be of help.
It is true that exposing yourself to an abundance of criticisms could possibly help you to be less sensitive just as sitting in filth could desensitize you to its odor. If you need to be less sensitive, then I hope you work on this area. However, becoming too desensitized is not good, either. It is good to not allow our hearts to be hardened. It is also interesting that you have equated the invitation to fill your comment section to having your room filled with vile filth. Is it something you really want to be so used to that its stench no longer registers? It is not healthy to be covered in feces. Now, I only know you from what you have written on your blog, but I do not think you would invite someone to defecate on you. Why would you ask others to commit such an act in the form of comments?
I would also be hesitant about asking for criticisms if I were not ready to make changes in myself. I am not a fan of someone asking for my view and then seeing it disregarded. I am working to listen for when people are truly asking for feedback before I offer my thoughts. I also look to be sure that I only ask for the feedback of others when I am ready to heed the advice of another. I look to be sure that I seek the counsel of the wise, rather than the population at large. We do not know what seeds we are asking to be planted in our hearts and minds. All that manure can be a powerful fertilizer.
It think it is very good that you are examining the various motives you had for considering putting out this invitation. It will probably yield you with better results than anything others could have written.
I hope this makes sense. I find this topic quite interesting, and I hope you find what I have written to be relevant. I am glad you chose to first seek the advice through email of trusted friends before posting the idea to the rest of us.
You mention that you have been experiencing some negativity here on your blog and elsewhere. This saying comes to mind, "Don't wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and the pig likes it."
Posted by: Sarah at April 12, 2007 12:40 PM
Pity the poor people who have no vocation in their lives for which they feel passion. They are jealous that you are excited by the work you are doing to complete your blanket. They are starved for something about which they can feel as enthusiastic and instead of finding that thing (gardening? pottery? anything creative?) they lash out at you. Ignore them. There are far more of us who share your love of color and texture and pattern. Miter on.
Posted by: Leann at April 12, 2007 12:41 PM
Let's face it, we only know about a blogger what the blogger writes about him/herself. If I like or don't like a blogger, that opinion is based on what he/she has chosen to write about. It's only a part of the story. Are there blogs that bug me? Yep, and then I stop reading. Are there bloggers that I THINK I'd like to hang out with and drink coffee and knit with all day? Sure, but I could be wrong once I got to KNOW him/her beyond what I think I know from the blog.
There is a difference between criticism and being cruel. Each of us who blogs is creating a public persona to an extent, so we are opening ourselves up to whatever may come at us. It's part of the tradeoff for sharing (or oversharing.) Nonetheless, personal, vindictive comments are a product of those who are -- by the very fact that those opinions are based on a partial representation of of someone's life -- underinformed. Every blogger self-edits.
It's hard, but let it roll off your back. Take pleasure in your choices. Who cares if you would rather knit all day than take a shower. (No one can smell through a blog!!) I think that blogging is a bit of a self-indugence (at least I feel it is for me), so if someone criticizes me or another blogger for being self-indulgent, it comes with the teritory. What you do for fun and relaxation should not be a source of consternation. The majority of people who read your blog get some form of benefit from it--so keep doing it for yourself knowing that everything else is gravy!
Posted by: Angela at April 12, 2007 12:42 PM
Cara, great post. It was eye-opening for me, as I had been unaware that bloggers' lives were being threatened. I am still fuzzy on all of it - what the whole story is and frankly, I'm completely befuddled at what could make someone anonymous threaten death for something another anonymous person has written.
I wish I understood the story better - will have to dig a little deeper later this evening when I have the time.
But for now, with my limited understanding, I will just simply say this: I am a writer. I will write freely and without fear of what others will do to me or say of me. Period. If someone wants to hurt me, they will find a way. All I can do is protect myself as best as I can physically and emotionally.
Perhaps it is because I don't have that many readers outside of my small group of friends and some family members, but I've never encountered a rude or threatening remark before. I can't understand going to another knitblogger's site and thinking cruel or judgmental thoughts about their handiwork. Perhaps it's because I'm a new knitter and any project I finish feels like such an accomplishment. I don't understand the judging. If I don't particularily enjoy looking at crocheted afghans, then I don't usually return to their site, if that's their thing, but I'm not judging what they are making. It's just not my style of eye candy.
*sigh* This is all so seventh grade. I'm utterly perplexed by the idea of it all.
Posted by: Tana at April 12, 2007 12:48 PM
My best answer to your questions is 'I don't know!' ;)
I think you're a fantastic person and you have an excellent amount of maturity and grace to be interested in constructive criticism. I haven't reached that point yet in the blogosphere except in small specific doses, and mostly I like the idea that the knitting blogosphere exists for positive support - i.e. help wiht skills, technique, learning, inspiration, creativity, consolation, general words of wisdom, humour, and ideas. The blogs I read most often are the ones that contribute these things to the interwebs and my day always feels more enriched as a result. If I were to go on a 24-hour commenting spree, I'd rather it be to find the good in people's blogs rather than the critical. (and I know that criticism can be positive, I do...but it's hard, when you don't know the person or the tone of voice...)
I can honestly say I have never encountered a code of conduct on a blog, but I think that's a decision individual bloggers would have to make for themselves. If a blog generates enough traffic and enough consternation, yes, by all means, set ground rules. But so far in my small portion of the knit blogosphere I haven't felt the need other than to just remind people to be respectful.
Posted by: Glenna at April 12, 2007 12:58 PM
This is a great discussion to be kicking off, and I imagine if we were all in a room together we could talk about it in really interesting ways for days! You are so brilliant.
Of all the points there are to make, I'll make just one because it's one that's really important to me.
I think we've all been sold an idea that if we have a feeling, we need to "let it out" or else it's going to "build up and all come out at some point". I think we've been sold a bill of goods on that one, because it leaves a really important thing out. We all want to be understood -- seen and heard, and really understood. If we are just "letting it out" without thinking about the effect on the person who is hearing it, it actually doesn't get anyone anywhere. It's not "more" honest if it just spews out thoughtlessly. It is so much more meaningful and there are so many more possibilities for talking about differences if we think about *the way* we're speaking, not just *that* we're speaking.
When we speak, it's a relational act. With the stresses of daily living and the constant focus on individuals, I think that has really been forgotten.
I look forward to continued discussions about this. Thanks for being willing to stick your neck out, Cara.
Posted by: Dr. B. at April 12, 2007 01:00 PM
I admit, I don't often read comments on other peoples' blogs, because I haven't got the time or inclination or the desire to get involved in flame wars or listen to a hundred "yeah!"s. I consider blog comments a personal communication from me to the blog owner that just so happens to take place on the web.
As for calling on people to be mean, I think that's a bad idea. People can be extraordinarily cruel when cloaked with the same anonymity afforded by their cars, and nobody needs that.
I love you because you're a little crazy, just like me, and you make the most beautiful knits and photos that I've ever had the pleasure of feasting my eyes on.
Posted by: Kathy at April 12, 2007 01:03 PM
I didn't read this whole entry, children interrupted , but wanted to comment. KEEP the Miters coming I love seeing your color combos and your inspirations, I love it, don't stop. In the words of Dori, "Keep on swimming, keep on swimming, keep on swimming, swimming, swimming." Or maybe that should be mitering :D
This is your blog after all.
Posted by: Sarah at April 12, 2007 01:05 PM
Holy cow I'm at work and kinda skimmed that but i got to the meat of it.
A) it's awful people wrote such nasty things to you or anyone else
B) have you seen message boqards on the internet latley?? and I mean ones not as well regulated as knitty.com's. I have been on some pregnancy onces latley with girls trying to consive and other stuff going on and people are so freakin harsh and imature it's insane.
As the internet gets bigger, more and more people have access to it. Uneducated people, rude people, ignorant people. I'm not saying those people wern't on before, but it's like now the whole world has access, so you get a much more diverse pool of people. I think the whole internet is falling apart personally, not like in a doomed sense but I think you get my point.
People can say things over email and in anon comments that they would NEVER say outloud, and I don't care if they say they would, 90% of the time they would NOT.
It's back to manners and old school duh stuff, if you don't have something nice to say don't say it at all.
People knit stuff all the time I think is ugly, but thats my personal opinion, why on earth would I go say it to them and bring THEM down, what in the world could motivate me to do that except to make myself feel "bigger" and "better". I keep nasty thoughts to myself, I'm human and I have them.
You are a high profile blogger, you ARE a celebrity. Go get star magazine, it's just par for the course and it's sad but it's how what our society does to "well known" or "successful" people. It's the nature of the beast, luckily not everyone out there is like that
Chin up girl, you rock.
Posted by: pixie at April 12, 2007 01:05 PM
Although I've read entries on blogs where I've been tempted to say something mean, I click away before I can. Because what would the point be? To make someone feel like shit? To ruin their day to make myself feel better because I'm feeling snarky? What it comes down to is this: if I won't say it to their face, I won't say it in their comments. End of story.
I have a small blog audience and sometimes I get to feeling bad about it, but then I remember that with more readers comes the opportunities for more trolls. That always makes me feel better.
Posted by: Jenn at April 12, 2007 01:05 PM
holy crap I type and spell awful, hehe sorry :)
Posted by: pixie at April 12, 2007 01:06 PM
Delurking to tell you that I really enjoy your writing, whether it be about knitting or whatever you put out there. If I didn't, I would simply stop reading. It's as simple as that.
Posted by: kim at April 12, 2007 01:08 PM
I haven't read through all the comments yet, so someone may already have made this point. I think that we are all learning as we go along. I'm sure that most bloggers have made mistakes or written posts that they regret. Okay. I'VE written a post I regret as I mentioned the other day on my blog.
My point is that blogging and the online communities are a relatively new territory. There will be mis-steps along the way and that is okay (Of course, nothing excuses the threats and implied violence towards the blogger you mentioned). I think it's important to have discussions like this----civil discussions without the "my way or the highway" attitude often found---so we all learn how to navigate the blogworld. Newer bloggers can learn from the mistakes made by the seasoned bloggers.
I heartily agree with the think before you post "rule".
Posted by: Annie at April 12, 2007 01:09 PM
Knitbloggers who annoy me are few and far between--I mean, I'm used to people having different taste, different situations, and different capabilities. I don't have the energy to get angry about any of that.
Paradoxically, the one thing that really makes me angry is when people are the *same* as me behave badly on their knitting blogs. Specifically, academic women. I mean, for pete's sake, you've got a Ph.D. but you aren't smart enough to engage in the discourse properly and in good taste or at least behave like an adult?!?!?! You're making us all look bad! Aiiieeeee can't handle it!
So I take them off my bloglines list, to spare myself the aggravation. And my own blog isn't a "knitting" blog per se...
Posted by: Kat at April 12, 2007 01:12 PM
It's an interesting idea but I'm so fucking sensitive I couldn't take it, even from my 6 readers;) It's funny I'm very hard to offend but very easy to hurt. I hate putting negativity on the blog or in someone's comments. There are many occasions where someone has posted something and I've said to myself, "well there goes that bloglines subscription" otherwise I don't see a need to call someone out on something I personally don't like or agree with.
The more popular a blog gets the more negativity there is out there about it for whatever reason, ego of the blogger, envy of their thousands of readers whatever but it serves no purpose. I don't think we should need to have a code of conduct. If you don't like it, don't read it. Very simple.
Posted by: Nancy at April 12, 2007 01:26 PM
I enjoyed your essay. :) I am also mystified at the level of hatred and malevolence exhibited by some people, and I have come to this conclusion: it is not a rational thing. These people are angry and vicious and they are taking all of their hatred out on any target that has piqued their vitriol for some reason. This is where I think your essay may break down a little. You are approaching the question in a rational manner and trying to understand people's motivations, while those hyper negative people about whom you write are anything but rational. I, myself, was the target of a particularly vicious attack on a private knitting list, as well as being harassed and threatened by phone, email and blog comments. It is still difficult to accept because the perpetrator was so completely convinced that she was in the right and I had done something worthy of that treatment. And therein lies the issue: the people capable of these attacks are absolutely positive that they are right in doing whatever they do, no matter what it is, and no matter how hurtful. They are equally sure that anything you say or do by way of defending yourself (or ignoring it as I did) is a vicious and unprovoked attack on them, no matter how rational or calm you may be. And that is the problem with asking people to give you criticism. Spiteful people will participate as well. Have you ever heard the saying that 5 minutes of negativity takes 24 hours to overcome? Do you want to be overcoming all that negativity for the next 20 years? Sometimes, ignorance truly *is* bliss. You always know that not everyone can like or even tolerate you. That is just the way the world works. But having such ugliness thrust in your face is a different experience altogether. It becomes *real* in a way for which, no matter how rational you may think you are, you can never be totally prepared.
The more well-known you become, the more conversation and notice you spark, both positive and negative. The alternative is playing it completely safe and never being noticed.
Okay, that's my ramble for the morning! Thanks for a thought-provoking post!
Posted by: Romi at April 12, 2007 01:29 PM
If something on a blog rubs me the wrong way, I just unsubscribe from reading it. I don't need everyones cyber negativity and online drama in my life. My life is better without it.
Posted by: nikki at April 12, 2007 01:29 PM
It is a brave thing to write a blog - you really open yourself up to quite a lot. This is one reason I don't have one - I wouldn't feel secure about sharing my personal life with the world, and sharing one's personal life is what makes a blog interesting. I lose interest in a knitting blog with no personal details in it, whereas I will overlook knitting I do not find thrilling to follow a good writer's daily ups and downs - it's performance art of the most intimate kind. So bravo to you for writing an excellent blog. And as for meaningful things to do with your time and money? Living vicariously through other people's knitting and then saying mean things about it has to be the biggest waste of precious time and energy that I have ever heard of.
Posted by: Judy at April 12, 2007 01:29 PM
I really admire your ability to (very publicly) look at the things that you may be struggling with, the things you believe in, and the things that will make you grow.
I am not so sure that I could do that... but I admire you for putting it out there.
I think that may be what gets people that may slam you or criticize others harshly. The ability to look at one's self and take the comments... the good, the bad, and the ugly, is to be admired.
Posted by: Mama-E at April 12, 2007 01:32 PM
I know Earthchick already said something similar but it bears repeating: If I don't have the balls to say it to your face or put my name to it it probably doesn't need to be said.
Posted by: Susan at April 12, 2007 01:34 PM
I try my best to keep my blog positive, even though I am human, and in my "real" life I can be critical of things I shouldn't be. I just don't bring it to my blog because I know I don't enjoy reading it on others. If a blog becomes too mean for me, I just stop reading it.
I can handle constructive criticism, but making it personal is just wrong. We don't know enough about the lives behind the blogs to make any kind of judgements.
Posted by: amy at April 12, 2007 01:36 PM
It's an interesting and topical discussion, and it's something that I have thought about a bit in the past. As Margene pointed out, there have been flareups of the issue at times, just like a flareup in arthritis or gout or something, I suppose.
I suppose at some other time, I might have a lot to say about it, but at this moment in my life, this topic is failing to feel relevant or important to me, so I can't rustle up the energy to care.
Must be I'm too happy or focused on other things. Now someone will probably see it as their job to make me miserable or pissed off. Heh.
Posted by: Norma at April 12, 2007 01:36 PM
An excellent post, comments too. It's a shame that this is even an issue, but unfortunately its not surprising. I work in a yarn shop and hear quite a bit of snarky commentary from the 'ladies who lunch' in the shop on a regular basis. This cuts across all demographics; age, race, sex, money...
There's always an undercurrent of insecure superiority at play among those who snark, whether online or in person. It always makes me a little sad to be the presence of such negativity, when there's a world of creativity and joy surrounding our craft.
On a good note, I pulled up your blog yesterday at work to show a woman who was interested in making the mitred squares from M/D Knitting, and she was blown away by your use of color. She just loved it!!
I'm not a mitre-maker, as I'm currently being bitten by another 'bug', but I understand and appreciate your passion for an all consuming project. The mitres are beautiful and remind me of the crazy quilt my husband's grandmother made for him, that covers our bed.
Keep going Cara. There's too much beauty and interest out here in blog-land to cave to the trolls. Besides, It's always good to know somebody else out there is a crazy and unwashed as me!!
