Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mea Culpa

In light of an upset comment about a recent post, I decided to take the post down. The offending post dealt with a small segment of the population that I run into periodically at festivals, people WHO ARE NOT representative of my customers. I grouped these people into intentionally generalized stereotypes and attempted to write humorous anecdotes. My intention was to write a funny, if not a bit irreverent post - think David Sedaris. My commenter obviously thought Ann Coulter, because she handed me my ass. The post wasn't intended to be mean-spirited. Snarky, yes. I was blowing off some steam. Humorous definitely. But mean-spirited, no. I struggled with whether or not to take it down. After all, it's my blog and I can snark if I want to. But this situation has really gotten me thinking about what I want to put out there, and what I'm trying to achieve with my blog. I want to connect with people who care to read what I have to say. Mission not accomplished. My fault.

I'm still finding my voice on this blog, and I announced to my husband a couple of weeks ago that I've decided it was important to "be myself". To be honest about what I was feeling, and really give people the real inside scoop on running a small business, the good, the bad and the ugly. Today, after I read him the comment, he said, "so how's that working out for ya?" Honestly, I wasn't even sure anyone read the damn thing, so I was terribly surprised to discover that my readers aren't necessarily my friends who know me and think my brand of humor is funny. Lesson #1: know your audience. Snarky and irreverent certainly has its well-worn place in the blogosphere, but if I'm alienating customers, I've obviously missed my mark. It would be one thing if I was trying to inspire controversy or even a spirited and intelligent debate. But I don't want that. I want to give people who are interested an honest look at the engine of a small business, from my perspective. That still means the good and the bad, but hopefully no more ugly.

This incident has gotten me thinking a lot about the Internet in general. I've never been the biggest fan of blog comments. The anonymity of communicating through cyberspace seems to give a lot of angry people a license to wound. I've read a lot of comments on other blogs that were intended to sear, and I always wonder how people are capable of such cruelty when they would never say it to someone's face. I'm not referring to my commenter - I obviously offended her and I feel really badly about that. I take full responsibility for the situation, and I replied in my comments with a genuine apology. But she said she wouldn't be back on my site, so I have no way of reaching her to give her my apology. She may not be willing to accept it, but at least I would be able to try. I'm also not referring to my post. I'm not anonymous - you know how to find me if you want to give me the what for in person. But the one-sided communication of commenting on the Internet really bothers me. I find myself longing for the days of telephone and good ole US Mail, where a return address is required.

So my new mission statement for my blog is to be provocative in a way that makes you want to know more, not in a way that puts you off. And if you stop reading my blog, I hope that it's because I bore you to tears with my verbosity and not because I've pissed you off. But hopefully you'll still want to patronize my business. Because I truly am so thankful for my customers and I value your business and your support more than words can say.

1 comment:

judi said...

It is an interesting and important process journey to create your on-line persona/avatar. And when doing it you also have to explore the persona/avatar of your typical customer. And then when the two match, Bingo! I have not started the group yet but have a couple of people interested and I want to do it.