The one about blogs and branding and bitching, oh my! [online shenanigans]

Yesterday, via Twitter, I found my new favourite blog: Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist.  Now, I’m not sure how I hadn’t found this blog earlier, because it is written by a co-founder of my favourite blog-network, Brazen Careerist, but as the old saying goes: better late than never.

Penelope’s blog is on a bunch of topics relevant to a young, vivacious upstart such as myself (the tweeted post was entitled 5 Career tips women should run from; and my fave post is 5 Time management tricks I learned from years of hating Tim Ferriss — about hating that knob who wrote 4-Hour Work Week, which I stupidly bought and now refuse to finish) but this one particular post, called My name is not really Penelope, got me thinking about myself and my decision to start a new blog/website (I know, I know; it’s not a very hard task– what blogger who writes about their life online and has a vanity domain doesn’t think about themselves every 3 seconds? Also, I am a Leo).

The post is about how “Penelope” changed her name a few times to accommodate (among other things) her views about patriarchy, her boss and her editors, and also mentions the whole “personal brand” thing as well as how she got busted for mentioning stuff that was recognised by others and the shit hit the fan.

Returning to me (of course) let’s start with that last thing.  A bit over a week ago, I was (figuratively) hit over the head with the revelation that people had read some things I had Tweeted or blogged about and, as a result of what I had said out there in the public forum, became upset or decided that I was not a very nice person (or something like that).

I was quite surprised because I didn’t think anyone who wasn’t registered on Twitter would be stalking me (because I get notified every time someone properly “follows” me) and for about a nano-second it crossed my mind that I should protect my Twitter updates. But I realised that doing so would defeat The. Whole. Point of Twittering (I am looking straight at you, @mattkeogh) and I love Twittering so I would never actually to do that.

This happened on the very day I registered my new domain name, but it was entirely coincidental as I did not know about the shit-on-fan issue until after I’d already signed up (and the decision to do was made well before that), so I hope nobody thinks I did the whole “it’s time to grow up” thing because I got told off (but boy, did I get Told Off).

Now, I don’t think I said anything defamatory, and I feel as if everything I said was justified in the circumstances (which weren’t very nice, for all involved) but I have promised not to be mean and stuff anymore.

Which sucks, because, as I have said, I am not one to hold back on an opinion and, as I tweeted the next day, self-censorship makes Baby Jesus get butt-raped my gay-pedophile Catholic priests (oh yes, I went there. Again).

But that little event was a good lesson about how “my brand” comes across to people who come across it.  And as I really have no control over who stumbles across my blog or my Twitter because it’s just Out There (you know, in the ether, floating around there with The Truth) it was a sombre reminder than I need to control what I can control.  That makes my stomach churn because it sounds like that lame Irish blessing/prayer thing, but meh, I don’t like paying taxes either, and sometimes we’ve just gotta do what we have to do. Sigh.

I know what happened shouldn’t surprise me too much since I had been (and, of course, continue to) blog and Twitter under my real name.  But it’s kinda funny that I (apparently) came across as mean when there’s that popular school of thought that suggests using fake names on the interwebs promotes more, unnecessary bitching.  The “Greater Internet Fuckwad [sic] Theory” is presented in this diagrammatic formula:

I know you’re more likely to bitch about someone when you know they can’t hear it, or it won’t get back to them. At least not with your name attached to it.  But saying stuff on the internet certainly isn’t the same as whispering behind someone’s back.

There’s that other old saying: if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

I was asked whether I would have said what I said if I had known that it was known that I was saying what I was saying.  My answer was an unequivocal yes.

I don’t think what happened was purely about me bitching.  I felt attacked, and I attacked back.  Because I did not have the opportunity at the time to attack directly, I vented on the internet to keep myself from blowing up and, as I thought at the time, making things worse.

It turned out that I made things worse, only that happened a week later.  Frankly, I think I was being polite by not making an issue out of it when I could have.  If I was being purely selfish, I would have said what I wanted to say and let it all out, there and then; and I do think that would have been worse than what I did.  If I’d had the opportunity to say what I had to say before The Shite Hiteth The Faneth, this probably would not have blown up the way that it had.

(This is my blog and I can rationalise if I want to, thankyouverymuch.)

So it got me wondering: what’s going to happen to me by saying what I have to say (and saying it online)?

I have made assurances to people who have asked to be kept offline that I won’t say stuff about them.  That’s fine.  But what about everything else?  Because, essentially, everything else that I say online was also called nasty and horrible.

I don’t change anything on here. However I may appear is It.  That’s all, folks: nothing more, nothing less.  As my old tagline said: I tell it like I think it is.  And I don’t regret that and I don’t intend to change that.

But what happens when what I say gets me into touble? Will I lose friends?  Will I lose the respect of people who “know” me in real life?

I guess the outcome depends on whether I respect their reasons for disliking what I say.

Because if I don’t respect their reasons, I probably don’t respect them, and if one more cane toad under the tires is good for the country, one more schmoe who’s opinions don’t matter is good for me.

It also depends on whether I respect them for bringing their issues to me and explaining them to me and discussing them with me.

Because if I don’t even know they have an issue with me? Psh, bitsch pleez, how could I possibly lose sleep over it?

My conclusion is that if people are happy to let me keep saying what I say, or refuse to ask me why I say it, they can either stop reading what I have to say, or forever hold their peace.

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