The Life of Bon: What I have learned from criticism

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What I have learned from criticism



Having a blog is weird.

Five days a week I open up my life to the eyes of perfect strangers.  Anyone in world who wants to can read what I think, what I love, what I fear.  Isn't that just about the weirdest, stupidest thing you've ever heard of?  And yet I keep doing it.  Day in and day out, I allow my most private doings to be publicized.

With living a "public" life, comes a certain amount of criticism.  It makes sense that some will disapprove of what I say or think or do and criticize me for it.

There are a couple of lines that I often hear in regards to negative blog comments that I used to believe that I don't anymore. The first line is, "Don't worry about what that person said!  They are just a jealous hater."  I used to find comfort in hearing this, but I don't anymore.  Mostly because it's not true. I don't think that anyone who criticizes is automatically "jealous."  I realized that disregarding any negative comment as just being some "negative hater" didn't allow me to progress or grow at all.  It mostly just fed my own narcissim.  "She doesn't like me?  She's jealous!"  No.  She doesn't like me because I said something offensive, was insensitive in my blog post, or did something I shouldn't have.

The second line that I don't believe anymore is, "If someone doesn't like your blog they should just click out of it!  Why leave a negative comment?  Just go away and don't visit anymore!"  I get that idea to some extent, but at the same time, how am I ever going to improve if no one ever gives me suggestions for improvement?  A huge part of my job as a teacher involves my principal observing my teaching and then giving me critical feedback.  Also known as... criticism!  Shouldn't I welcome criticism in my blogging profession as well?  (Given, my principal is much more kind with his criticism than many blog and gomi commenters.)  I also think there can be people who like many parts of my blog, but are maybe bothered or offended by one aspect of it.  That doesn't mean they should just "go away and never come back", but they are welcome to leave honest feedback that they believe would make them enjoy the blog more.

Of course there are limits.  Not all criticism is healthy, and its crucial to be able to discern between the helpful and the hurtful.  Today I'm going to look at how I have dealt with three different types of criticism 1) The ridiculous criticism  2) The offensive and hurtful criticism and 3) The healthy criticism.

(All criticism that I will be talking about today has come comments that readers leave directly on my blog posts, (This post and this post have lots of mean comments. I also kind of deserved them.)  anonymous comments on a site directed toward blog criticism called getoffmyinternets, (abbreviated from here on out as gomi.) and from friends and family.  These three sources are very different, but they have all allowed me to be a better blogger and even a better person.  The criticism from people who love me is the most helpful.  I know these people genuinely care about me and are sincere and concerned when they give feedback.)


THE RIDICULOUS CRITICISM  

HOW I DEAL WITH IT:  LAUGH AT IT

1.  I once wrote a post about how I tricked Greg into letting me cut my hair short.  He likes it long so I gradually cut it shorter and shorter in hopes it wouldn't seem too drastic to him.  An anonymous commenter said about it on gomi,  "And I'm done. I'm not interested in the life of anyone who lets their husband dictate what they can do with their damn hair. Ridiculous."  At first I was hurt by this, but then I realized how little this person knew about my own marriage or the innerworkings of my relationship.  Greg (no offense, babe) dictates very little of what I do.  The comment was absurd and didn't apply.  One nightt my friend, Mandy, was over and she was yelling at the top of her longs in a low, gruff voice "Don't let your husband dictate your damn hair!!!" And we laughed and laughed.

2.  A commenter on gomi once complained that I put a comma in the wrong place.  I laughed.  If that is honestly the worst thing they can think of to complain about, then I guess life is pretty dang good, huh?

3. "Her selfies are seriously unfortunate."  HA!  Ya got me there, I don't take no sexy selfies.  

4. "How does one manage to become an English teacher without ever learning the meaning of the word "fortnight"?"    This is another comment I like to make fun of in stupid voices with my friends.  Usually it's a drawn out British accent, a la Downton Abbey.  "You don't know what fortnight means?!?  My darling, how will you ever get a job?  That is such a useful and common word- oh you must be a true idiot!  What do we do with you?  There's no way you're qualified to teach high school English, why, that's just out of the question!"