Posted by: Kyle at April 12, 2007 01:40 PM
Some people get a kick out of being mean. They were the bullies in school and they're the snarky posters/commenters now. Whether it stems from their unhappiness or psychosis is not my concern. I choose to ignore them on the web just as I try to ignore them in person. I definitely would not invite them to fill a room with shit because you'd end up with a houseful!
I understand wanting to use reason and respect as arguments against such behavior, but I'm afraid the people you're talking to aren't listening. I don't think it's IN them to listen, you know?
Posted by: elizabeth at April 12, 2007 01:41 PM
I guess the thing that perplexes me is why some bloggers are targeted. I have been blogging for three years, and before that was active in many forums, groups for at least 5 years. On my own blog, I have never received an ugly comment. I have received one (and only one) comment offering constructive criticism. It took me a little while to realize that it was actually constructive though, so it is kind of a gray area... I have received some not-so-nice comments on Flickr about some of my photos, but those are easily deleted and recognized for the stupid "trolls" that they are. Thankfully, I haven't heard anything bad about my writing and my knitting. I am glad too, as I have a thin skin. I need to work on that.
Yet, I have a good friend who has attracted a LOT of criticism in recent days. Nasty and mean comments, alongside constructive criticism. I just don't get it. Blogs are a SLICE of life. Some people choose to share more than others. It is not the reader's right or duty to just make assumptions about things that are not discussed on someone's blog.
Posted by: Lolly at April 12, 2007 01:44 PM
okay, okay. maybe your feet aren't ugly. but I bet they stink.
Posted by: ann at April 12, 2007 01:44 PM
Hey! I didn't get an email from you... *fake quivery lip* :D (jus' kidding)
I think that in the Blogosphere I tend to fall into the same category that I do in real life - somehow I just don't see a lot of the negativity (the "shit throwing" if you will) directed at others, and either I don't attract a lot of it, or I just don't notice it about myself (I can be pretty oblivious that way...) So I'm usually shocked and sickened when someone lets loose with a judging, malicious comment or post about another person (especially another knitter, for dog's sake!)
Constructive criticism, civilly-expressed disagreement, or thoughtful arguments are not only valid, but essential to discussions (as opposed to monologues,) and what are blogs if now a forum for discussion? Bashing is a form of self-stroking, of ending the conversation before it starts. From my own perspective, I appreciate, sometimes even genuinely enjoy, reading/seeing/hearing those lives and opinions which are polar opposites of my own. I welcome that in my own life, in a non-judging, open-minded way. Not that I'm some Pollyanna, or that I walk around singing "Kumbaya" all day, but it's been quite some time since I realized that a) I am not the only person in the world with an opinion, and b) my way of seeing and moving through the world is not invalidated if someone else does it better/worse/differently than me. If someone makes me angry with their words or actions, it's completely legitimate emotion, and there are reasonable ways to deal with it. And hey, at least they moved me somehow! I might just learn something about myself and/or the world!
Perhaps part of that is being able to look back and see how much my own personality, life, and views have changed over the years, and how that is a perpetual result of my interactions with other human beings. I can't entirely discount a person who is simply on a different leg of the journey than I am. I'm not going to become ridiculously infuriated by a difference - even I think the world would be unstimulating beyone belief if everyone was exactly like me!
Whew, guess I did have something to say - thanks for oiling the gears!
Posted by: loribird at April 12, 2007 01:45 PM
I wanted to say something about this but am having trouble formulating my thoughts. So instead, I have a quote from a webcomic which I am trying to take to heart:
"People seem to think that by posting in threads and agreeing with other people they are changing the world. They are not. They are posting in threads online. The universe will not be altered by forum threads, even those which are very wry. Being outraged online is a form of entertainment, and refreshing a thread to receive a hit of consensus packs the thrill of genuine activism without requiring any sweat. I'm afraid this test may require more from the community than a sardonic jpeg." -- penny-arcade.com, Tycho
(Incidentally he is in no way talking about anything to do with knitting, or rude comments, but I agree with the core idea: sometimes we take what people say on line too seriously, and mistake talking for action.)
Posted by: Sara at April 12, 2007 01:47 PM
Sigh. This makes me sad for you. I really like your blog.
I'm not really into cursing, but I guess this occasion calls for it.
I don't think filling a 'room with shit' is a good solution. Even though you get used to a smell and stop noticing it, it is still there and you'll be up to your eyebrows in it. It will still poison because it is shit. And it is supposed to be gone. That's way we have handles on the commode!
In my opinion, if people want to shit let them do it in their own rooms. Maybe, like Carole said, they'll eventually find a pony!
Posted by: Cassandra at April 12, 2007 01:48 PM
I just don't understand what drives people to attack so quickly. If I don't like a blog, whether it is the writing, the projects or the opinions...I simply don't read it anymore. Drop it from my Bloglines. Never click their link again. Problem solved.
If you don't like a seafood restaurant because fish doesn't appeal to you, do you bash it and set out to ruin them even though the food is cooked perfectly well, and the service is good. The fact that you don't like seafood doesn't give you the right to unload negativity on them for their daring to prepare food you don't like. You simply don't eat there and hit your local burger joint instead.
What gain is had by me bashing them because in *my* opinion they are distasteful for some reason. When they have never said anything directly against me? When they aren't hurting anyone? Defending yourself is one thing. These kind of comments are not a defense - they're just mean for no reason.
And the people who blog for the purpose of negativity? That's fine. That's their perogative. Sometimes they can be funny. Unless they are actually threatening someone or breaking a law in some way, they can opine all they want. I have no obligation need to read it or agree. Nor do I have an obligation to comment for the sake of leaving a dig.
When I meet people in real life that exude nothing but negativity (assuming they aren't threatening someone...I'm talking general negative vibe people), I could either fight them, or cut them out of my life as much as possible. The latter is far more healthy.
I'm lucky in that I can't think of any particularly negative comments ever left on my blog. I would hope that if someone doesn't like something I've pictured, they'd be mature and human enough to write me a civil email to discuss what is bugging them. Not just leave a hit-and-run burn when they've never met me and what they don't like has nothing to do with my character.
Brava...and the Vonnegut quote really sums it up nicely.
Posted by: Eklectika at April 12, 2007 01:50 PM
I'm sure others have already said something similar, but I can't resist stating the obvious...if people don't like a certain blog, they should stop reading it. Nasty comments are dumb. They serve no valid purpose. Do nasty commenters think they are going to change someone's mind by spewing acidic remarks anonymously online? I love reading respectfully worded differences of opinion...debates are great. But I'll never understand the motivation behind hate-filled remarks to a blog. I really can't "empathize" and get into their minds and figure out where they are coming from...because wherever that is, I don't want to go there.
Posted by: Barbara A.M. at April 12, 2007 01:50 PM
Hi Cara, I've said it before and I'll say it again: I think you are incredibly brave for the things you are willing to say and the topics you're willing to cover on your blog. I really admire your courage.
Sometimes, my husband gets on the political blogs and gets drawn into discussions which turn hateful and thick-headed very fast. He always feels worse for it and wonders why he lets himself go there. We talk about how that is the norm in most of the blogosphere and marvel at how different the knit blogs are. Because mostly the knit blog community is kind and respectful. Even when we disagree.
I once saw something (discovery channel maybe?) about road rage. The theory was that without face-to-face human interaction, people assume the worst about each other and go to the darkest places of their anger. If you physically bump into someone on the street, there's usually that little moment of apology. There's a little head nod, shoulder slump, a wry smile or even a kind word to smooth everything over. But when those very subtle, but hugely important, elements of non-verbal communication get stripped away, it seems that all that's left is the anger. So the theory goes that when you almost hit someone with you're car, it turns into honking, yelling and profane hand gestures. Very different than bodies on the street.
I think the same theory applies to blogging. I think, from the safety of a computer, people feel free to say things they might not if they were face-to-face. I also think without the non-verbal parts of communication, misunderstandings spring up very easily and it becomes easy to assume the worst.
I tend to be a little shy. In pretty much all areas of my life, I'd rather say nothing than the wrong wrong thing. Sometimes that's good, other times, not so much. I try to conduct myself with the golden rule in mind. But I know there are times when I've failed to do so.
Social etiquette and rules of conduct can be hard to draw and nearly impossible to enforce. They tend to be organic and changeable. Think how differently society bahaves now than 100 years ago. Blogging is so new, the "rules" are still evolving. Or devolving as the case may be. Unfortunately, I just don't think it's the type of thing where you really could have any great success in trying to establish and maintain guidelines. If anything, it might just get people even more riled up.
In the Yarn Harlot's new book, she says a good guideline for how to behave in the online knitting community is not to write anything in a public forum, you wouldn't say into a microphone in an auditorium. I think that's a great way of thinking about it. However, I'm sure there are people who won't behave that way.
But we can still hope for the best.
Thanks for the discussion!
Posted by: Jean at April 12, 2007 01:52 PM
I really appreciate the thought, time & energy you put into writing this. I share many of your feelings/reactions/perceptions and while not so many people read my blog, I agree with your reaction to negative, non-constructive comments. It's too bad the world is populated with so many people who are unhappy, or don't have the tools/skills to communicate constructively. The parallel to the workplace is immense, though of course it's different when you're doing something for fun & getting picked at, vs. doing something for a paycheck and being told to do it differently. I guess the reason I'm drawing the parallel is because when you have that good manager/boss who can tell you what you're doing well, and what you could do to make your performance even better? It's easier to hear, and understand, and appreciate that they're coming from a place to help/assist, not just shitting all over you. And ultimately, it's still your choice if you're going to do those things or not. Twenty years working, and every year, I'm going to get "being more organized" as an action item.
In the spirit of bucking my own norms, I think I'll clean my desk off this afternoon. Thanks again for writing this. Hopefully a light bulb went off out there, even just one makes it worth it!
Posted by: PlazaJen at April 12, 2007 01:53 PM
I think you've said a lot of good things here, Cara, and clearly you've sparked an interesting and intelligent dialogue. I think that many of us are thinking more or less the same thing -- what use comes out of being mean? I would hope that we would remember how to behave the way we did in kindergarten, when we were taught to treat others the way we would want to be treated (and also to share and to say please and thank you).
I would say, based upon my observations, that the vast majority of us in the knitblog world are pretty good to one another -- cheering each other on, congratulating each other, helping each other. How many times have you heard of a knitblogger who's had a tragedy or illness or some other hardships, and others have sent them yarn, or hand-knit blankets, or chocolate? In general, as a community, I think we are caring and supportive.
That said, there are always people out there who will put us down. Maybe it arises from low self-esteem and the need to be superior; perhaps it's just plain meanness. Regardless, I think we need to keep in mind the hundreds of positive comments we collectively receive for every one or two negative comments.
Posted by: Sarah at April 12, 2007 01:55 PM
Nicely Put. I must admit you talked me down again. I was having a bad day & wanted to take it out on everyone around me. I try to remember what my Dad allways said " If you have nothing nice to say Keep your mouth shut" Since I'm human that doesn't always work. I just wish that we spent more time reminding the next generation, and this one & the last one of that one rule. Thanks for this post. Now I'm gonna go read the rest of the comments. Thanks again
Posted by: Tami T at April 12, 2007 01:56 PM
I've been quietly trying to promote constructive criticism through thoughtful comments for some time now. Your current post has shown me that some bloggers appreciate it. Thanks. Next time, I'll try to have the courage to stand with my conviction and say it a public space.
Posted by: LaurieM at April 12, 2007 02:00 PM
I appreciate what you said about blogging and I also think it's great how personal you are on your blog, it's hard thing to share yourself and be so open with such a wide audience, but I think it's awesome that you have in the process, made me feel a part of your world, even though I don't know you in person! I would have to agree about a code of conduct being counter productive. In reality, a large majority of people participating in the blogosphere know what is poor behavior and what isn't. And if they choose to get nasty in comments, they are already going against what they know deep down to be impolite and just plain not nice, so a code of conduct isn't going to be much help anyway. Just like in the real world, we just have to deal with some nasty people, in bloglandia, but hopefully instead of allowing those nasty people to get to us, it can be an opportunity to rise above their bad behavior and show some grace and maturity. Aside from that, thanks for your quote from God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, I heard the news about Kurt Vonnegut's death when my alarm went off, I haven't read any other of his books besides GBYMR, but I loved it! And thanks for your compliment to Robby on my blog! I love his belly too :) Very munchable.
Posted by: Bea Apple at April 12, 2007 02:09 PM
I think it is good to think about and discuss these issues. Thank you for bringing it up and speaking so openly about what you feel. I appreciate that you are sharing you thought process and that it is a work in progress (in that you haven't decided how to deal with this yet).
I wouldn't participate in a criticism day because I believe that negativity reinforces negativity. It may lead people to think it is okay to extend that criticism to other posts because, hey, you said it was okay on x date.
Don't get me wrong, I am not a Pollyanna. I like to be challenged to be a better person in all the forms that takes in my life. And, I am grateful for the people who tell me about mistakes in my knitting patterns. Does that mean I want to encouage people to find flaws in me? No. I prefer to focus on the glass as half full. As I become a more positive person, I become a happier person. I want to support that process.
As for rules, that is tough. I find that people who follow rules are the ones that would be respectful in the first place (unless it was some form of ignorance). Having rules may push the non-respectful people to more extreme behavior. I recall that being my reaction when I was a rebellious teenager and wanted to hurt people's feelings. Am I saying that mean/rude commenters are immature? Yes, I am. I have said mean things in the past and probably will again. I don't like myself when I do it and I strive to not be that person. I have never said anything deliberately nasty on-line though.
I have seen a related issue in forums, blogs, and emails: a comment that is misinterpretted. Without facial expressions and intonation, it is easy to read things wrong. I try to be kind when I read things that sound odd, and I hope that others extend that courtesy to me as well.
Posted by: Maia at April 12, 2007 02:09 PM
I'm relatively new to knitting and blogging for that matter. Even if there are items that I don't care for, think are ugly, or in bad taste; I don't feel the need to make someone else feel bad about it. There's enough negativity in the world. If I don't like, so what? Isn't that the point of diversity, opinions, personalities? There wouldn't be new patterns, new yarns, new colors in the world every day. Who else should care if you're knitting nothin' but miters? They've chosen to visit your blog, without a price to them. Who else should care how much any one of us spends on our hobbies? Whether you donate/give elsewhere or not is not my (or anyone else's) business. In my opinion, knitters happen to be very generous people. At the end of the day, can we live with ourselves, our choices, and our comments? I may not always be fair, just, and kind, but then I learn from it and become a better person. Long story short - miter on until your heart's content!
Posted by: Heather at April 12, 2007 02:11 PM
Dittoing Earthchick. The first to say it here, and most succinctly.
The "blogosphere" is simply a cross-section of society. If it's out there in real life, it's online as well.
Anonymity is a powerful thing. It's the shot of testicular fortitude that many lack. Not having the cojones to say it to someone's face? Get 'em where you don't have to face them.
Nastiness is part of the human animal, unfortunately, and it can't be codified away. I would that it could. Thankfully, most humans don't choose to show that face publicly, or online.
For what it's worth, you and I might not agree on everything, but I wouldn't miss hearing you say it for the world.
Posted by: Kelly at April 12, 2007 02:20 PM
Very provocative post, Cara.
For the most part I've kept my blog fairly light and frothy, mostly because some scary and depressing things loom large in my life, and I have trouble sharing them without being, well, negative, and who wants to read that? As a result I've had very few even slightly negative comments, only one that I can think of, and it was aimed primarily at other commenters and only indirectly at me, in a forthright yet respectful way. Even this amount of conflict sent me into a minor tizzy until a good friend and fellow knitblogger told me to chill, if I thought that was unpleasant I was leading a sheltered life. She was right, and I left the comments open, and I learned something from the criticism that was 100 percent valid and blogged about that.
I think you're right not to do the "bring it on" post, and I think you're right that we should all respect one another. There's a huge difference between "I disagree with your opinion and here's why" and "Cara, you ignorant sl*t." I think it's perfectly valid to say (as some people did at Steph's) "I'm troubled/put off/upset by your post and here's why," and I really wouldn't see that as an attack (I don't think -- see minor tizzy above).
