I used to see a lot of strong opinions and challenging ideas shared online. Now, I see more watered down posts full of caveats as the author apologizes for what they’re about to say. And I get it. Because unless you try to address every possible variation in situation, someone is going to be offended. And you’re going to hear about it. It gets exhausting.
But you know what? Watered-down posts following a series of disclaimers are boring. And it’s bad writing. If you try not to offend anyone, you won’t be able to say anything at all.
Now, I’m all for clarity. I like writers to be clear about what they’re saying and to address obvious criticisms that might arise. And I like dialogue about ideas.
I’m even a fan of tact and sensitivity. But I’m not interested in lambasting writers because someone outside of the intended audience of their post might feel bad about the topic discussed.
The complaint I’m seeing lately is not, “what this writer says is untrue.” Or, “The argument is poor, here’s where they went wrong and why I completely disagree.” Nope. What I’m seeing all over the place is, “Why didn’t the writer realize writing about this would make me feel bad? Why didn’t they have me in mind?” As if it’s our right to be protected from any ideas that might, shudder to think, make us feel bad.
I was recently a little bit shocked after reading a beautiful series about the goodness of order in the home when I discovered that the response to the author’s idea was not, “I disagree that order is a high priority or an objective good in the home” but “my house is messy so now I FEEL BAD after reading that post about the beauty of order!” Y’all, my house is a mess 98% of the time. I have three young kids and it kind of goes with the territory.
But it’s not like that series was written AT ME in order to shame me for my sticky floors and disorganized art cabinet. It’s true that order in the home is a beautiful thing and you know what? I’d like more of it! Just because that’s not really possible for me right now doesn’t mean I need to take offense.
It sounds insane since I write a mommy blog, but I have truly received comments about how it’s insensitive of me to write so frequently about my kids because reading about that experience is hurtful to women suffering from infertility and would I please stop talking about motherhood? It goes without saying that infertility is terribly painful and when discussing related topics like NFP, I try to be sensitive to readers carrying that cross. But to say, “You can’t write about what I don’t have because it makes me upset” rather than, “hmmm, maybe reading mommy blogs isn’t the best choice for me right now” goes a bit far.
Blogger Kathryn Whitaker recently wrote a great series of how-to posts about taking your family to Disney World. We just moved to a farm and have obligations that would keep up from planning a trip like that right now. So should I be enraged that Kathryn dared write about taking her family to Disney knowing full well that some readers aren’t in a position to do the same? Should I throw up my hands and bemoan how after reading about their great time at the happiest place on earth sure makes my day look dull and my bank account cheerless? No. Because that post wasn’t written AT ME. It was written to a different audience. The “we might be taking a Disney vacation sometime soon” audience who will greatly appreciate her wisdom on the topic. That’s not a possibility for my family right now, but instead of being indignant that she dared write about it without considering me doesn’t it make more sense to enjoy her beautiful photos and ideas and then go on with my day?
If I imagined that the entire internet revolved around me and was written with me in mind, I would waste a great deal of time being offended. Single women shouldn’t have to write with young mothers in mind. Women writing about infertility shouldn’t have to worry about offending women with large families. Writing about the joys of marriage isn’t insensitive to single women. Writers write from where they stand and if I’m not standing in the same place, I can just assume it wasn’t written for me.
I am tired of authors having to apologize because they didn’t write a piece with so-and-so in mind. It’s simply not possible to write a 300-800 word blog post with everyone in mind. And maybe just because I have a different experience from an author, I’m pretty sure they didn’t write it just to make me upset.
Are we really so delicate that we can’t handle hearing about anything different than our own experience without getting up in arms? Are we really so self-centered that we can’t stand to read anything not written with us in mind?
Now, I’m not against sensitivity or thoughtfulness. But I urge all of us to seek to dialogue about what’s right and true–let that be the conversation. Not run a race to see how quickly we can twist a writer’s words into something we can get offended by. While writers have the responsibility to write with clarity and charity, as readers we have the responsibility to be discerning and, dare I say, a little more thick-skinned.
