Are You Offending People Away From Your Blogs Or Websites?

There’s a young lady from Australia whose Instagram page I used to follow named Sheridyn Fisher; that’s her picture to the right. I think she’s very attractive and for awhile I enjoyed pictures of her and her adventures, as well as her pets. She was once either a Playboy model or almost a Playboy model; I’m not quite sure how that all worked out but it proves that I’m not the only one who thought she was attractive.


She’s also an entrepreneur of sorts. She has a line of swimwear, which figures, and along with modeling some of the images herself, she has other models who will show off some of her wares. That’s nothing to be mad at either I must admit. However, one of the models on one of the Instagram posts decided to share a feeling of hers that, in retrospect, was one of the most idiotic things anyone has ever said while pursuing a career. She said it made her sick to her stomach knowing some men over the age of 40 were looking at pictures of her and felt they were all dirty old men.

Dirty old men? For looking at some pictures that she willingly took to show off her body wearing swimwear? Dirty old men? You mean the early part of the major demographic of 35-54 year olds that most advertisers want to reach because they’re the ones that have the most money per capita to be able to afford to buy, well, maybe not women’s swimwear but calendars, magazines, or whatever else pretty women might be a part of?

Yeah, I was offended. Sheridyn didn’t say it but if she didn’t remove the comment before I saw it and she didn’t say anything in response to it either. Truthfully, I doubt she’s ever looked at her Instagram account because if she was anything like me and what I talked about earlier this year lamenting the lack of moderating comments on sites like YouTube and Instagram, allowing trolls and such to ruin the overall experience for everyone else. Sure, I do understand that if you get 5,000 comments it might be hard to get rid of some of them but something has to occur here and there, or so I feel.

I thought about this as it relates to blogging in general. Sometimes we take controversial opinions on something and that’s fine if we’re ready to deal with people not liking it. I do that from time to time when I’m in a state where I just have to express an opinion; nothing wrong with that and I think more people should think about doing something like that from time to time. Remember the saying “if you don’t stand for anything you’ll fall for everything”.

However, being controversial is something most people will do on purpose. What about doing things that might be subconsciously turning people away, things you really haven’t thought much about and one day wake up to the reality that you might be offending a part of your audience in some way that you’ve never thought about?

Michael Porter via Compfight

A few nights ago I was checking out the videos of someone I’d just discovered on YouTube. I thought she was a breath of fresh air and decided to check out some of her older videos. I came across one called Apology and was drawn to watch it. In it, she apologized for some things she said regarding people on welfare because she didn’t think before she said it.

She was upset because a lot of people dumped on her after the presidential election because she decided to support the loser of the election (no, I ain’t saying his name lol) and, being one of those people who shoots from the hip, went over to the dark side because a lot of people on Twitter baited her for her open support there.

She ended up taking a major hit in subscribers and her popularity for awhile. It seems that even if you came from nothing and have made something of yourself that people don’t think that gives you credibility to start castigating everyone else because they need assistance from the government. I didn’t watch the video that offended so many people, but I did see that it got nearly 15,000 dislikes and only 1,100 likes and, being someone whose income comes only from YouTube, it seems that she got the message that she’d been insensitive; thus the apology.

Some people forgave her after a bit while others moved on, and she’s now back up around 300,000 subscribers or so and has moved on with life. But she’s kind of a celebrity and kind of ditzy cute; do you think your own business, website or blog could survive such a faux pas? Think about it; how often have you said something that came across as mean and been called on it? How many times have you written or posted something that someone else might see as sexist or racist when it wasn’t your intention to do so?

If you’re in the United States, all I have to say is Paula Deen for you to understand what I’m saying here. So many people were shocked by her admission, even though I’m not one of them. That she might have thoughts like she did & said the types of things she’s said didn’t surprise me in the least. But her public persona was something else, and it all came crashing down when this came out about her. And, if you watch the link above, which goes to a YouTube video I created about the situation, what you’ll see is that I believe her biggest mistake was waiting until someone else broke the news instead of being proactive.