5.  A comment about the below picture read:  "this picture is terrifying…I see a woman who is going to eat a baby with a taco salad side and then steal some souls."


My response was to share it with my blog readers and all laugh together.  The comment was hilarious, it deserved a public laughing.  And yes, I will eat your baby if you don't give me my Cafe Rio salad right this second.

THE HURTFUL OR OFFENSIVE CRITICISM
HOW I DEAL WITH IT:  IGNORE IT
1.  "Also, if you really want to rage, read about her mission trip. I'm not religious at all so stories about someone CRYING because the impoverished migrant farmer in Argentina didn't buy your pitch and chose his family and friends over The Mormon Church made me laugh and then cry for humanity."  This comment was extremely hurtful to me.  I poured my heart and soul into my mission..  I don't think any stranger has a right to come in and criticize what I did there or make fun of me for crying while in Argentina.  I don't care if you're religious or not, to me that's just disrespectful.  But no reason to stew on this one.  I had to ignore it and realize that what this person thought of my 18 months in Argentina has no effect on who I am as a person or my life.  Move on.

2.  "I just can't fathom her being a good teacher. The cool teacher that tweets with you and lets you get away with everything? Sure. An actual GOOD teacher who challenges you and helps you grow? I doubt it."  Again, this is the kind of comment that just hurts.  I had to sit and reevaluate for a minute.  It didn't take longer than that minute, though, to realize that the comment wasn't grounded in truth at all.  I don't let my kids get away with everything.  Or anything, for that matter.  I am strict and structured in my classroom.  I watch them like hawks.  I can't say for certainty that I'm successful, but I do try my damndest to challenge them and help them grow.  I do everything I can to keep them engaged.  Students often tell me they enjoy my class and that they learn a lot.  We don't waste time.  I know that I give 100% to my job.  So I can ignore the comment- it has no truth to it.

3.  Some criticism is directed toward my religion or toward Mormons in general.  That is definitely best ignored.  One commenter said something mean about Greg, who certainly never asked to be on my blog.  To me, attacking a blogger's family or religion is disrespectful and tasteless.  BUT.  There's nothing I can do about it.  People are welcome to say whatever tasteless or inappropriate things they feel like, so I have had to learn to just completely ignore comments such as these.


THE HEALTHY CRITICISM
HOW I DEAL WITH IT:  LEARN FROM IT

1.  I have had many commenters on my blog, on gomi, and friends and family who have expressed concern over what I have posted about work/ school.  This is what I get the most concern over, and understandably so.  I have posted stuff that was probably not my right to post.    Because of this criticism I have made changes and have started being extremely careful with what I say about school.  I have never used a student's real name in a post, but I realized that this wasn't good enough and I couldn't tell specific stories about specific students.  I used to post pictures of students on my blog. I have since gotten written permission slips for any student pictures I use, and even now I mostly use old pictures of students who have graduated just to be extra careful.  I don't mention coworkers without permission and when I talk about school, I just have to do it in much more vague or sweeping terms.  I do miss being able to really describe what it is like here in this jungle of a high school, but I realized that it was unfair to my students, their parents, and my coworkers when I wrote about them on my blog like that.  So I stopped.  (This line I still struggle with and probably always will...)

2.  "RARELY, do I see Bonnie using happy and great things about her students. It's usually just complaining."  This comment, while initially biting, was extremely helpful to me.  Mostly because I don't think I complain about my students very much, and if I do, I try to do it in a fun, playful way.  But obviously I wasn't coming off that way.  If I am coming across as someone who hates her students and is just always annoyed with them, then I'm not presenting myself accurately.  I don't think one of my students would say this about me, so this is my own fault that I am writing about them in a way that would make others think that that's how I felt about them.  I still joke and make fun of my students a lot, (some of the gold that comes out of their mouths is too good not to!) but I make more of a concentrated effort to show how much I enjoy teaching.  Because I do.  I absolutely love this job and want to convey that in my writing.

3.  One commenter said somewhere that it made her cringe when I called Greg "Hubs".  I thought about it.   So, for a few posts I started referring to Greg as Greg.  I liked it.  It felt more sincere.  So I sent "hubs" to the curb.  Easy enough.

