Saturday, January 11, 2020

When Bloggers Hurt Each Other

I hurt a dear blogging friend this week.

The details aren't important.  But the fact is that I acted without considering how my decision would impact her and our longstanding valued relationship.

We emailed back and forth.  With eyes welling up, I apologized and asked for her forgiveness and asked what I could do to make up for the hurtful misunderstanding.  Quickly, all became well.

Because, as ever, she was warm and gracious and kind.

Like Jesus.




But the unfortunate incident made me consider how we inadvertently wound each other in these Christ-centered blogging circles we run around in which are typically defined by encouragement, inspiration, and grace.

Yes, we've worked hard at building our online presence, one post, one comment, one interaction at a time.  Kindred spirit relationships have blossomed that are based on common faith and world views, trust and respect.

But what we share over our screens is not like our real life relationships where we can sit with one another, look in each other's eyes, talk uncertainties through face to face, and share a hug.

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Like many of you, I'm guessing, I've been hurt here and there over the years.  There've been steady commenters who've vanished from this little community even as I continued seeing them out and about on the sites of others.  My efforts to keep connected were ignored.

I've felt invisible.  Excluded.  Abandoned.  Kinda like 8th grade, all over again.

With reluctance, I've moved on, wishing these former connections well in my heart, sometimes praying that God would prosper the work of their hands even though we'd, for some reason, parted ways.

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So ... how have you worked through misunderstandings, conflict, or the waning of a blogging relationship?  I don't remember reading about this before and I'm so very interested in the wisdom of your experiences.
Linda


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Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

46 comments:

  1. An interesting question. I once had someone from a blog email to say they hadn't seen me around and ask if everything was okay. I told her I was struggling with the depression and had pulled back from writing at the time. She didn't respond. I was so impressed when I got the email because she wasn't someone I'd communicated with other than to make submissions. When she didn't respond to my answer it left me with uncertain feelings. I guess my expectations were that she'd respond with "i'm sorry to hear that" but when I got nothing, it left me wondering why she'd even asked. The written word is seldom a good substitute for face to face conversations. But in today's expanding world we don't always have that choice. Thanks for raising this question. I hope it will make me more thoughtful with the words I leave.

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    1. I like how you put it, Debby, that these kinds of things leave us with uncertain feelings and expectations that, when unmet, leave us to wonder why.

      Sometimes people don't know what to do with someone else's depression or grief or trauma and so they simply back quietly away, which is unfortunate because it sends a message they probably wouldn't want to send ...

      I'm sorry for that hurt. It can feel kind of like abandonment. Maybe by sharing it today, it will release whatever hurt remains lurking for you.

      I'm so grateful you started this dialogue. I feel like it's an important one ...

      Delete
  2. I think the words that stick out to me the most are "how we inadvertently wound each other". There are times when we are annoyed and we lash out at someone on purpose, but when you describe it as inadvertently, that wasn't the intention of what was written. Sometimes we aren't aware of how someone will take what we write. If I am going through a tough time, I am more sensitive to what I read and I get easily hurt or offended. That might not be the writer's intention at all, it is how I interpreted it - it is more the state where I am, not the writer.

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    1. Absolutely, Marilyn. Most people, especially believers, don't set out to purposely hurt or offend, in person or online. But the printed word has even a greater chance of being misunderstood.

      What's interesting is how people respond when they realize that they've hurt someone else. When they own it immediately, ask for forgiveness ... usually all is well and everyone moves on, maybe a bit wiser.

      Social media has done us no favors, sadly, when it comes to communicating well.

      Delete
  3. The stroke of winter's ice-sword
    is not healed
    by idle talk of summer.

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    1. I'm glad you slipped in to join us, Andrew ... even if it is quietly.

      You are surrounded by friends who care, who pray.

      Delete
  4. Bless your heart, Linda. You are so humble and kind and your heart is truly like Jesus. I, too, have been hurt in the same way as you describe. I would see the ones who used to visit commenting on other blogs and wonder if I had hurt or offended them, etc. It also hits me how busy I am and I wonder how many times I may have inadvertently done the same thing, simply because I didn't have time to respond to or visit all of the blogs I follow. Sometimes, I just don't have the energy and fall so far behind. It hurts me to delete a blogger's email post out of my inbox without responding, but sometimes I just can't get to all of them and just hope to make it to their blog the next time or two that they post. I guess misunderstandings are bound to happen no matter what we do or how noble our intentions, but if we all handled the aftermath like you did, what a better world this would be. Thank you for being such a Godly example for us all. May the Lord richly bless you.