This is a great post, Haley! So true! Given that my husband and I don’t have any [living] children and struggle with infertility, at times its hurtful to read a bunch of mommy blogs. But that’s when I know I need to step back and take a break and realize maybe I just shouldn’t be reading these right now. Not because they are bad blogs or are writing insensitive things! But because of where MY heart is at. Thanks for sharing!
I’m sorry for your losses, Katie.
Suzi Whitford says
We’ve been overtaken by vanity to feel everything is directed at us. Love your quote “If I imagined that the entire internet revolved around me and was written with me in mind”! I was soooo nervous writing about NFP and letting my husband blog about lust. But we said a prayer and hopefully our honesty helps someone else, even if it does offend a whole group of people. Thanks for keeping it real!
I give this the thumbest-of-ups!
Lindsay Schlegel says
Amen! What a great read. Shout this from the rooftops!
Could you not write about people being offended? It offends me that you do this because I am not offended enough, and this post isn’t written about me. I mean, you should really know my whole life and write about what I want to read in the moment 😉
Honestly, this was a great post. Sometimes we need a reminder that not everything in the world caters to us, and that’s perfectly okay.
Katie Behrens says
Amen!! I remember reading a conversation that occurred between Our Lord and St. Faustina in her diary about the dangers of being too sensitive. Fortitude is a cardinal virtue, after all! The world is tough, and we as followers of Christ have to have a strong foundation in him. When I’m too easily swayed by what’s happening around me (including on the internet), it’s usually an indication that I’m not focusing enough on Jesus. Thank you for your words of clarity, Haley!
Thank you for the common sense!! My best friend is the blogger who wrote the series on beauty and order in the home and the poor woman had to deal with so much self-centered foolishness as a response to it. It makes me lose respect for people in general but sadly for other women, whom we should be bonding with through blogs like hers and yours instead of nitpicking and fault-finding with one another. Life is hard enough without being harassed on the internet just for offering sound advice!
I’m interested in reading that post. (Not to nitpick but maybe get some inspiration) Can you respond with the link? Thanks!
I was JUST going to comment, before I clicked on that last link, that this should be part II of your When It’s Time to Break Up with a Blog post!
YES! I thought the same thing! There have been a lot of blogs I’ve stopped following over the years because they write about stuff I just can’t relate to. It’s not their fault, and it’s not mine either, really, it’s just LIFE and that’s how it goes. There are plenty of writers who write about things I jive with, so why waste my time and energy trying to bring down other writers who don’t?
You hit it spot on! Sometimes I think our national pastime has become “What can I be offended at today?”Your advice to step back and realize maybe a certain blog or even series of blog posts isn’t for you at the moment is very good. Thank you for this.
Haley, this is not solely an internet blog problem: below is blog post from a university president explaining that a student complained to him about a sermon on 1 Corinthians 13. Let’s all work to spread the message – “It’s not all about us!”
And by the way – this is an ongoing lesson that I’m aware of needing to teach my children, so any future posts with your advice on the subject would be most welcome. At least by me. Because you should write a blog post just for me… ?
Erin, that is GOOD. A world-class rant.
What a great read! Thank you for sharing that link. He is spot on – – love the line about teaching personal forgiveness over political revenge.
Yes! Bookmarking this to share when needed…
Anne Sweden says
This needed to be said. People are becoming more and more offended by all the WRONG things.
But our society, our government and even our legal system encourage this mentality. People have sued and won millions of dollars for all kinds of alleged “pain and suffering,” some of which would cause you to shake your head in disbelief.
I am offended that you thought I would be offeneded:-)
Preach it- it’s the self-centered and “nerf” society that we live in unfortunately. Everything is about me and my feelings, which should never be hurt or challenged.