Still, the point of this particular article is to ask you if you’re taking care to not be potentially controversial when you’re not trying to be, or not potentially being inflammatory and insensitive when you are trying to be. I left a lot of people in my dust during the 2008 presidential election, and a lot of people who lost their minds on Twitter before and after that election lost a lot of business and a lot of money as well.

There are many stories where a slip of the lip at the wrong time has cost someone their livelihood. How careful are you being in trying to make sure that person isn’t you?

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42 thoughts on “Are You Offending People Away From Your Blogs Or Websites?”

  1. Wow, Yeah that’s the biggest problem with being a well known name. If you say something like “Dirty Old Men” to your fan base. Your fan base will get upset and CNN will be sure to report about it. It would be like one day you say “I hate bloggers and blog comments.” A lot people would just disappear because they feel unappreciated and their ideology of who they think you are would prove false in their own minds. Kind of like the term “Don’t meet your hero or Role Model.” I’ll have to keep this sort of thing in mind in the future. – Scott Craighead
    Scott Craighead recently posted..Hot Blog Tips Addresses Blogging With That Gaming CriticMy Profile

    1. Scott, the way I see it is if people just stay genuine and speak their truth without representing themselves in another way and then destroying how other people see them they’ll probably do fine. I like to think that I’ve been writing my blogs for many years, telling truths and being honest when I give my opinion, yet never have put down anyone that didn’t deserve it (such as that Limbarf guy; I hate him lol). I’m certainly not perfect but probably the only thing I might ever think about talking about that might not be all that nice is how some people dress (I have a particular hatred for lime-green stretch pants; even supermodels look horrid in those things); otherwise, people are people to me.

    2. Hey, Scott! I just keep running into you everywhere, lately.. πŸ˜‰

      Mitch, I don’t know – we’re all human. If we’re TOO careful, we’re bland and uninteresting. If we’re thoughtless, we risk losing friends, followers, and potential customers.

      But I think people need to grow up a little, too – to realize that we ALL say or do things that offend SOMEONE, SOME TIME, and we ought to try to give benefit of the doubt to others. That is, did Paula Deen’s thoughtless words really reflect a negative attitude towards black people?

      Yes, Deen envisioned a wedding scene straight out of Gone with the Wind without thinking through what that implied. But she went on to describe the courtesy and professionalism of black men she’d had in mind. And if referring to her use of “the n-word” – look, if I held a gun to your head and tried to rob you, would you not describe me, later, to your SPOUSE, with a few choice words (the tamest of which might be “white b****”?) To dredge that up in a deposition smacks of an attempt to be painfully honest – and I can’t fault her for that.

      She’s a “woman of a certain age,” and I’d call the whole incident “disappointing,” but I don’t see Deen being a card-carrying member of the KKK, either. I guess what it comes down to, for me, is that we’ve got real issues with racism and this whole thing just DISTRACTED from them. Maybe it did make the conversation “safer” and easier to have, trivial as it is – it’s easier to start having it than in the face of opposition to Obama or the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin case.

      People, though, are discovering the power they have to destroy others by broadcasting their faux pas to the Internet horde. And that’s disturbing, too. I can see why you’d be offended by the comment this young lady made, but perhaps the most effective way to deal with it is for someone to remind her that there will come a day when she’s happy those men still find her attractive enough or interesting enough to ogle. πŸ˜‰ I’d almost argue that this is worse than Deen’s comment – after all, she’s casting ALL men over 40 as “dirty old men.” Unless they’re gay or dead or don’t happen to find her the least bit attractive. Wow.

      It’s like people who blog publicly, then get mad at some contradictory or critical comment and say things like, “You’re not my intended audience!” or “This is my PRIVATE blog and I’ll say whatever I please – you shut up!” LOL – well, if that were the case, I couldn’t be reading it…or commenting on it…could I?