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    1. I hear what you're saying, Cheryl, about running around trying to respond to other's blog posts. I used to do that back in the day every time someone posted. It ended up being absolutely exhausting and stole that good ol' blogging joy away from me.

      These days, I get all my posts at Bloglovin.com. Nothing comes in my email box and this way it doesn't overwhelm me when I go there. {Us minimalists like an empty inbox, don't we!}

      When I have the time, I'll head over to Bloglovin and read and comment from there. I try to visit everyone I follow once a week. If I haven't written, I'm usually not visiting. If life is busy, I'm not visiting.

      I love that there's no blog police and that we can figure out what works best for us so that we connect with each other from a place of joy, not an exhausted compulsion.

      Grace, friend.

      You are so sweet.

      Delete
  5. Yes, Linda, I've had followers come and go over the years, and some whom I faithfully follow have rarely, rarely even deigned to leave a comment on my blog. With one friend, it is a mutual understanding. The others? Well, I don't know, but I wish them well.
    What I can rejoice in, though, is that my audience has definitely increased over the last two years, and I pray for all those who do visit and leave some love. May I never inadvertently offend a reader, though I'm sure I have from time to time. I'm so happy to hear that everything is patched up with your friend!
    Blessings!

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    1. There's something very freeing about wishing another well, or praying that God will prosper the work of their hands. Blessing others frees us up from thoughts and emotions that are unpleasant and unproductive.

      And yes, like you, Martha, there are blogs I faithfully follow because I love their work. I don't comment, I don't expect connection, I just enjoy the fruits of her labor. I'm noticing that more bloggers are turning off their comments completely. Or focusing on Instagram. And that's fine, too.

      Whatever floats our boats. It takes time and energy to have a productive conversation. And that's not for everyone in every season.

      But one thing I AM sure of is that I'm grateful you and I get to connect on a regular basis. I'm not at all surprised that your blog has taken off in recent years. There's a lovely freedom, an enthusiastic joy that emanates from your heart to your pen.

      Bless you.

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  6. Linda, I try so hard to visit with all of my blogging friends, but sometimes it seems impossible. I keep my
    3 1/2 year old and 9 month old granddaughters three days a week and help my 89 year old dad, so time is limited. You are so kind and gracious, I am thrilled we met this past year.

    The hardest thing for me so far was when a blogger that was an unbeliever tore into me for posting scripture at the top of each blog post. She said I claimed to be a home decor blogger, but if I was going to post scripture that should change it. She said she was agnostic and didn’t want to come to my blog and see scripture. I tried to be very kind and say this is who I am, and I started the blog to share my faith. I never heard from her again. Of course, we don’t expect an unbeliever to be different. I pray for God to use the scriptures I share to encourage those who read. I always leave your site encouraged, I love your honesty.

    Blessings,
    Pam

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    1. Oh Pam, I know you have a HUGE following ... I can't even imagine trying to keep up with everyone that gathers 'round your hospitable online home. To do all the photography you create. And to be commmitted to care for these precious ones that you love, young and old.

      So much.

      I admire that you put a stake in the ground and said this is who I am, this is why I blog. It's amazing that other people think they have the power to define us and how we share our faith.

      Meanwhile, be gracious to yourself, friend. You are a precious soul ...

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  7. In one of my first years of blogging over a decade ago I wrote a post about a topic that I realized after the fact could be misconstrued by a fellow blogger. I emailed her right away to let her know that that wasn’t my intention but she was already irate. She severed our connection despite my apology. It bothers me to this day.

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    1. Oh Linda, I'm so sorry. What a painful encounter.

      May the speaking of it here help you release the hurt that still remains. I am glad you're here ...

      Delete
  8. I love your heart, Linda. I am sure that you would never intentionally hurt anybody. The blogging world can be a wonderful place, but it can get complicated as well with so many different people coming from so many different places and perspectives. We're bound to rub up against each other in wrong ways at times. Such is life. But yet again, isn't that the beauty of the body of Christ to stick together despite it all? We do sometimes inadvertently wound each other, but we forgive and start fresh again. Thank you for your honesty and humility here. May we all be as wise and gentle in spirit. It's the way of Christ. You are a blessing to me!