As I've said before, I think of myself as the most insecure human being on the planet, and I can very easily regress to junior high and start looking at the world through the "everybody else is way cooler than I am and is laughing at me" lens. Yes, even lo these 30-plus years later. I find it very embarrassing, and I tend to assume that no one else does it (because everyone else is way cooler not to mention way better adjusted than I am). This seems to be a mistake on my part, as evidenced by (among other things) the defensive reactions that Steph provoked. So I want to keep in mind that *everybody* can feel uncool or vulnerable or defensive, including people I admire who get tons more comments than I do. I try to be kind anyway, just on GP, this is just one more good reason. On the flip side, if I inadvertently ticked someone off or made them feel defensive I would want to know about it.
If I posted a pattern or other how-to I would absolutely want people to point out mistakes to me or tell me if I'd left something out or hadn't described something clearly, but I'd see no point in someone's saying "your pattern sucks." (I should make very clear here that this hasn't happened to me: I'm just applying the Golden Rule.) I try to follow the same rule in comments: if I have a useful suggestion, I'll offer it, especially if someone asks for feedback, but I see no reason to be mean.
I'm trying for more blogging glasnost, especially since the more I share the more I learn.
I seem to have written a novella here. Thanks for making me think, and for reading.
Posted by: Lucia at April 12, 2007 02:24 PM
I just wanted to call a little more attention to what Sara (1:47pm) wrote in her comment - because I couldn't agree more.
Also, isn't it funny that we are talking about whether or not bloggers can delete the words of unkind visitors admit the furor of controversy swirling around Don Imus and his comments re: the women of Rutgers basketball team... I bet those girls would give anything to be able to simply delete what that man said to reclaim what was supposed to be their moment.
Rock on, Cara - love the blog.
Posted by: Liz in IL at April 12, 2007 02:30 PM
i guess i would ask, 'who cares what other people think?' could depend on what sort of experience you're aiming for with your blog.
my personal blog is really a way for me to vent about anything and everything, as well as share entertaining tidbits with [real life] friends. while i appreciate and enjoy their comments, i'm not doing it *for* the comments, i'm doing it to release pent up thoughts or stress. the comments are like an extra bonus.
my knitting blog may not be too dissimilar. the original idea was to document my FOs and share thoughts or information on things related to knitting. i'm relatively new to it all, so i don't really expect, nor am i looking for, compliments on my work. i'm also on a budget, so i'm not likely to have lots of exciting pictures and purchases for people to admire. it's really for me.
that all being said, i think *if* one of your goals is to have your website be a sort of online dialogue or forum (i.e. encouraging lots of comments), you're going to get the good with the bad.
i don't see much point in criticizing someone or their work on their blog, as 1) they're not likely to change because of it and 2) it's very public. i see *plenty* of things online that i could criticize to my heart's content, but i take it offline or let it go.
if there's ONE thing i've learned from my work, it's that email/IM (i.e. any medium other than real life, in person) is not a good way to communicate subjective information. too easy to misunderstand, leaves a trail of documentation that can bite you in the a** later. "we have a meeting at 4 tomorrow," is clear and objective. "i think you interrupt me in front of the client too much," is not.
i don't have a problem with people being critical, in general. i'd rather have people say what they think outright, than think it anyway, but keep it to themselves or worse, express it behind someone's back. being up front allows the recipient of the criticism to respond and potentially opens up discussion, which may not otherwise happen.
warning: digression into semantics!
i think politeness and respectfulness should always be encouraged, but being 'nice' to me, means something different. if you dislike someone and act 'nice' towards them, i think that's a bit deceptive in and of itself. i don't believe you have to be or should be nice to everyone. instead, be nice to people you actually like. be respectful and polite to everyone else.
regarding anonymity on the internet, i've been online for over 12 years and i try to keep my full, real name hidden. i've met plenty of ppl from the internet in real life, even met past boyfriends that way, and it's all good. however, i do think it can be dangerous to share too much of one's personal life online, cuz you just don't know who might be reading. seriously.
most good blogging software allows for full or at least partial restriction to registered users. if i were to have a kid, i'd only put their pic and personal info (name, etc.) in places where friends and family could access it. i'm talking restricted permissions.
anyway, the golden rule is inherently flawed because not everyone wants to be treated the same way. it's a nice rule of thumb, but lacks specificity.
Posted by: twellve at April 12, 2007 02:33 PM
Great Vonnegut quote. Common sense and common courtesy -- are they so hard? These are knitting blogs, personal expressions of a creative passion that are volunteered for our amusement and edification. As an editor, I could complain about all the misused it's/its, you're/your (the tip of the iceberg), but I realize someone is expressing his or her thoughts quickly, usually honestly, and is not submitting them for publication! I'm grateful to be a lurker in this community, to learn lots about knitting, to appreciate the joys and stresses in others' lives, and to help me keep some perspective on my own life (of which I'm of course highly critical). I have one "advantage," of sorts -- I just turned 65 and have lived through a lot of ups and downs (as everyone does), so I do have some appreciation of the vicissitudes of life. We're certainly a generous bunch (MSF, Dulaan project, et many al.). I should think some kindness toward one another should be inherent in our species (knitting bloggers). Are rules really needed? Maybe just common sense and common courtesy (imagine our politicians using them!).
Posted by: Luise at April 12, 2007 02:40 PM
Another interesting conversation, you're making me think again. I don't believe I've made any negative comments & haven't recieved one (I recieved 1 comment entirely in french which turned out to be spam once I'd used my Canadian high School french to translate). In real life I try to confront issues like this and speak to the person who has a problem with me directly, on blogs I just tend to click away from those I find offensive. If I don't like what someone is knitting or has to say I simply don't read them, the option not to have a dialogue is always open. A dialogue means taking time & effort to see their point of view & there is no guarantee they'll see or respect mine. I've met some nice people on the interent and enjoy most people I've met but frankly it's not worth the effort to work on understanding with those who are unkind and I've got better things to do with my time.
Posted by: elan at April 12, 2007 02:41 PM
Cara, a great forum you have here! I think these lie in the heart of the matter: conduct, accountability, subjectivity.
I've seen a few references to driving here, and I think it's an appropriate analogy. One navigates the freeway or the web ensconced in a protective cocoon, and they have a certain degree of anonymity because of that. There are the intentional rule-breakers, the rule followers, and those who straddle the line. All well and good, it keeps the flow/dialogue going, but note that it's based on the person's own code of conduct and their accountability.
One's idea of an honest opinion may be seen as tactless (ref: Pixie's comment). One may interpret constructive criticism as a personal attack (ref: Lolly's comment). One can ask for honest opinions and as a result receive all kinds of comments (see AF Lauren's blog, or even this one). One may think someone's serious when in fact it may be a joke.
If people want to comment anonymously, it's their right. I'd prefer it if people stood by what they were saying with a real email address or url, but alas not everyone's like that. However, it goes both ways: it's the blog writer's right to delete comments they don't like. Additionally, they can write whatever they want to their heart's content, because they can.
I'm with MOW Julia here in that I don't want rules to govern what I'm going to say. It's a relatively new medium, and people are still exploring the boundaries. Because of the fact that it relates closely to free speech in blogging (I think there are cases in court right now regarding free speech --war, trade secrets, company launches, spam, etc.), putting a band-aid on it at this present time won't solve the issue of a person's behavior.
This is a personal issue, certainly not a one to be governed by rules.
Posted by: MJ at April 12, 2007 02:49 PM
the sh--, made me think of Ren and Stimpy...implode, yes, the sh-t may implode and then it would be snuffed out....I am sure you know the theory....but I may have been the one to comment, I am glad you like your project, but when I say it, I mean it literally, and I love your project, the miters are so beautiful, I was thinking about the reds last night in my dreams and figured, if she gray scales this pic, she would see what to do with the value problem, think she's having. The funny thing about communication is trying to qualify what people mean when they say it. My brilliant son, when he was five years old, tormented his older brothers(4 and 5 years older) by repeatedly saying to them, "Do you know what you mean, when you say it? I say, do I know what you mean when you say it? Confuscious said something like, if you knew what I knew and if I knew what you knew and the conversation goes on and on (a quote from a scene in "The Last Emperor" I leave you with Confucious and qualify---that's a whole lotta talkin' goin' on. But then if everything was perfect, we'd all be in heaven, now wouldn't we....or robotic....thank God we're not that!
Posted by: Terri Lynn at April 12, 2007 02:50 PM
A code of conduct is an interesting thought. My blog is primarily about knitting; sometimes I talk about the rest of my life, but the fact remains that my blog represents only a tiny portion of my life. If someone were to post comments on MY blog that I felt were offensive or unnecessary for the discussion (i.e., a criticism of my bathing habits as opposed to a thoughtful criticism of my knitting), I would feel no guilt at deleting it. We may have free speech here, but just as I am welcome to unsubscribe from a blog I don't want to read, I am not required to read a comment I find offensive on my own blog.
With respect to my own content, if I don't have something nice to say about an individual, I just don't say anything, at least online. The internet is a lot more public than we often stop to think about, and I don't want to inadvertently hurt someone. This really hit home for me when a former roommate posted on her blog (which she didn't realize I read), that she was really upset that I had never mentioned her on my blog. She then went on to air some of the dirty laundry between us on her blog, which was very hurtful. I left a message explaining that I didn't mention her because 1) it's a knitting blog and she doesn't knit, and 2) most of my personal life doesn't appear on my blog. I apologized for hurting her and said I'd love to catch up with her if she were ready to move on. I never got a response, and I wonder if it's because she got embarrassed when she realized how public her comments were.
Posted by: Megan at April 12, 2007 02:51 PM
I've always stood by the rule that if I couldn't look someone in the eye and say it, I won't put it out on the internet.
While the 'Bring It On' post is an interesting idea, I think it's better that it stays just an idea. If people have legitimate, constructive criticism, they'll probably say it on a regular blog post anyway. Everyone else is just going to try to think up something critical because you asked them to, and encouraging people to sit around thinking negatively just seems...I don't know...strange, and not a good kind of strange. And, like you said in your post, you don't really need criticism from internet strangers, you have friends and family in real life that can help you out if you're looking for self-improvement.
All in all, instead of coming up with a new code of conduct for the internet, I think it might be best to realize we already have codes of conduct for social interaction and to not hold the internet exempt from them.
Posted by: Stephanie at April 12, 2007 02:55 PM
I liked what you said about your reaction to criticism from your writing classes - you do know immediately when a critique is valid and when it isn't. And that's what I think would have happened if you had done the 24 hour experiment. You probably would have gotten some valid and useful suggestions, and some that you could easily dismiss out of hand. I've been really lucky in that I haven't had a lot of negativity in the comments to my blog (or maybe I've just gotten good at blocking at what I don't need to see or hear!). Thoughtful post - thanks.
Posted by: Julia at April 12, 2007 02:55 PM
Duuude, what happened to my paragraph spacing!
Posted by: MJ at April 12, 2007 02:55 PM
You know your post has made me wonder. I personally tend to think of knitters as warm-hearted, creative, fun people. From the numerous blogs that I have come across things like shipping presents to a knitter having a bad day/week/year, to swaps and secret pals, I have also gotten the impression that most knitters are also very gernerous.
It may be nieve but it seems like most knitters/knit-bloggers would have the common curtesy to not send degrading and hurtful comments to another knitter. Disagree, sure but not rail and ridicule.
Do you think that we as a knitting community are less likely to receive mean-spirited comments? (I do know that there are bound to be a few bad eggs but compared to the rest of the blogosphere?)
Posted by: Lani at April 12, 2007 02:56 PM
Yep yep. Golden Rule. All the way. Luke 6:31.
And um... hey, if I need to beat up anybody in Kansas you just let me know, 'kay? xoxox
Posted by: Laura at April 12, 2007 03:08 PM
Thanks once again for a very thought provoking post. I must be very lucky not to have had any negative comments in the two years I have been blogging but I have seen some hurtful coments on other blogs and cannot for the life of me fathom why people do it. Constructive criticism is one thing, nasty and hurtful comments are something else entirely and to my mind unacceptable.
Posted by: Janine at April 12, 2007 03:10 PM
What you wrote made me think about how this phenomenon is not just limited to blogs--it happens all the time in the "real world", too. People judge other people all the time based on very limited impressions or interactions, without knowing *anything* of who they really are.
I once read a quote that said, "When you meet someone, remember these things: 1) Everyone loves something. 2) Everyone is afraid of something. 3) Everyone has lost something." It's true. There are real people who feel real things behind blogs. Snap judgments don't help anything.
Also, your miter work is so beautiful! I don't think I have the patience or the wallet for such a project, but I LOVE your squares! The colors make me happy just from the photos.
Posted by: kate at April 12, 2007 03:15 PM
I hardly ever write comments but this subject does comply me to type. As I was reading today's blog, I was shocked. It would never dawn on me to write a message attacking someone's personal life. You can disagree with someone's opinion and this can lead to an interesting and lively discussion. Its when it crosses over into a personal attack that it becomes wrong.
I know knitters are a wonderful community. I would hate to see someone shut down their blog just because some bad apple has been rude and mean.
Posted by: Amy at April 12, 2007 03:18 PM
ooh, this topic always freaks me out a little. My first experience with this kind of blog negativity was about 3 years ago when I was looking at my stats and saw a large number of clicks coming from one site. I followed the link - excited! to have a new reader! - and saw a negative post about something I'd started. It turned into a ridiculous flame war, and an us vs. them fight, and it was so yucky.
I remember being so hurt and astonished that someone would actually take the time to craft such a snarky commentary, and it was the first time I realized that by blogging, I was putting myself out there for criticism. It's true - if you have a public space on the internet, you're putting yourself out there. But WHYWHYWHYWHY the negativity? I just don't understand.
And I agree - criticizing a designer's work is a different ball game, and sometimes, fairly warranted. How often, though, do those critiques turn into a personal attack? SO. OFTEN.
You really hit the nail on the head with the comparison of your two negative comments. Constructive criticism and personal attacks are SO different. And I confess: I hardly EVER leave negative comments on my blog. I view my blog as my journal -- my record of what's going on in my life -- and I'm SO happy that I have readers who want to come and engage in a conversation and share. But I like my blog to be a shiny, happy place, and if someone comes in and says "You're stupid" or "You're a bad *whatever* (knitter, dog owner, friend)", I delete that shit. Right away. Because I don't want to come back and remember that.
That's not to say that I mind disagreement, I just can't take any personal criticism.I wish I could be the kind of person to say "Screw the haters!" but I'm not. I'm sensitive. That first incident was so hard for me - and here's another confession - I still check that other blog ALL THE TIME. It's full of negative comments about EVERYTHING, and it makes me so mad, but I still check it. I don't know why...
And I've totally left comments that I regretted afterwards. And sent emails that I regretted afterwards. TOTALLY. So I'm guilty too. But I'm much more aware of how a comment can be read ever since my yucky incident, because I would never want to make someone feel the way I felt when I followed that link to a mean post about me.
Sorry for the long ass comment. I'm like Elisabeth - this issue keeps me up at night sometimes.
Posted by: Carrie at April 12, 2007 03:37 PM
I have been visiting your blog for several months now and never told you how much I enjoy it.
I also never had the urge to leave you a comment.
This time, after reading your "epic essay", I have to say: Well said... so very well said!
Thank you for taking the time to think about this matter and to put it out there.
And moreover, thank you for your time to actually create a blog and put yourself and your knitting out there.
Posted by: Nancy at April 12, 2007 03:38 PM
I remember the first time I read your blog a couple of months ago. You let the f-bomb fly. I thought...holy crap, someone who actually says what she means! She doesn't beat around the bush and keep her feelings hidden because it would be the "proper" thing to do. I appreciate your straightforward and honest approach to life and knitting on your blog. It's refreshing. If certain people don't like that, then stop reading! You're blog is the first one I read everyday because of your witty content that makes people really think about things that matter, beautiful photos and because you're just damn funny! I really admire you for standing up for yourself and being who YOU are not who everyone else thinks that you SHOULD be! (Love the miters by the way)
Posted by: Carrie at April 12, 2007 03:40 PM
The internet gives one a sense of anonymity and distance. It's very similar to driving on the freeway in rush hour. 95% of the drivers are only thinking about how late THEY are and never look in the review mirror to see the destruction they've left behind by cutting off others.
