Do we embrace criticism, or simply encourage agreement?

The most recent ‘buzz’ around the blogosphere centers around a blog post written by Penelope Trunk, a household name amongst us bloggers, and the founder of Her blog, titled ‘I hate David Dellifield. The one from Ada, Ohio‘ illustrates a point that many of us, as bloggers, don’t know how to take criticism – and truthfully, this is the first ideal one has to embrace before embarking on this blog-journey. Penelope’s story goes something like this.

She sends out a Tweet last week which says:

“No school today and the nanny’s on vacation. A whole day with the kids gets so boring: all intergalactic battles and no intellectual banter.”

In response, David Dellifield, a relative unknown in comparison responds by saying:

“@penelopetrunk sorry your kids are a burden, send them to OH, we’ll enjoy them for who they are”.

With this – Penelope went out of her way to approach David by CALLING him at work, to which she got no response, thus she resulted to responding via Twitter,and lastly, she wrote an entire blog post about why she ‘hates’ the guy.

No, Penelope Trunk is not a bad mother

A couple of things before I share any of my thoughts. One: I do not, in any way think that Penlope Trunk is a bad mother to her children – I don’t think her tweet illustrates that at all, and David was clearly being a jerk in his response. Two: Penelope is obviously good at what she does, she draws attention to herself, she get’s people talking, and for better or for worse, she’s created a huge community surrounding her blog and her business community on Brazen.

With that being said – I am disgusted by the way she handled the situation. I have been an avid reader of hers and am highly involved in the Brazen community, but this makes me lose faith in her and what she is about. Many people have written this off as ‘brilliant’ and ‘authentic’ - all it is authentic in is showing how to act like a coward and a child when starting criticism and adversity in the face.

Rule #176 of blogging:

One of the first things we HAVE to realize as bloggers is that criticism is going to come, and we have to be able to embrace it. I am no expert on these things, and don’t claim to know everything about anything, but when you put your OPINION out in public domain, as she did, and someone shares with you an opinion that contradicts you – I say, oh well, you asked for it. People are going to disagree with you, get over it. David was a jerk in the way he responded, I’ll agree with that – but to find him, call him at work, then write a post bashing him? Come on – this isn’t even an eye for an eye – it’s an eye for a pair of eyes, legs, and arms.

My question is, why? Why go out of your way to bash the guy? Why go out of your way to personally call him because he was ‘mean’ to you on Twitter? It all seems like way to sensationalize the issue and drive traffic to yourself. Sure, it’s “real” it’s “bold” it’s “different” – but that’s not always a good thing.

Everyone hates a critic

It seems that overall, as bloggers, we really don’t want any criticism. We say we do, we say we encourage discussion and interaction, but as soon as one is faced with criticism, it immediately gets personal and turns ugly. I want my blog to be an OPEN forum of discussion – disagree with me, tell me what’s on your mind. That’s great – I want to learn and grow. If someone can convince me that what Penelope did was right and just in this situation – more power to you. If not, we can agree to disagree and move on. We can still be friends, we can still relate as human beings on other issues – not everyone has to agree on everything. I’m not talking about verbal abuse – that’s different – if you come here and write a comment telling me I’m a prick – that serves no purpose, but I openly welcome disagreement within discussion.

Recently there have been incidents where bloggers have deleted posts and deleted comments based on the response they received – I think this is ‘breaking the rules’ of being a blogger. You put YOUR opinion out for everyone to see, why can’t someone else? It’s like they say, “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has on and they all stink”

We don’t always have to agree. It’s OK. Really.

Learn to take criticism with grace and civility. Embrace criticism as a way to learn something new, learn and grow from it. Besides, reading through a bunch of comments that say ‘Great post, I agree’ is boring and doesn’t add anything to the topic-at-hand.

I encourage all of you to respond here. What’s your take on the P Trunk situation? Do you leave yourself open to criticism? Should we act as self-editors of our blogs when someone posts a comment we don’t agree with? I look forward to the discussion, including the possible criticism and disagreement that will ensue.

About Matt Cheuvront

I empower folks to do the work they want to do and live the life they want to live. I also watch entirely too much Saved by the Bell, run marathons, and drink plenty of craft beer. Check out the work my company is doing at Proof Branding.