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    1. Social media has complicated our lives, hasn't it. And so like the enemy to take something that can be used for good and twist it just enough that it becomes an albatross, a stumbling block, a weapon of sorts.

      I am so grateful that you've reminded us as believers to be wise, gentle in spirit, and to pursue sticking together as we make our way through. The Spirit does that in us, doesn't He.

      You're such an encourager, friend ...

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  9. I appreciate that you brought up this topic Linda! I believe 99% of the time people do not mean to offend (or cut us of in traffic even). But it happens and we can be unintentionally hurtful. Thank goodness for grace! I still get the "I'm just not a good enough blogger" thoughts when bloggers I try to build a relationship with never comment at my place. I also so appreciate your honesty and humility!

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    1. Oh I hate that you end up feeling that way, Lynn ... you who are so beautifully creative, who's designed an online space where words and photos breathe peace and calm and a lovely, uplifting perspective.

      Those are the days when we remember that we play to an audience of One. You are priceless, friend and I'm so grateful for what you bring to my life.

      Delete
    2. The first line means 'it makes me sad!'

      Delete
  10. I agree with Lynn, I don't think most of us intentionally hurt the feelings of others. What I am currently experiencing is being drawn to face to face relationships. Social media has come between me and those personal tangible encounters. I found I was leaning into the cyber world and withdrawing from the world right in front of my nose. I have backed way off my computer time and instead stepped closer to that which God has placed in my path in the day to day world right in front of my nose. Not to say I will never drift back to the friendships of the airwaves, but only to say I see my mission field right before my eyes--close enough to touch.

    Bottom Line--Relationships require work--and we will be misunderstood at times~~but they are always worthy of pursuit~Where ever God points!

    Blessings My Friend!
    Blessings, My Sweet Friend!

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    1. Dear Lulu ... I absolutely am applauding your life, your decisions, your adventures, your real life relationships, your healthy perspective on how you're using your time and energy.

      It makes me wonder how much we've missed along the way because we were too absorbed in our screens. And that gives me cause for pause today.

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  11. Sometimes relationships are strengthened when something has gone wrong and someone apologizes. Sometimes not--sometimes people will accept an apology but still keep their distance. Maybe they forgive as an act of the will but their emotions have a hard time catching up.

    One of my biggest struggles in blogging is knowing how much time to spend in visiting and commenting on others' posts. I used to feel guilty if I didn't visit and comment on every post of those I followed. But then I realized no one comments on every post of mine. So I don't think people generally expect that. But I do believe blogging is interactive and want to be polite and return visits and such. I could do that for hours a day on very good blogs with great, edifying content. But then I'd never get anything else done. So it's hard to know how best to spend the time.

    When I look back on some of my old posts, I'm sad that some who used to be regular commenters haven't been around for a long while. Some have stopped blogging completely. There are some blogs I have visited and commented on several times, without a return visit and without an answering comment. There may be some who comment on my blog that I miss visiting or answering back--I hope not many.

    One thing I have learned about Facebook is that we can't possibly keep up with everyone we ever knew. I think some relationships are just for a season. That may be true in the blog world as well--perhaps someone got something beneficial from us for a while, but their interests changed or their styles or viewpoints are so different that they sought more like-minded reading somewhere else. Or maybe they had to cut back their online time and our blogs were the casualties. I don't know. But I try to pray that God will bring the readers He wants to send my way and that He'll fill me and give me the words to say to them.

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    1. Barbara, you've poured so many good thoughts and important questions into your response. Your second paragraph, in particular, is something that most all bloggers sincerely wrestle with sooner or later. Once that visiting back and forth begins to steal our joy, our time, we know it's time to reconsider how we do this well.

      I'm going to be putting your concerns on the table in another post soon. I'm really interested in how people blog for the long haul and do it in a way that doesn't become cumbersome and draining.

      I so appreciate your honest input on this usually undiscussed subject ...

      Delete
  12. Blogging is a lot like texting in that what is said can be taken so many ways and many times it is the wrong way. I hope I have not hurt people but I'm guessing somewhere along the line I have. I hope I haven't but I'm not naive either.

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    1. Your first sentence says it all, Bill. And the truth of it resonates with the counsel I give my clients which is to avoid texting / emailing on important discussions where you might be misunderstood ...

