How to Blog Badly

by Heligirl on July 23, 2010

in Confessions,Daily Ramblings

Blogging is a great way to dispel information, share stories and images, get a conversation going, support a cause, bring attention to an issue and generate excitement.

It’s also a great way to destroy relationships.

I’m a fairly new blogger. I started writing in this blog’s current set up in December 2009 and went public in February 2010. Shortly after I started I was mistakenly under the impression that the only people reading my blog were the other mom bloggers out there that I visited and who visited back as a courtesy. I told friends and family about the site, but other than a few close mommy pals I knew personally, no one I announced the new blog to commented on it. As for family, only one or two family members mentioned they visited it that first week I went public. I figured they didn’t return and foolishly didn’t really consider them as my audience when I wrote.

I was so very wrong in my thinking. (Hi friends and family! I love you guys.)

I try hard to share what I can about positive parenting here. One big thing in this parenting philosophy is leading by example. I failed at that big time when I wrote a post a couple of months ago venting my frustration at a member of my hubby’s family. I was responding to a writing prompt that basically threw gasoline on my brewing fire and I let it go. I shared my raw, unedited, ugly feelings. Back then, maybe 20 people a day visited Heligirl. I’d get 1-2 comments a day, max, if any. I naively thought I could just vent and those few mommy pals could offer me some advice to help me deal with my frustration. I did get some good advice and support. But I forgot one very important thing: the blog is public and I honestly don’t know exactly who sees it. Or when. (Someone can stumble upon a very old post, long after you’ve forgotten it.)

As it turns out, that family member, and possibly several others, read my ugly, angry post and all the comments (mine included). I don’t know when it was read. But make no mistake about it, the person I vented about read it.

Now, I know I’ve piqued your interest, but don’t go looking for it. The post is no longer there. I had vowed to myself I’d never delete anything, only edit in the case where information might have been wrong. When I went back and read the post, which I’d not done since I wrote it, I was horrified at the venom and anger. It was so in appropriate and embarrassing it had to go. And I intuitively knew better than to air this on the Internet. What the heck came over me?

Since learning the post was read and that family member was hurt, I reached out to take steps to repair the relationship. I’ve sent a long note, apologizing all over the place and trying to explain myself, but also expressing there is no excuse for my behavior.

The sad truth is, the reason for my anger was so petty and insignificant and I have now risked a formerly great relationship with someone who had been accepting of me since I started dating hubby. I’ve not heard back yet (it really has only been a day), but I will keep doing what I can to express my regret and show my good intentions of never letting something that stupid happen again.

With that, my advice to other bloggers out there is even if you think no one is visiting your site, you can never be sure. Don’t ever write anything in your blog that you wouldn’t share directly with the people closest to the subject. I know it sounds intuitive, but just keep it in mind. A simple comment here or there, even on another person’s blog, could have the worst of repercussions. I know many bloggers choose to not tell friends and family they blog, but keep in mind a simple clue or photos of you or family can be all it takes for someone to know, and then everything you’ve written is now fair game. Something to ponder if nothing else.

I’d love to know if anyone else has every made this mistake. And if so, were you able to repair it? How did you do that? Thanks in advance, and if you, my sweet family member I so selfishly hurt, are reading. I’m sorry again, and I love you.

{ 29 comments }

Alexandra July 23, 2010 at 10:38 am

oh, heligirl, I’m sorry. I can’t imagine…. yeah, i keep my words pretty sugar coated…b/c well, i’ve read entries like this so many other places. you’re not the first to make the error.

time , I hope, will heal this wound. and I’m so sorry…i can feel how badly you feel right now.
Alexandra recently posted: Your Mother

Heligirl July 23, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Thank you darling, for all your kind words here and in an e-mail to me. I wanted my blog to be real, real thoughts and feelings. Censuring myself just felt fake. Weeellllll, I have a better grasp of that little issue now, don’t I? 🙂 With this lesson learned I am now able to be honest with myself in my responsible blogging. I’m fine, and things will be fine. No worries. 🙂

Carol Ann July 23, 2010 at 10:49 am

How big of you to admit your mistake and take steps to correct it. We’ve all done something similar, whether it be in written words, or inappropriate conversations. I hope your family member forgives you and that you can repair the relationship. This certainly is a move in that direction on your part.

For me, I don’t blog about distension between me and the Hubs or friends. I guess my blog may seem “all rainbows and puppies” at times, but I just don’t think that is the place for the crappy parts of life to be exposed. Plus, I blog to remember, and I really don’t want to remember the downs.

Love to you!