4.  A very helpful comment was from someone who said that I didn't respond to comments very often.  That person was absolutely right.  I am terrible at responding to all of the above: phone calls, texts, emails, comments, ETC.  I hate this about myself and am trying to be better.  As far as the blog comments go, though, I guess I didn't realize that blog commenters would even care if I had responded or not.  Obviously they did.  I definitely still don't respond to all comments, but I have made a concentrated effort to respond to certain posts, especially ones that are more discussion based.  I also always try to make an effort to respond to direct questions.  I have built great relationships from these responses and have been able to much better connect with my audience.  I am so grateful to that one commenter who took the time to tell me that I need to step it up with my responses.  It has made a huge difference for me.

5.  Probably the most helpful criticism has come from friends and family who have been hurt by how I have portrayed them on my blog.  I have had to realize that the way I see something is not how others see something and that I must be very careful in how I talk about the people who are constantly coming in and out of my life.  I try to represnt all people in the story fairly.  I have learned to ask permission before telling certain stories or posting pictures, especially of my friends' kids.  If I talk specifically about marriage or my relationship with Greg, he has asked me to let him read it first.  There have been times he has read something and then told me he wasn't comfortable posting it.  I learned this only after I had hurt him by posting something that wasn't my right to post.  I once had a friend tell me that she felt like I was using her as "blog fodder".  This was hurtful, and while I didn't think I was doing this, I obviously was making her feel that way.  So I stopped.

There's kind of this idea out there that critics just exist to tear other people down, but I don't believe that at all.  It is through healthy criticism that I feel like I have been able to really progress as a writer, blogger, and even as a human being.  Through learning to accept blog criticism, I have been able to be more open to criticism in general.  I try to not let my first response be to get defensive or immediately start explaining myself.  It's not easy, but it gets easier.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.  Any suggestions/ stories you have about dealing with criticism?  And because I am so good at taking all criticism to heart I WILL be replying to all comments on this post.  Huzzah!

(P.S.  If you agree with or like this post I would love it if you would share it.  THANK YOU!)

56 comments:

  1. I'm pretty sure this is the best post on blog criticism I have read. Your approach on the matter is very mature and level-headed, which is refreshing. There are far too many blogger bullies out there and often times the response is "sticks and stones...". It's nice to have a real response because bloggers are real people with real feelings in the end. Also, the term "hubs" annoys the heck fire out of me, so I am personally thankful for that change!

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    1. Thank you, Katie! I appreciate that. It took a little while to get to the level-headed part, but I really do think that criticism can be really good to some extent.

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  2. This post was seriously good. Also I too noticed the change to Greg and I liked you better for it because it made you sound more sincere. You are great to really think about and take criticism well- writing is so tough and great because everyone interprets what you mean differently. I realize I come back to your blog because you write posts like this one :)

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    1. I agree- after I changed Hubs to Greg I could never go back- Hubs just felt so cliche and campy. Thanks so much for your kind words!

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  3. Such a great post! You are a lot less stubborn than I, haha. I need to learn to listen to and appreciate criticism more. Most of what I've gotten has been pretty silly, though. I once got a comment saying I had bad eyebrows, but that's something I already knew so I just laughed! My eyebrows are huge! Anyway, I'll definitely be sharing this -- these are some good lessons. :) Thank you for your honesty. This is why I love your blog!

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    1. I'm definitely stubborn, it has taken me months, and with some of the comments, years, to be able to look at them from a logical viewpoint. The eyebrow comment- that definitely falls into the ridiculous category. What is the point of commenting on something like that?!

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  4. I jump from blog to blog reading here and there but I read yours every day! You are so relatable and have a great sense of humor. I have been following you for quite some time and it has been neat to see you grow and improve. Congratulations and keep up the good work!

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    1. Thank you for reading mackensie! That means a lot to me. I hope I am growing and improving. Sometimes being grown up is a rough business.

