Monday, May 21, 2012

Wisdom from High School

Ah, the Internet ... sometimes I really do believe that this connectedness is a mirage. In reality, we are far more disconnected from people than we ever were. On a major blog today, I saw a writer trolling the readers. He'd written a contentious piece the previous week, which I have no issues with. However, he decided to write a follow-up to disparage all those that disagreed with him.

This I have a problem with ...

So, I wrote my own little response, and I'm going to share it here, because I think it is valid outside the context of this one event:

When I was in high school, I was EIC of the high school paper. I learned an awful lot doing that job, primarily because I had a great teacher. She knew classical literature and journalistic beats equally. Along with my other duties, I was responsible for a regular editorial.

For one issue, I wrote something that ended up being a bit contentious and created a lot of controversy. We actually got a lot of letters to the editor on the piece, which is almost unheard of in a high school. I suggested I write up a follow-up editorial to answer some of the criticisms and clarify my points.

I'll never forget what she said. I had my shot -- if I didn't communicate what I needed to, if I needed to clarify, if I had to answer critics, then my editorial failed. If it can't stand on it's own, it's rubbish. If it can -- then no further response is warranted. She continued: I had a platform, the paper -- it was mine. Any further response would be like bullying people. Not only do I get to choose the letters to respond to, but I'd be using my position to make other people look wrong, because I could cherry pick the response.

No, I'd had my say, now it was time to let others take it up.

If the original piece had accomplished what it supposed to, this response wouldn't be necessary. Furthermore, the writer seems like a whiner responding to such unimportant elements of the reaction. Did he not have confidence in the original essay? Was his pride wounded that people didn't just accept his opinion?

When you put your writing out there, you must accept the slings and arrows along with any praise. Don't be a baby when people disagree.

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