Blog Drama: Is It Worth It?
I figured the post I did about my project would get a nice response; I was floored by what ensued. Was it worth the drama? Here’s a little FAQ with myself.
What exactly were you thinking when you came up with your project?
I happened to notice a couple of people using the word “retard” on Twitter. Then I set up an alert for the word ” and I was floored. I was thinking I’d raise some awareness by tweeting at some people who used it. I wasn’t hoping I could single-handedly eradicate it—but I figured I could use the powers of social media to make a dent. I wanted to stir things up.
So tell the people what happened.
I tweeted at people for a few days. As I was writing about my experiences, I decided to show some of the more obnoxious tweets I got. So I did screen shots, blurring out people’s names. Then I thought, LAWSUIT! So I checked in with an attorney pal to make sure I wouldn’t lose my home/blog/shoe collection. She gave me the green light, and I put up the post.
It went viral—people were Tweeting it and posting it on Facebook. My blog got close to 14,000 visitors in one day, which is a whole lot of traffic for my blog. The post got picked up by ParentDish and ended up on AOL’s homepage. A blogger at Glamour.com (where I used to work) wrote about my project, and her post made it onto Yahoo Shine’s homepage.
What sort of comments did you get?
The ones on my blog were mostly thoughtful and encouraging, although there were a few comments such as, “Have you got in touch with furniture manufacturers to get them to change the name of their fire retardant fabrics?” The ones on AOL and elsewhere were mostly negative. People were downright defensive about using the word. A bunch claimed freedom of speech and said it was a perfectly fine word to use as long as it wasn’t directed toward a person with disabilities. Some pointed out that the word “retard” can also mean to slow down and therefore shouldn’t be eradicated, which was completely off point. Some told me to stop playing word police and being so p.c. It was as if I’d asked people to stop eating donuts or something, instead of asking them to be sensitive to a word that’s painful to some people.
What was especially annoying?
The particularly clueless responses. Someone said I must have too much time on my hands to have done this project. Someone else said I needed to quit being so overly protective of my child. Someone referred to me as a “Sad little woman.” Sad little woman my ass.
How did you deal?
I quit reading the comments, although I wrote out one on a post-it and put it up on my bathroom mirror: “The depth of people’s ignorance coupled with their vast lack of empathy never ceases to amaze me.” And I got the new Email Their Mothers! app, which notifies moms when their offspring leave nasty comments on other people’s blogs.
What have the lasting effects been?
I’m still getting emails and the occasional tweet and Facebook message that people have reconsidered using that word. It’s only been a few weeks since I wrote the post, but my traffic is still way up—I’ve gotten a whole new group of readers on the blog, ones I can inspire and who in return can inspire me. Of course I didn’t eradicate the word; who could do that? But I changed some minds out there. I got a discussion going.
So was it all worth it?
What lesson do you think people could learn from what you did?
If you want to raise awareness for a cause, cook up something a little different than the usual blog post.
Do you often talk to yourself?
No. Because I am not a sad little woman.