Laura @ Mothering Spirit says
This sentence crystallized the crux of the problem for me: “If I imagined that the entire internet revolved around me and was written with me in mind, I would waste a great deal of time being offended.” Many people DO make the mistake that the Internet revolves around them. I think this is the by-product of all our personalized “portals” for accessing the Internet, whether on a home page that caters to my geographic location, political persuasion, interests & hobbies, or whether it’s through a Facebook feed made up of lists of friends that I want to hear from or people I want to follow. So few of us access mass media in the ways our grandparents did when everyone read the same newspapers or smaller selection of magazines. So we’re naturally inclined to fall into the trap of thinking that we should be catered to, even when we read an opinion piece from someone whose life/situation/thought is very different from our own. I think you’re absolutely right that the wounded response of believing that our every situation and need should be acknowledged and respected in every online interaction is impossible (and insane!). But I think it’s an even bigger cultural shift that frightens me for the sect-izing (<– not a word, !) of wanting to only see through world through our individual, limited perspectives.
Honora Bartlett says
Wonderful, Haley, and so timely: the first time I heard someone use ‘offended’ that way I was even younger than you and a college classmate called the old tv show ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ ‘offensive’, which flummoxed me, especially when she went on to say it was because their house was too nice and most people didn’t have such nice houses so it was offensive to them. I will not comment as you have already been so cogent on the topic, but this is just to show it had started rolling by the 1970s, but it has reached ridiculous levels now. Nora
LOVE this! I get comments like this too and it’s just totally permeating the culture. Everyone is offended and climbing over themselves not to offend others. Well, there are exceptions – some people groups are fair game for all kinds of offending, but that’s another story.
Good on you!
So true–another sign of the Entitlement Era. With so much information out there people need to take responsibility for their own time and happiness. I have stepped away from blogs that were making me feel “less than” in the past, but I have gone back to some of them when I was in a different place mentally.
Just keep doing what you are doing and good for you for telling the truth!
yes! thank you!
This is perfect! Thank you, Haley!
A-freakin’-MEN, woman! I’m constantly flabbergasted at how comment sections turn into people’s therapy sessions, airing out all their issues, just because of a blog post, article, video, WHATEVER, that somehow rubbed them the wrong way. I consider myself a sensitive person, but I’ve always thought of “sensitive” as being outward-reaching- being aware of the feelings of others, not inward and focused so much on my own feelings. When did this get so turned around?! Thank you for telling it like it is! The internet needs more of this kind of kind, compassionate honesty.
Senia Coh says
Spot on! Completely agree with you, Haley!
Man, glad someone has the same complaints about people out there on the internet. It’s so easy to type up things you’d never dare say in real life. The anonymity makes people say much more mean and rude things!
I also see a lot of jealousy among responders on mommy blogs. Especially on succesfull ones. For example, Soulemama is a very well known mommy blog and I see so many subtly mean and jealous comments on her blog. It’s obvious from her blog that she and her husband work very hard to make the life that they lead happen. Some people just achieve more in 24 hours, or in life in general. Don’t let the life others have make you feel miserable about your own.
Wonderful! I’m a grand mother. I enjoy reading blogs that don’t necessarily apply to my present place in life. I laugh with y’all, cry sometimes , and learn.
There are days that a post brings me out of a dark place because of the joy you spread with your stories and pictures. Haley, my advent wreath is gorgeous this year because of the candles I read about on your blog! My husband and daughters love them also.
We can all learn from others and we pass along our knowledge. During my day I share what I’ve read here and at other blogs , although the link thing gets me in trouble. I read and click, and click , and then I can’t remember where I found a great nugget of information or idea.
Please don’t stop
Jennifer Wilson says
I love your blog and I started reading when I was single, no kids. Now I’m married, no kids, but we are hoping to adopt. Some could be offended I don’t blog about kids. Or that I talk about my never ending struggle to lose weight. But I talk about what I want to talk about, and then — oh well!
I’m an older reader on the other side of the world. I have no children and I’m not a Catholic. And I love your blog because it ISN’T aimed at me. It gives me a wonderful and loving insight into a world that’s very different from mine. It’s a joy to read about your very fulfilling lives as it challenges some of the perceptions I’ve grown up with. Being exposed to different views of the world isn’t offensive – it’s part of recognising that we aren’t all the same! Thank God!