      And here we are blogging.

      It makes me want to continue to re-read and massage and sit with what I write before I hit the publish button. And ask how can we be authentically ourselves as we blog without walking on eggshells or looking over our shoulders to see who we've upset.

      Thanks for this food for thought.

      Delete
  13. Thanks for starting this conversation, Linda! It's not something that I've seen discussed before either.
    I agree, it can be difficult when people who visited our blogs regularly suddenly disappear and we have no idea why.
    One of the hardest ones for me was that I wrote a post one day sharing a personal story, and a blogger responded full of encouragement and interest, asking more about it. I responded to some of her questions and then said I might write another post at some point to expand on it, and she responded again, saying "Yes, please do."
    So a couple of months later, I wrote the post and emailed her to tell her... No response, and she has never commented on my blog again.
    This was someone who had commented at least every couple of weeks and had also emailed before, so I have no idea what happened, but I agree - sometimes we just have to let it go and move on.
    This is a good reminder to also be aware of how we respond to others.

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    1. Lesley, I hear you. Your story is similar to what Debby and Linda shared in their comments, too.

      It's hard when you think you've built trust and you get a bit real and vulnerable and the door is slammed on you, on the relationship you had worked to build.

      And yes, you're right, sometimes we just have to give that reader back to God and move ahead and reach out to the people He's bringing on our path now.

      Still, it's a tender to the touch memory, isn't it ...

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  14. Dearest Linda,

    I'm so sorry for your pain and the pain of your friend as well. There's so many kinds of pain, but I've found among the most difficult is the pain I've felt in the knowledge that I've hurt another. There's a huge difference between inadvertent and intentional, and I know your heart: you would never - ever - intentionally hurt anyone.

    Be as gentle with yourself as you are gentle with others. Offer yourself the grace and forgiveness you offer others. Be your own friend as you reach out in friendship to others. You've been so kind to me. Always. I am ever grateful to you. The imperfection in me reaches out in kinship to honor, love, and console the imperfection in us all.

    Blessings

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    1. Yep, the older I get, the more grace I offer myself. And the more grace I offer myself, the more there seems to overflow to others.

      I encourage others to do the same for themselves, to give themselves grace and space throughout the ups and downs of the seasons of our lives. It's hard to love others authentically if we're not loving ourselves well.

      Mark 12:31 - 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

      And to that I say amen.

      And thank you for this, Barbara, certainly a lovely benediction to us all --> 'The imperfection in me reaches out in kinship to honor, love, and console the imperfection in us all.'

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  15. You are always such a kindhearted and gentle encourager, Linda. I can't imagine you having to apologize, though I certainly know you have your human moments like we all do. But I LOVE your transparency about this subject. It is easy to miss the fact that our words cut, when we are hoping to cheer. And our absence may cut even more than our words.

    I have a few blogging friends that I used to engage with weekly and now hardly ever see or hear from them--though I may see their pins on Pinterest. I don't harbor bad feelings, knowing they are doing the whole "author thang!" ;) Quite the different world for them now! So I wish them well, even pray for one of them regularly. And move onto who else I can get to know and encourage in the blogosphere. Consider yourself hugged--even if are miles and miles away, my friend!

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    1. Yes, I've found that my best response is to pray right then and there, when my nose gets out of joint or I feel put out for some reason. To bless someone is such a joy, isn't it?!

      And what you said about moving on is so important because God keeps bringing people on to our paths. But we only see them when we're looking forward ... and not gazing longingly in the rear view mirror.

      Thanks for being here, friend.

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  16. Oh, so sad and I'm so sorry.
    Communication without eyes and tone of voice, the lift of the chin or the crinkle of the forehead for cues is SO risky and I've been on both side of the cutting edge. Thanks for this gentle warning.

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    1. Yes, what you say is true, friend. We've ALL been on both sides of the cutting edge. And that can make us more empathetic and conscious of what's happening around us, especially when we don't have that 'lift of the chin or the crinkle of the forehead' as you've so delightfully put it.

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  17. Linda, I cannot believe that you would intentionally hurt another blogger. It is evident the incident has created some distress for you and I am sorry for that.

    You are exactly right - blogging is not like looking into someone's eyes, where misunderstandings can be cleared up immediately with a warm smile and a hug. Hurt has an opportunity to fester over time and become bitterness, even in a community of faith bloggers.

