Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Power (and Anonymity) of the Virtual Pen

So about three months ago, I wrote a blog about Dr. Oz and my feelings towards him. I was responding to my friend Katie's questions and got on a bit of a roll. While I'm not apologizing for my opinions towards Dr. Oz, I have had some comments, shares, recognition, eye rolls (I'm sure), and now a letter to the editor of FarmWeek in response to this blog.

I can take criticism. I had a mom who while wasn't "tough" per se, but did offer good advice that has allowed me to walk through this world with confidence, even though I'm not the greatest, best or most awesome human being alive. She always stressed that I was never going to the prettiest, smartest or best at every step of my life, but I should get over that hurdle and be the best Emily I could be.

Good advice, looking back…hard to hear when you're 16 and trying to figure out who you are in the first place.

These words have allowed me to navigate the tricky high school and college years, into my professional career, as a new wife and mother, and now onto the virtual world. I approach the blogosphere and Facebook comments with the confidence that while I'm entitled to write what I want on this blog, not all of you are going to agree with me at all times, and I'm okay with that.

No biggie.

However, I received a "head's up" email from one of the nice folks at FarmWeek who reprinted my blog a few weeks ago. A gentleman had written a letter to the editor in response to my Dr. Oz claims. The FarmWeek editor had attached the letter, and we exchanged pleasantries about the power of free speech, the pen, and those who differ from us.

But while I put myself out here, opening my feelings, our life, and, ultimately my opinion, and yet when someone comes out disagreeing with me, I tend to recoil a bit. I feel icky. I don't like it.

I write with humor to soften my firm convictions. I stand by my opinions, and truly believe that you don't have to agree with it. However, I am human, darn it, and when I receive negative commentary on Facebook, this blog or in print, it stings.

I shared with a friend that while I share a lot of what's going on with the farm, I rarely share close family goings on or the true inner, deep, dark issues of my heart on here, because it's just too hard to have someone respond to it via the anonymity of the virtual pen. It's easy to hide behind a pretty Facebook profile picture and respond. I'm guilty of it, too. It's easy for me to respond on other blogs in a critical way because nine times out of ten, I won't run into that particular author at the grocery store, the YMCA, or church parking lot.

But, as a writer, especially a blogger, we're naked out here. As a blogger, we post for all to see and, ultimately, all to criticize, because it's easy to click, type and submit. Much harder to march up, knock on the door, and ask for explanation (I challenge you to first find my house to ask me a question. I'd welcome you in and congratulate you with a cookie or something.). While I love all comments and questions because it means you're truly reading and digesting what I write, I still struggle with responses that are negative. The 16 year old comes out and wants to be the best, have the best argument, the right answer, the best defense. I can generally shake it off, but once in a while, it gets me. When I go out and speak and engage, I'm not afraid of controversy, so why does it bother me when folks type it out when they don't agree with me?

But in Mama Janet's words, "you'll never be the best, smartest, etc., so be the best YOU you can be."

So I will.

I welcome your comments. Thrive on your questions. I adore (note the sarcasm) being called out in a Letter to the Editor in a statewide publication. But what I would especially love for you  to show up on my doorstep and ask me a question (I'd be uber impressed by your geographical knowledge!).

Just let me know a few minutes in advance…I'll turn on the oven and try to part the shoe sea like Moses in the front porch.

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