Haley, I’m not a mom, but I still read your blog for the feast-day ideas. I’m really sorry that people have attacked/criticized you for posting what you post. You are a good writer, and I appreciate your voice. Thank you for sharing honestly about motherhood, and thank you for standing up for yourself.
Sarah @ little bus on the prairie says
We live in a bus with four small kids for the moment. I’d say the vast majority of the internet doesn’t apply to my life right now, and you know what? More than anything, it’s vastly simplified my web carousing and my feedly because I can completely skip over anything that talks about how to keep things clean and organized or being more productive or anything along those lines because very few suggestions are actually applicable.
We are simply in survival mode right now and that’s just how it is.
Reading those kinds of things would make me feel bad that my life currently is crazy and messy and not at all picture perfect, so I don’t. And, honestly, I don’t miss it at all!
You live in a bus?! Can I help you in any way?
Rachel Meyer says
THANK YOU! This really drives me nuts! I’ve seen someone complain about PRAYING AT CHURCH for one group because it makes another group feel bad. Get a life, people! Go find some real suffering to complain about! I despise those blog posts that are one long apology, too. Just say what you need to say and ignore the absurd criticism.
Amen, amen, amen!
Shout it from the roof tops Haley!!! Walking on eggshells just not offend people is not the answer. Great post!
Bravo!! Bravo!! Bravo!!
Yes yes yes!
This is (one reason) why blogs have an “About” page … So readers can see “Does this writer have a situation similar to mine? From what perspective are they sharing? Is it relevant to me?” When I was a NICU mom, reading about other people’s journeys through and beyond the NICU was invaluable to me. But I wouldn’t have dared accuse or condemn someone who shared their triumphs while I was still going through it because it made me “feel bad.” An extreme example, yes, but hopefully with a point.
Keep being interesting, Haley!! We love you for it.
I’m offended that you are talking about how to write a blog. I’m not awesome enough to have a blog and your post makes me depressed…NOT. AMEN, Sister! PREACH! People can be SOOO ri-DIC-ulous.
Mary @ Parenthood says
So true! Although… I’m a little offended you wrote about the design series (piquing my interest) and then didn’t even mention the blog’s name! LOL Now I’m dying of curiosity trying to figure out what it was, especially since I love posts about order in the home (maybe if I read enough of them it will rub off on my kids?… Hope springs eternal…)
This was the blog the series on order in the home came from:
Erin McCole Cupp says
Isn’t this an unfortunate result of relativism? I mean, if we’re no longer allowed to think in terms of “objectively true,” we’re no longer allowed to argue in those terms, and if “truth” is now only made up of what’s true for me, then when I read something not reflective of what’s true for me, I feel the right to call someone else a liar, in a sense. We crave objective reality, and when we are starved of it, willingly or otherwise, our relationship to the rest of the world is just plain wounded. In other words, um, haters gonna hate, whiners gonna whine. Or something.
Suzi Whitford says
Erin! Great comment. When I converted to Catholicism I was introduced to relativism, and the damaging effects it has. How few things in our world, besides our beautiful Mother Church, stand for objective truth? It’s one of the 1,476 reasons why I converted. 🙂
This is the first time I’ve commented on your blog, although I am an avid reader of it! I enjoy your perspective immensely and you have shared so many things that have helped my faith life and family life.
My husband recently shared an article with me and your post reminded me so much of it- maybe you have read it- http://www.theatlantic.com/…/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/ By wielding the “offended” or “hurt” card, anyone can end an argument before an exchange of ideas even begins to occur. A scary twist that will slowly erode our freedom of speech.
So true Elizabeth! You said it so much better than I could, should I be offended? Ha!
Go Haley! Getting so sick of having to sugarcoat everything I think and say. Let’s be kind but let’s also be real!
Jennifer Mackintosh says
Yep. Exactly this. Contentment is a choice.