Heligirl July 23, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Thanks Carol Ann, my dear. I’ve been working behind the scenes on Heligirl with the ProBlogger’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. The daily lessons have helped me focus on what I really want the blog to be and do. I want to be honest about my thoughts and feelings and if I’m being careful about what I’m saying, it isn’t a real daily life blog. That’s fine as I really want to put more focus on the positive discipline stuff, which by definition is far more positive. So in the end, I’m able to write honestly and heartfelt without feeling I’m purposefully not mentioning something because the focus is on parenting rather than my life. Did that make sense?

shmonae July 23, 2010 at 11:27 am

Great advice…haha, I am just starting to realize the power in blogging and the written word. I am surprised all the time when I find out people that are reading. It is flattering AND scary… 🙂 I think you wrote a great honest post that will help others..thanks!

Heligirl July 23, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Thanks. I’m hoping the message reaches the newbies before they make the mistake I did. 🙂

JP July 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Blogging is, to me, like a diary that I never had…a place to share, say what’s on my mind, cry, laugh and be human. I like that and I like the way you owned up to your “oops”…honestly and directly!

Heligirl July 23, 2010 at 12:18 pm

I like that idea too JP. That’s what I started out planning to do. As I go though, I’m learning more and more of my readers are more interested in the positive parenting so I’m focusing more on that and “seasoning” it with the daily stuff if it is a good story to tell. I do love your blog. You have such rich things to share, and a great way of sharing them. I’ll never forget the image of you in your prom dress and slippers on your porch with the plunger. You should incorporate that image in your header! 🙂

Susie Kline July 23, 2010 at 2:24 pm

I’ve been blogging for awhile, but started in earnest in April. I was prepared to share some deliciously nasty stories about my kids. But around that time was the mom blogger crisis–where mom bloggers were fighting so much it made national news. And one of the things people were pointing fingers at others for was using your kids on your blog. That’s when I realized that people could and would read it! Parents of their friends. My friends. Our family.

Personally, I think you’re handling this wonderfully! I hope the person involved does forgive you and you both grow from the experience. Maybe give some time and breathing room. Hopefully they’ll read this post and accept your mea culpa!

Good luck!

xo Susie

Heligirl July 24, 2010 at 9:49 am

Thanks so much Susie! This has been difficult because I wanted to be honest in my blog, but it’s been a serious lesson diplomacy, taking the higher road, and getting control of my knee-jerk reactionary tendancies, which is somehting I’ve been wanting to get control of for quite some time. I’m all about making this a turning lemons into lemonade lesson.

Katie July 23, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Although this was not a pleasant situation for you, I really appreciate you sharing your story! As a new blogger, I often think of blogging as my own personal “therapy”, and it was great to have a reminder that not all things I think are fair game for blogging.

Found your blog through the Family Niche on 31DBBB. Perfect blog for a new mom like me – now a follower!

Have a good weekend!
Katie recently posted: Forget Mommy Guilt! Small Moments that Matter

Heligirl July 24, 2010 at 9:50 am

Thanks for the follow Katie. I’m really glad this post helped. I debated writing about this a lot, but realized I’d sure have appreciated reading something like this before I wrote my post. Thanks again and best of luck with your blog. They’re amazing for support, friendship and guidance on this amazing parenthood road.

Colleen July 23, 2010 at 4:36 pm

I’m so sorry you are going through this. It sounds so stressful and sad for both parties. It is very courageous of you to admit your mistake publicly since the original post was also public. I hope all works out for both you and the family member and the relationship can repair and strengthen.

Hugs to you both!
Colleen recently posted: Wordless Wednesday Riddle Answer

Heligirl July 24, 2010 at 9:51 am

Thanks Colleen. That means a lot coming from you. 🙂

Pamela July 23, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Oh dear, thanks for the reminder that family members and friends could be reading without us really knowing or being conscious of it. There are so many things I would love to write / vent about as well, but I know that it would definitely get back to the subject of that venting. Sometimes I wish I’d been completely anonymous and could feel free to write about all the things I’d like to, but I guess those things will have to stay locked up in my personal diary.
Good luck with mending your relationship with the other person – it was very honest and open of you to admit your mistake and hopefully they’ll understand and forgive:)
Pamela recently posted: Wordless Wednesday Snack Sun Sleep

Heligirl July 24, 2010 at 9:54 am

Thanks Pamela. In fact, I actually thought of starting an anonymous blog so I can vent lots and no one involved will know it was me or who it was about. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that spewing the negativity would not help me learn how to take the higher road and resolve my conflicts. This is a skill I’m wanting so bad to teach the kids, so I’d better learn it myself, eh? 🙂 Plus, there is too much negativity out there already. If you put it out there, you get it back. So I’m trying to put out good to get that back. Kudos to you my dear for recognizing what to keep off your blog. 🙂

LeeAnn July 23, 2010 at 8:53 pm

I’m so sorry (for you and your family member) that this happened. There are times that I sit down to write (vent) about something and then I decide not to. Because you’re right, anyone can see your blog. My main reason for not putting it all out there in my blog is because, when it all comes down to it, my blog is about my kids and I just don’t want there to be any negativity in it. I have made a couple negative posts, but it was because I genuinely wanted advice. But I keep my real venting out of it.

