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August 1, 2007

Blogs From the Dark Side: How To Offend Friends and Family Without Trying

With websites like MySpace and LiveJournal boasting high popularity levels and celebrity members, blogs have cemented themselves into the daily lives of regular people.  Yet, as with every notable trend that lasts more than six months in America , blogging has produced a darker, uglier side that is experienced by an abundance of individual users.  Writing in a blog that you share with family and friends can be an excellent way to announce important news, new discoveries, and spread ideas for feedback, or it can be your ticket to hurt feelings, offended friends, and a large number of apologies.  Here are suggestions about what not to do if you want to keep your friends and remain in Grandpa’s will.

Zen and the art of the spell check.  You’ve finished a post for your blog, and clicked the small button on the bottom of the screen that will send your literary masterpiece into the world.  Problem is, you’ve announced that the baby has “cut her first toot,” instead of tooth, or that your “new boss at work is a real weiner,” instead of winner.  The first and easiest step in writing a blog is to proofread what you’ve written before posting it.  Bad grammar and spelling are an excellent way to fail to get your point across or accidentally insult people.  If your blog page does not have a spell-check function, then write your post in a word-processing program first.  After a quick spell-check, all you have to do is cut and paste into your blog.   

WUI:  Writing under the influence.  You don’t drink and drive, and you don’t drink and dial. But what about drinking and typing?  If your primitive brain has taken over due to excessive drinking, its probably best not to send any emails and you probably shouldn’t post a blog. Making a blog post while hindered by anything, be it prescription medication, or just a lack of sleep, is an unwise decision.  The lack of judgment can lead to posts that make no sense, or even worse, spew out every hurt feeling and critical remark that rises to the surface in an uninhibited mind. You might spew some vile remarks, or even some late-night declarations of love to the wrong person.

The personal thoughts or “Twinkie” defense.  A blog entry has been made.  Feelings have been hurt.  When responding to a previous blog entry that has gathered some negative feedback, the first gut response is to make another post, this time stating that everything in the blog is the author’s personal thoughts and that the author has nothing to apologize for.  This is indeed true, but when allowing other people to read your blog, you’re also giving them the right to react to what you write, and part of those will be negative reactions.  By claiming that they shouldn’t get angry over your personal thoughts, you are discrediting their personal feelings, and building even more unrest.  To avoid needing the personal thoughts defense, first try just editing your blog entries before posting them.  If you feel this is censoring your creative output, a good alternative might be a second, private blog, where you can express the feelings you think would offend your friends and family.  Just don’t pass out the address.

Cheese and whine.  Life sucks, and the entire world is against you.  Every day.  Even multiple times a day.  An excellent way to turn your family and friends off from reading your blog is to have a continually negative attitude about everything and everyone that comes in contact with you.  While people can be sympathetic to a bad day and offer support, a constantly pessimistic outlook will become tiresome, and in the end, drive people away.  The key is balance.  Try to write about three things that make you feel good for every one thing that makes you feel bad.  In the end, you might make yourself feel better, and if nothing else, the sympathy will keep flowing.

The Flame-Thrower.  It’s wonderful that you have an opinion on the state of the world at large.  It’s even better if that opinion is well informed and backed by credible sources, even if the opinion is unpopular.  But attacking everything in a twenty mile radius around you with the flame of righteous indignation or worse, simple malice, on a frequent basis will not only get tiresome to the people reading your blog, but is a distinct way to insult most of your readers.  If you’re having a bad day, try to calm down before making a post that might do nothing but strike out at everything making you angry.  If you’ve seen a news report on television or read an article in the newspaper that has left you outraged, sleep on it first. Not only will you have better insight with a clear head, but the story might change, or new evidence might surface that could blow your arguments right out of the water.

There is no formula for the perfect blog, or some secret to keeping your own so pristine that it balances that personal feeling with the straight-forward listing of what is going on in your life flawlessly.  Typos happen, we have bad days, we get angry, and everyone makes bad decisions.  But if your blog is on the brink of the dark side, you can pull it back into the light on your own and without much effort.  Identify if any of the categories above fit your current blog, and adjust your tactics a little.  In the end, you’ll feel better about what you send out into the world for your friends and family to read, and you just might be surprised by the positive feedback you receive.

Author:  Devin Hansen is the owner of SEO Copywriters, a web-content development company based in Illinois . With a staff of American writers and editors, they produce high-quality, unique content for any business in any industry