Preach it! I’ve read so many articles that don’t particularly apply to my life. In that case I often file them away for when/if they’ll apply later in life or for people I know. If I got upset with everything I don’t agree with online, I’d have major problems. Thanks for the reminder to not take things personally!
I’m offended by this post.
I am older with grown children and many grandchildren, and I love reading your blog. My church small group did a study on “The Bait of Satan” which is so applicable here. The bait is choosing to take offense, turning away from thoughts that are good and kind. It has been life changing for the women in our group. Although the study was over a year ago, we still talk about stopping and literally saying out loud, “I’m not taking that bait!” when finding ourselves in situations that we would have found offensive (including fights with spouses). It is amazing how much difference it makes, often defusing the situation immediately.
Long before blogs (i had one of the first but realky just wrote for me/my sanity) I would read self-help books-Christian, worldly…and took e v e r y t h i n g written about a client as if it were me! Something is wrong, seriously wrong–that people do this. I got back to the church, got counseling–got out of “self”–still working at it, as it is a journey. This behavior iss ill affecting our marriages, our children, schools, churches, friends, society! Thank you for writing this–for all bloggers! ❤️??
Amen, sister, AMEN.
It’s insensitive to write about your children on a mommy blog?? Oh dear…
It can be so ridiculous how some people approach the internet. Let’s find the posts that resonate and apply to us instead of assume that everyone needs to write for ME!
SO perfectly said! It’s unfortunate to see the way our society has progressed. Did you read about the college students who felt uncomfortable after listening to a sermon on love…because they’re not showing love? 😐 (Link here: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/11/30/university-president-rebukes-self-absorbed-narcissistic-students.html)
In the words of my college age sister, “I can’t even…”
Have you ever felt that the Internet blog world has become one big hen party with everyone clucking their opinions and becoming offended at something someone said, then clucking even louder?
I think that if we all just put down our dumb smart phones, or our terrible tablets, and spent our time in better ways, we would all be happier. If I gave half of my internet time to God, I know I would be calmer and happier… Ah, vanity-pride- the devil’s favorite sin.
erin @ thh says
I’m a single mom working full time, living in the city, with 2 littles ages 1 and 3, but I love reading blogs in which I get to enter into someone else’s world and experience their day, cares, sorrows, and joys for a brief moment, and also be inspired in my faith, challenged in my thinking, and to be the best I can be in my little part of the world. Sharing is the joy of the human experience. Thanks for writing!
Karen Edmisten says
Re. what you said here:
“I was recently a little bit shocked after reading a beautiful series about the goodness of order in the home when I discovered that the response to the author’s idea was not, ‘I disagree that order is a high priority or an objective good in the home’ but ‘my house is messy so now I FEEL BAD after reading that post about the beauty of order!'”
Yup. I was a bit shocked, too. I suppose I shouldn’t be, after all these years on the internet, but I was. Also shocked that people would question a writer’s right to explore what she wanted to explore unless her circumstances/state in life were exactly the same as all readers’ state in life.
I click away from loads of things every day, and so should we all. There’s no way the whole wide world of the web applies to me, and there’s no reason it should. And when it doesn’t apply, but I want to discuss it? Then, yes, let’s discuss, not whine! 🙂 Great post, Haley.
Love this! I especially love the point about it being “bad writing” to add so many disclaimers to a post. It is, and it’s hard to resist the urge sometimes–but you’re right to call out both writers and readers on this. And you do it so well 🙂
OH MY GOSH YES. Thank you for posting this. It is so hard to think about every.single.person. when writing a blog post or make a meme, and inevitably someone WILL get offended. I need to work on not letting that offense bother me so much, though, too…I definitely take those offenses personally and need to try to stand taller than that!
Thanks for sharing on your blog despite having to deal with that type of feedback! Maybe everyone should say the Litany of Humility before they read stuff online. 🙂 I know it sure helps me to remember it when I’m starting to care too much about other people’s actions, what they think of me, and how I feel when they say or do things that are not about me.
