a blog-reader’s ethical dilemma

There are a couple of reasons that I blog anonymously. The first (and foremost) one is that I want to protect my kids’ privacy. In an ever-more-googleable world, I don’t want something that I write on this blog to affect their future employability, love lives or general sense of security. The second reason, frankly, is to protect my own privacy. I’m just not that interested in having my co-workers, my boss, or anyone else in my work world to know things about me that my own family doesn’t always know. I know that some people are okay with that, but I’m not.

That being said, I’ve found myself in a somewhat awkward situation recently. For my job, I read a bunch of local political blogs. Some of those are group blogs, where people just stick to posting about legislative or electoral politics. but some of them are blogs that mix the political and the personal. Most, but not all, of the blogs that fall into the latter category are written by people that I don’t know in real life. It’s the ‘not all’ that’s got me in a bind.

Last week, one of the bloggers who I know in real life wrote a post about going to some event where there was a kid that he found obnoxious. Okay, that’s fine. But then he went on to complain about all children in general, and to outline all the reasons that he would never have kids, and how he couldn’t understand why anyone else would have kids in this day and age. Then he went on a huge rant against children, and how awful they are.

I was a little taken aback, and not really sure how to deal with it. On the one hand, it is obviously his right to have that opinion, and to share it on his blog. On the other hand, I’m finding it a little hard not to think of his post every time I see him, and it’s making me like him much less than I used to. I can’t really figure out what to do about it. Do I tell him that I read his post, and found his comments offensive? Do I pretend not to have read it? Do I simply chalk it up to the delights of life in the 21st century?

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June 6, 2007. meta, work.

16 Comments

  1. Chichmama replied:

    Hmmm. I don’t know that I have much advice, beyond “What WAS he thinking?” I would probably chalk it up to life in the 2st century, and make a mental note never to have him over for dinner. Or, I might go out of my way to chat about my kids every single time I saw him….

    I can see not liking kids, and not wanting to be around kids, but saying that no one should have kids? Shhesh. Seriously, if no one had kids, the race would die out pretty quickly.

  2. Sandra replied:

    I had to stop reading two blogs I had enjoyed because of rants that offended me, and it’s one of the reasons I try to avoid writing rants myself.

    In real life, we know and like people who have strongly opposing views to our own. But generally, real life friends, coworkers, or acquaintances will moderate their comments depending on who is listening, or just avoid certain topics.

    Just to draw an analogy to your situation, I strongly dislike dogs. When one bothers me, I could probably rant on my blog about my irrational feelings against dogs, but in real life I’m genuinely touched by the friendship between my recently widowed neighbor and his dog. And I read a blog by a woman who writes beautifully about her dogs and has made me appreciate and understand the attraction between dogs and people. But I still don’t really like dogs myself.

    None of this answers your question about what you should do. Does he know you read his blog? I would be horrified if someone in real life confronted me about something I’d written on a blog. Maybe if you bring it up with him in person, you could give him an out by making your comment goodnatured or funny, to give him a chance to back away from his extreme views. I think sometimes people get caught up in a vent and overstate their own opinions, and there’s a chance that’s what happened in his case. Especially with kids, some people come under intense pressure from their families to reproduce, and I could see someone reacting to that by ranting against breeders.

  3. Jody replied:

    I assume this man doesn’t write anonymously, right? Or you wouldn’t know who he was?

    I’d have an almost impossible time not telling him I’d read the piece and been taken aback. Probably I’d be mildly to completely incoherent with irritation.

    I might, possibly because it would feel safest, comment on his blog — using my public e-mail address and real name (but obviously not the e-mail or address of my blog). After all, these are local-politics blogs. It’s expected that people involved or interested in local politics actually read them, right? You are one of those people. So responding seems perfectly legitimate. It wouldn’t imply in the slightest anything about what you’re doing here.

    Just make absolutely certain you don’t type the wrong address or e-mail unthinkingly into the comment boxes — I ended up outing my blog to a family friend that way!