Personally, if I don't like something someone's knitting, I just think "I'm glad they're happy with it." And then I really *do* keep my feelings to myself. Just because it's not right for me, doesn't make it wrong or bad or ugly. Just not my taste. Now if they ASK for opinions, I might voice that exact thing: "Those wouldn't be my choice of colors but..." etc.
As far as comments by others goes, I haven't had to face the problem yet. But if someone posted something personal, offensive or just plain mean, I wouldn't hesitate to delete it. They're guests in my 'house' - if they don't like the rules, fuck 'em.
In the TMI department, I often go an extra day without a shower too. I like to think I'm being environmentally responsible, not lazy. Of course, it *is* a loooong walk up to the showers from the boat...
Posted by: LaDonna at April 12, 2007 03:49 PM
I apologize that I did not read all the comments that came before mine so I may be saying something that's already been said.
I feel about blogging the same way I do about any other type of media. If I don't like it - I don't read/watch/listen to it. I can respect that other people have different opinions than I have and that's ok too. If we were all the same, we'd be a mighty boring species.
I also think of my interactions with folks on blogs the way I do about face-to-face encounters. If I don't get along with someone or they are mean to me, I don't pursue the relationship further. I don't get up in their face and tell them I don't like them. I wasn't raised that way and so I don't act that way on the net.
It's one thing to be critical of a pattern or a yarn, it's another to be outwardly nasty to a person. That's just plain rude. I don't subscribe to blogs I don't like but I respect their choice to talk about themselves the same way I blather on about myself on my blog.
The rules of social engagement are not carved in stone someplace. They are supposed to be common sense. Those are the rules we should live by in the blogosphere. It's too bad common courtesy is so damned uncommon.
Ok, I'll hush up now. Whew, I got all riled up...
Posted by: Renee at April 12, 2007 03:59 PM
I've been a long-time lurker, but have never commented on your blog before. I have not been long in the blogging world, and I'm not very eloquent, but I really felt the need to pitch in here.
I've always been from the "if you can't say anything nice..." school, especially when it comes to addressing people directly about what makes them an individual, which includes what they put out as an expression of that individuality. I like to appreciate, rather than denigrate, what makes each of us unique. Unfortunately, mean people do not have that mindset. I believe some are under the impression that blogs are yet another form of faceless media put out for THEIR entertainment, and I believe that makes them believe they have the right to criticize openly. But they are mistaken. I believe most of us blog to display our own art, craftwork, opinions and life as an expression of ourselves; and if we get some nice comments and make some friends along the way with our sharing, all the better.
I can't conceive of people going out of their way to write critical, hurtful comments or personal attacks on someone's blog. If you don't like it, move along. Unfortunately, there are many people in this world that feel the need to level themselves with others by stepping over and on top of them. They feel unreasonably threated by someone else's expression, or jealous of their display, and feel the need to level the field in a hurtful way. Again, I can't imagine ever trying to wound a perfect stranger in this way, to what reward?
I appreciate those who express themselves in an honest way, and admire those who can really put themselves out there in a personal way, risking a personal attack. I like the weird ones, the artsy ones, the filthy-mouthed ones, the funny ones, etc., all out there blogging what they choose. How awesome to have an unedited forum to share and express one's individuality. I, for one, only put on my blog what I can risk not being mortally wounded over. I wish I could do more, but I always hesitate at the last minute, fearing some comment that attacks my being or soul. Yes, it does hurt to have our work criticized, but not like it would if I was told my feelings were wrong or I am an idiot, or worse. So, for now anyway, I keep it to knitting, cats, life observations, a little humor and some griping, all stopping just short of what I am afraid to make public because some mean person out there could wound me over it. I think the beauty of blogging is that we can each take it as far as we choose, in whatever direction we choose, to our own comfort level. But I don't think any of us puts it out there on any level to be harassed or rudely critized or hurt.
As far as a code of conduct for blogs---ridiculous! Our personal blogs are not a writing job, they are our forum for personal expression. We all edit ourselves according to our own inner code of conduct, which is plenty enough. If someone doesn't like the way I express myself, how I use my time, or how I do my projects, relief for them is only one click away!
Thanks for providing the impetus and the invitation to comment on this. I am sincerely sorry that people have chosen to be cruel or mean to you in the form of their nasty comments, and you are brave to put it out there and get in their face! Mean people truly suck, and unfortunately, the web gives all of them a nice, safe, cowardly forum to express their unpleasant selves!! Hang in there, and all of us who click this way appreciate what you share. You express it however you damned well please!
Posted by: deb at April 12, 2007 04:12 PM
Wow, I definitely don't think my skin is thick enough to ask for a "bring it on" day! I admire your hide, that is for certain.
But do you really think there are so many people thinking negative thoughts about other people's blogs? I guess every now and then I find myself weeding out blogs (not that there is really anything wrong with them, it's just that there isn't time to read EVERYONE, and so I just keep the ones that are, well, better), but I don't know that I've ever gone around picking out the things that I think really suck, be it patterns, or writing, or whatever. Maybe that's really naive of me, but I just have a hard time believing people are that hard on each other. Then again, I've been really lucky to not have negativity on my blog....
Anyway, those are just my thoughts!
Posted by: Kim at April 12, 2007 04:28 PM
Thanks for this post, Cara. One of my favorite (non-knit) bloggers also has a great post about this, and about the crappy responses that NY Times article has gotten from otherwise cool male bloggers...
Posted by: pamela wynne at April 12, 2007 04:42 PM
all i can say is i think knitters are THE SHIT! so i'm always up for filling a room with them!
hmm, i might need more coffee today :)
Posted by: al at April 12, 2007 04:45 PM
I think it can be summed up pretty simply.
Some people are just jerks.
They're jerks when they drive, when they shop for groceries, when they see families at the holidays, when they get up in the morning, when they go bed. And when they read blogs. I'm sure there were caveman jerks, and there will be jerks with jet packs.
It's jarring when someone is an outright jerk, but I think if you're still taken aback by it, it's a pretty good indication that you're doing just fine and are not, yourself, a jerk.
But in a way, it's kind of innate in all of us to an extent. No one has kind thoughts 100% the time. And the interwebs have just made it easier to say things you normally wouldn't say to person out loud. It's sort of a false sense of empowerment because you can't see someone's face fall when you say something really crappy, or hear their voice get a little quieter. You don't really have to deal with the consequences of the words you've just sent into the ether.
It's a relatively new medium, and boy howdy, do the jerks love it. But so do the rest of us. It's the Wild West, people. Head 'em up and move 'em out. Yee-haw!
Posted by: Stitchy at April 12, 2007 04:53 PM
Very interesting, thanks, Cara. My take on this is that we all sometimes feel like saying something nasty, because we are all human! But I follow my husband's advice: you might get away with saying it in anger in the heat of the moment, but never write nasty things down. They can be re-read later and sound oh so much more nasty out of context of the blazing row!
If you worked out what percentage of your comments was positive, you'd know enough of us love ya to not worry about the nuts! Keep blogging!
Posted by: knittingsheep at April 12, 2007 04:59 PM
I think people are misunderstanding the code of ethics. It is not about restricting what people can say on their blogs at all. It is about the responsibility we have for the comments made by other people on our blogs.
In the case of Kathy Sierra, the people that ran the forums, where specific, violent, and sexual threats (some of which included her address and social security number) were repeatedly made against her, refused to remove them from their sites.
I don't know of any knitting site where such a thing would happen. This is because there is already in existence an unspoken code of conduct. All you have to do is compare the comments section of the most vitriolic knitting blog and the comments section of the average political blog to gain an appreciation for the general level of comity in the community of online knitters.
Posted by: Regina at April 12, 2007 05:00 PM
At my church we have these little blue cards in the back of the pews. They are meant for visitors to put their name, addr & phone for someone from the church to send them a welcome note or deliver cookies or such. Often they are used by church members to write scathing remarks to the pastor or the music minister or something. They are usually not signed and end up in the trash as they should be. If you don't have the courage to at least identify yourself in such a manner as to create an open dialog then why bother making a comment?
I noticed that the person who made the comment to you that you are referring to either doesn't have a blog or it was disabled or something. At least she did leave a name - if that really was her!! And I'm glad she did apologize.
My personal opinion is that reading and commenting on blogs is like watching TV. If I don't like the content I just have to switch channels. If I'm reading someone's blog and it goes off on a tangent that I'm not interested in I simply click that little red box with the white X in the upper right hand corner!! Helloooo!!
Leaving rude comments (unless you know the person REALLY well and they know you are just joking or yanking their chain) is just, well...RUDE!! Just because you put your self out there doesn't give anyone the right to bash you for how you choose to live your life.
BTW - (as I sit here, unshowered, unbrushed - hair or teeth, still in my PJs at 2:01 pacific time - LOL on a day off), I belong to the group that is just darn jealous that you get to stay home all day, don't shower unless you want to/have to, don't cook or clean if don't want to and spend all your money on yarn for a project that you may or may never finish. I told my husband to put on my headstone "She rarely finished anything but she had lots of fun!"
Leave solving the world's problems to the pro's like Angelina & Madonna - heh, heh...
Posted by: Marsha at April 12, 2007 05:06 PM
(Long-time lurker deluring here...) I think you did an excellent job musing through this issue and expressed your thoughts very eloquently. I think a lot of times, when it comes down to it, the Golden Rule sadly isn't enough, or rather doesn't seem to hold for people when it comes to the web. Interacting through the medium of the internet gives people a great sense of anonymity and distance and suddenly, all the rules we learned in kindergarten about proper behavior towards others disappear. Vitriolic personal attacks become okay, death threats become okay, etc etc. I used to be quite doubtful that people behave differently on the web than they do in real life until I saw friend of mine turn from being a sweet, kind, and funny person in real life to a flaming fiend in chat rooms and message boards. She literally would go out of her way to provoke others with mean comments. When I asked her why she was doing it, she said it was fun and that "it wasn't real." I think that's the problem. Typing words while sitting in a comfy chair at home is easy. So easy that it doesn't always occur to people that others are reading those words and possibly hurt by them. I'll bet the people who photoshopped poor Kathy Sierra next to a noose would never utter those same threats to her face. And the fun part -- some people get a thrill of power when they can disrupt something, when they can collapse a discussion into an angry melee. I think a self-imposed code of conduct though would unfortunately not work. As someone said above, it just invites attacks from those non-adherents. When it comes to those poison pen comments, i.e. comments that are not helpful and are only hateful, personal attacks, I say the only thing to do (and the person owning the blog should have no hesitation about this) is to deleting them. I of course believe in free speech but what exactly is being expressed in a hateful "you're stupid" or "your work sucks a$$" besides the hate? How are these comments helpful? How do they contribute to the person's work? The blog is a public forum but not a public forum whose sole purpose is for the author to be pilloried and otherwise abused after taking trouble to put him/herself out there. Rather, it's supposed to be a place of sharing and discussion.
I am always thankful that the knitting blog community is not as prone to unproductive negativity as those that focus on politics or technology (or if they are, I still remain in rather blissful ignorance). For the most part, people respond positively or if they respond negatively , do so with constructive criticism. Yes, we sometimes just have to agree to disagree but it does not often devolve into name-calling personal attacks that have nothing to do with the original debate.
I'm also glad that there are wonderful bloggers like you out there who are not afraid to call it like it is and who are willing to get into thoughtful discussion of sensitive topics. Thank you!
Posted by: Marie at April 12, 2007 05:06 PM
Very insightful. One of my favorite things about blogging is that it's an open invitation for people to actually Stop And Think about something. Using the internet to actually make into reality the things that come to mind, and then to develop and refine them.
Pretty much everything I would have said has already been said here, except for one. I'll take the soapbox for a minute to pontificate on free speech. Free speech is so wildly abused. It seems to be a wild card; one that's brandished by the opposition whenever the idea of restraint or propriety is suggested. (As in the article you linked above.) Crying "free speech! free speech!" (or its counterpart, censorship) is the silver bullet that kills good ideas like O'Reilly's code of conduct. (Which is good because it is voluntary, and would die of its own accord if it's not really feasible.) It shuts down all debate and both sides play dead.
Speech is Constitutionally protected only on public property. On private property, it falls under the discretion of the property owner.
The First Amendment protects an individual's right to speak freely against intrusion from government. Penned in a time when governmental powers extended into all areas of life, and speaking against the King was serious crime, the First Amendment sprang from recent and bitter experiences of those who proposed it. The entire Constitution was aimed at protecting the people from the government under which they lived, and left the individuals to govern themselves.
The concept of free speech is simply a vacuum unless you define an arena in which it exists. Or, more appropriate for our day, it's a bomb that needs defusing. For the First Amendment, that arena is public space. Space or property owned by the entity which is governed by the Constitution. I can say whatever I want about the current administration in a city park or on the street without fear of going to jail. (Or at least that's how it's supposed to be.) When it comes to censorship and free speech elsewhere, that "right" is granted by the property owner. In my living room, profanity and vulgar language are not welcome (among other things). Those who are not willing to bridle their tongues are asked to leave. In another's home, the code of conduct is up to them. Following the same principle, I feel no compunction whatsoever about deleting negative/rude/hurtful/nasty comments at my blog because it belongs to me. It's an extention of my living room; no one is compelled to come. (Compulsion would bring an entirely different set of principles into play.) Yes, the server space is owned by Blogger/Google. But they have given it to me to homestead, if you will, just as public land was once open for homesteading. And so I do, as I put my time, energy, thoughts and heart into what goes up there.
And now, the kids are about to mutiny and tear the house down. So, I guess I just want bloggers to hear: go ahead and allow whatever comments you want . . . just don't feel guilty about removing some, either. It's your living room. And for commenters: your mom could be reading what you wrote . . . or your kids . . . or your boss . . . or anybody. (Would you want someone you respect, or an enemy, Googling your username?) Leaving nastiness on the internet is far more permanent than flinging fighting words across the playground in 5th grade. Maybe deletion is a favor.
Posted by: Annalea at April 12, 2007 05:17 PM
I am just glad to know that I am not the only one that has had a run in with anonymous bratty commenters. So, kudos to you & your wonderful writing. Kudos to those who have the thick skin to leave the comment there, undeleted for all prosperity. Kudos to those that can actually criticize constructively without tearing someone down. And finally kudos to the idea that we are all human, have imperfect human emotions and sometimes, just sometimes, act on them in not the most productive manner.
Now, go play with some yarn.
Posted by: chauntel at April 12, 2007 05:29 PM
good post, definitely something to spark discussion and thought. personally, i like reading a diverse selection of blogs...not all knitting ones. some are women who are starting out in the world of motherhood, some are knitters, some both. it is funny, in 'real' life i do not have a huge circle of people i associate with, not really interested in changing that. here, online, i like seeing things from a stranger's perspective, getting little of their personality and flavor. but i, a very opinionated person in 'real' life, very rarely even want to leave comments, much less judgemental or negative ones. it is great we can find our voices on our blogs, choose what aspects of our lives to share and offer insight into matters that we think of...but that does not really mean readers know us. i have read some comments i think 'out of line' but then think, why bother responding as i would likely never seek that person out in real life. also, i get. like, 2 comments a week at my blog so there is not really much to go off there. anyway, good discussion you have opened up, pandora. also, good luck getting through all these comments.(jealous.) (heehee)
Posted by: mamie at April 12, 2007 05:35 PM
I really like this discussion you excited with your proposal. Personally I love the different people in this (knitting)blog community, and is not the differences that make it so exciting and enable us to learn so much from each other? Sure, I sometimes come across blogs that I don't like, but I just turn my back and go on with something that is more down my alley, so to speak. I find it sad that people use comments and their blogs in a mean and malicious way, it does not really make sense to me.
Maybe it is a lack of understanding that makes it impossible for people to give constructive criticism in private, via e-mail for example. It seems many never learned to express themselves in an appropriate manner (please ignore my spelling...) and so they resort to unfairness.