I have several posts sitting in “drafts” because I am always afraid to hit “publish” on posts that might hurt someone in some way. I couldn’t agree more with your post. In fact, lately, when I catch myself being “offended” by something, I have to stop and ask myself if the author was even addressing me. Like you, if the answer is no, then I come to that same conclusion that maybe I shouldn’t be reading this writer during this season of my life. And you know what? That’s ok! Off to finish and schedule some previously-with eldest posts 😉 Thanks, Haley!
Kelle Smith says
I was just telling my daughter yesterday (after she didn’t do as well as her sister on the Latin assignment) that you shouldn’t be angry at someone else because of their success just because you didn’t succeed. You have to put aside your feelings about your self and be happy for the other person. Similar topic.
Kelly Crawford says
I couldn’t love this post more. I have been a mom blogger for 8 years. One of my readers sent it to me, probably, because she has observed it so much at my blog.
I am constantly having my mind blown at the offense taken. If I write about how to love your husband or something about marriage–anything, women who don’t like their husbands take great offense at my “insensitivity.”
Because I have a large family, I write about large family stuff. (That’s kind of how blogs work, right?) And like you said, people without children often get offended. Or when I write about homey stuff, working women get offended.
I’m the one whose writing is now peppered with disclaimers (I can hear the opposition). But perhaps I’ll go light with those. You’re right. It’s weak writing.
Thank you! I can’t wait to browse around your blog.
I thought that if a blogger generally stayed away from politics and controversial subjects that they’d be fine, but it’s getting too pc. People need to handle a different opinion. Otherwise why bother creating anything at all?
Where’s the love button?! lol What a great post! We need more common sense and the world and it’s so refreshing to read it in your posts 🙂
This post is just – yes. As a blogger this has happened to me countless times over the years, and there is just NO WAY I can be conscious of all my readers’ lives and needs all the time!!! It has been so frustrating and disheartening to have messages unheard because a reader felt ‘offended’ – by something that was never meant to offend. Bravo for this post! Almost made me cry with happiness that someone understands!
Char Langlis says
Right on. You totally nailed it! It was so refreshing to read the honest truth about the issues with super sensitive people and the politically correct world we live in. I don’t even like to think where we are heading as a society regarding censorship and the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution. As a Christian, I try to be respectful, thoughtful and truthful. Censorship and social pressures in our current era have developed a fear-based agenda. Personally, as a writer myself, I believe that inspired words that must be said will find their way to the right ears while the wounded hearts will always misread regardless of the intent. Just always do your best and let God lead.
I cannot agree more with this post. It seems like we need to walk on eggshells not to offend people when we write something. I have had a few comments about why my blog post won’t help my friends on Facebook. Lol well I didn’t write it for everyone….thanks for this post! I really needed it! Keep up your amazing work!!!
Jen Buckley says
Haley, I am way late waying in on this but just reading your post now that I have a minute to relax here on Christmas Day. It’s funny I was just sitting around talking with my mom today about blogging, how, lots of bloggers are really good at creating humor out of how messy motherhood often times is. However, you can only take so much of that. As a Catholic, decorating, mom blogger that’s not my forte. My posts are aimed at beauty, and I would argue that you need just as many of those kinds as the hot messy ones too. If someone has fashion or decorating or parenting figured out then they write to their heart’s passion; they shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for what they are good at. They blog to inspire, encourage, and motivate; they certainly don’t blog to make anyone feel inadequate and if the reader does, we’ll that’s just on them. Great post!
Kate @ District Light says
Thanks for talking about this; especially because I need to know about goodness of order in the home. I found the series you spoke of, and it’s inspiring and helpful.
I’m currently going through Apartment Therapy’s January Cure, where you spend the month completing 22-tasks, one each weekday, and a task for each weekend, to help improve (not perfection, but improve) your home. This is a very timely series, and likewise your post.
Yes and yes and yes. We’ve become the most easily offended society ever.