Yesterday I read a piece from Joanne Bamberger, also known as Pundit Mom, on BlogHer. It was the first of a series called “Why I’m Political.” In this series she is interviewing women who “don’t usually write about the political world — but, when they dipped their toes in those waters, wrote some amazing essays.”
This post perked my interest for two reasons. The first of which is that the person being interviewed was a woman blogger from Oklahoma I used to follow when I first began blogging. She was one of the first nationally popular Oklahoma bloggers that I knew of, yes, before Pioneer Woman, who was really doing a great job of representing my home state, but like so many before her she rarely enters the blogging world these days due to personal reasons unknown to me. I was curious to see what she had to say in her interview.
The second reason I was interested was a little more complicated. You see I’ve been sitting on a post for a little while now. It’s a post that causes me to pause as I discuss something very near and dear to my heart, but because I know my opinion does not agree with many who live locally near me I fear of the ramifications of making public my more non-mainstream ideals concerning this very emotionally charged topic. Because of this I was curious to hear how this former Oklahoma blogger found the courage to write about another emotionally charged, controversial subject.
Shannon Lowe’s, the Oklahoma blogger’s, explanation was very simple.
“I find it frustrating that there is so much “shouting” over this issue (on both sides). I wanted to speak my piece in a way that was reasoned and calm.”
And like her I too want to present a reasonable piece that carefully expresses my opinion about my own personal subject. And I believe I successfully did so. The problem is I cannot bring myself to hit the publish button.
The Risk of Blogging About Controversial Subjects
These days when hitting the publish button, I can’t help but think about the ramifications of each and every post that I publish. Because of the heavy monetization of blogging I think this happens to many after you have been blogging for a while and have developed a pretty solid readership. I have known bloggers who have lost sponsors and paid writing gigs because they offended the wrong people with their posts. It didn’t matter how reasonable their opinions were, the topic was just too controversial and people who pay bloggers either cannot or will not take the risk of being perceived as supporting the wrong side.
But for me what also worries me is that in the piece I’m hesitating to publish I am discussing a subject that is mostly locally focused. I know that many of my friends, neighbors, and others near me read my blog. I worry about being ostracized locally as people take my opinions in this post, either wrongly or rightly, personally. Having been through a period in my life in which several friends became extremely angry over what I have said on my blog and simply cut me off rather than having a frank discussion over what had upset them, I am always aware of how my writing affects others who are reading my blog. But more importantly I worry about how the results of my writing can affect my husband and my kids. Sure it is fine for me to deal with such ostracization alone, but other’s previous behaviors also affected my husband and my kids. I always think about my family when I choose to hit that publish button.
The risk in such a local incident happening again has always ridden in the back of my mind with every post that I have written for the past few years. And for many other bloggers the risk they took caused them to lose much more than just a few friends. I’ve seen people lose jobs, and in the worst example I have ever seen I saw a blogger lose a foster child that she was trying to adopt. The risk of being completely transparent, even while trying to be “reasoned and calm,” seems just so great these days as blogs have become so mainstream.
Blogging and Self-Censorship – The Questions
As the interview with Shannon Lowe went in a different direction, it did not cover these worries that I have in my mind and that I so often struggle with regarding self-censorship, blogging, and the ramifications concerning being transparent on your blog. So I’m asking you,
How you handle writing about controversial subjects?
Do you hesitate when you hit publish?
Do you simply avoid controversial subjects all together?
Do outside forces such as money, advertisers, local pressures cause you to censor yourself?
Is there such a thing as a truly free personal blog any more?
I have to think that it does not. But I could be wrong.What do you think?
Kelly Kinkaid, professional blogger and freelance writer, enjoys writing about such topics as stretching a dollar, personal finance, diet and fitness, and living a life well lived. She spends all of her spare time in her many roles including but not limited to soccer, basketball, swimmer, band, and piano mom, runner and wife. You may contact her via e-mail kellyology(at)gmail(dot)com.