      I just think good people should strive to be more thoughtful – yet not fearful – in what they say, AND more forgiving when they read something that might be “offensive.” Ask yourself if it was INTENTIONALLY offensive, or just accidentally or incidentally so.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Glipho: Bringing Social Back to BloggingMy Profile

      1. Hi Holly,

        You’re mainly right but wrong about one thing, and I’ll start with that one. I never use bad language; never have in my entire life. So no, I’m not the one who’d use the “b” word or any other word, ever. I might call someone a “dirty rotten so-and-so” or a “blankety-blank”, but that’s as strong as my language ever gets. lol

        You’re right on the Paula Deen thing and I pretty much stated that, while not wanting to get sidetracked by any of it. What happened there proves that no one can ever be a trusted confidante if they’re not really your friend, and her saying it in front of or to a subordinate was pure idiocy. It allowed people to pile on; it’s as bad as people thinking their pictures on Facebook are private because only their friends can see them; doesn’t work does it?

        I’m of one thought that branches into two different things. One, sometimes people do slip in saying something wrong off the cuff, but often it also shows their true feelings about things; hard to take that type of thing back, and we’re in a society now where people will say what they want and try to apologize later, and I’m tired of those people. Two, if you have time to think of something first and you slip, then you were just plain ol’ stupid and deserve whatever grief you get because you didn’t really slip, you just didn’t think things through. In the case of the model, that’s what she did and one never knows how it’ll impact her career. Kind of like 2 of the young ladies on that Big Brother show that have already lost their jobs because of their insensitive comments but don’t know it yet; tell me that’s not the definition of true stupidity, especially knowing people are watching you 24/7.

        That’s why I put the warning out there because it’s something more people need to consider when they’re talking to others through their blogs, or promoting something. If we try to promote ourselves by putting someone down who doesn’t deserve it, we end up looking bad and there could be other consequences of those actions. As you said more people need to be thoughtful about what they do, especially online, because once it’s out there, it’s out there forever.

      2. Well, you’re a better man than most, Mitch. My husband is the same way. But I think you got my point; to say nasty things about someone who assaulted you with threats of or actual violence isn’t the same as insulting an entire class of people. If a nasty person is referred to as a “son of a b****” it really isn’t intended as an insult to his mother. I think most people get that, but they get especially twitchy when the words could be considered “racist” or “sexist.”

        You’re absolutely right – what people say does affect how others think and feel about them. But how people react also colors observers’ thoughts and feelings about THEM. I see people baiting and trolling, attacking and vilifying, and it goes so far that I feel sorry for the original wrongdoer. I think that it is more important than ever to remember and try to live by the Golden Rule, and to “forgive others’ trespasses as we would have them forgive ours.” If they are mean-spirited and unrepentant, that’s far different from clueless, thoughtless, and impulsive. A little kindness could make the difference in how someone sees the world, not just in how they see us.

        For what it’s worth, I always thought older guys were more intelligent, confident, and less self-centered than the young ones. (Yeah, my husband’s only four years younger than me, but he was an exception.) πŸ˜‰ Older guys generally have better manners and more experience to know how to treat a woman right. So don’t feel bad, guys.
        Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Glipho: Bringing Social Back to BloggingMy Profile

      3. Holly, part of this makes you nicer than me. I’m not biblical at all so I never feel sorry for an original wrongdoer unless I didn’t believe what they initially did was all that wrong. I also feel it’s not up for me to forgive any and everything; I’m not qualified to do it and, if I’m bothered enough, I’d rather just move on.

        If someone takes a comment out of context that’s one thing; I always felt that Al Campanis’ comment years ago on Nightline was taken way out of context because of his history; it helped change things but his career was ended. He was also correct, something that most people at the time weren’t ready to hear, though he said it incorrectly. That’s a much different thing than what I see these days, especially in places where people are allowed to hide behind fake names.

        As for the “creepy” thing… it seems that once you’ve reached a certain age some younger folks think of you more like an uncle than as a living, breathing human being, male or female, so the category changes based on language. Some weeks ago I had an interesting discussion about the word “babe”, which I wrote about here, as some of the younger set I knew didn’t like my using it and I felt I had to defend my right to use it (and I still get called that by some women here and there that I don’t know so…). But the closest to me in age was still 20 years younger. I now understand why it’s so hard for some people to give up phrases they used years earlier, especially around the generation twice removed from them.