  4. Carole replied:

    hmmmmmmmm, How old is this guy? Is he in his early 20’s. I can remember not wanting kids at that age. Maybe he’s just not a kid person. Maybe he’s showing his true colors when he writes, and in that case it sounds like he’s truly miserable around kids. So he shouldn’t have them. I love my children, and would never make comments like those. But that is me. Whether you write anonymously or not. My mother gave me one sage piece of advice I always keep close to my vest. “Never put anything in writing, you’re going to regret.” Maybe you will not be the one to confront him about his ramblings….but be assured someone will. I know that doesn’t help a whole lot, but I do think, that this is so offensible, in this day and age, there aren’t many that would just let that go.

  5. CamiKaos replied:

    Mostly I would chalk it up to an oddity of the 21st century… people go on rants and say strong strong things in their blogs. Often no thought is given to the audience. It’s almost like literary masturbation for some people.

    I don’t really know what I would do really… or even say. or if I would say anything.

    thankfully I haven’t encountered this situation.

  6. alala replied:

    Wow. Yeah. I don’t know what I’d do. I would certainly like him a lot less, and probably avoid him if possible. What a short-sighted jerk, I mean, it’s not just the race dying out, is it? Your kids are going to pay taxes to support his bitter, wrinkly old butt in the not-too-distant future. He should have a little respect.

  7. thordora replied:

    Someone I sit near at work recently went off about those pregnant/small children parking spaces, and how he deserved the space, and it’s THEIR fault for not being “responsible” as he was not having kids and that just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you HAVE to get that spot.

    I bit my tongue, but ever since, I haven’t held anywhere near the same respect for the guy. He’s in his 30’s, is married with no kids, but has nieces and nephews. I expected better from him.

    It’s doubtful I’ll say anything because he didn’t know I was there, and I’d feel uncomfortable calling him out. I imagine it’s the same with you-it’s weird, knowing what you know.

    If it came up, I’ll make a point of referencing the “rant”. Otherwise, I’ll just chalk it up to the fact that almost everyone disappoints me in the end.

  8. Liz replied:

    I agree that he shouldn’t have spouted off like that and maybe it was just for the moment and he was a little hot under the collar. But, I kind of feel that you have to let that one go. Next time though, maybe you could suggest that he was once a child and maybe he needs some counceling.

  9. Anjali replied:

    I’d let it go. He could have been having a really, really bad day and felt the need to take it out on someone.

  10. Woman with Kids replied:

    I agree with Anjali. The internet provides such a strange anonomous intimacy, you never know how much of it he meant or not, and people say things they don’t really mean, or come across the wrong way. Try not to dwell on it, as hard as that can be.

  11. Jackie replied:

    I agree with chichimama– I’d never invite him to my house for dinner!

  12. Jay replied:

    I think blogs\internet make us sound harsher than we may be in real life. I mean, he’s allowed to not like kids, but if he were talking to someone face to face, I doubt he would go into this diatribe about no one having them, ever. So it sounds like he was just writing immoderately for shock value. But if he ever reiterated those sentiments in “real” life than I would be worried – after all, we do judge people by their values, right?

  13. landismom replied:

    Thanks for the advice, everyone. I think I will just have to let it slide. He is a younger guy, but I think he’s old enough to know better (he’s 28 or 29). I’m sure I’ve written things on my blog that might take aback someone who knows me in real life.

  14. paula replied:

    I have the same problem. Except it is my SIL. She is someone I thought of as almost a sister, until I started to read her blog. Now, I feel I never really knew her and there are things that she says that really disturb me. I guess she doesn’t share her true feelings when we are in person, or she is more aware of her opinions. Many people say things that they would never say in person to others. We often forget that there are still repercussions and it is still hurtful and unkind. Paula from North Idaho

  15. Jackie replied:

    On the age tip, I’m 28, turning 29 this summer. I have two kids, of course, but none of my similar-age friends would be that hurtful or ignorant deliberately either.

  16. Comfort Addict replied:

    As someone who cannot have children and has always wanted them, I find his statement hard to fathom. Children, with all of their challenges, are a delight and the hope of the world. Devoted parents like you and Landisdad help all of society by helping the next generation be more caring.

    How well do you know this perform and how close a relationship do you want to have with him? If he’s a friend, you should tell him. If he’s just an acquaintance or a political colleague, you may want to just note it and move on. Either way, it’s best not to ruminate; that only hurts you.

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