Friday, 8 July 2011

Don't EVER write anything online that you don't want thrown back in your face. Trust me. Here's why ...

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I wasn't intending on posting today, but something happened to me yesterday which I need to share with you all. I can't let the freshness of this experience dwindle before writing it down for you all to read.

This month there will be an article about my poetry collection published online. A very long and in-depth article focusing on a variety of things including my background AND the background of my parents' music career. I did NOT provide the critic with ANY of this background. NOTHING. He found it all online. ALL of it.

Thankfully he was kind enough to let me read it before publishing it. Boy am I glad he let me read it. It's not all praise. And this is totally fine with me. I'm not out looking for only praise, especially when the criticism is coming form an extremely educated mind and from someone who has done their homework. I really truly appreciate how close a reading this critic gave my book. I was in absolute awe. Now. I'm rambling a bit. My point here is, he found something I had said online a while ago that wasn't very nice. I'm not going to say what that something was. I removed it from my blog. And I kindly asked him to remove it from his article too because it could very well end up being read by someone closely related to that comment and jeopardize a future endeavor I have planned. Not to mention turn a whole community of people against me. Yes, it was that bad. I did not think anything of this comment when I wrote it. BUT the context it was in, in the article, made it sound just ABSOLUTELY awful.

So, if you want a career in writing, trust me when I advise you to NEVER write anything you don't want repeated. The smallest of an 'off' comment can bounce back up and bite you in the face. Even in people's comments. You may feel like you're just chatting to a friend, but you're not. It's very easy to forget that anything you put out there--here--in cyberland, is available to the world for scrutiny. I'm lucky. I'm very lucky the person who wrote this article allowed me to review it first. Imagine if he didn't. I think I might have had a heart attack. I've learned from my mistake now. And I want you to learn from it too.

I think I might sift through all my old posts soon and make sure there's nothing else I don't want repeated!

Anything like this happen to you? Are you careful about what you say online?

48 comments:

  1. There is something you should all remember. Just because you delete a post don’t assume it is gone. I have been working with a friend on his debut poetry collection. Now this friend has a terrible habit of posting stuff and then deleting it, however, if you go into Google Reader his entire blog from day one is still there. Everything. The only things that are missing are links to photos that are no longer online. I was able to go through his old posts and recommend he include poems in his collection that he’s never kept a copy of in fact he actually asked me to send him a copy of the archive for safekeeping. So, as you say, do watch what you say online because it will be accessible for a long, long time.

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  2. I actually rephrased the sentence but left the blog post there. That should fix it, yeah?

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  3. So important to remember--especially that deleted things never actually go away. Thanks for the reminder, Jessica. I'm glad it worked out, but it sounds like a pretty nerve-wracking experience.

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  4. So glad this experience is working out well for you! There was a time, not long ago, that I felt strongly in maintaining a completely anonymous online identity. I was "NickiD89," period. No home state, no age, no photo...just a voice. Today I've come far away from that faceless identity, though the voice is the same. I think self-monitoring is so important on the Internet, as a matter of privacy like you discuss here and as a matter of personal safety. GREAT advice, awesome post!

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  5. My philosophy has always been to never write anything on my blog that I wouldn't say to a person or group if I was standing on front of them. I never post when angry. I will write when angry but not post. I find myself biting my tongue quite a bit but I do in real life anyway. I think there is a danger in our culture to publish whatever comes to mind without considering the fallout. I think if you found the right "tech friend", they could make that post disappear. ;-) Isn't that what a good hacker is for?

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  6. I can confirm what Jim says. I have deleted posts from my blog in the past, but the Google box on the blog can still turn them up. Thanks for the warning.

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  7. OK....NOW you can go on vacation and relax. Glad you got to right the wrong...and good words of advice.

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  8. Hi Jessica .. so glad he contacted you too .. and glad you fixed as best you can.

    I've tried to be as careful as I can .. I did ask another blogger to remove a comment I'd made & she did .. it wasn't terrible .. but it just didn't need to remain and I shouldn't have hit publish!

    Thanks for the warning ..

    Enjoy the holiday .. oh a week to go .. cheers Hilary

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  9. I deleted a comment only the other day....One I wrote, I thought once they were deleted that was that.
    Thanks for the warning Jessica oh and do enjoy your hols.

    Yvonne.

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  10. This is important advice Jess, but I'm afraid it's too late for me. I'm so random and basically just crazy in my comments online that I'm afraid I've destroyed any chance I ever had of working in government.

    But all kidding aside it's important to think about what you blog about, especially. Because that is one of the biggest resources people will look at, and as Jim points out Google "cached" is always there.

    On the other hand it sounds like you're being examined by a professional critic. Even if everything he says isn't nice, that's still kind of exciting.