      4. I’m not THAT nice. But I do try not to judge people more harshly than I’m willing to judge myself – or to be judged. (We ALL judge people, so none of this “We mustn’t judge others” business from me – that’s just not realistic, and if we didn’t judge, we’d throw the whole concept of right and wrong out the window.) A person can be wrong, can make a mistake, without my needing to make their life a living hell. To go back to the example of Paula Deen – she’s no Rush Limbaugh. He stirs up negativity in the name of entertainment, under the guise of “news” and op-ed. He’s smart, deliberate, and – I think – evil. Deen is just a woman of a certain age. She knows better, but old habits and patterns of speech die hard. I try to consider the person’s heart – their intent – and when I can no longer find any grounds to give benefit of the doubt, I’m no “turn the other cheek” saint.

        (And yes, I often laugh at human foibles; it is to laugh when I do something stupid – fair enough. πŸ˜‰ )
        Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Glipho: Bringing Social Back to BloggingMy Profile

      5. Notice:
        *This comment is totally for comedy and never happened*

        One time Mitch called me a no good lying son of a you know what! I started to cry but he then smacked me because I was getting “water” on his new bear rug. By water he meant “tears” of course and called me a little wuss. He said I needed to !man up! to make it out there in the big bad world. He said if I ever wanted a taste of what the real world is like he’d be glad to show me as he slowly reached his golfing clubs. He said he knew a perfect spot out on the lake that could be my watery grave if I wept one more tear on his new $15,000 bear rug. I slowly got up and headed for the door. But he hit me in the knee before I could reach it saying “My doorknob is made of brass and is not tear resistant.” He then opened the door for me and grabbed me by my neck dragging me out his door. Mitch, then choke slammed me on his porch and walked back into his house while slamming his precious door behind him. I’ll never forget it, I was only 4 years old. πŸ™ – Scott Craighead

        *This comment is totally for comedy and never happened*
        Scott Craighead recently posted..Hot Blog Tips Addresses Blogging With That Gaming CriticMy Profile

      6. Which brings up another good point – you can get by with more mistakes, I think, if people know you as a person of generally good character and your mistake isn’t so far OUT of character as to shock them into thinking they don’t know you at all.
        Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Consider the SourceMy Profile

      7. I’m with you on that one Holly. I have friends where I expect certain behavior from them that’s not great and thus I’m not disappointed when they behave in that manner. Luckily I don’t have a lot of them. πŸ™‚

      8. Me, too, but the reason they’re my friends is that they’re honest and not mean-spirited. I’d rather know what a person’s really thinking – even if I disagree with it or find it a bit offensive (not Limbaugh offensive, just not “nice”) than to think they’re better than that and be shocked at what lurks under the refined veneer.

        I hope that people know me well enough to know that when my mischievous streak comes out to play, it’s never EVER meant to be hurtful. Unless we’re talking about Limbaugh, or Palin, or… well, yeah, my halo slips from time to time. Try not to be too shocked. πŸ˜‰
        Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Do You Name Your Cars?My Profile

      9. Well, those folks deserve it, if we have to claim them as part of the human race. I can think of a lot of “those types” I castigate with regularity. I’m not sure if I have a mischievous streak or not; I’ll have to get back to you on that one. lol

    1. Oh yeah, I remember that really well. I don’t remember if the couple of women who were really angry ever forgave you for it but I hope so. Still, that was a perfect example.

      1. An interesting reply from you, Mitch, considering what you just said to me about forgiveness. πŸ˜‰

        It’s like I try to tell my son – some topics will likely never be ready for jokes to be made, and others – well, too soon. And some, you should really experience first-hand before you jest. Or not – and leave it alone.
        Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Glipho: Bringing Social Back to BloggingMy Profile

      2. I’m good with interesting replies. lol

        I’ve been someone who’s always been very close to the vest when it comes to politically correct speech; you and I have talked about this before. I also think there’s those times when people have to stick to their guns and say “I’m a be me”. I almost never use the term “African-American” because I grew up to be “black and proud”, and I don’t ever see myself willingly going to Africa, let alone having a connection to it. So I don’t defer to the masses with the term, and offer no apologies on it.

        As for the forgiveness thing overall, I’ve found that the process almost always means I have to continue thinking about it even way after the fact. That’s why the process of clarification is important; I’d rather know what someone is thinking when they say something rather than build it up too much in my mind. For those who can forgive and forget I applaud them; I’m just not built that way.