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  5. Thank you for all the tips on criticism. I am far to prideful to be able to take blog criticism well, annd it is something I need to work on. Like you, I am a teacher and obviously deal with observations all the time. Sure, taking teaching critiques is one thing. But when it turns into my social life, I have a hard hard time dealing with it! Just today, I received my first (and then several more! from the same person!) derogatory comment on my blog. It was on a home facial recipe I posted about. This particular post is on Pinterest and has gotten quite a few repins, so for some reason the person felt it was their duty to warn everyone about the post. They posted anonymously (I agree with you, if you are going to be offensive, say it out in the open, or else it is cowardly. I responded to their initial comment, then deleted the rest of them. They came back and posted more rude comments! These weren't even personal attacks, but attacks on my recipe, so I felt hurt and betrayed a little. I wish I knew how to handle it better! It sounds like you have lived and learned and become a better person from the negative comments. Way to go, Bon!

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    1. Anonymous comments drive me crazy, I feel like you have to own your criticism if you are going to be critical. I had a very similar situation where I deleted mean anonymous comments and then "anonymous" came back saying "Why'd you delete my comment?!?" Uh... because it was anonymous and because you refuse to open up to what you say, why should I leave it up?

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  6. As a new blogger this was perfect timing for me to read. I know that someday down the road I'll probably encounter some "hecklers" and I hope to deal with them gracefully. And thanks for the reminder that not all criticism is negative. I guess it's true that "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". And after all, for me at least, blogging SHOULD be about growing as a person, learning from your mistakes, and getting outside of your comfort zone every now and then.

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    1. Well said! And a lot of the comments that I receive aren't from "hecklers", but from my real life friends and family... obviously those are the comments that I value the most.

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  7. I flip flop my feelings on this so much-- some days I'm all 'I loveee to blog..' and then other days I sit there and wonder why I'm sharing my life with complete randos and think about deleting the whole darn thing. Luckily, since I have so few readers- the only real criticism I've gotten so far is that I misused a word ( adieu v. ado) which at first annoyed me. After thinking it over, I decided not to edit the post, and correct the word. I'm not perfect, and neither is my blog.

    Part of what makes me like your blog and writing style so much is that you aren't afraid to take risks with your content. With that risk, I think there comes the opportunity for great success, but also criticism. You'll never make everyone happy, but you usually manage to provoke thought or make me laugh and smile. Keep doing what you do!!

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    1. I totally understand what you mean. I usually correct grammar mistakes as soon as I see them, but there have been posts that have shown my flaws or weaknesses that I have decided to leave up. (My handicapped parking post and my ugly baby post, for example. They don't exactly show the kindest side of me.) I appreciate your comment about the risks involved- it definitely can be tough but I believe the reward is definitely greater if you are willing to risk a bit.

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  8. This was a wonderful post, Bonnie. I read you every day, even though most of my daily reading is design-related (my job & my hobby), so it's pretty unusual for me to spend so much time on a 'real life' blog. I love what you write about, even though you're young enough to be my daughter, and I can't relate to a good portion of your life. (But I'm LDS too, so I always love to read about your mission, your church activities, and when you share your thoughts about the Gospel) But all in all, I'm kinda jealous that you have so many readers & comments. I'm lucky if I get one comment a week on my blog, and 99% of the comments are positive. Makes me wonder what the vast majority who never comment, really think!
    Early on in my blog (which is a creative blog) I decided to do a weekly 'vent' posting, where I could just rant & rave about my design pet peeves. One of my followers was hurt by something I said- and I realized that not everyone felt the way I did, and just having a blog didn't give me the right to be insensitive to others who had a different approach. So, I changed it. I dropped the weekly vent, and just did a weekly 'bright idea', where I was able to say what I wanted, but did it in a positive, non-judgmental way. Thanks for some great ideas and thoughts today!

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    1. Stefanie that is so kind of you and I appreciate it! I will agree, that having a large audience of readers makes blogging a lot more fun, but I like to think that I would do it anyway... the writing in and of itself is very rewarding for me.

      Love your comment about your 'vent' posting. I have often gotten in trouble for venting about certain things, but strangely enough I usually get in trouble through facebook.

