OK, so you all know the story by now. I attempted to post something light, something nobody would have strong feelings about, something about a group from the 1970s that came and went and was never thought about again, and what happened? Only the biggest controversy to hit my blog since receiving a rebuttal to “51 Ways to Leave Your Lover” back in September.
John Ford Coley read and commented on my post about him and his former sidekick, the late England Dan Seals. Though he doesn’t say so, I’m pretty sure I hurt his feelings, quite understandably. You know, because I’ve talked about it a few times, that I worry about this kind of thing. But I never thought in a million years that my post would be read by one of the 1970s recording artists I talked about. I honestly never even considered the possibility.
I console myself with the knowledge that my intent was to entertain, not to make anyone feel bad. Still, I did…and I feel bad about that.
That said, there is nothing like a little controversy to drive blog traffic through the roof. The day I posted and the day after were the busiest days ever on my blog. My statistics page, with another tall spike on February 3, looked like the Manhattan skyline when the World Trade Center was still standing.
So now I’ve got to think, again: What is this blog about? Why am I writing? What am I doing here? Sure, I want to be read, and it’s gratifying to see readership take off, but it’s not just about numbers. I was actually a little disturbed that my busiest day ever was a day I posted about something I claimed didn’t matter at all.
(My busiest week ever, though, was the week previous, when I blogged about love and life and things that mattered a lot to me…so there’s that.)
What it all boils down to is this: I can see traffic is picking up, and with that, I feel a bit more responsibility. I don’t want to overstate it — it’s not as though I have a lot of influence in the world — but it is a bit humbling to realize you are being read by people you never imagined would care what you have to say. It makes for a good time to step back and assess.
I’ve written mean things about other famous people, but haven’t heard from any of them. It’s a tricky thing. Can you make fun of public figures and not worry about how it will make them feel? Is there a nice way to goof on pop stars who are still living, breathing human beings, and will that be as fun to read? If you amuse 1000 people at the expense of one famous person, does that balance out?
I do think there are ways to write and entertain that don’t involve those trade-offs. And I reject the popular notion that celebrities are fair game. The famous, most of them, anyway, are real people with real feelings. And just as I don’t want to hurt my friends’ feelings, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s.
I dedicate this blog post to two people, one famous, one not, who may have been hurt by things I’ve written — John Ford Coley and my ex-boyfriend — not that either of them is likely to read this. If I had it to do over, I’m not entirely sure I would change anything I’ve said — it all still rings true to me — but I do recognize that my words have consequences and will try to be more mindful of that moving forward. Namaste.