Posted by: Juliana at April 12, 2007 05:39 PM
So i got here via Eunny's blog. I've never read your blog before now, so i've no idea what kind of comments you've received, or what your schtic is. Seems to me everything I've wanted to say was said already by others. AnneMarie being the one i most identify with. No one's forcing anyone else to read a blog they don't like. And if I don't like a blog I don't read it. People shouldn't be taking their boredom out on others...and I really loved that quote form the Vonnegut obit. Your non-manifesto, so to speak, and your eloquent style has inspired me to read you more often. Don't worry though, I comment nice.
Posted by: Jenn at April 12, 2007 05:40 PM
I've been fortunate enough to not have any actual nasty comments on my blog, though there was one blogger who left me a sweet as pie comment and then insulted the hell out of me by name on her own blog. It's funny, with lots of nice comments, that's the one that sticks.
There are indeed jerks out there, but none of us are perfect. We all say things we wish we could grab back out of the computer at times. Unfortunately, email and blog commenting makes it really easy to hit "send" or "post" before your brain really engages enough to realize that what you just said was hurtful. Have I been guilty of this? Certainly. It's much easier to self-edit and play nice when the person you are thinking about insulting is standing there in the room with you. It's also pitifully easy to jump in with the crowd and join in insulting someone else.
And I don't think we need a new code of conduct for blogs. As you said, a little common sense and common courtesy should be enough.
But then, as my mother used to say, common sense isn't all that common.
By the way, Cara, I've met you in person. Your feet aren't ugly and your breath isn't bad. ;-)
Posted by: Lorette at April 12, 2007 05:41 PM
I have not read all the other comments, but I am pro-civility. Even if someone wants to criticize, it can be done in a civil manner. I think if you gave people the opportunity to mudsling, they would, and there's enough snark out there to know that it really doesn't require encouragement. The idea that people would fill up the whole room full of shit and you wouldn't smell it anymore is reasonable, but you'd still step in it, and guess what, all of them will take a shit tomorrow too.
Keep up the good work, but keep Bring it On Day to yourself, is my unsolicited advice. Those interested in being snarky will do it without your invitation.
Posted by: Heather at April 12, 2007 05:45 PM
At over 100 comments, I think you've achieved at least one goal: discussion!
Excuse me while I hit refresh to see the banner change....
Posted by: claudia at April 12, 2007 05:50 PM
I thought a lot about this while I was reading your post for the second time, and then all the comments. You asked about if/when we'd left a mean comment somewhere, and why.
I can honestly say I've never left a mean comment on a blog. Snarky, sure, but only to people who DO know me and can read the intent of fun and not to hurt. And my snark is really very mild I think. The reason for this is very simple - I don't blog, so that little comment space is all I have to show people who I am. I don't want to be thought of as mean, or critical, or the kind of person who puts others down to make themselves feel better. I, like a whole whack of the insecure, did enough of that in my late teens and early twenties. It's not something I'm particularly proud of, and I like to think I know better now.
So I'm careful. Both because the things I say in the comments are a reflection of me, but also, if I start a bruhaha on someone's blog, that's not fair to them either. I've been tempted. Hoo BOY have I been tempted. But if I can't find a way to express disagreement respectfully, I honestly don't feel I have a right to stain someone else's blog with it.
Posted by: Rachel H at April 12, 2007 05:51 PM
i am constantly amazed by people who leave negative comments. i'm not sure i get the point. i am firm believer that if you don't like what you're reading on someone's blog then don't read it. done deal. no one is forcing you to sit through it so... move on. i love your blog, i love the blanket (or what you have of the blanket so far) and i love getting to see a piece of someone else's life. so thank you - and please continue. you entertain me to no end.
Posted by: jen c at April 12, 2007 06:02 PM
This has been fascinating to read- I am new to blogging, mostly blog in the foodie area, and had no idea the online fiber arts was so fraught with danger!
Actually, I had a similar discussion with my officemate, around the horrendously ugly remarks about the Rutgers Basketball team by Don Imus. My officemate, a Virginia gentlewoman whose lips have never released a negative word about anyone, said that she despaired about the constant ugliness in our world. She cited comedians and "roasts" and the culture of insults we seem to thrive on. I don't know what we can do about it, except practice civility amongst ourselves.
Posted by: Willa at April 12, 2007 06:07 PM
Personally, I keep my opinions to myself if I don't like something. I just think it's good manners. If someone consistently represents a point of view I find abhorrent, I stop reading, for my own sake. Otherwise, I think there is room for all kinds of blogging styles, all kinds of opinions, and all senses of style, knitting and otherwise.
As my mama always said, the world would be awfully boring if we were all the same.
Thank you for the Vonnegut quote. I love it.
Posted by: carole at April 12, 2007 06:15 PM
Great, thoughtful post Cara. My blog is relatively new and I've only had one negative comment that was sent to me via email rather than posted on the blog. It was a mean-spirited and hurtful comment from a family member regarding a "word" choice I had made. I write how I speak for the most part, try to watch the language as I do around my kids. I have very thick skin, but this truly crushed me for days and strained what had been a very strong bond.
I pretty much agree with what has been said. I am not for a code of conduct at all. If someone doesn't like a blog - don't read it. There are newspapers, magazines, radio/tv talk shows that I don't like - I don't read them, listen to them or watch them. Seems pretty simple to me.
If someone can offer something constructive - great. But being mean for the sake of it is just not right and a waste of time. That was the issue I had with my family member. It wasn't that their point wasn't valid, but the way in which they expressed it was horrible.
I love your blog, your writing, etc. I am envious of your knitting, but would rather die than not shower daily (and don't even think about separating me and my blow dryer for even a second!). But that's me and you're you and that's what makes the world go 'round.
Humanity in general never ceases to amaze me - both on-line and in person. Being in retail, I see it all. I see the best and worst of people, get emails that are awful and terrible to those that are so incredibly thoughtful they overwhelm me. I just try to take the crap in stride and always try to treat others as I want to be treated. For the most part, it works pretty well.
Thanks for this post today.
Posted by: kathy at April 12, 2007 06:17 PM
Very well put, thank you. Here's my husband's litmus test for blogs and emails: don't say anything that you wouldn't want to come up at your Supreme Court hearing in 20 years (even if you're never gonna have a hearing).
And the mean comments? Like your admission about envy, I believe they come out of fear: fear that we won't get what we think deserve, fear that we're not good enough. I'm now regretting any critique that I made about a pattern, because, there again, I think that you're dead on the mark.
Posted by: Janet at April 12, 2007 06:20 PM
(Thank you for sharing that quote from Kurt Vonnegut. Been in a funk all day 'cause he's gone.)
The problem about which you write is one of manners. Though free speech is something to be treasured, it is not a license to behave uncivally, as Don Imus discovered. If we all treated each other like we did when boarding airplanes, the world would be a much better place.
Posted by: Leslie at April 12, 2007 06:35 PM
How does leaving a rude/nasty/negative comment contribute to anything? It doesn't. Its sad, because I'm sure those rude/nasty/negative comment leavers are living a sad little life where the only joy they get is demeaning someone else. I'm a dedicated hard core lurker, so for me to come out and say something means I'm super riled up! Your post was super, thank you. I hope the nasty comment writers can find some joy in their lives in a more positive way.
Posted by: Carolyn at April 12, 2007 06:41 PM
I just don't understand the mindset that engenders slanderous and hurtful criticism, especially in the world of knitblogs. You don't like what she's knitting--so don't knit it! You don't like reading her blog for whatever reason--don't read it! But by damn don't make it your business to tell that person and everyone who reads her blog just exactly what is wrong with her.
Posted by: Karen at April 12, 2007 06:46 PM
I have never gotten a negative comment but I think as you become more popular in this blogworld, more people take notice. Some for jealous reasons--others for who knows. I find most of the time people put me or my kids or friends down--it is a pathetic attempt to make themselves feel better. Usually a fault they, themselves, have. I don't blog much these days. Don't seem to comment much either. I wonder if people know how close I live to the edge that it is better to just be nice to me. ;)
Posted by: Kathleen at April 12, 2007 06:49 PM
I love ya man! >>>
Posted by: KellyD at April 12, 2007 07:02 PM
In my personal experience, when I have a judgemental or negative thought pop into my head, if I take a moment to examine that thought, I find that what or who I am judging triggered something I don't like about myself.
For example, there was a woman in my graduate school program who used to drive me INSANE because I thought she didn't know when to shut-up-already, and I didn't think she was qualified to be in the program. On the surface, I was angry that the powers-that-be of the grad school admitted her and I felt like she lessened my experiences in grad school by highjacking discussions. On deeper examination, I realized that in her I merely saw a reflection of myself--at times I didn't feel qualified to be in the program. At times I think I ramble on a bit too much and judge myself for it. It's just easier to project all my own crap onto her and judge her instead of myself.
Feeling so irritated by her was like a prison--I had no control over her or the school, I was just a powerless victim. The only thing I thought I had control over was my RIGHT to complain about her. But realizing it was really all about me was very freeing. Suddenly, I had control! Real control! I had the choice of how to react, to learn about myself and have a great grad school experience despite sharing nearly every class with this woman.
Oops! Rambling. What I'm trying to say is that negative comments etc. say far more about the poster than they do object of the criticism.
Posted by: Anne at April 12, 2007 07:13 PM
i think people are mean due to issues of insecurity. i think that it is natural to get mean and defensive when you feel threatened (whether you're threatened because you're jealous, because you're offended, or any other reason). or maybe, those meanies never had a role model to tell them how to behave as mature adults! :)
for the record, i don't shower everyday either...and i often go out without a shower. so fucking what?! if you don't like the way i smell, then don't smell me! :) i'm sure there are plenty of people out there who think i'm too loud, annoying, obnoxious, or many other mean things, but that's okay! my parents raised me to love myself as i am and to be a confident (albeit a bit too confident?) person. i bet you would be super fun in person. it sounds we have similar personalities!
Posted by: mai at April 12, 2007 07:30 PM
The problem with mean comments is that they stick with us. I don't know about you, but I find it easier to believe the horrible things people have said about me, even in the face of a hundred kind and understanding comments.
I am the sort of person who invites misunderstanding and rude comments and actions just by the act of walking outside. To be living while deaf is to be a perpetual foreigner in one's own life. For me, the internets is the great equalizer, a place where people make less assumptions. Or maybe, they know more about me beyond the labels the world affixes.
I cannot imagine how deliberately inviting vitrol could be productive or positive. I understand the motivation behind wanting to have a free day, at least I think I do, and I just feel that, in the end, it would hurt more than it would help.
Happiness, as you know, is a choice. Is an action. I try so very hard to be kind, to be open, to educate, and to focus on the good things, the good actions in life. Neither you nor I can control the thoughts and connections that others make, we can only hope to express ourselves and to share ourselves as best as we can.
I don't know if I'm making sense. So there you go.
Posted by: Frarochvia at April 12, 2007 07:58 PM
I'm de-lurking. I know that many people will disagree with me, but I think that negative comments do have a place on blogs. Not comments that are intentionally hurtful, but comments that point out a fault are not necessarily all bad. When I write a blog post and allow comments on that post, I am inviting readers to comment on and react to what they read. I hope that readers will be honest with me. I wouldn't be friends with someone in person if I thought they wouldn't give me an honest opinion. Threatening someone or being intentionally hurtful clearly goes too far, but I would personally rather know what people think of me/my ideas than to have them sit by and pretend that they like everythink they read.
I know that there are people out there who want their blog readers to be their "yes club". Maybe it would be better if we all just put it out there on our blogs whether or not we are looking for honest comments or only positive comments.
Posted by: Emily at April 12, 2007 08:29 PM
Wow. I am really new to blogs and although I started one on Tuesday, I deleted it today because I felt all i was doing was complaining. (and for some reason the program wouldn't let me type anything).
You have summed up my issues with internet and blog and any of htese chats etcetera. If you take the time to post something, you want a response, BUT that doesn't give the responder the right to criticize you.
I could never have completed that many mitred squares. At this stage in my life I don't want to, but I am filled with admiration that you have a vision of what you want, but are comfortable with the fact that you aren't quite sure where it is going.
What have I learned from the blogs I read? It's okay to be me because there are other women out there in completely different situations who are being themself and not fitting the mold.
Thanks for your blog rant and discussion.
Posted by: sharon at April 12, 2007 08:49 PM
It pains my heart to see that people cannot be kind to one another. Being neively unaware that there exists such a dark side to people's comments, until references to them have been made by some bloggers. It saddens me to know that people have been so needlessly cruel and thoughless. We should be supportive of others in this life, and always ask of our own behavior - is that how I would wish to be treated. The golden rule is to extend kindness and treat others in the same manner in which YOU would like to be treated. I thank you for your blog, putting your energy and a piece of yourself out there in the world for public viewing. I hope that your posting today will encourage poeple to be more careful with their words, and you find the support that clearly has been lacking!
Posted by: Sue at April 12, 2007 09:12 PM
I love that Vonnegut quote.
Anyway, there have been several knitblogs (and other blogs) that have made me think, as I was reading them, that the author was stupid, or just annoying... lots of things. But I've never felt that way about your blog.
Even if I did feel that way, though, I wouldn't say it. I think that the rude commenters were immature. Or at least, their behavior was immature. And not remotely constructive.
Posted by: Emily S. at April 12, 2007 09:21 PM
Cara, this is quite an interesting topic. I sat through many a critique myself during 7 years of art school and there is a difference between constructive criticism and personal attacks.
My blogging code of conduct is that I never put something out there that I wouldn't want to get back from someone else. I also do not feel compelled to comment on every little thing, sometimes the best thing to say really is nothing. That said, I do love your blog, especially the photography.
Posted by: marnie at April 12, 2007 09:41 PM
Very nicely done. Speaking of common sense, if someone is just being mean for the sake of meaness, it's kind of silly to expend all that energy just to hurt someone. Would seem it's the writer who actually got to them. And I was on the hunt for miters for a post tonight ;)
Posted by: Carol at April 12, 2007 09:52 PM
I don't comment a lot, and certainly wouldn't leave a mean comment for anyone. Why would I? I'm not going to change what someone else does. They don't care what I think they should knit, eat, spend money on, do with their time. And if I don't like or agree with those things, or just find them tiresome, I don't have to read their blog. I just don't see the point of the mean snarkiness.
Your miters are a good example. You love them, but you aren't asking me to knit them. So, even if you want to knit them forever what purpose would be served by my criticizing or being mean to you. I do find the color studies interesting. But still, you are knitting them for you, and you are not responsible for entertaining me. If I find something informative or useful or inspiring in what you are doing, great! If not, I can leave and come back on another day.
Posted by: Margaret at April 12, 2007 09:58 PM
I've read, a couple of times, about this current trend towards a "culture of cruelty". And both times I've read about it, it seems to be related to, among other things, reality TV and papparazi. In reality TV, we all know that the person who is the shittiest, meanest one is the one that gets the most airtime. With the papparazi, we get the sense that it's OK to bust in on anyone in their most private moments of pain. Or joy. And people think it's OK, because, hey, they're celebrities, they should just expect and put up with it.
We seem to think that because people allow us into their lives and/or try to keep us out, that gives everyone the right to say whatever the hell they want. I'm all for freedom of speech as well, Carrie, and I love reading the way you exercise yours. You are so well-spoken and intelligent in the way you present your views. I also agree with your point of the Golden Rule. If you don't agree with something someone says (or knits) then MOVE ON. Why be a dick about it? Is one's life so bitter, so desperate for attention, so sad?
Posted by: Ruth at April 12, 2007 10:17 PM
P.S. As far as that person with the personally critical comment and then she/he apologized? I gotta call bullshit. Maybe they were having a bad day, maybe not. Either way, a) why spread your bad day around and b) (more importantly), isn't it soooo much easier to apologize afterward then to actually think before you speak?
Posted by: Ruth at April 12, 2007 10:20 PM
Hi. I have been reading your blog for about 2 months now - almost every day - and enjoy it enormously. After reading today's post, all sorts of things went through my mind but I won't bore you with all that. I just wanted to say something that I often tell my kids... just because you have an opinion doesn't mean that everyone else wants to hear it!!! Maybe you should design a nice card with a sheep stifling a yawn (is that possible?)on the front and write the opinion thing inside and email it to your special cyber-critics when they get too nasty... just a thought.