      3. I didn’t say anything about forgetting, Mitch. πŸ˜‰ Depending on the wrongdoing, forgetting could just be sheer foolishness.

        Seems to me that “African-American” is just painfully self-conscious PC language that is largely inaccurate, in much the same way calling myself “German-American” would be. To me, “black” and “white” are descriptive ADJECTIVES. I don’t refer to “blacks” and “whites,” but sometimes it clarifies things to say “the black woman” or “the white man.” It’s not racist if it’s merely descriptive. Some would say that it’s somehow not okay for me to observe and acknowledge that you are, in fact, a black man – “Oh, that’s racist! He’s just a man!” (which is true, too, of course) – seems, to me, to deny people a part of who they are – their heritage and their cultural identity. And THAT, I think, is racist.

        I remember the fear some women had that the feminist movement would lead to unisex bathrooms and women having to work as telephone linemen, or something. That “equal pay for equal work” would somehow turn us INTO men and require us to do ‘man’s work.’ Lead to us being drafted into the military. Well, it didn’t, did it? (Admittedly, some of the social graces seem to have fallen by the wayside, but that’s not the fault of fairness and equality, is it?) Having said that, I’m happy to be – and be referred to as – a woman. Not in a derogatory tone – not in that snide “You run like a girl!” tone middle schoolers use to mock girls, but in a “vive la difference!” sort of way. πŸ™‚
        Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Cherry’s β€œJoyride” PlaylistMy Profile

      4. True, some terms just are way out there. It’s kind of like the discussion of the word “Indian”. It seems strange going with “Native American” at times when I live in an area that has the Six Indian Nations, and that’s what they call themselves. Also, having a lot of that blood in my background it personally affects me indirectly.

        Overall terminology isn’t as important as its intent. Thus, I’ve gotten used to being called Mr. Mitchell, but it took awhile. lol

  2. I don’t go out of my way to be controversial but there are times when people may take stuff I’ve written about out of context. But that’s not my fault if they’ve misread my post?

    I just posted a video on YouTube and after only three views I got my first dislike and I thought WTF? Would be nice if they commented as to why they didn’t like it but then that may be too much to ask.

    As for YouTube, Pinterest or whatever, I always moderate the comments people leave because if I don’t it reflects on me personally.
    Sire recently posted..Lawyer Joke Friday Funnies #76My Profile

    1. Sire, check out this particular video of mine: It’s the only video of mine that’s ever gotten a thumbs down, and it has 2. Yet, I’m not overly worried about it because in my mind there’s a lot of people who haven’t really thought about it in terms of our protection; that plus the hypocrisy of privacy in this country today.

      However, I do remember your having to deal with some of the female visitors to your blog when you had those sexy ads at the bottom of your blog; you don’t get as many ladies commenting these days as you used to.

      1. Ahh, to be the sober, feminist voice in the wilderness…

        It could be your fault, at least partly, Sire. In a society where women are brought up to believe their only value is in their looks and sex appeal, you could be part of the problem – not that you INTEND to be. Not that you’ve done anything “wrong,” even. But you are a market, and sexy shots are a gateway drug to more demeaning things.

        Maybe. Then again, some women love to model and exert the power of their sex appeal over men. Or other women. In a truly free market – assuming we never had issues of exploitation BY men or issues of things like human trafficking and prostitution – it would all come down to whether a woman wanted to pose or not, and that would be just fine. Maybe it is. Sometimes. Do you know where all your images come from, really? πŸ™‚

        Not judging you – just asking.
        Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Glipho: Bringing Social Back to BloggingMy Profile

      2. Sure I do Holly, from Google. The images I normally use are of celebrities who wear very revealing clothes. Why they do that I have no idea. Maybe it’s just so I can get an eyeful and I’m the type who just loves to look.

        I could just as easily walk down a busy street on any night out and take those shots myself as there’s always a multitude of women wearing very short skirts and revealing tops
        Sire recently posted..How To Buy USA Powerball TicketMy Profile

      3. From Google, eh? Yeah, that’s the definitive “source,” Sire. Uh huh. πŸ˜‰

        Oh, without a doubt, women are sometimes their own worst enemies. And as I said, sometimes they do like to be ogled. But it’s this assumption others make about that that’s troubling, and often taken too far.
        Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Glipho: Bringing Social Back to BloggingMy Profile

  3. Ugh.

    I don’t think there ever be a day where a man can admire the physical characteristics of a woman and not be condemned for it.

