Do You Have Thick Skin?

by Vered DeLeeuw

If you don’t, you probably shouldn’t be blogging.

“I misunderstood the technology, and the consequences are devastating for me personally. I am sad to leave, but my family has to come first, and my blogging has caused them incalculable damage.”

This was said by a law professor whose opinions caused huge drama on the Web. Merely expressing an opinion that I’ve heard elsewhere – that depending on where you live, an income of $250,000 does not necessarily make you “rich,” and so Mr. Obama’s plans to heavily tax incomes over $250,000 across the US, regardless of local cost of living, could be problematic, this particular professor was exposed to the nasty side of the Internet.

While less relevant to professional blogging and mostly relevant to personal blogging, anyone who puts their opinions on the World Wide Web for anyone to read, interpret and respond to, must be fully aware that Internet discussions and conversations often get heated, and that people use anonymity to say things they would never say in person.

Many seasoned bloggers choose to moderate comments left on their blogs and avoid publishing hateful comments, even if relevant to the discussion. Others choose to allow all relevant comments to be published, emotionally detaching themselves from the discussion and viewing controversy as a good thing that brings lots of page views and attention.

If you don’t have thick skin, if you can’t detach yourself from nasty comments left on your blog, or elsewhere discussing your blog, DON’T BLOG. Internet readers don’t see you as a person. The Internet makes it very easy to dehumanize a person. These people see the opinion, not the person behind it, or his lovely family, or the fact that he may be a great, loving dad and a respectable member of his community. All they see is the opinion, and if the opinion irritates them, they lash out.

So you decide. If you can’t take it, that’s fine and completely legitimate. But then you should either choose very safe topics to blog on, avoiding controversy, or you should not be blogging at all.

On the other hand, if you can emotionally detach yourself from heated Internet discussions, you’re in a position to build a very visible online presence.

Either way, people should know themselves, and the rules of the blogging game, before they start playing.

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