Posted by: Giovanna at April 12, 2007 10:46 PM
I ran across your blog from a blog from a blog and so on and so forth and read your post! All I can say is 'common sense and common courtesy aren't common'. I've discovered it as a young adult and it has only been proven time and time again. I hope the ugliness leaves you alone and Happy Knitting!
Posted by: Deanna at April 12, 2007 10:47 PM
Well, it has probably all been said. Personally, I think this is your way of being a comment ho! :) It worked.
Listening to the news I heard another Vonnegut comment:
"You write the novel you are damn well born to write. And then people buy it or they don't."
That's how I feel about the blog.
All of this talk about blog courtesy and code of conduct. I just try to be the best I can be (and I have failed-many time, but keep learning) and surround myself with positive people that enrich my life, not detract from it. And I am totally not sucking up here: Even on your not-so-great days, you bring only positive to my life. Your passion and honesty are things I aspire to. Even if you never blog about anything but miters (though honestly-I'm afraid if you keep it up, those posts might be coming from your new room in the local psych ward), I'll keep reading. Oh-some blue ones would really perk me up! :)
Posted by: Teresa C at April 12, 2007 11:15 PM
I'm from the South. We don't say mean things to people's faces (or in their comments). We might think it, we might say it behind their back, but never to their face. We're polite! ;-)
Posted by: Mary at April 12, 2007 11:27 PM
i found your post very interesting today. i've read many knit blogs for a few years. i've never written one, too much of a coward i guess. if i find a particular blog doesn't interest me anymore for whatever reason, politics, type of projects, too personal, too negative, i just stop reading. i don't feel the need to tell the blogger why i'm not reading anymore. i always figure the blogger has to please themselves first. so i move on. that's my profile, i don't want to tell someone how to write their OWN blog. so live it up with your cute squares and irregular showers. we're still reading.
Posted by: lisa at April 13, 2007 12:09 AM
This is an interesting post, and the NY Times article is interesting, too. My personal feeling is that blogs are analogous to restaurants. They are open to the public, but they are also private spaces, and I believe the author of a blog has the right to delete comments s/he finds offensive. If a person walks into a restaurant and defecates on the floor, he or she may be forcibly ejected by the owner. Because living in a society means adhering to certain standards of civilized behavior, and if one chooses to ignore those, then there are consequences. The standards protect everyone equally, and prevent bullies from impinging on the rights of others.
As to the idea of establishing standards of conduct for blogs, I personally don't view the idea as interfering with free speech, both because of what I just said and because choosing to adhere to a particular standard would be voluntary.
Thanks for such a thought-provoking post.
Posted by: Lizbon at April 13, 2007 12:21 AM
Hi Cara -- I value your thoughts (and the discussion they provoke) and your wonderful art! As the Imus episode illustrates, vitriolic speech comes back to bite the irrational speaker. IMHO the right to free speech does not encompass hateful (or even just meanspirited) speech when invited (e.g. comments on a blog). Unfortunately, it DOES encompass one's own comments in one's own house/blog. But I don't have to visit there and subject myself to it. Thus, I mostly surf pretty knitting blogs, lit and writing blogs, and other places that make me feel good. Thanks for opening this discussion.
RogueTess (knitter, teacher, lawyer, writer)
Posted by: Tess at April 13, 2007 01:21 AM
I was going to comment yesterday, then decided not to because I'm usually just a lurker, but I kept thinking about your post last night and decided that I really did want to say that you said everything really well. I think it's totally okay to tell someone that their project isn't something you'd personally do. I probably won't make a mitered blanket (notice I didn't say never), but that doesn't mean I enjoy watching your progress any less. I like seeing your enthusiasm about a project that you so obviously love and I love the color combinations that you are doing. That's what knitting blogs are all about for me, seeing what others are doing. I see projects on blogs that I'd like to do and some that I wouldn't and even some that grow on me, but I always appreciate how much others love their projects. I'd never dream of attacking someone personally because I didn't like their projects or knitting style.
There's a difference between creative criticism and personal attack. I was raised with the motto "If you can't say anything nice..." I don't have to always agree with someone, but I have to be nice and polite about my disagreements and respectful. The thing about free speech is what happens to my rights when someone is disrespectful to me? Free speech should not be a license to treat people with disrespect. Just another opinion on the matter. Thanks for sharing.
Posted by: Alison at April 13, 2007 08:00 AM
Thank you for your blog. I read it every day and never comment. I look forward to all of the content - whether it's personal, knitting or anything else.
I've read a post or two that I didn't agree with - but that's the beauty of life - we have the right to disagree.
I absolutely believe in free speech - but not cruel speech and at the expense of other's feelings. An opinion is one thing - but too many people use "free speech" as their means to be just plain mean. If an opinion is going to change the world - get it out there. There are just too many people in this lifetime that think they can say what they want at the expense of others. What is that going to teach our future? Just to be obnoxious idiots. You go girl!
Posted by: Sharon at April 13, 2007 08:02 AM
They are like telemarketers dear. You can't get away. Use the delete key and move on...that's why it's there.
Posted by: Betty at April 13, 2007 08:21 AM
I love blogs and only ever comment positively. I just can't even understand why anyone would be mean on someone else's blog. I just appreciate the creative lives of others - all types!
P.S. I just found your blog and I love it!
Posted by: Lisa at April 13, 2007 09:26 AM
I just don't understand. I read you every day. I have never felt overwhelmingly the need to bash you in any way. I mean, you write about yarn and knitting and your sister and her kids. I don't really see where any conflict could come from. As far as blogs go, knitting (even slightly opinionated knitting) is pretty innocent.
Maybe I am not overly opinionated myself. Well, actually, yes I am, but as far as I can see I read your blog for my entertainment. I like to see what you are making. I like to look at your pictures (the one of the Christmas lights is my fave) I like to see the mitters, I like to look at the colors and I sit in awe of your ability and your organization in knitting. So I read for my own benefit. If I ever came across anything I didn't like then here's a thought, I would stop reading it. As far as I can see, you are doing something for me. Not ME specifically as you dn't even know me, but for the general Me. If anyone doesn't like it, then they can take from it what they want and leave the rest. in fact, that's a fairly good theory in life...but that's another story involving a Starbucks and a guy named Marcus. Anyhow. Some people just have to be negative no matter what they are given to work with. And this really is a shame, but as someone I work with says, "you can't fix everyone's miserable lives." Which cracks me up as he is the most positive and happy person I know.
So, and pardon my language, fuck em. I mean really, it's YOUR blog and YOUR thoughts and YOUR yarn and YOUR knitting and if they don't like it, then that's pretty much too bad and they don't have to read it. If I read a book and see that I don't agree with it or I hate it do I track down the author or publisher or whatever and berate them? Nope. I put the book down. I give it away, I burn it. whatever. (although I would never really burn a book)
So the hell with it. When I read that you got not so nice comments lately I was rather shocked. As far as I can tell the most upsetting thing you have ever said is that you won't crochet and don't like scarves. This is because I love to crochet and I also love scarves. But you know, I can get over that and move on and we can still all get along. I am ok with your dislike of scarves and unwillingness to crochet if you can get over my love of scarves and crochet. That's pretty much what life is.
Oh, and totally off topic, but I have wanted to tell you this...in your 100 things about me you mention Shaun Cassidy. I love Shaun Cassidy. I had the biggest crush EVER on him when I was little and no one knows who he is. At least no one my age cause I am just a smidge younger than you and I only knew of him because of my big sister. And he spells it Shaun I believe. Or something equally as unusual. Definately w/ a U in there.
So, after a very long and rambling and probably misspelled comment, blog on because really, you kick ass.
Posted by: shannon at April 13, 2007 09:32 AM
"My rule for myself - if you wouldn't say it in person, don't say it online." I agree, and I would add one thing to that. If you wouldn't say it in person *and* in front of other people that you respect, don't say it online.
People have seemed surprised lately that employers are looking badly on employees (or prospective employees) because of what that person has said online. There is no freedom from accountability just because statements are typed on a computer rather than spoken in person or over the radio.
Posted by: Andrea at April 13, 2007 09:42 AM
I have to admit that this is the first time that I have read your blog. And after reading this post...I've added it to my favorites list.
Well written, well thought... It is a strange world out there that thinks that it has the right to rip you a new one and then get offended when you object to the abuse. Huh, funny that.
All in all, GREAT JOB!!
Posted by: Heather at April 13, 2007 09:42 AM
I'm sorry, but one more thing...
I read somewhere once that "anything decided in kindness is usually the right decision" and I use that a lot in my life. If I am at a loss for words (as I was recently when I got an email out of the blue from someone that was not a positive force in my life some years ago) then I use that motto and even though I would have liked to say "go to hell, you ruined my life" I tried to say what I had to say to respond to him as neutrally as possible. Because I want to be kind. Why add pain to anyone's life? So when someone wants to comment perhaps they should ask themselves, is this a decision I made in kindness? Because if not, it's probably best you don't leave it. 'Cause you're gonna feel like a prick for it later.
Posted by: shannon at April 13, 2007 09:47 AM
I'm a day late with this - I wouldn't want you so accustomed to the shit. That would be dreadful. There are always going to be selfish, nasty people - the ones that cut you off in line, in traffic, etc., and feel that the world owes them something. It's as if these selfish types were never taught better as children, and never grew up. If I don't like a blog and don't agree with what's being said, I don't read it. It's that simple. I was taught not to say anything if it was needlessly cruel. Constructive criticism is fine, but has to be said nicely, not in a mean and hurtful way.
Posted by: Deborah C. at April 13, 2007 09:54 AM
Hmm - I've been having a think about this one. I've seen considerable hurt arise as a result of blogging - a (British) friend of mine started a blog to try to explore some theological ideas, largely following the death of her father (a vicar). Her blog was discovered by some well-meaning, but to us very narrow-minded conservative evangelical Christians who became downright offensive both to my friend and to other bloggers who they found via her. She has now pretty much stopped blogging.
And with my own blog I did ban someone from commenting - "he" left increasingly personal comments while never revealing an email address or URL - and he went to some lengths to circumvent the blocks I had put up (after first explaining why I found his comments unwelcome). In the end I resorted to simply deleting his comments as soon as I saw them. Eventually he left a big hissy fit as a comment (which I deleted) and I haven't heard from him again.
It seems that there is a difference between "little bloggers" like me - I reckon I probably have about 50 readers - and "big bloggers".
I don't think I've reached a conclusion about my thoughts yet (a cocktail of antibiotics and antihistamines will do that to a woman), but just wanted to add my twopennorth.
Posted by: Anne at April 13, 2007 10:03 AM
When I read your blog, or any blog, and I feel nudged to make a comment, it's because I feel a need to reach out to the writer - usually to tell her/him that I a)admire, b)understand, c)have been inspired, d) appreciate her/him or e) all of the above. If that blogger has written something I don't like, I don't feel it's appropriate for me to tell her/him about it. After all, I can just quit reading her/his blog.
I can only control myself (and I don't do a very good job of doing that most of the time). It is within my control, however, as to whether I make my little part of the world a positive and kind place or not. So, it I'm going to take the time to not only read someone's blog but to also make a comment, it's going to be one that reflects something good - or at least be positive in nature. That's one of the things I can do to move my little tiny corner of the world towards being a better place.
I originally began reading knitting blogs because I didn't have a knitting community. And I'm a "baby blogger" now because I desire more community with this group of very special people. Thank you for taking the time to explore this facet of blogging. I admire you! (And, I love your blog.)
Posted by: Knitting Granny at April 13, 2007 10:20 AM
I disagree with the golden rule. I can take a heaping lot more criticism than my 16 year old niece, and my husband can take more than I. If my husband were to treat my niece the way he would expect to be treated, he would unintentionally hurt her feelings on a daily basis. Rules must apply, but the question is, how far should the rules go? Should we simply say use good manners? I don't think that cuts it. Sometimes good manners aren't the way to go. Good manners state that if we cannot say something nice, we chould say nothing at all. How silent this blog-world would be! If one gets a crabby, grumpy, pissy commenter one should take it up with them to get to the meat of the matter. It doesn't mean you're going to agree, but you've tried. That said, there is no room at all for threats of any kind. This is illegal and useless. That is in a whole other playing field, and needs to be handled with the authorities. Period.
Posted by: Krista M at April 13, 2007 10:37 AM
I would never intentionally say anything negative to anyone to their face or in the comments on their blog. Sure, I might slip up in person and say something indelicate, but I'm human and that happens. It baffles me that people can be such huge douche bags and think it's ok. If you don't like someone's blog, or knitting project, or whatever, just shut the f-up. If etiquette or civility rules are adopted, people are jsut going to argue about that too. In my book, there is one rule. If you don't like it, then shut your pie-hole!
Posted by: Kim at April 13, 2007 10:50 AM
Ok...I didn't have time to read all the comments, but I totally agree with AnneMarie. If you don't like what you are reading...click away! I really don't understand why, with so very many blog choices out there, people would waste time and energy trashing some one they DON'T HAVE TO READ! Unfortunately, I think these folks get a kick out of getting all fired up...its like a drug for them, and I don't see them stopping any time soon.
Thanks for being one of the ones I DO like to read!!
Posted by: Betsy at April 13, 2007 10:54 AM
You know, I really liked this post. It really made me think...hard. I enjoy reading your blog a lot, and I think the squares are exciting, not boring at all. I can't wait to see the next one, or your next project for that matter. Your creativity and eye for the artistic is very apparent here. I could simply drool over the pictures or keep refreshing the page just to see your banner change.
I think constructive criticism is a good thing, it helps us grow and improve. The only small criticism I would have is that I wish your blog was more kid friendly with no cursing. I have an artistic young daughter who is very inspired by your photos (she hopes to pursue photography or web design). As a mom, I don't want her using that language or reading it. I know I will probably get slammed and called rigid, intolerant etc., but that is the way I am raising her. Don't get me wrong, we are all entitled to free speech, and I don't ever want that to change. I just wish she could enjoy your blog too.
Posted by: Lissa at April 13, 2007 10:55 AM
I just linked from Wendy's Knitting blog. I've never posted anything before on a blog, but this issue is something that I've been ruminating on for a while. I know that some of the following has been mentioned above, so please forgive me for restating it, but hopefully this is somewhat insightful.
I was thinking about this dilemma of lack of courtesy in context of driving the other day. I was going over the school zone speed limit (not too much) when this SUV felt the need to speed around me. That's when I started to think about the concept of anonymity. There are no consequences for that SUV driver's actions, unless a cop just happens to be around. He (or she) can just drive off.
The internet gives us anonymity as commentators. We don't have to face up to the reality what we say. I think the people that are so rude would be much more hesitant if they were talking to us face-to-face, lived next door and had to deal with the consequences of their statements for years.
I think that we also live in a culture that cultivates criticism - look at most of the popular TV shows, for instance: American Idol. I don't think that the show would be in its fifth season if Simon didn't wield such a sharp tongue, and we didn't get to see people making fools of themselves. (That said, I do recognize that it is inspiring to see people come through it all and win!)
So what I'm getting to is this: I think that this online blogging issue is just part of a larger problem and that fixing it will eventually come down to moving our society to a more respectful way of life. I guess that sounds rather utopian and I'm not sure of the best way to get there. I think that the answer to better blogging conduct is no easier than the answer to fixing graffiti (or crime). We don't want the big brother approach, but then again, we don't like our homes or cities being desecrated. The only answer I can come up with is to improve what you can within your sphere of influence, and hope others do the same. (I can't say what should be done up on the "government" level, but I don't want to loose the ability for true free speech.)
Posted by: Heather at April 13, 2007 11:11 AM
You hit the nail right on the head! Wendy at WendyKnits has a link here, so this is actually the first time I'm reading your blog. I really like your writing style, and what you have to say...whew!!! :-) So true, and all the comments are just amazing. Knitters truly are (for the most part) a thoughtful, caring group.
Thanks again, Hannah
Posted by: Hannah at April 13, 2007 12:03 PM
Long time lurker, first time commenter.
I've been knitting for about 24 years (I'm 42...), and until the last 5 or 6 years, I really didn't even know other knitters existed! I really don't have a lot of friends and I don't know any other knitters. So, reading knitting blogs for the past year or so has been my way of "connecting" with other knitters. Because I thought it would be really awesome to actually knit with other women, I sought out a local knitting group. I nervously attended one evening, excited to actually meet some fellow knitters, be a part of a community, bounce ideas around, laugh, talk about our lives, our children, etc. Geez, was I disappointed! The group was VERY cliquish and snobby. They were mean, gossipy, superior, and just plain rude. Needless to say, I never returned.
The lesson I took from that experience was the same lesson I've learned TIME and TIME again though-out my life: Women Can be Real Bitches! I always expect the best - I've always wanted a fun group of ladies to pal around with, eat lunch with, have a "Girl's Night-Out" with, but generally find myself hurt and disappointed by their behavior towards me and/or others.
Will you be hurt by mean-spirited comments? Yes! Should you delete comments that are specifically intended to be cruel? Absolutely! Should you ignore rude commenters? By All Means! Will these mean comments continue to find their way to your posts? More than likely - Because it's all part (unfortunately) of the human experience. We will all most definitely encounter cruel people. The only thing you CAN control is how you react - or more importantly, how you allow these people to make you feel.
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is that we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past, we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes!" by Charles Swindoll
Just a little something I thought you would like to read.
Posted by: Lauren at April 13, 2007 12:10 PM
Once again, you've got me thinking. Recently, a blog I ran across, invited us to nominate the knitting designer we were most fed up with (and why). (okay, it wasn't that politely phrased).
There was, not suprisingly, lots of bashing going on.
I have to confess, I joined in .. my complaint was about the designer, sort of ... it was because ALL the designs suffer the same problem (28" chest for a size 2T sweater). You got me thinking... how did I phrase that. I meant to be bashing the design issue but I fear that it came out more as an attack on the woman who perpetually offers that design problem. Now, of course, I feel bad about it.
Of course, I also defended some of the designers who were ripped new ones based more on who they are than what they design.
I try to teach my children that there is a big difference between disliking someone and disliking what that person does. As I point out ... "sometimes I HATE the thing you do, but I always love you". I wonder why we all seem to slip so easily into hating/attacking/resenting the messenger instead of the message.
Back to trying to be a better person. And thanks for the think-fest!
Posted by: Helen at April 13, 2007 12:58 PM
I have no desire to insult you :-) This is your living room; I happen to admire and enjoy the content, but even if I did I wouldn't rant at you about it. I'd simply thank you and leave, never to return. As far as I'm concerned, if someone's comments offend you you should delete them if you want to. I'd get really annoyed if someone tagged my living room!
It seems others have already made most of the points I'd make: Heather's comments about anonymity sheltering people from the effects of their own rudeness; several others who say you shouldn't have to live with a room full of shit; you yourself make the point that a blog reveals only a few facets of any well-rounded personality. Only a fool would judge a blogger solely by its blog. I'd add a lesson it's taken me years to learn: it's a bigger world than I thought, and some people out there are just not nice. They make comments that are not intended to be constructive, they're intended to hit others where it hurts. Statistics indicate a few are real live wannabe axe-murderers. Blogging (and other on-line activities) exposes us to these individuals, as well as the others whose well-intended criticism is so badly aimed that it hurts more than it helps. A sense of proportion is essential; Real Live friends who can judge more fairly are useful, too.
Posted by: sarah at April 13, 2007 01:13 PM
I guess I'm just clueless. I read blogs for entertainment, inspiration and and just plain ole because sometimes I'm too tired to do anything else. Even pick up a book and try to absorb it.
I'm also dead set against control by outside parties, as in government, administrators and the like for things personal. I feel a blog is very personal. Yes, we do put ourselves out there for critisism if a "reader" disagrees with our view or dislikes what we do or how we operate on a day to day basis, but I think that's all part of this genre.
In my humble opinion, the best way to handle negativity of this sort, anonymous or even by some "brave" angry soul who feels the need to spread their thoughts on a subject, is to ignore it. Move on. If it doesn't play an important part in your life in the big picture, it's not important. Of course, this is my opinion and we all know that lovely saying about opinions - they're like a-holes, everybody's got one.
On a another note, the passing of Kurt Vonnegut made me very sad and places a large hole in the writing community. He was my favorite author.
Posted by: Nano at April 13, 2007 01:42 PM
Oh gosh, I'm a bit late reading and responding once again but I must write, just the same.
I love you and you know it. I love your honesty and bravery. Your pictures are amazing and make me happy. You say it like it is and I admire that. Life is full of criticism and negative comments. The blog world is my getaway-where I can meet people with similar interests, learn a little tiny bit about them and share my hobbies with them. It's a very safe place.
I was very hurt when my perfect blogworld was shattered by one other blogger who had influence on so many others but I'm getting over that. I just don't think it belongs here.
You are who you are and I admire that about you. I love your obsessions. That's why I'm here reading. I like you as a person, at least the little tiny part of your life you've let me into, that's why I'm here reading. I don't have anything negative to say and I wouldn't say it if I did-there is enough negativity in this world as is, no need to make more. Know that you are loved in a way only a fellow blogger can love another blogger. Keep going. Show off those gorgeous pictures of your jaywalkers, or miters or whatever your obsession is right now-I'm enjoying every last letter of it.
Posted by: Kimberly at April 13, 2007 01:44 PM
Ok... there's probably a new heap of comments ahead of me, since I opened this window HOURS ago and have been reading and skimming them in between other things since.
I don't shower every day, either.
This discussion opened my eyes to how many people think that "freedom of speech" is supposed to be this universal that applies to all situations, everywhere. I was glad when AnneLea laid it down clearly: the constitution is protecting you from The Government, not from your mother who tells you to watch your tongue, not from an appropriate request to be nice to be quiet when in a restaurant, someone's home, or any other non-public setting.
I STILL haven't seen anyone mention (and I may have missed it, pls forgive me) the funny one-way-ness of the personal in blogs. I feel like I know you, Cara. I know how you spent your weekend, what you're knitting, the funny things you say about what you're knitting, some of the funny ways you see the world, oh, ha, ha, ha, there's quirky Cara... I think I would like you in real life, and I hope that you would like me in real life, and if we lived in the same building, maybe we'd knit together sometimes or share a snarky comment about the weather when I come ask for a cup of sugar.
But is that creepy? YOU DON'T KNOW ME! I don't mean that in a creepy way at all, but even though I do blog, and maybe many commenters don't, I BARELY blog, and ain't much there. I'm not a stalker, I think I keep a very good sense about what is appropriate and kind and thoughtful and I always always try to keep to the high road. Not certain what's meant? Not certain of what I think? Don't like something? I keep my mouth shut and my mind open.
But I think there's that feeling of intimacy, where it seems that we're in a room together, in a dialogue together, and it seems like I know you and I'm invited. Once things get that personal, it's easier for people to get reactionary. And personal. "Like, hey, Cara, you invited me over to your living room, and here I am, but you're saying now that _______ and OMG, I just have to say, NO WAY!" Or I'm going to be snide or snarky or "in" with you in some way because I think I know you, I'm in your living room.
Sometimes, people need a reminder to keep perspective.
I also always tell myself that 99% of what a person does with you, says to you, thinks about you is ALL ABOUT THEMELVES. 99% of what I like, what I'm saying here, what I do and don't like about you, your blog, your knitting, has to do with ME. I live in my own universe. I've come to accept that we all do, because it's all we can do. We're human, as so very many people here have pointed out.
So, I have to echo Amanda:
And while it sometimes feels pointless to be nice to people when other people are just jerks, and it seems like it just keeps "going around" but never quite gets to "coming around", I guess that's where either faith or a incredible sense of self-superiority comes into play. I guess.
I'm always telling myself to take the high road, take the high road, take the high road...
Good luck to all of us.
Posted by: Amber at April 13, 2007 03:16 PM
Because that comment wasn't long enough? I remember what happened in a really interesting "human sexuality" class discussion in under-grad. A friend of mine said "We're all people. We're all assholes!" She didn't mean it in an existental "we are doomed" way, she just meant, ain't nobody perfect.
Naturally, all of the "perfect" people jumped all over her case, then, and for the rest of the semester. Because they weren't assholes, and who the hell was she to say so? (sarcasm, so hard to put in writing)
Posted by: Amber at April 13, 2007 03:21 PM
another good reason to have this discussion within the knitting community is based on a fact that the yarn harlot includes in her talk on her current tour: knitters form the largeest group of people on earth using blogs today. if we do, indeed, dominate the world of blog-reading, then the discussion of blog conduct it more than pertinent for us to know about, digest, and use. how we participate in it is up to us, but since we are finally in what appears to be a fairly powerful position we should remember that others might look to us as a model.
Posted by: anne at April 13, 2007 03:45 PM
I found your blog through eunnyjang.com. I'm new to finding knitting blogs, and yours definitely is one I've bookmarked. After reading Bad Moon Rising I was intrigued with the issue of why some find it necessary to crap on other's efforts. This minority of people are very close minded thinkers, and all you can wish for is that they find the strength to step outside of their box and start seeing the world through others eyes.
As I read on I was curious so I went to your 100+ things, and enjoyed how you've listed your life so far. It made me think I should make a 100 + list.
I'm 47 with a husband and two adult children (25,23) I've been knitting since the children were babies, and it's been a saving grace for me at times. Once it was in my blood I was obsessed with it. Have you ever heard the saying 'Closet full of dreams'?, well I've got a closet full of yarn that I've dreamt of projects that I still have to get to. Where does the time go?
I've enjoyed looking at your knitting projects in archives as well as your photography, and I think that you've definitely got talent girl. Take care Cara! I look forward to seeing More of your photography, More of your knitting projects, and here's wishing you More time to do it all!!
Posted by: Charlene at April 13, 2007 04:02 PM
Why is it that people will say things on line that they would never say in person. I really don't get it. I don't have a blog because I would probably cry if I had to read the comments. I am such a wimp, but I admire people who are tough enough to have one.
Thanks for the reading material:-)
Posted by: Barb at April 13, 2007 04:41 PM
Just wanted to put my two cents worth in,being certifically insane(bipolar) and a survivor, believe me when I say that I have met all kinds of people, strange ones, pollyanna types(kinda like me), paranoid ones, etc. However, in just about all experiences where large groups of people are involved (not only the crazy ones!), inevitably the mean and angry ones, those with a stick up their butts, eventually find one another! It seems like they have some kind of hatred radar and if you don't fit in with them you know for darn sure that at some point you are going to be one of their topics for attack. Anyone that worries and is concerned about hurting someone with their criticisms or remarks does not fit into this category, as the hateful ones are either incapable of seeing the error of their ways, or they just don't give a damn! I personally would like these people to all be forced to live in close confinement with each other, posssibly a remote island, and let them pollute their own air with hatred! I believe that Leonard Cohen, one of my favourite singer/poets, said that the world will always be full of cruelty, so being a realist, and not a pessimist, as some people accuse him of being, just keep your friends and loved ones close at hand and they will shield you from the fallout. In spite of your self professed "craziness", I gather from your writing that you are a very loving and thoughtful person and have a great joy and gusto for life. So rock on and peace be with you!
Posted by: Irene Johnston at April 13, 2007 05:05 PM
La and I were composing a rather lengthy response, but as so often happens, my life got in the way. We've only had a few negative comments, but they really can get to you. We see blogs as personal online journals. True, most journals don't have a discussion feature, but we are not writing a newspaper column-we're writing about our personal lives, our hobbies and the things we care about. When someone enters our comments they are there at OUR invitation. They are coming into our living rooms, our personal areas. Their "rights" to free speech don't exist there. Sorry, but our blog is not a democracy and we reserve the right to delete comments that are hurtful. We've only done it a couple times, but WE write OUR blog, the readers are not in control; they are free to click away any time.
Many of us began our blogs as a way to get the affirmations for our craft that we don't get from family and friends. The comment sections serve as an area to commiserate, and I don't think many of us are looking for criticism-constructive or otherwise-except when we directly ask for it. Perhaps it's the word "comments" that invites something colder than the word "discussion" might? People like to tear each other apart on the internet because there's a barrier of anonymity, but much of the time it's just a pass to act like an a$$hole. And I really don't think that any criticism you would receive would make you a better person, we like you the way you are.
Just DELETE the negativity some people try to bring into your life. How many places in our lives do we actually get to do that?
For the record, back when we first started blogging I read a book about the format, technology and social aspects. Blogs were kind of new then and there were ALL KINDS of ettiquette rules and protocols and I bet most people don't know they ever existed.
Posted by: jenifleur at April 13, 2007 05:29 PM
The one awesome thing about sharing the same brain with your blog partner is that you can say, "yeah, what she said" and really mean it!
So, pretty much, Jen and I are in agreement, and my "voice" here is only to add weight to your comments and to let you know that you're pretty damned okay, maniacal obsessiveness and all. We wouldn't have you any other way.
And for the record? Squares 2,11, 14 and 18 are my faves so far.
Posted by: La at April 13, 2007 05:52 PM
Very well said.
What really tweaks me is when people use the anonymous cop out to leave a nasty remark. If you don't have the balls to leave your name then you shouldn't leave a comment.
Moreover I don't understand why people feel it necessary to be nasty to other people. If you don't like it, don't read it. No one is forcing them to come to a certain blog and read it.
Why must people be so mean?!
Posted by: Tonia at April 13, 2007 05:52 PM
OMG Knitting Terrorists!!
So far - and I have read quite a few knitting and crochet blogs - I have found support and kindness and humour and thoughtfulness and joy and wonder and new skills and great ideas from knitters/crocheters.
I think the writing on many blogs rivals anything in the print media and I have more laughs reading blogs than I do watching so called comedy shows.
I think that the 70s/80s were all about RIGHTS. Everybody had a right to this, a right to have that... we are only recently waking up to the fact that with rights come RESPONSIBILITIES and -certainly in the UK- laws are being passed to redress that balance.
Even in countries where free speech is prized, there are still slander and libel laws because we recognize that what people say about us can be damaging to our professions and reputations etc and can, in extreme cases, cause us psychological harm.
I think we do need to be concerned about this issue because remember how stalking wasn't taken seriously and only when the consequences were seen to be devastating, did the law move to catch up with reality.
In most cases, the really nasty commenters won't, I hope, know where exactly a blog owner lives.. but in the case of the very well known knitters/designers/bloggers - where they could possibly be accessible, I do think that precautions should be taken for their security.
Because, occasionally, just occasionally, one of these nasty people might just be really sick in the mind.
In the case of the not really sick but generally bitter, twisted and jealous: those people actually make me feel thankful that I have emerged from a very difficult life of poverty, pain, disability and serious illness with my sense of humour and dignity intact and not a bitter bone in my body.
I suggest they go and do voluntary work at a hospice or homelessness shelter as not only will that give them a life it will also give them a sense of perspective.
I just want to say a huge thank you to Cara and all the knitting bloggers who take the time to make their blogs fun and interesting and so readable. You are all doing a great service to the community and I salute you all. You brighten my days and lift my spirits and always make me smile.
Posted by: Carol-Ann : Liverpool, England at April 13, 2007 05:57 PM
This is such a complicated topic. Truly. I have seen people show up on blogs or in message boards just to throw hand grenades and see what happens. I have seen a good friend's blog get hijacked by someone whose political/religious views are anathema to me and who seems to think she is entitled to lecture about it. And I've gotten comments on my own blog, thankfully not very often, one time saying "That sweater is so ugly" when I posted a photo of a sweater I knit for my kid. Another time some random person posted anti-gay slurs when I wrote an obituary of a man who survived a Nazi death camp and suffered horribly b/c he was homosexual. All of that stuff is bull**it.
At the same time, I find there is a real impatience that some folks have with anything that is even remotely construed as critical. Even constructive criticism couched in respectful terms. I'll give you a concrete example. I write a lot of book reviews on my blog, the vast majority of which are quite glowing (I try to avoid reviewing books that I really, really dislike.) Out of, say, 12 book reviews, I've had seriously critical things to say about 2. I felt and still feel the criticism was fair and square on the mark. I got outraged emails saying "You hater!" and "Why don't YOU get a book deal if you're so smart" and the like. One of the books I leveled criticism at (and I thought I praised a lot of other aspects of the book, and was very respectful in how I phrased it) happened to be about charity knitting. Months later, I'd still get comments from people complaining that how dare I criticize this book because all I was doing was ragging on charity knitters who were doing a good thing, and how negativity is ruining the world, and so on. I had to disable comments b/c I was sick of getting them on that topic and they were entirely missing most of the points I made. And I truly felt and still feel my posts were thoughtful and not "mean" on the issue.
