Risk vs Reward

The kindest word in all the world is the unkind word, unsaid. -author unknown

This post could also be titled “The Danger of Putting Yourself Out There.”

It’s a strange thing to live a somewhat public life. Sharing who I am and what I do online has upside (I wouldn’t do it if it didn’t), but it also has a bunch of ugly things that come with it as well. I believe that we all have to take responsibility for our own online intake which for me has meant that if I don’t like it, I don’t read it. I don’t get caught up in debates on facebook threads, I try not to impose my beliefs too heavily on others, I focus my attention and energy on things that bring me the greatest return. This usually means that blog posts, status updates, or tweets that are educational, uplifting, or humorous will grab and hold my attention. And what I put out to the world? I try to keep it positive and on the up and up. I hope what I share is of some value to others, but at the very least I want to ensure it doesn’t bring anyone down. I like to assume the best intentions of others as well…

Regardless of how or why I do it, it is not easy to put myself out there. This blogging thing makes me incredibly vulnerable to criticism and though I fear it, I accept that as part of the gig. And I truly admire all of the other photographers and bloggers out there who have chosen to open themselves up and risk judgment and criticism for the potential connection with industry peers and clients. I recognize that you have taken precious time out of your life to share and I really do appreciate it! If I connect or benefit in any way from your posts I try to take a few moments out of my day to comment and let you know the value of your efforts. I also want to give kudos to everyone else who takes the time to leave comments. I know how appreciated the feedback is!

In light of all this, something I inadvertently read today online really irked me. As I was circling back on the comments of a really interesting blog post, I noticed that one commenter called out another in an unnecessary and loosely veiled attempt to give an example of their, incredibly valid, point. What they had to say was relevant and useful but at what cost? They in no way needed an example to clarify, but they made the choice to throw someone else under the bus to demonstrate their point. If their intent was really to add value to the discussion, but they truly believed this other person should be aware of their mistakes, they could’ve easily reached out in private to let them know. Pointing out someone’s errors in public is something so very different than doing it directly in private. In private it actually has the potential of being useful and well-received.

So I guess I just wanted to remind everyone that there are real people behind blogs, facebook pages, and twitter handles. There are real people leaving comments in these places, too. Real people with real feelings. While your online life may not seem as “real” as your everyday life, it would serve us all well to treat each other with the same respect we would if we were making comments and leaving feedback in person, face-to-face. The world (both real and online) is smaller than you may think. Why not at least try to play nice?


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Andrew Childress - December 27, 2011 - 4:29 pm

Love this, and every other blog post you’ve done lately. So happy that you’re back out west and you seem to really be enjoying yourself.

Tim King - December 27, 2011 - 11:23 pm

True. And this is how feuds get started. And while some photogs get famous for their feuds, I don’t take you for one.

Interesting post - made me curious which blog it was!

Ashley Goodwin - December 28, 2011 - 9:39 pm

Here here sistah’! I try not to get too political too, although I do stand my ground! But yes, I always think to myself “there is a NAME linked that shitty comment, you know?” so I never understand why people do it? I always try to give them the benefit of the doubt, too, but otherwise do what you do and avoid it.
I have to say that getting personal and then having backlash is a HUGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE fear of mine, especially since it’s hard to put yourself out there in the first place, but that comes with the territory sometimes I suppose. If we are going to put it out there, then we need to own it. Easier said then done. :)
But, keep doing it. You are connecting a wholleeeeeeee lot more than repelling, my friend. ;)

Cheryle - January 12, 2012 - 10:52 am

Let me just start by saying that I was moved to comment *before* you said commenters would be appreciated, lol. :) For some reason, I just found this post today, and it was timely since I am considering a post on putting yourself out there - mainly the privacy aspect. So much info out there, and it can be scary sometimes. And criticism from people who don’t really know how to criticize is, you’re right - one of the scariest parts. Excellent post. :)

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