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Lessons From a Blog Skirmish

…98…99 …100!

Okay, now I’ve calmed down.

Yesterday a writer friend emailed me that my most recent Novel Journey post was being talked about by a well-known Christian author. My post was decidedly provocative — Want Readers? Then Shut Up! The author provided a link to my article and then proceeded to, um, misinterpret me. Their commentors followed suit, one of them saying they didn’t even need to finish the article to know they disagreed with me. The problem was, they were all missing the point.

Hey, it’s not the first time I’ve been misinterpreted or angered someone. I  can handle it. So I buzzed on over to said blog and left a comment. It wasn’t a mean comment. It wasn’t snide or snarky. It wasn’t retributive in nature. I simply pointed out where I thought the author and their commentors were misinterpreting me, said thanks, and left.

When I returned home from work last night, my comments and the link to my article had been deleted.

I was shocked. Had my comments contained profanity, been derogatory, or blatantly promotional, I could understand their deletion. But they weren’t. Not even. They were just contrary to what the author’s readers had been saying.

Anyway, last night the author and I exchanged a couple emails. I remained quite civil (believe it or not), but they asserted I was taking it too personal. I said, Well, you did link to MY article and allow your readers to run with it… before deleting all the evidence. All I did was comment on what I thought was their misinterpretation of the piece. The author asked what I wanted to do and I said to just let my comments stand — that’s it… to which which they promptly deleted the entire post.

*Sigh*

Anyone who’s blogged for any length of time knows how fast things can unravel. You post something without thinking it through, maybe in anger, and then you regret it. Someone catches wind of it, emails their friend, who forges a link, and before long you find yourself backpedaling. I’ve been there before, and will probably be there again. And my guess is that this Christian author was there too.

What puzzles me is their response. Why not just come correct? At least, let the dissent stand. But going to the deletion card is… fishy.

Yes, I have deleted comments from this blog. But never — NEVER — have I deleted comments simply because the author disagrees with me. Just this morning I awoke to find a commentor disagreeing with something I said (see: Is Love the Ultimate Christian Creed comment #7). The last thing on my mind, honestly, was deleting that comment. I mean, if I was wrong, I should be man enough to concede. If they were wrong, I should be courageous enough to defend myself. And if the point is sound, the truth will stand. But delete the comment? Naw.

Actually, after the anger subsided, it’s been pretty sobering. It’s reminded me of the sacredness of what we do, of the power of our words, and the volatility of this crazy electronic medium that we traverse.

But it’s also been kind of scary. I mean, if all we Christian writers are after is a consensus, nurturing an echo chamber of atta-boys and high-fives so that we can build our own fan base, how are we any different from the world? Of course, we need to be courteous and diplomatic. But since when does eschewing dissent and disagreement further our cause?

After it was all said and done, I thanked that author for reading my opinionated post. And, in the end, that’s really all that remains.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Nicole September 4, 2009, 3:21 PM

    Mike, this is weird. Guess you hit a nerve, huh? In a similar vein I posted a negative review and got a gentle rebuke from another author–not the one who wrote the novel I didn't like. In my review I was careful to point out I wasn't the target audience, and that I was sure there would be readers who loved the book. This other author pasted her exact same comment on another negative review of the book.
    Mostly, I'm sorry you were misrepresented because I thought your points were salient and clearly expressed. So it seems unreasonable to me to delete first your explanation (which I have no doubt was courteous because you are truly a diplomat) and then the entire post. Odd.

  • Dayle September 4, 2009, 8:28 PM

    Hey, thier stealing my act.

    I'm supposed to be your arch nemisis.

  • Mark H. September 5, 2009, 2:51 PM

    Boy, do I know that feeling. Have a virtual Guinness on me, Mike.

    • Mike Duran September 8, 2009, 11:53 PM

      Cheers! Burp. Oops, that Guinness wasn't virtual.

  • Guy Stewart September 6, 2009, 3:01 PM

    Oddly enough, my current blogpost might add to the…um…not fire…maybe the flame retardant…of this discussion. If you're interested, read it and comment:

    http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/

    • Mike Duran September 6, 2009, 4:21 PM

      Great post, Guy! I left a comment there.

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