So I guess while on the one hand I do feel people could be more civil on blogs, I also feel people need to chill out. If a blog drives you crazy, DON'T READ IT. Don't make a nasty or holier-than-thou comment, just go and don't go back. If you keep going to a place that makes you crazy, that's YOUR issue, isn't it? It's like TV: if I don't like what I'm watching, I turn the channel or turn it off. I don't seethe about what I'm not watching. I don't say "there should be no reality series" just b/c I find American Idol or I Want to Marry a Millionaire silly.
If you want to engage a blogger in a sincere dialogue about what they've written, step back and reread what they've written carefully to make sure you aren't inserting your own opinions or biases into the writing. And then email them privately to hash it out. On those rare occasions that I felt someone was out of line on my blog comments, I've taken them to task and in very rare cases deleted comments. It's my blog and I feel I have the right to maintain some sort of decorum in the comments. I think because of that, readers feel less free to pull that kind of crap.
The internet is a mass of contradictions. Anonymity can allow some of my blog-posters who work in the industry to say things they might not wish to have associated with their public persona. It can also enable losers to say things they wouldn't have the guts to put their name to. The internet provides an unprecedented way of bringing people together who have a common interest. Any time you have that kind of melting pot, you will have a microcosm of the population, including those with certain personality types who are annoying. (That's why I always hated group projects in college.;)) Some of it is just learning to ignore them and not care what they think.
And codes of conduct tend to be meaningless, ultimately. The people who are likely to observe them will act appropriately anyway. The people who don't won't care about them.
Sorry so long-winded.
Posted by: Carol at April 13, 2007 06:06 PM
I generally try not to be hurtful to others. When I am, I think it is when I myself am feeling hurt, and strike back. However, I'm learning to not let what others say or do hurt me... I can choose not to be hurt.
Posted by: Andrea (noricum) at April 13, 2007 07:13 PM
Cara--thank you for raising this issue in your usual intelligent and humorous way.
I think this issue goes beyond just plain "some people are jerks." If it's true that knitters are the largest blogging group, and the vast majority of knitters are women, I think we need to look at how women communicate.
Nasty comments aren't about free speech...nasty comments are about control, about bullying, about abuse. They are about hiding behind the anonymity and distance of the internet to act in a way that is hurtful to others, and then hide behind "opinion" to justify, or at least excuse, their actions.
Posted by: Dana at April 14, 2007 12:43 AM
MJ (who commented way, way ahead of me) took many words right out of my fingers, particularly regarding interpretation. Readers can misinterpret posts, and bloggers can misinterpret comments. We all have different writing styles, and many people do not stop to consider the tone they're conveying while they write; we don't all have MFAs in Creative Writing, after all! :) My own writing style can be somewhat brusque, and I know that is often misinterpreted.
I have been on the internet, and involved in debates such as this one, for about ten years now. It's the same refrain, over and over. I doubt we'll get to a point where people are not jerks; we need to change our own perceptions and reactions rather than attempting to change the behavior of others.
This discussion has cropped up quite frequently on Livejournal, with the (a) it is my blog and I'll say what I want, and (b) if you don't like it you don't have to read it arguments being continually replayed. I agree with both of those points. However, the moment you put your words out in the public sphere, you must accept that you may receive a negative response from total strangers who may or may not know everything about you. If they wish to judge you based on incomplete information, they certainly can, and we should all expect that.
This is not to say that death threats and the like are acceptable behavior; that is absolutely not proper. There is a very thick line between simply being a jerk and being a criminal.
Personally, what I hate more about blogging is the seemingly blind adoration that so many readers have. I would rather have a handful of readers who disagree with me than hundreds who can't see anything wrong with anything I do; the former situation is much more genuine.
Posted by: Tipper at April 14, 2007 02:53 AM
Slippery thing, metaphor. Given the room-full-of-shit one, deployment is everything; spread on your garden, it produces roses (though it stinks at first.) Upstream, or dumped in your well, it makes everyone sick.
I think part of this discussion is about "honesty," and that always makes me think of Flannery O'Connor saying "This thing of demanding honesty of people is in the upper reaches of extreme Innocence. The only people of whom you can demand honesty are those you pay to get it from…..[A person’s] honesty is only honesty, not truth….To love people you have to ignore a good deal of what they say while they are being honest." Add to that Robert Heinlein's view that being impolite is throwing sand into a machine which doesn't run all that smoothly in the first place, and then block the rude comments and mitre away, lamb.
Posted by: rams at April 14, 2007 06:51 AM
Cara, I'm delurking to comment. I agree word for word with what Toni Van B said above. We're visitors here and we should respect your space to do and say what you want. I love to read about your adventures in knitting and life. I CHOOSE to read your blog (one of the first I go to each day). If people don't like or agree with what they read here, why do they continue to read? Don't change a thing. Thank you for taking the time to share your beautiful writing and photos with us.
Posted by: Lisa at April 14, 2007 10:40 AM
You kick puppies???/?ahahahah.
I have to say that I don't want to hear about people hating me. I'm not sure I could take it. There would be tears.
And me? I'm way too chicken to say something not nice. If I have something horrible to say, I don't say it. Mostly. :) I swallow it. (which is a psych lesson for another day, my friend)
Can I dish it out? No. I can't.
There is so much negative in this world. We deal with it all over. On tv. In the newspaper. At work. On the street. In the stores. When I come "HERE" (blogland) I look for a respite from that.
Have I been successful at that? Most probably not. I have probably been most successful at keeping people at arms length. Which is most likely the reason that I am having a tough time blogging lately.
You know that when I send you love and lots of it, it is genuine, right??
Posted by: sandy at April 14, 2007 11:03 AM
Excellent post, Cara. Personally, I don't have the time or energy to put negativity out there into the world, especially when there is so much out there to start with. The world would be such a better place if we all followed the Golden Rule, wouldn't it?
Posted by: Kathy at April 14, 2007 01:06 PM
A couple of things:
A. Thank you so much for this post. It is sad/amazing to me how difficult it is to carry out a conversation in writing. The same issues and misunderstandings keep coming up again and again, without easily being resolved.
B. I would also like to agree with Carol above. Although I think it is WONDERFUL how supportive this community is, I do think there is, at times, a misunderstanding about the value of polite constructive criticism. Although I never (ever) be knowingly rude either in the comments section of a blog or to someone's face, I am nonetheless an unrepentantly and deeply opinionated woman (aren't all of us?). I love to discuss things, and, as it happens, I often (politely) disagree with friends when in their living rooms. And I feel that I have learnt so much in return from taking criticism from those same friends. Thus, I do wish it were easier to start critical discussions in the knitting blogoshere - I feel that the sentiment that "if you don't have something nice to say, say nothing" comes from a good place, but can be rather stifling. Again, to be clear, it dismays me that bloggers get such awful personal attacks in their comment sections; I am just arguing that I would appreciate a forum where it was possible, for those of us who want to, to exchange our honest opinions about the knitting issues of the day.
Posted by: Samantha Butler at April 14, 2007 06:19 PM
I think when one is out on the internet is there for all to see. I think that some people just get a kick out of their "15 minutes". I think that people have personal responsibility on what they say.
Case in point:
Rosemary: There are two sides to every story. Although it is not me that you are talking about, I was there.
Posted by: Janis Tester at April 14, 2007 08:19 PM
Here is my opinion. I love reading blogs, especially knitting blogs, I get new ideas, see what others are doing. I also like glimpsing into other peoples worlds. If I come across a blog I don't like, I don't read it anymore. I would never post something mean, it is someone else's life. Who am I to judge?
Posted by: Becky Pierce at April 14, 2007 11:51 PM
To be honest, I didn't read all 175 comments (so far) on this post, but I am de-lurking to let you know that I think your blog is beautiful - you 're a great photographer. I may not always be interested in what you say, but that's certainly a reflection of my interests and attention-span at the moment, and nothing to do with your right to say whatever you want in your own blog. What I believe that makes people be mean to each other? Fears and inscurities, something bad in their lives that needs an outlet, incompatibility with elements of the world outside. And at the basis of it, a self-centeredness that makes them ignore the fact that their words may be hurtful, as they don't put themselves in anyone else's shoes. We are all guilty of it sometimes, and hopefully more often than not, regret it. In the end of the day, as individuals, we have to make a choice: either feel bad for the way we treat others, or feel bad for the way others treat us. We can't control the second. All we can do is let insults fly by, and (if feeling a bit vindictive) hope their conscience is going to take it up with them. heh.
Oh, and the miters look stunning all together!
Posted by: Kat at April 15, 2007 08:22 AM
I was just thinking about this today, actually about blogging in general. What amazes me is that people have the time and the energy to make all those negative comments. Just reading all the sites that interest me takes stamina. Of course people have been cruel or judgemental to one another from the word go. Now we get to have it at the speed of light. It's kind of like street harassment. The only thing to do is keep going, there's no way to win if you engage.
Posted by: Sybil at April 15, 2007 10:54 AM
Another longtime reader and admirer delurking: This is an interesting topic. I think, as others have said, that when you put yourself out on the internet and invite comments you can't, or shouldn't, be surprised that some people might do so in an unlovely way. Someone else mentioned that they didn't always understand why a comment might be perceived as hurtful but I've seen more than one blog guests use the comments section to take subtle swipes that not everyone is *supposed* to get. It doesn't make them less hurtful. So, while you shouldn't be surprised by what some people might say, at the end of the day I don't believe that your presence on the internet comes with an obligation to provide a forum for hurtful comments about your blog, your knitting or your person.
Posted by: Laurel at April 15, 2007 11:27 AM
P.S. The miters really do look lovely together!
Posted by: Laurel at April 15, 2007 11:30 AM
I read a lot of blogs everyday with varying degrees of popularity. Most of them don't acknowledge negative comments. Unless you really need the criticism why waste the time and energy on nonsense?
Posted by: Val at April 15, 2007 02:01 PM
What an excellent post! I think it takes a great deal of courage to share your life on a blog, and a great deal more to address these issues. Well done.
Posted by: eyeleen at April 15, 2007 04:52 PM
I don't have anything critical to say. I am full of faults (you know....being a HUMAN and all that jazz). I just wanted to apologize on behalf of those who do leave unkind comments. I have never had one of those. My knitting is faaaaar from alot of knitters as far as talent and skill, but I enjoy it. So "poo poo" to those who don't enjoy others for their individuality. Bless you and carry on dear knitter! May your hands be quick and crafty...may your life be filled with LOVE!
Posted by: Mrs MJW at April 15, 2007 08:58 PM
I'm a little late to the discussion, but I find this really interesting. Fortunately, I've only had a couple small issues on my blog, which were both resolved amicably and were a result of me posting something that people took offense at (one about Portland drivers, the other comparing a college acquaintance to a knit designer in a way that was poorly-phrased and caused hurt to the college acquaintance). I posted clarifications, and everyone ended up happy.
On the flip side, I have a friend who started a blog about breastfeeding in public after she was harrassed for nursing her two-month-old at a grocery store. She got some media attention locally, and so people found her blog. She got many wonderful, supportive comments but on the flip side there was some of the most horrifying vitriol spewed at her and her family. One person went so far as to say that she wished my friend's son would choke to death. This person didn't stop at comments on my friend's blog - she also posted several times on her own blog and a couple different message boards.
She also got comments along the lines that unpasteurized milk harbors E-coli, and that a breastfeeding mom was somehow going to transmit E-coli to shopping cart handles, elderly people were going to get it and die, and the store would be held liable because it allowed breastfeeding. Never mind that breastmilk is sterile and antibacterial... Most of these comments were anonymous.
Both of us spent several weeks depressed and a little freaked out by these comments, and then she decided that she was going to enable comment moderation and no more hateful comments would be allowed on her blog. She of course was accused of censorship, but she didn't feel like people making personal comments about her, her family or her breasts was appropriate on her blog.
I still wonder on a regular basis what makes people think being hateful and insulting is funny, particularly after the recent brouhaha surrounding Don Imas. Is it because people feel powerless in their day-to-day life, and insulting someone else is a way to get back some control? As in, I might be an idiot, but this person is even worse?
Why is it that we need to feel like we're better than others? I sure don't know, although I do fall victim to that mentality sometimes. I used to be very snide and insulting in my 20s. Since I've had kids, I've mellowed out a lot but find my snarkiness coming out as judgement. I judge moms who don't breastfeed, or who use disposable diapers. I judge people who drive SUVs. I judge people who live in the suburbs. Why? It's such a waste of energy and doesn't do anyone any good. Why do I think my choices are so much better than theirs?
I'm sure this comment is QUITE long enough, but I appreciate you bringing this up. It's something I think about and struggle with often in my own way!
Posted by: Chrissy at April 16, 2007 06:33 PM
Have you ever read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz? One of the "rules" is never take anything personally. I try remembering that rule repeatedly through out my day. Sometimes, I admit, it doesn't work. But when it does, I feel 1000 times lighter.
Posted by: Sunflowerfairy at April 17, 2007 08:01 AM
Hey Cara, thanks for hosting this discussion! I agree with what someone said (sorry, can't find it anymore) about the people who would follow a code of conduct are the ones who are respectful to begin with, whereas the meanspirited commenters probably wouldn't give a crap that were was a code of conduct to begin with, so I don't think it would matter much.
I think the way we present ourselves in blogland reflects the way we are in "real life." People who are negative, critical, or just plain nasty in person will probably also be that way on blogs. Converesely, people who are positive and reinforcing in their everyday lives tend to be that way on blogs. I much prefer the latter, both in life and when it comes to blogs.
Personally, when I chose to comment, I like to keep my comments positive. Unless someone specifically ASKS for honest criticism, then if I had any, I would let them know. I don't see the point of being rude just for the hell of it. What does that contribute, besides negative energy? I mean, I wouldn't just walk up to someone and tell them their sweater looked looked like a piece of crap that was knit in the dark, so why do it on someone's blog? On the other hand, if someone said something like, "Wow, I really think I jacked up this sleeve, what do you think?" Then I would give my opinion. Even if we have something negative to say, there is a way to say it that is more constructive and not just bitchy.
Posted by: Nonnahs at April 17, 2007 01:47 PM
It's so easy for people to hide behind the anonymity of their monitor. I think people maybe feel that since they can't *see* the person to whom they're directing their negativity, there are no consequences. I'm sure someone else has said that already, but dang, woman, there are 1094589450674658 comments and my eyes are strained because of my non-stop work on my wedding Icarus, even though I have 361 days left to knit it.
I admire your knitting, your writing style, your talent, your humor, all good things.
Be well. Continue being well, more like.
Posted by: KathyH at April 21, 2007 07:41 PM
I'm cheered by the fact that an overwhelming number of the commenters here before me -- 185 of them! -- are positive and supportive.
I'm not sure, though, that I agree with one of the commenters who said something like "it's only a knitlist," that the world will not be changed by forum threads. True, an idea or topic may start out that way, and it will likely end that way, but there is the one that now and then spreads like wildfire. It is often projects, like sock clubs, via the Yarn Harlot, for instance, or Jaywalkers, through you, Cara (I'm on my third pair), or Mason-Dixon's mitered squares and dishcloths -- but now and then it might be philosophies, too. Look at how the Harlot's point about her blog being like her living-room is being taken to heart.
Thanks for continuing this discussion. I feel so strongly about it that I am writing my own post on the subject.
Posted by: Jeanne at April 23, 2007 03:08 PM
I don't shower every day either.
Posted by: Angela at May 1, 2007 04:56 AM
Stumbled upon this today, just my $0.02:
1) I don't shower everyday either (dry skin and hair!);
2) When I worked in industry, I had to take management classes. One of the few lessons I remember is about supervising employees - criticize the performance/behavior, not the person. Works for spouses, children, colleagues, bloggers ....
3) I think I'm a pretty good knitter, yet I am in awe of what I see on other knitters' blogs.
Posted by: BB at May 7, 2007 12:28 PM