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  11. Wow, that's food for thought. I really need to go back and read my posts as well. I can't wait to read the article the person wrote.

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  12. I'm very careful what I say in my blog posts and Tweets. I don't want to offend anyone anyway. Of course, there's certain bloggers I verbally spar with in a fun manner, and I'm sure those comments could be taken out of context and look odd. Not bad, just odd...
    Glad you were able to have that comment eliminated from the article!

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  13. I once deleted an entire blog....individually deleted the postings and then deleted the blog. I hope it worked.

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  14. I'm doomed then. I blabber about everything, good or bad. I've had long run on bitchfests online. I've posted some very embarrassing things, and I've made an ass out of myself once or twice....maybe even three times.

    I'm human. People make mistakes. And the truth is, the vast majority of people will not research you in depth and try to look up all of your dirty deeds. If someone stumbles upon my crazy posts online, I would hope that they look at the big picture and know who I really am as a person, instead of judging me based off from one tiny thing they've read somewhere.

    But I do understand the potential of things going bad. I guess that's the chance I take by being so open about myself online.

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  15. I love this post because it's such a timely reminder/lesson. As more and more social media avenues open up (almost daily it seems), there are that many more ways people can "check up" on us. And as a former reporter, I know how easy it is for things to be taken out of context.

    But I agree with Matt. Not only did you have a chance to "correct" the things that were said, you are being reviewed by a critic who does very thorough research. It's pretty amazing...but then, so are you. xo

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  16. I love this post because it's such a timely reminder/lesson. As more and more social media avenues open up (almost daily it seems), there are that many more ways people can "check up" on us. And as a former reporter, I know how easy it is for things to be taken out of context.

    But I agree with Matt. Not only did you have a chance to "correct" the things that were said, you are being reviewed by a critic who does very thorough research. It's pretty amazing...but then, so are you. xo

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  17. I love this post because it's such a timely reminder/lesson. As more and more social media avenues open up (almost daily it seems), there are that many more ways people can "check up" on us. And as a former reporter, I know how easy it is for things to be taken out of context.

    But I agree with Matt. Not only did you have a chance to "correct" the things that were said, you are being reviewed by a critic who does very thorough research. It's pretty amazing...but then, so are you. xo

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  18. Now I really wish I'd read your archives sooner. :P

    But really, excellent that you're being reviewed, and superb character on both your fronts to work out that issue for everyone's sake.

    Thanks for the karmic tip.

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  19. This is terrifying, Jessica. I didn't think through what all the posting means on the worldwide web. Duh!!!
    Karen

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  20. Gah! Why do you post these things that just make me so dang curious??? All I can think about when I read this is, What did she say? What did she say?

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  21. i'm super careful about this kind of think. Almost anal. I think it's why sometimes my blog posts aren't as personable as they could be, because i'm surpressing a bit of my (admitedly awesome ;) ) personality, but that was a sacrifice i decided i was OK with.

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  22. Hi,

    Give a bad a critique and most people will shoot the critiquer and sympathise with recipient of bad news!

    Cause a flame war you're branded!

    Be nice, smile sweetly, and bite inner lip rather than rise to unsociable posts/comments.

    Hee hee, but nothing wrong in speaking one's mind if diplomatic with it. Most of the time I feel invisible on Facebook and occasionally I say so. No one has to respond, and silence says it all. Does it matter, no. I prefer blogging. ;)

    best
    F

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  23. I learned my lesson about this in a most agonizing way many years ago when blogging was a newish thing. I think the experience has made me exceptionally shy of saying much of anything personal on my blog, even nine years later. I'm more of a lurker than commenter these days for the same reason. Once bitten, 200 times shy.

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  24. I'm with Karen...what did she say?? :) But really, no, I don't want to know if you don't want us to know (if that makes sense). I'm usually very careful, and generally a positive person anyway, so I hope nothing will come back to get me. You never know...

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  25. Well, now I want to know what you said ;-) I have thought about it. Often. Because it is worrysome. Once I complained about my job on twitter and I got a warning (embarassing, yes big brother is everywhere) Once, I left a comment on a blog about a book I didn't like and I think about it to this day. I wouldn't want that author to find it and read it. I don't like to bad-mouth any authors in public. It is not my style. I'm still upset about it. I'm sure someone will write an article one day and it'll be in there. waaaah.

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  26. This is so true and a good warning to all. I try to be very careful of what I say for this same reason. It can especially be a problem if it's in a comment or written someplace where you have no editorial control. I did this once on a blog post that really inflamed me and I left a comment about my belief that could be used later in a very negative way against me. Later I was doing a Google search on the topic and there was my comment on the first page for all to easily see. There was no way that I knew of to get rid of it. I periodically checked for a while and noticed my comment disappearing further into the recesses of Google, but I learned a lesson with that one. If there are some people who I don't want to share certain beliefs and opinions with then don't share them on line at all.