    I am not sure I label myself a faith blogger - I write on a variety of topics, but I am so glad this community has accepted me. I have enjoyed all of our interactions.

    There have been several hurtful comments delivered to me and people have come and gone from my blogging life in the 2 years since I have been writing. I try not to take it personally. I believe that my writing is not everyone's cup of tea and try to let it go at that. Some people are looking for something different, something my posts do not provide.

    We can only try to emulate Christ in our blogging lives as we do in real life. You have always been a blessing to me. So glad we met through our blogs.

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    1. 'We can only try to emulate Christ in our blogging lives as we do in real life.'

      Your statement tells me right there that you're a faith blogger. And you do it well, friend. You have not simply been 'accepted,' but you are a leader in how to do this whole blog thing well.

      And what wise counsel to remember - that maybe our 'writing is not everyone's cup of tea and try to let it go at that.'

      Taking that with me today, Laurie. Bless you.

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  18. I'm grateful you opened this subject, Linda. Some days, I am able to sit and leisurely read and comment on the posts of others. Some days, I only have time to read. How I hope I have never caused offense to others as it is truly not my intent ever. I pray daily that my writing would bless someone, even one. I pray for the Lord to keep me hidden and small, for Him to be seen and release the rest. Thank you for reminding me to be considerate and gracious in every way, including the blogosphere.

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    1. Oh this prayer, right here, Joanne --. 'pray for the Lord to keep me hidden and small, for Him to be seen and release the rest.'

      Amen. You've taken my breath away and recalibrated my soul. Bless you, Joanne ...

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  19. Your heart for grace and kindness shines through in this space. It’s what I love about visiting here. It’s like a warm hug from across the miles. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into the challenges we face in this online blogging world. I hope you continue to dive deeper into this subject.

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    1. I'm hugging you right back, friend. And yes, there's a follow up post spinning around in my head, kicked off by this dialogue.

      There's so much wisdom and blogging experience in this week's conversation to tap into. And I mean to do that.

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  20. I'm so sorry for your pain, Linda. I know you would never do it intentionally. It's something I'm always so afraid of doing. And I'm so sorry for your friend's pain, too. I think there may be specific areas where each of us is prone to take personally. I know I do it too often. But I find it refreshing that your friend told you instead of withdrawing and that you so graciously apologized and she offered forgiveness. You both have responded like Jesus. Thank you for bringing this topic up. I can identify with much of the discussion, too. Love and blessings of healing and peace to you and your friend!

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    1. Trudy, yes. The discussion is resonating and I am grateful. We've touched on a whole bunch of aspects that I want to pursue further.

      Iron sharpens iron. I am grateful!

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  21. I've had the same thing happen. I felt I was part of a little group of bloggers who commented back and forth on my blog, and I theirs. Then one day, it stopped. I noticed they still visited each other's blogs and commented to each other but when I would say something ... crickets. I've never been sure if I offended them in some way or not!

    I try to shake it off and realize, "I just haven't found my people yet."

    I'm still believing they are out there!

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    1. 'Crickets.'

      So well said.

      And can I say that maybe you've found 'your people' here? I sure hope so ...

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  22. Wow, Linda ... I've been mulling this over and coming back to read more comments since you first posted it last week. Such a great discussion, and so many good perspectives.

    I don't think I've ever had any actual conflict with a reader or another blogger, but I have certainly experienced the ebb and flow of relationships with other bloggers. Sometimes it stings, and sometimes I realize I'm the one who let the relationship fade away. For sure, I am deeply appreciative of the bloggers (including you) who have continued to encourage me through seasons when I simply didn't have it in me to be present online very much. My goal for this year is to be more interactive ... without allowing the interacting to take more time than it should. That's always tricky for me as well.

    This conversation you've started has so much to do with expectations and grace and seasons of life ... I can't wait to see what else you write about it!

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    1. I so agree with what you've said about bloggers who stick with us through the ups and downs of transition and grief and change of venues and those fallow seasons. These faithful friends offer us grace and empathy and companionship and don't expect anything back from us.

      Community at its best, isn't it ...

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  23. This is a tender topic, Linda. Thank you for touching it with your usual gracious and kind spirit. The online world is so ephemeral, isn't it? I have also connected with people who later disappeared. I try to hold those relationships loosely.

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