I got a nice short email earlier today, in response to the “The Return of AnnCoulter” post.
I expected some responses, after all, politics is serious business. It really is, and emotions related to politics run very deep.
I’m certainly not going to be surprised about getting some kind of flaming arrow of indignation fired my way.
Good lord, the country I live in is damn near split down the middle, politically, so why would I think the readers of my blog all think like I do on anything?
Hell, I’d be SCARED if all of you shared my opinions on everything, because I’m freaking insane. You’re my therapy, so if you’ve got MY back, who the hell has YOURS?!?
I get this email, and I was bored this afternoon over my lunch hour, so what the heck. It’s apparently that time again, it’s been a few years since I did one of these posts, so I guess we’ll do it up right.
I don’t appreciate political bashing in with my wow fun.
Take care and have fun.
That’s it. That’s the email I got, in reply to the feedreader emailed “Return of AnnCoulter” post.
Simple, right? No swearing, no offensive language at all, spelling and grammar are correct. On the surface, it appears to be a nice, simple, intelligent email. These are usually considered telling points in an email, lending greater weight to someone’s opinion.
Unfortunately, where it fails is in maturity and sense.
Let’s say you are reading things on the internet, you’re browsing, surfing the web. Following links, reading blog posts in various places, WoW.com articles, whatever.
Along the way, you may encounter something you really like, and think that it would be nice to subscribe to their mailing list or to their blog feed, in the hopes that you’ll get to see similarly enjoyable writing delivered conveniently right into your mailbox in the future.
Suddenly, you do get another post by the same author delivered into your email box or in your feedreader, and this one shocks you. The author didn’t write another article on a topic similar to the last one. This time, he wrote about a subject you take very seriously, and in addition, you don’t like his attitude about it. You’re offended by this idiot. Hey, he may write the funny okay once in a while, but what the heck makes him think you care what he actually thinks about anything else? You thought you were signing up for one thing, and here you are getting something else entirely. This will not do.
So, what do you do then?
A mature individual may do many things, depending on how strong he or she feels about it. They may unsubscribe from that writer entirely, wanting to make sure they are never bothered by that kind of thing again. A total flush to prevent being further offended.
Or, the person may decide that, as irritating as that article was, the other posts were good enough, enjoyable enough, that they don’t want to miss out on any more in the future. They were irritated, but not so much that it outweighs the positives of the funny posts. So, they’ll simply “mark as read” or delete the offensive posts, and scan future posts quickly to weed them out and continue on, only reading the ones that sound interesting.
Those both seem like reasonable responses to me. People change, writing changes, and you never know when someone like me might just go off the deep end.
Why should you put up with it? With a ‘subscribe by choice’ blog, like mine, it couldn’t be easier to flush the bad articles from your life, or the blog itself. You just unsubscribe and delete any links to the website, and don’t follow any links from anyone else, and you’ll never see that blog writer again for the rest of your life.
So, all that being said, where in all that do you fit in a situation where a person decides to email the writer with a brief two sentence message like that? What end does that serve?
I’ve given it a little thought, and while I can’t pretend to know what goes on in the mind of anyone else, I can speculate, and will.
What I would speculate is that such a person, when faced with an article that irritated them or made them unhappy, they could not simply take action of their own to protect themselves and leave it at that. No, they felt the need to take action to share their unhappiness, to spread it around.
The “If I’m not happy, why should anyone else be” mindset.
That’s just not an attitude I can respect.
I know that over time, misunderstandings can happen. Especially when people read posts about WoW and Bear tanking, and are directed here or linked here from WoW-only websites, and accordingly develop an expectation as to what the point of the blog is, what it is I do here, and what they are likely to see.
I’m going to do my best to clear the misunderstandings up.
My blog exists as a place for me to write what I want to write about, when I want to write about it, on any given day. I write whatever I may be inspired about at the moment. I write about my enthusiasms. I especially write about things that bother me. I frequently write what I think of are entertaining posts to cheer both myself up, and hopefully other people.
I do not limit myself to any particular topic. On the “About” page of my website, it says “BigBearButt offers his cranky opinions of a long time World of Warcraft casual feral druid about druid life, the WoW world, and everything.”
That last bit, where I say “everything”? That early bit, where I say “cranky”? Both of those are keywords for the content of this blog.
It’s my own personal website used as a means for my personal expression.
See, I don’t want to mislead you. If you think the blog posts wandering from topic to topic is a temporary situation, please don’t. When I do write about WoW, most often it’s from a Feral Druid Tank mindset. But I don’t limit myself to that, and if that’s the only reason why you’re here, well, you’re facing a lot of disappointment.
So, that’s the blog. That’s what you can expect in the future. Basically, the same old, same old that I’ve been doing here for years.
Now, I don’t want to be unkind. I might tend to think it’s simply an immature desire to lash out at someone that irritated them, but maybe there is an alternate reason why someone would mail me like that.