    Guess this is a lesson by social media relationships to favor only neutral, value-free judgment comments haha. Silly problem to have, but that’s the world.

    1. No, I don’t want to live that way Jon. Some folks have to realize that they’re not above, well, being liked just because of who they are or what they do, as much as some people are despised. Whereas no one condones some of the rude and obnoxious messages I see sometimes, if someone is giving you appreciation just say “thank you” and move on. Some folks just need to learn how to accept praise; heck, I think that’s going to be a video!

    2. How sad.

      In a way, it’s true. I think women have become so wary of men (strangers, not men we know well) that the most innocuous comment on our physical appearance just sets off warning bells. As if it’s bound to lead down the creepy path, or something.

      Because, unfortunately, it so often DOES. And yet, women do like to be thought of as attractive; we do appreciate compliments from men we know and feel “safe” with (I don’t mean “safe” as in, “they’re gay.” I mean safe in the most literal sense of the word.) It must be challenging to be a nice man, these days. Oh, hell, just smile and keep your eyes above the shoulders until she laughs. πŸ˜‰
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted..How to Introduce Yourself to Strangers (Hint: No, That’s NOT the Way)My Profile

      1. It is sad Holly. Truthfully, I like being out with my wife because it’s the only time I feel free in offering someone a compliment. I’m now considered to be at that “creepy old guy” stage, even though I certainly don’t feel it. But it reminds me of conversations I used to have with one of my female friends who used to say to me that she only wanted people she thought she’d be interested in to comment on her appearance and I’d say that one can’t control what others think and how they might act on it that way. It’s no wonder there’s a “war” between the sexes; the rules won’t allow us to interact with each other on an equal status; not that it was ever equal to begin with.

  4. Good post, Holly. I feel that a woman’s physical appearance is something alien and far beyond the realm of commentable content, even if a woman posts pictures of herself in ways that would attract comments, or are designed to showcase her personal beauty. It’s hard to offer even the most innocuous of comments without being considered a creep…at the same time, a lot of men ARE creeps, so it’s a reasonable fear I suppose!

    1. That is perhaps the nicest example of me being likened to an “alien creature” in a long while. πŸ˜‰ Thanks, Jon. I do think that this is true, but unfortunate and sad. I will say that “Your hair looks great!” or “That color really goes well with your eyes!” are fairly innocuous and rarely come amiss. πŸ™‚ Comments like “Your smile never fails to cheer me up!” are usually okay, too. An appreciative glance (NOT a “leer”) will not usually get you slapped, either. But safest to generally focus the gaze on that spot at the bridge of the nose where the eyebrows meet… (also helps keep YOU from giggling, as you reflect on this blog post and comment exchange).
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Glipho: Bringing Social Back to BloggingMy Profile

  5. Depends on whether your real name is associated with both. If so, people will identify you, at some point, and go, “Hey, isn’t this the same guy who said…”

    If not, it could be just as disastrous – if you anger enough people, they’ll still figure out where you work, then imply you’re a hypocrite.

    It’s better to be yourself – just pray that’s not an ugly, mean-spirited, bigoted, awful thing to be, and if it is, try to fix that. πŸ™‚
    Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Sorry, Ruby – My Friends and I Ran Your Friends Off FacebookMy Profile

  6. Hi Mitch, I too agree that being opinionate dis not a bad attribute. However, there is a fine line between having opinions actually and pretending to have one. Being a blogger, I have always considered one thing to be my basic motto and that is to be honest to my readers.
    Jeo recently posted..Flood MitigationMy Profile

      1. I think I covered that one before I knew who your comment was aimed at Holly. lol We both know those curmudgeonly types that hate on everything, no matter what it is.

    1. Good share Jeo. I think some people are just contrary no matter what because they have other issues in their lives. That’s a horrible place to be but it seems in this world it does take all types.

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