I finally finished up my first cozy rag quilt, made from some hard-to-find flannel Marmalade, by Bonnie & Camille. It was relaxing, thought-free sewing at its best. My kids and I love cuddling up with it on the couch. The snapshot of it made the perfect backdrop as a header for my newest project….
I’m starting something new in my blogging life called Dear Stephanie, which ties to my career as a psychologist. Friends frequently ask for my thoughts on tricky situations because of my background… so I figure, why not just write about my opinions here?
Once a month I will post a question with my response to it. The topics will be quilting related, with a social bend to them. We live in a complex world of human interactions cocooned in social media, where subtleties and gray areas abound. You may or may not agree with me, but I hope it will be a fun way to start conversations about issues that often concern us all.
If you have a question you would like me to address and publish, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will not use your name, and will change any identifying information, if need be.
Without further ado, here is the first question that a lovely acquaintance of mine recently invited me to address:
I recently published a free pattern on a public, third party website, and received a few negative and cruel comments. I was excited about the pattern, and thought it was really unique. The commentors called my project odd and useless. I felt hurt and embarrassed. It began with one rude comment, and then others seemed to join in. Although it’s a public site, I can choose to delete the comments if I want to. Should I erase them and forget it? If not, how should I respond?
Should it Stay or Should it Go Now
Dear Should it Stay or Should it Go Now,
There are a host of people who revere the attribute of honesty in interpersonal relationships. I would put myself in this camp. However, there is a subset in our culture who feel that in the quest for honesty, impertinence is acceptable.
This is where I disagree. It is possible to be honest, without resorting to rudeness. Sometimes it may take awhile to consider how to phrase opinions in order to avoid hurting the recipient. Thank goodness for the frontal lobe of the brain; most people are capable of this if they slow down and try.
Yet the cloak of anonymity and the lure of immediacy in the world of social media make it the perfect scene for the crime of impertinent honesty.
As the recipient of the comments, it’s your right to make the decision to delete. This is not a government affair that requires ultimate transparency; if you are in control of the comment feed on your post, then make no mistake, you have the power to choose whether to ignore it, comment on it, email the person directly, or delete it.
One variable you should consider when making the decision is whether the commentor in question has a history of leaving you rude comments that fail to add to the collective conversation in a thoughtful, careful way. If this is the case, it’s like an unhealthy relationship that needs to be dealt with quickly and surely. Click delete and don’t look back.
However, if there is no history, you may need to consider what the potential consequences will be in clicking delete. Depending on the size of your audience, the fallout from deleting the comments could be messier than the problem of withstanding the embarrassment caused by a few rude people whom you will never hear from again. After deleting the comment, you may find that every quilter on the Internet feels the need to weigh in on the situation.
So if you choose to erase a comment, be prepared to hold strong and maintain that it’s your right to make the decision.
But I have another take on this particular situation.
Give yourself a pat on the back for getting a set of rude comments about how odd your pattern is. Those comments are keepers in my book. Print them out to put it on your wall as a badge of honor. When you push the envelope and do something truly unique, you are sure to get negative feedback. It’s how the world works. The fact that you received these comments is a sure indication that you have done something totally outside of the box. And that to me is a sign of a true design genius.
I say leave the comments, and respond publicly with a comment of your own. Let people know that you are proud to create things that challenge the norm in the quilting world. Let them know that you are thrilled that your work causes people to sit up, take notice, and think a little.
Cheers to you! Keep on designing. Keep on challenging. We need more of you in this world.