I know that there is a tendency for people to think that in any situation where they receive a service, they are a customer, and the opinions of a customer are always right and should be respected.
I know that, because of this philospohy, a lot of people feel that if they are not happy, it’s important for them to make their unhappiness known to the ‘management’. Sometimes it’s not for personal benefit, but to try and guide the management service towards better efforts in the future, or just a desire to nudge people to do what you want in the way you think they should, to mentor them when you feel they’ve gone off track.
Whatever the case, it doesn’t apply here. You are not my customers. You do not pay me money.
Our contract, such as it is, is that I will continue to write what I want to write, and I will continue to post it publicly for anyone who wants to spend some of their time reading it.
I pledge to myself that I will do my best to stay true to myself, and to write my honest thoughts and opinions and research.
Your end of the contract is that you read it whenever you feel like it or not, as you choose. Whether you walk away amused or irritated or bored, it’s all your decision. But if you do choose to comment, you do so in a mature way, sharing your honest thoughts and opinions, being considerate of others, and if it’s within your power, helpful in your suggestions.
Further, and I do think this is something that is implied but may not be readily apparent, if you have really strong feelings you want to share in great detail, especially ones that are in direct contradiction of everything I ever say, then you go make your own blog and write your own posts there. You don’t just try and hijack mine every time I write anything.
You may be my friends, you may be people that have been visiting only once or have been here for years commenting frequently and becoming folks near and dear to my heart, like Dechion, Katt and Tesh, but you”re not my customers.
I pay for the website hosting, and to the best of my knowledge I’ve never asked any of you to rush out and fund my purchase of anything. I certainly don’t recall trying to push for people to buy items from the blog store so I can get some cash.
I don’t even host ads, despite a lot of emails wanting me to, so I don’t receive money from passive pagehits. I’ve always felt ads would have been unsightly.
See, I don’t do this for money, If I wanted money, hell, I’d still write for WoW.com and I’d have closed this blog a long time ago. Life isn’t all about making money. There’s nothing wrong with making money, and there’s nothing wrong about websites having banner ads.
But not being a money making enterprise leaves me ethically and morally free to say what I’m saying right now, which is that I don’t owe anyone a damn thing in what I write or how I write it.
I write for fun, I write for myself, and I write for the amusement and enjoyment of you, my friends. I also continue to try to provide a place to share ideas and suggestions and tips for people starting out tanking, to help get their feet wet and feel confident.
When people do spend money on the blog store, I don’t even keep that. So far, it’s all gone right back into buying shirts or buttons I’ve given away to readers, either at local Meet the Bear events or through website contests.
I’ll never be a Penny Arcade making money with this stuff; it’s not what I aspire to.
I’m always happy to discuss what part of my opinion may have upset you in private, as long as you’re interested in talking about it via email, and not just in lecturing me. If you want a reasoned discussion, hey, I’m your Bear. Close your mind, and I close MY browser.
Where I simply shake my head in laughter is if you read something I wrote that you didn’t like because I wrote about a topic you don’t want to have to see on a “WoW blog”, and then you email me to tell me so.
I don’t care. Click “unsubscribe” and move on with your life, don’t bother me with your sillyness.
Am I supposed to go, “Oh my, I stepped over the bounds of a WoW blog and delved fleetingly in the deep waters of the political spectrum, and my readers have made their wishes known; henceforth, I shall restrict myself to good, wholesome WoW related blog posts so as not to offend.”
No, it doesn’t do that.
I write what I write that I really think and feel. You may love me, hate me, or say ‘meh’, but at least you know it’s me.
If I am really thinking about something a lot and being bothered by it, I’m not going to censor myself, when talking about it and getting it off my chest really does make me feel better. That’s one of the best things about having a blog; to write what I really think and get it off my chest.
I may hold myself to a personal standard in my writing, and I may do my best to hold to that standard, but I do not OWE any reader anything. I don’t answer to you, I answer to my own conscience.
In return, you do not owe ME anything. Ain’t I nice? This is finally one thing in your life where you know that no bill will come due.
If you don’t like what I say or how I say it, you don’t have to just endure it. Heck no. You always, ALWAYS have the power to exercise your freedom of choice and remove me from your feedreader and from your life. I’m just one more idiot in a world full of them, writing BS on a blog.
Where we have the divide, is that your freedom of choice does not include a right to attempt to inhibit or discourage my exercising of my freedom of speech and freedom of personal expression on the blog I pay to maintain.
If and when you don’t like what I say on any given day, you have the power. Just unsubscribe, and never come back. Don’t subject yourself to what you find offensive. Be a mature individual, and just close the browser to me.
Just, whatever you do, please don’t bother taking that further step to email me just to tell me you didn’t like my going off WoW topics, or talking politics or whatever. I’m not going to censure myself to make you happy, or apologize for speaking my mind here in my house.
It’s just not going to happen.