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  9. Not everyone can like us, and not everyone can agree with us. The world be would be a very boring place if we all felt the same. That being said, I think "haters" should keep their opinions to themselves. If you are saying something just to hurt the other person, just don't! If you are saying something to help them grow as a person, or to point out a "flaw" then do it in a nice way.

    Tina

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    1. Excellent comment and I agree. Some comments really are for no other reason than to hurt a person- but the healthy, constructive comments are gold!

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  10. This is a great post and I think it's valuable advice for anyone. As far as criticism goes, I'm always surprised that people feel comfortable being so critical! It's like they don't realize that you are a real human being with real feelings and flaws and worries and joys. Sometimes criticism is healthy, but most of the time it's just hurtful, and it's never fun to receive it. I'm sorry for all the mean comments people have sent you. I know you know how to deal with them but I just wanted to say sorry. In the future, I would love if you also wrote about how to GIVE criticism in a positive, constructive way. Thanks for a great post!

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    1. You are so sweet, Rebecca. I understand your point on the criticism, and I have been lucky to not receive any truly nasty criticism thus far. I know nothing about how to give criticism in a positive, constructive way... I tend to be very critical by nature so I think it all in my head but don't voice it much. Probably the worst combination imaginable!

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  11. Great post! And great outlook on handling criticism. They taught us how to handle feedback as part of our graphic design curriculum, but whenever I get one that's directed at me personally, I collapse into a heap of sadness and unnecessary self examination. "I need to rethink my life!"

    I particularly like how you broke it up into categories. Some criticism is good, most is phrased poorly (something I've blogged about), some is just trolling, and knowing the difference is hard!

    Keep being awesome and don't let the bast... uh, jerks, grind you down!

    Jenn | Business, Life & Design

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    1. Agree completely with the poorly phrased criticism. A lot of criticism would be much more helpful if it were kinder and more constructive.

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  12. This was all so very, very well stated. When I first began following your blog, I loved it because of your humor and my ability to relate to you as a high school teacher. The longer I followed (and it's definitely been a while), the more I loved your writing.

    Do I always agree with everything you say? No, but I don't always agree with my best friend either. It doesn't make me dislike her or direct hurtful things at her. Do I absolutely love every single post you write? No; sometimes I just can't relate. Not a big deal.

    But the one thing that will always make me stick by your blog is that I feel you are really and truly honest. I'm not the kind of person to get upset when a blogger begins to make money from blogging, but I do feel like there are a lot of "big" bloggers who have given up quality content in lieu of writing to impress people or win over sponsorships. They CLAIM they still blog because they love to write, but the content has turned to crap.
    You, on the other hand, keep cranking out wonderful posts like this one.

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    1. Thank you for this, Kate. I really appreciate it. The honesty and realness for me in blogging is really big. And the sponsorship line is definitely tough- I toy with it all the time. How much is too much and at one point am I sacrificing readers for financial compensation, so your words mean a lot to me.

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  13. My blog is not a big blog, so I've never gotten negative comments, but in case my blog ever grows bigger, this is a post I'll definitely reference and appreciate :)

    Really, though... take away my Cafe Rio salad, and babies will be eaten.

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    1. Umm... exactly. Nobody touches a Cafe Rio salad.

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  14. THere's so much that can be misconstrued when you're presenting your thoughts in word…. I don't know how you deal with it… people can be so nice face to face, but so mean on the internet. You're brave or secure enough with yourself to share what you've learned… great insights and it seems like all your comments are always positive. The only negative ones I've read are the ones on those two posts you mentioned… and that's one post I guess I really didn't like… the baby one. You'll love your baby unconditionally, looks don't matter a bit, not when it comes to babies… that should just be left alone. I know I sound like hypocrite because I used to always laugh at the baby pictures of Davy… but when you have your child your feelings will change. Have you read Wonder yet? That's a perfect example of parental unconditional love. But you write great posts day in and day out and that speaks volumes to your talent and capabilities. One question: are you going to be a blogging fiend when you come to visit? Don't you ever take a "vacation"? Your readers will understand.

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  15. Also, I wanted to say, it's super hard when people don't know you personally and are critical. IT kind of makes me mad what some of those people said on gomi, they don't even know you… the Bonnie that I know.

