Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Stephanie’s Fine Line

A week or so ago Stephanie Pearl-McPhee reminded us all that we are a community and that what we write on our (personal) blogs may impact others in our community. (I almost said “little community” but I think it’s obvious we’re not so little any more.)

When I read her comments, and there were none that weren’t true (yup, can’t argue with that, I said to myself), I wondered who had yanked her chain. Again speaking to the only person who ever reliably listens to me, I said, well, someone’s done something that set ol’ Stephanie off. She’s definitely on a tear.

And that’s as far as I got with it. Because (a) it’s nunna my business and (b) well, it is my business but I don’t have any way to figure out what happened and whose butt she was chewing. Don’t ya just hate that, when there’s obviously some good gossip and you’re not in the loop?

Like those old “teasers” that gossip columnists used to use in their columns? “Who was the handsome man in tweed seen lunching at The Four Seasons with our town’s most eligible bachelorette?” Or the announcement over the school PA system: “Due to the unfortunate incident in the lunchroom yesterday, meat loaf will no longer be served. And, by the way, the school cook has taken early retirement.”

As I say, I’m definitely Not In The Loop (in the words of Sgt Schultz, “I know nothing!”) But I knew Someone was, because Someone always is. It’s just hardly ever me.

So, imagine my surprise, as I read blog after blog this week, to learn that an awful lot of bloggers think that Stephanie was talking about them. This one thinks that maybe her review of a bad yarn shop caused Stephanie to single her out. That one thinks that she shouldn’t have criticized a fellow list-member. Still another can’t think of anything she could have written that would have offended Stephanie, but is still not quite sure Stephanie isn’t talking about her.

A couple of comments: First, there are a lot of similarities between the online knitting community and middle school (or junior high, as it was known when I was at Leland Junior High School). As one of the girls who was Definitely Not Cool then and am Probably Still Not Cool today, I feel that mixture of paranoia and exclusion that comes from the occasional accidental intersection with the Cool Girls. The only thing worse than knowing that they didn’t know I was alive was the fear that maybe they did.

Me: OMG, Barbie noticed me...was my hair too curly? Did she think my hair was too curly? Should I straighten it? Should I cut it off?

In fact, Barbie might simply have remarked to one her friends that I had a booger on my upper lip, without really even knowing who I was at all. But it was an honor to be noticed by her in the first place.

The second thing about our blogging community is that it is a group of humans who are sharing their personal musings with strangers. That means that we do have some responsibility not to libel someone or unfairly criticize someone who can't respond. We have that responsibility no matter how we communicate in this world. Unfortunately, the magic of electronics has made it possible for me to publicly insult someone in a country I've never even seen, without even really understanding how my words might impact that person. At the same time, however, as a blog-reader I WANT to know what you're thinking, who really ticked you off and what she did to do it, and full details of that crappy yarn store where you were treated badly.

And I think there are different rules for different situations. We need to deal with individuals as though we were face to face. But business owners, for instance, are almost like publicly held companies--they've put themselves out there for praise or criticism. I've owned a business and, for me, customer service is ALL. If you're not prepared to give good customer service, you're in the wrong business. And you shouldn't expect to be spared hearing about it when you don't give it. At the same time, everyone has off days sometimes and it's hard to be labeled for one of those days. But I think a fair review of a business, including ambiance, inventory, and courtesy of the staff is fair game for a blog. Rant can relax now.

Anyway, for the record, I do not think Stephanie was referring to me. I do not feel guilty about anything I may have written. Although I may have been guilty of a few impure and frankly rude thoughts about other knitters and yarn pushers and others who have strayed into my tiny knitting world, I haven’t named them on paper (or bandwidth, or whatever else you call where we’re communicating).

So, there! Stephanie, if you’re reading this, I double dare you to say anything bad about me and my pugs. (OMG, Stephanie, I’m, really, you’re my favorite...I didn’t really mean it...just kidding! Can I carry your books to class? Your hair looks really good today ... not that it doesn't always!)


Janice in GA said...

Hey, I wouldn't say anything about you on my blog that I wouldn't say to your face! :D

I'm nice, though. At least, MOSTLY nice.

And not one of the Cool Girls.

Romi said...

Hee. :)