This is the last week of teaching my college online course on writing and marketing a blog. Here are some more of my notes from the class.
Freedom of speech vs. what’s inappropriate (and possibly punishable)
We all know that in America we have freedom of speech. But we also have a few protections from some people’s outrageous speech. People are not allowed to say things that aren’t true, especially if it hurts someone’s “standing in the community.” If someone says something that defames (injures a reputation) of another person – then that is considered slander and it is punishable in a civil court.
“Slander involves the oral “publication” of a defamatory remark that is heard by another, which injures the subject’s reputation or character. Slander can occur through the use of a hand gesture or verbal communication that is not recorded. Libel, on the other hand, is the written “publication” of a defamatory remark that has the tendency to injure another’s reputation or character. Libel also includes a publication on radio, audio or video. Even though this would be considered oral, or verbal, communication to someone it is actually considered to be libel because it is published in a transfixed form.”
Libel is what you have to be very careful about in your blogs. You are always allowed to have an opinion. “She acted like she was suicidal” but you are not allowed to state a fact that is untrue “she is suicidal.” Most of you will probably not have to worry about it, but you need to know that nothing disappears on the internet. Ever. If you say something about your boss or your work, it will eventually be found and it will live on forever to haunt you.
The simple solution is to not post that kind of information in the first place.
My general rule is to write “happy” things. It’s simplistic but it works. I don’t bring up hot topics (religion, guns, abortion) in any of my posts and I am very careful to make sure that if I am stating an opinion, I preface it with something like “in my opinion. “ or “I believe …”
So what do you do if you’ve said something controversial that has hit a raw nerve and people are responding in a negative fashion?
Easy, you ignore them. Remember that even bad publicity is good publicity. I have had occasional negative remarks on my blog and I just let them roll off my back like water off a duck. (But remember that my blog topics – “children and chickens” – don’t tend to draw out the negative people – what are they going to say? Chickens are dumb??) Don’t try to fight a negative remark some people (trolls) just put them up there for sport and trying to fight them is the proverbial throwing of gasoline onto a fire.
If you think there is a clear misunderstanding, go ahead and attempt to explain your point, but if the comments just return with more negativity – drop the discussion. Try to remember that a negative remark on a post is *not* a negative remark about *you.* (I know, sometimes that’s easier said than done, it can really hurt when people say nasty things about you.)
If someone is vulgar or leaves a particularly nasty comment, feel free to delete it. This is your blog after all, just as you would pick up some garbage thrown in your front yard by a stranger; feel free to clean your blog of garbage that may be left by others.
Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
For the most part, these are the quick differences between these social media platforms:
- Facebook posts share a graphic and tell a short story or they tell why you should follow a link to read another story.
- Twitter tweets immediately grab attention and divert you to somewhere – think of those exciting headlines we talked about. They are also used to make comments on someone’s posts. But remember that space is limited so you really only get to “talk” in bites.
- Google+ posts are shorter than Facebook but longer than Twitter, these posts include graphics and the audience tends to be a little more high-tech. Google+ tried, but it never really gained traction (but you should still use it to get your blog posts out to another audience.)
As an exercise, take a blog post you’ve already written and then create a post for Facebook, Twitter and then Google+
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.