    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  27. Wow! No, nothing like this has ever happened to me. But it does make you think. For while I don't court trouble, I don't shy away from speaking my mind online if it's something I feel deeply about either.

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  28. That is so scary! I can't even imagine some of the things I've probably said online over the years!

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  29. I've heard this before, Jessica. We must be VERY careful what we post on the Internet because I suspect it won't go away. At least you got to this one before it got posted. Close call.

    I'm about to post my nothing but praise review of your poetry!

    Ann Best, Memoir Author

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  30. A very good reminder, thanks!

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  31. I try to be careful online. It is difficult though because sometimes it is hard not to post about things I'm really passionate about or if something has really upset me or something.

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  32. its easy to forget that what we put online is there for any eyes to see. Sometimes I feel like I'm just chatting with friends on here and even though i can't recall anything critical or aweful I might have written- it probalby is a good idea to go back and read my posts carefully! lol

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  33. hi miss jessica! yikes! im just real sorry you got all upset but im just happy that review guy could let you see it and could do the changes you want. now you could be relaxed. for sure im just real happy youre stuff is getting review out by a big time reviewer. wow! how cool is that!
    ...big hugs from lenny

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  34. A verrrry long time ago in grade school I wrote a nasty note to someone. The teacher intercepted it and read it to the class. Then she drove home the two points I never forgot.
    1) A secret remains a secret as long as you're the only one who knows it.
    2) When you write something you've written to the world and it can never be taken back
    All of that before computers sent everything to everyone.
    You are so lucky the author contacted you. I hope i all works out for you.

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  35. Wow. Good thing you got to read it first. Very good experience and thanks for passing it on. I was sitting here last night thinking sort of the same thing.
    When I post about the online game I used to play that inspired my stories, I give them glowing praise. But then, last night I went sifting through old forum posts for the game, looking for a short story I had written. I know I left the game in quite a huge huff and hissy, but boy, did I blast people. I can ask to have the posts removed, but I don't want to. It is sort of a reminder to me of well... the deep, dark days I had way back when.
    Great post!

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  36. Wow, pretty scary. Anything you say or pic you post online is always accessible to anyone at any point in time. It's a scary thought, but it's true. I try to be careful.

    Thanks for the reminder and I hope everything works out for you. :)

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  37. Even if what we say is the truth, it is wise to bear in mind what you said, don't write anything that we don't want repeated. Hard to contain myself when I get passionate, but I totally understand the need to be tactful as stuff on the 'net never goes away.

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  38. Hokey-Smoke, AlliAllo!
    Well, that settles it then... my dream of a writing career has just been slain and scattered to the wind.

    I can't even imagine the amount of work it would involve for me to try to backtrack and delete or edit all of the nasty things I've written, not just in my own blogs but in the comment sections of other bloggers' blogs!

    I'm afraid your excellent warning has come about 6 or 7 years too late to help me.

    So... I suppose I might as well put away the writing career dream and just keep on keepin' on, offending to the best of my ability.

    File this comment under the 'NOW SHE TELLS ME' category.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  39. I agree with this wholeheartedly. This is a public place and the words we leave behind are there FOREVER.

    Glad you got to delete some of yours. :)

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  40. thanks for the warning but I say pretty much whatever online since I try to be largely anonymous here

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  41. Jessica- thanks for sharing this and for your honesty. Sometimes we do things without thinking, or say things that, when taken out of context, can be scary. Sometimes we just screw up. Good you had a chance to rectify that--you don't deserve any negative criticism, nor to be judged by a single comment.
    I'll be looking for your poetry! :)

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  42. I remember posting something to let off some steam long before I began using my blog as a writer. Although I did not post the name of the person, she found out about it and she identified/recognized herself in the post. Since then I've been careful about what I post as I don't want to hurt people. I've checked Google Reader. I think the posts that stay there (in full) are the latest ones. The old ones only have the first paragraph. I still see posts that I have already deleted though.

    This is a very good reminder, Jess. Thank you so much! :)

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  43. A very good reminder Jessica. I am feeling a bit nervous now wondering if I posted anything that could be misconstrued. I am very glad to hear you were able to sort out your passionate post.

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  44. I've written a few things I probably shouldn't have, some I don't even remember, I'm sure. I'm more careful now. Thanks for the reminder of the damage our words can do if we're not careful.

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  45. oh, MAN! Now of course I'm dying to know what it was... :D

    This hasn't happened to me online, but of course, in real life an offhand comment has been used against me before. That always stinks. Still, you're right. (And this IS related to my post from Monday!)

    excellent that you were able to head this off~ ((hugs))

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“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney

“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch

“Probably what my comment meant was that I don't care about the circumstances if I can tell the truth.” ~Sally Kirkland

“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris