Mike Dover
by Mike Dover
Mon Dec 7th 2009 at 9:36pm UTC

Does Your Blog Community Have Your Back?

Blog Script

My friend Neil is one of the best bloggers in the business. 1000awesomethings.com is a bright, positive light among millions of angst-filled rantfests littering the blogosphere. One of the site’s reviewer’s summarizes the project nicely:

“There’s something riveting about 1000 Awesome Things that makes you want to keep coming back. Aside from the great humor, it reminds you of the little things in life, and how awesome they can be.”

The blog is a sensation. It has received more than eight million hits, won a Webby, and earned the author a book deal. The fact that it is so positive makes last week’s incident even more unusual. In November, there was an entry for “really, really, tall people” that was well-received. A follow-up post on “really, really short people” was not. It offended people.

Some of the comments (note: some are gently edited for typos) were nasty…

What’s next, a post about how awesome disabled people are because they get to ride around in wheelchairs all day long, or a post about how cool retarded kids are because they get to wear those bitching helmets? You, my friend, are a mental MIDGET; your humor is SMALL-minded; and your capacity for empathy is STUNTED. In sum, you need to GROW up.

Others were thoughtful …

I’m agreeing with the people who have a bit of a qualm with this post. While it doesn’t offend me, it really doesn’t leave me feeling good either, as it seems like you just point out all the negatives about being short. What’s awesome about that? I really think this could’ve been written a bit differently in order to actually seem positive. Right now, it’s just a serious bummer.

I wondered if the author was going to respond with an apology, a clarification, or an entry about “people that don’t get the joke are still awesome.” Instead, he let the community speak. Some of the readers that came to his defense:

  • Wow. I think it’s funny that people are offended by this so much more than the Tall People post, which is almost exactly the same format. Napoleon Syndrome much, guys?
  • 5′ here and in total agreement with this post: I am awesome! Not reaching stuff, failed volleyball dreams and the concerts are all problems, but the pros outweight the cons! Being short is a great way to meet people since we’re constantly asking strangers to grab stuff off the top shelf. Also at airports some kindly person will always volunteer to grab my luggage off the tram thing when they see me struggling to reach! Basically being short is a lifetime of people not expecting much of you physical-labour wise, awesome!
  • It’s human nature to classify ourselves using extremes. If we’re not one, then our mind tells us that we’re the other.  With that in mind, if you’re not hitting your head on the doorframe every time you enter a building, then chances are you were thinking of yourself when you read this post. If that’s true, and you haven’t read the really, really tall people post (which was written to be identical to this one), then you might have thought Neil was nineteen feet tall, and an insensitive jerkwad to boot. If we think for about three seconds, all of us can come up with something that we’d like to change about ourselves that we can’t. For some people, being really, really short, or really, really tall is their thing. We all have our own crosses to bear. The message here is that we all have things that make us unique, and while we may wish we could change some of those things, sometimes we can’t. We are who we are, and life gives us the privilege of embracing our individuality and having our own go at the world.  That’s pretty awesome in my book.

If someone doesn’t get your joke on the blogosphere, is it better to explain or let the readers speak for you?

2 Responses to “Does Your Blog Community Have Your Back?”

  1. Paul Cornies Says:

    Audiences negotiate meaning in the media including blogs. It is a healthy process to be able to debate the issues in a civil manner such as this. It’s also interesting to see how a healthy community or tribe has been established at this site.

    This dynamic of healthy debate is now a new frontier in education, exploring a whole new genre for students.

  2. Wendy Says:

    I’ve found (sometimes by accident) that waiting and letting my regular readers defend anything controversial works quite well.

    Regular readers have subscribed, indicating they generally like what I write (not that they necessarily agree all the time). They’ve invested their time in being readers and contributors. Therefore an attack is not just at me, but them too.

    I know that I feel like I have a stake in blogs that I regularly read and contribute to, and I take offense when other readers seem to be unfair — and will respond.

    You’re right — blogs are an interesting study in the nature of “community.”