Blogging: Your Words Have Weight

by Ron on June 16, 2009

Last week a little known blogger who goes by the name JRod wrote a post for the Midwest Sports Blog on the amazing season of Raul Ibanez. Ibanez is a baseball player who signed with Philadelphia Phillies in the offseason and is off to the fastest start in his long career. At age 37, it raises obvious questions, and JRod wrote a thoughtful post analyzing possible reasons for the start (new ball park, new league and so forth). He also raised the specter of steroids. Little did he know his post would release a firestorm in which mainstream press picked up the story and Ibanez passionately defended himself.

If you read the post, JRod has nothing to apologize for. He didn’t play fast and loose with the truth. He carefully and methodically analyzes the possible reasons for the fast start, and it’s impossible not to bring up the idea of steroids after the likes of Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez have tested positive at some point. When two of the best players have used, it’s fair to suggest at least the possibility, to put the idea out there and that’s what this writer did. By all reports, Ibanez is a stand-up guy and he jumped to his own defense after he heard about the post. I’m sure JRod didn’t expect his blog post to be picked up by the Philadelphia Inquirer, for his words to be carefully (or not so carefully) analyzed, certainly not for him to get over 300 comments on this post.

Sometimes, as writers we put thoughts out there. We have our typical traffic, maybe a few hundred people show up, maybe a few thousand, but few of us expect to have our blog become the source of controversy (unless that’s how you write). When that happens, what you wrote doesn’t matter anymore, so much as what people think you wrote. They might not even read it. They might read someone’s interpretation of what you wrote, form an opinion and leave a nasty comment about how you’re the biggest dolt on the planet. Check out some of the comments on JRod’s post and you’ll see what I mean.

As bloggers, we have to be aware that whether we know it or not, what we write carries weight and when you write something, especially about a public figure, remember you’re on the World Wide Web. I’m not suggesting you shy away from controversial topics or from publishing your view of the world as you see it, but keep in mind that every once in a while, what you write can spiral well beyond what you ever imagined. I’m sure JRod never imagined his post would carry the way it did.

Photo courtesy of TheBusyBrain on Flickr.

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