Last week, with this post, I unintentionally created quite a blog firestorm. I was completely shocked by the reaction (SHOCKED), and the few days I spent out of town for Easter gave me some time to reflect on the whole controversy. I considered just letting the whole thing go and going back to normal blogging, but after spending some time thinking about it, I have a few reflections to share.
- Speaking your mind respectfully. My mom said something interesting to me this weekend in the context of a non-blogging related discussion. She said, “We always raised you kids to speak your mind, but to do so in a respectful way.” This simple sentence made me look at the whole “controversy” in a different perspective. (It also gave me a whole new level of respect and appreciation for my parents, as that’s a pretty great lesson to teach your kids.) The vitriol that my post inspired by some of the people I had “attacked” shocked me, and made me even start to feel a little guilty. However, after hearing this statement, I realized that I have nothing to feel guilty about. As readers both here and elsewhere pointed out, that’s exactly what I did: spoke my mind in a respectful manner. The fact that my fairly mild criticism created such a reaction seems to indicate that that is something very rare in the blog world. Therefore, I’m going to continue speaking my mind, no matter how many or few readers I have.
- Personal attacks? A lot of the reaction seemed to be the idea that by linking back to the blogs with two examples of these jokes, I was somehow personally attacking the bloggers (so harshly that one tweeted a threat to quit blogging!) I had two reasons for linking back to them—other than a desire to personally attack them (I actually like both of their blogs and read them regularly!). First, this blog is mini. I don’t have an enormous number of readers, and many of the readers I do have are friends and family who are not enmeshed in the food blogging world. As a result, I linked back to these posts so they’d know what I was talking about. Furthermore, as one commenter pointed out, bloggers are always complaining about anonymous, mean comments. I could have easily done that, but I chose to stand behind my opinions.
- No sense of humor. Several commenters indicated that my post indicated a lack of a sense of humor and an inability to take a joke. I’d like to think that neither of these are true, but I don’t think I’m going to convince anyone by claiming to have a sense of humor. I would like to clarify exactly what my intentions were. I definitely saw and understood that the posts were meant in a joking manner. However, I think the jokes that are considered funny in a given community say a lot about the values of that community. If someone from the past and/or future (or even someone outside of the “healthy living food blog” community) read these posts, they wouldn’t get the joke. The healthy living food blogging community is a very small and somewhat unusual microcosm. My intention was to explore the meaning of the various jokes in terms of the healthy living food blog community as a whole. The fact remains that taking pictures of every bite of food represents a unique take on an individual’s relationship with food. As much as bloggers purport to and actually do encourage a healthy body image and healthy relationship with food, the community pays an unusually high amount of attention and interest on food. I don’t claim to be above or outside of this world, as I spend time and enjoy reading these blogs. Perhaps it’s a topic for a different post, but I do think it’s interesting to explore what all of this fixation on food really means.
- Using the word “fatty”. Finally, one person commented that by saying eating a burger made me feel like a fatty was much more offensive than any sort of weird food restrictions/fixations. She was right. Overweight people are subject to enough discrimination and judgment as it is. I should remove “fatty” from my vocabulary, joking or not—so an unqualified apology there.
To all of you who found our blog through this “controversy”, welcome! We usually don’t stir the pot this much but I hope you keep reading and like what you see! At least those of you who don’t consider this blog a “very dry read,” as one commenter did.