Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Writing and blogging Inoffensively

As bloggers and writers, who among us hasn't unintentionally pissed someone off or come across as an arrogant know-it-all purely for want of a correctly placed comma or a well-positioned emoticon?  (It even happens to celebs like Stephen Fry.)

With the written word, and an audience that doesn't really know me very well, I seem to find it incredibly easy to put my foot in it. Yes, I can be a bit "frank" from time to time, especially in the very PC mid-west of the USA, but I'm not a bee-atch for the most part and certainly never intend to hurt or offend. "Edgy" is about as far as I aim most of the time.

Recently however, I have found myself being extra careful about my writing. After the green bean casserole World War that erupted on the Pond Parleys blog last year, I know how easy it is to be perceived as a less than wholesome person. (81 comments fer feck's sake). And for the most part - I don't like it. I need to be loved. (With the exception of trolls like that posing as crazing women, of course.)

In case you're also treading warily through this blog-minefield, here are a few words and phrases that come in handy for smoothing out the rough edges:

- Learn all the text squigly signs you can, such as ;-) for "wink". In fact, have a look at an old Mad Manic Mamas post I did on the subject. Very enlightening and could save many a black eye.

- "Bless" - this is a great word for when you've just slagged someone off, don't quite want to retract it, but don't have the balls to really stand behind your words. For example, when speaking of someone's lazy, good-for-nothing son, you say "Well, he's always been a bit of a lump. Bless."

- "Wink" - this is the alternative to the ;-) sign, to be used when the other person might not get said sign. Usually required because what you've said could easily be taken the wrong way and you can't face the effort it would take to straighten things out.

"LOL" - Confession time, for a while there I was wondering why complete strangers were sending "lots of love" all over the place. It took me a while to realise it's Laughing Out Loud, and can be used to convey to people how great you thought their comment/post was without coming over all gushy.

"Just being picky" - fabulous when giving feedback  (ie. comments on Michelloui's blog recently). Enables you to give requested "input" hopefully without giving offence.

- Smiley face - Warning - many people find the original intensely irritating. It makes you come across as a born again Christian wishing to spread love and happiness everywhere. If you must use emoticons, use better ones such as  or  or   (My personal fave.)

And finally as the good ladies over at the British Mummy Bloggers web site have just blogged, we can all disagree on occasion, but let's keep it civilised.  I'm all for a good (even heated) debate but just because someone doesn't share my point of view, doesn't mean I think they should burn in hell or that they're a bad parent/spouse/human.


  1. Useful information, though I'm not sure I could bear to use the emoticons. They are a bit bold ;-)

  2. Glad I'm not the only one who thought LOL was Lots of Love for a longer period of time than I should have ;-)

  3. The tricky world of commentary and bloggsing; personally I don't actually notice (unless it is pointed out to me on streams such as the green bean casserole thingy). Hope no one takes me too seriously...I find that I do that all by myself ;)

  4. The green bean casserole discussion is amazing. Are Jill and Howard still knocking around on UK-US expat forums? There's obviously some topics where you almost expect an adverse reaction from some, but veg casseroles? Of all the things you can write about the US who would have thought that would be the topic to cause a firestorm.

    Not had anything terrible yet comments wise. I've had two post picked up by wordpress and put on their main page which results in some unusual comments, but nothing too nasty. The worst I've had was an 80 years plus blogger who didn't like my language, felt I didn't say anything interesting and (my favourite bit) that she should have been paid for having to endure my post. Because of her age I wasn't sure how to respond, but googling her I saw that she actually has previous form in leaving snide comments on wordpress blogs so I decided it would be okay to be snide back.

  5. I use the smiley thing a lot tho' I think it's frowned upon but I have never left a snotty or an angry comment (yet) on mine or anyone else's blog tho I have been tempted on occasion. I just don't get idiots who start writing snarky comments on o.p's posts, or, as in the green bean casserole thing, start virtual fights. They need to get a life.
    I like the smiley face.
    See. :-)
    It's just so passive aggressive.
    Hate those big emoticon things.

  6. I get tired of placing ;-) and LOL everywhere but far too often it's easy to take what I post in a comment too seriously. Sometimes the humor doesn't translate.

  7. I haven't had anything bad, apart from the ridiculous GB casserole thing. Happy to say that what's her face banned herself from Pond Parleys. She kept insisting I banned her but I wouldn't give her the satisfaction. Howard is probably still around but I haven't heard a peep either.
    I am very conscious however, Like Smitten, that what I say often doesn't translate either across the pond or on paper. When will I learn. I quite often have to go back and clarify, but sometimes it's too late. The damage is done.

    And - just to defend those sweet emoticons - when you use them in an e-mail, they actually come out a lot smaller and don't have silly boxes around them. The reason they're great is because their expressions are sometimes spot on!

  8. It is a bit sad to get too het up about comments and things that can be taken the wrong way.
    I try not to upset anybody and can only hope I don't, though on one occasion a certain gentleman seemed to rub every one up the wrong way.
    Never mind! Life's too short.
    At first I thought LOL meant Lot of Laughs. Well I suppose that was quite near the mark.

    I don't like all those moving faces though...... they really irritate. Hope that didn't offend you!!!!! LOL!!!!! :-) ;-)
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  9. I wouldn't mind a bit of disagreement sometimes, I think. But then I suppose it might be different if people get offensive.

    I probably put my foot in it all the time, but then I hope people know I don't mean anything bad and really I'm just saying what I think/feel. Like you, I suppose.

    I try not to think about it too much, but then I find myself writing disclaimers or deleting paragraphs just in case I offend someone and then I realise I do think about it a lot.

  10. My mother has started to use emoticons, but hasn't quite grasped the difference between them all. She likes to sign-off with what she thinks is a little green smiley man, but it's actually an emoticon of someone about to vomit.

  11. Sometimes if I've made a really ironic comment I don't like to use ;-) because I think it takes away the humor. I like dead pan!

    But it does confuse Americans!

  12. Great post. It's all too easy to be snooty about emoticons (and I used to be) but they do have their place, especially when you are trying to be ironic.

    I must admit all these arguments in the mummy blogosphere seem to pass me by. There seems to have been some huge incident but I am not even aware of what it was - perhaps I am not spending enough time on Twitter ;-)

  13. Ah, people who get all uppity and take offence need to get a life, and if they don't like something in someone's blog, well, they don't have to read it. It's supposed to be a bit of fun.

    I just say what I think and if I offend someone (which surely can't be that often as I don't exactly set out to do so), well, I don't know them so it doesn't matter.

  14. I've fallen foul of the pc police from time to time. I don't mean to offend but I guess I'm a little too frank too. It can help to remember that people tend to come across as more colourful in their views, online.


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