I hope that you can patch up your situation and you can both get past this. I definitely think we all have the right to vent, and sometimes it is very necessary, but a public blog probably isn’t the best forum for it.

Thank you so much for sharing your story, and I think you are doing a great thing by publicly apologizing for it and admitting your mistake.
LeeAnn recently posted: Weekend Win It – July 23

Heligirl July 24, 2010 at 9:57 am

Thanks LeeAnn. I completely agree with you and honestly can’t figure out what the heck I was thinking, writing that. I was just so steamed. It’s not like me to completely vent like that. I think I was getting too comfortable with the blogging. Maybe it was the last of the hormones as I was reaching the end of breast feeding. Who knows. But I’m the kind of person that sometimes needs to learn a lesson by making the mistake myself. Lesson learned. Big time. 🙂

Susan July 24, 2010 at 8:39 am

Ouch! I did read that entry. I admit that I’ve had to bite my tongue a few times when putting something out on the web. It can be difficult. But then the situation or emotion passes- and the words don’t. Kudos for how you are handling this situation.

I have stuck one or two feet in my mouth in my lifetime (a few times quite embarrassingly- and right to people’s faces), and when I heard that it’s easier to keep the words in my mouth than to try to retrieve them once they are out, that stayed with me.

Another thing I’m trying to be careful of is making disparaging comments about my little guys friends and their parents, within my little guy’s earshot- now that my little guy can be like a parrot.

Heligirl July 24, 2010 at 10:01 am

Thanks Susan. I hear you. I grew up hearing lots of negative stuff about one parent member from the mouth the other parent (my parents were divorced most of my childhood). I just hated that and the atmosphere it had in our home. Both Hubby and I are very, very careful to not say negative things in front of the kids about any of our family, or even each other if we’re mad. We also make sure if the kids see us mad at each other, they also see and hear us apologize and make up. Modeling admitting mistakes (or agreeing to disagree) is a big step in teaching the kids how to resolve conflicts.

I love your saying about keeping the words in your mouth, and the visual of you with both feet in your mouth. You crack me up!

Momma Drama July 24, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Oh, no! That sucks… emotions get the best of us all sometimes. I love to vent and try to keep myself anonymous. At least I like to think so, but if someone really close happened upon my blog and read the entire thing they could probably figure it out… My hubby told me he told his brother about it and the name of the blog and I freaked. Told him not to tell anyone!

This blogging thing is a fine line! I really hope you guys can repair your relationship. Time really does heal most wounds.
Momma Drama recently posted: My Week from Hell

Heligirl July 24, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Thanks dear. I think in time all will be ok. 🙂

ofthesea July 24, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Hey,

I am in the middle of writing a “blog manifesto” to remind myself at all times of what my blog is about and to keep it tight and on track. I will make sure to add this.

Also, I am SUPER curious about your comment emailing plug-in! I’m becoming quite the WP-nerd these days… 🙂

Heligirl July 25, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Yes, I highly recommend it. You’d think you won’t do this, but then it happens. 😛

I wrote about my comment plug-ins and where to get them in the SITS community. You can see that post here: http://theblogfrog.com/757946/forum/42018/great-wp-plugins-to-help-e-mail-commenters.html Enjoy!

Lisa July 25, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Hi,
I only censor myself on rare occasions. Thanks for reminding me of my obligations to people though not to air their sundries.
Lisa recently posted: A Soap Opera

Heligirl July 25, 2010 at 2:47 pm

You bet.

The Mayor! July 30, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Thnx for sharing your story…I think it’s a fine line, & a huge responsibility we take on as bloggers. I try to keep fairly anonymous, & for the most part, my family & friends out of it. If I do decide to “vent” about the hubs or an experience involving my kids that may be more personal, I always run it by them first….I wrote a few posts about a rotten boy at school, but other than my own household, no one had a clue as to who it was. We all feel a need, from time to time, to vent & seek support from each other, we just need to be careful how we present it & who we may be “putting out there” in the process….I applaud your efforts to make it right, we are only human & we all say things in the heat of the argument, the key is being able to do what you have done here & apologize for it. Next time, write it like this…so, my girlfriend’s sister’s cousin’s cat’s brother’s grandma recently had this fight with a family member….LOL!

😀
The Mayor! recently posted: @! Friday!

Heligirl July 30, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Oh your Honor, you are so sweet, and you crack me the heck up! Thanks for the love and support. I’ll do the deep projection into friend’s family’s pet’s former owner’s next door neighbor bit if I have the desire to do this again. He, he. Love, pom-poms and hockey pucks to you!

Barb July 31, 2010 at 12:13 pm

You have taken the most appropriate action you can at this time. You can’t erase the memory of the offended reader (if only!) so your decision to fess up to the mistake is top notch. Hopefully, with time, your relationship will be healed. Good luck.

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