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    1. Love your comments Mindy! I haven't read Wonder yet, but I plan to this year. And no I will not be blogging in Europe! I will definitely walk away from the blog for a couple of weeks and I couldn't be more excited. I agree that it makes it harder when people don't know me personally- I feel like they don't have a right to be critical but then at the same time it does send a bit of a red flag to me that that is how I'm portraying myself. Your comments are really sweet.

      I can't WAIT to see you! It's getting so close!

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  16. Whether I agree with what you wrote or not, I always find your opinions very thought out, smart, and educated. Your blog content is not fluff and I think that is why your readers (myself included) enjoy reading your space on the internet. I can tell you put a lot of thought into posts. And trust me, you come across as a very intelligent person.

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    1. Thank you Nicole! I really appreciate that.

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  17. People can be so rude, and that makes me sad.

    Re: your teaching abilities, I can't tell you how many times I have thought "man I'd have loved to be in her class in high school." I had an amazing teacher my junior year. She left a huge impression on me and you remind me of her. I still randomly think of her to this day. I'd bet anything if we'd had facebook and twitter then, she'd have been on top of it.

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    1. Thank you Mandy. Your comment is so sweet and I really appreciate it. I hope I am that kind of teacher for my students.

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  18. thank you for sharing! i want to comment on each point, lol.
    i'm australian, so we say fortnight in every day conversation. no one in america knows what im talking about, and i sure as hell dont judge them. how rude!
    and i laughed so hard about the comment on your hair - pfft. my hubby doesnt dictate shit, but i respect his opinions, cause i'm married to the man for pete's sake.
    im gonna say something on here that i rarely say on the internet. i am not religious. being from australia, raised differently - people assume i should be, but they dont understand the cultural differences. when they hear that, they are so rude to me, so i keep it quiet. i would never, ever, ever, judge or say something cruel to someone about their religion. that is so personal and uncalled for. just reading your description made me tear up, let alone the actual post or living it as you did. i think you are a very strong person.
    now i feel a little self conscious about calling my hubby 'hubby' lol.

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    1. Kristen- so interesting what you say about the different in religions, as if you feel criticized for not having a religion whereas here I have often felt it different- that I am criticized for my belief in God. Of course, I think Mormons tend to get more of that than other religions because Mormons are just so misunderstood in general. Loved your insight on this post.

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  19. GREAT post. I get more annoyed with bloggers referring to their critics as being "jealous haters" than almost anything else. And usually when I see a blogger saying that, I end up (sooner or later) not reading her blog anymore. It IS narcissistic, you are totally correct, and when the blogger thinks that other people are just jealous, the narcissism shows up other ways on the blog, too. Not fun to read at all. Your conclusion on this topic is spot on how it should be. :)

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    1. Thank you Bailey! I guess it is an alluring thought... if someone doesn't like me what it obviously REALLY means is she likes me so freaking much she wants to BE me. Yah.... doesn't usually work that way.

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  20. I've never dealt with blog criticism, well except once and I retaliated. Youre absolutely right though we can use it to grow or laugh at it... thanks for posting this.

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  21. Loved it Bonnie! I didn't read all the previous comments, so maybe someone already asked this, but how are you able to just "drop" or "ignore" criticism that isn't constructive? That's hard for me, even if it makes sense that the comment is ridiculous or overly-judgemental. How do you just brush it off? I'd love to hear about how you do that:)

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    1. That's a great question. The immediate way I "drop" it is by doing something totally different- playing tennis, going to get ice cream with a friend, playing some Mario Kart. Something that will keep my mind occupied. I think having someone who cares about you too and can help you realize that the criticism isn't constructive. You know, someone to fluff your ego a little bit. Overall I think when you're surrounded by enough positives, it is easier to chase away the negatives. Also, we have a lot more control of our thoughts than we think we do. Sorry, I know none of that was very concrete.

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  22. You have such a healthy view on criticism. I don't always take it well. I'll admit, I checked out GOMI the other day and while (thankfully) I wasn't on there, I was getting mad for you and other bloggers whom I LOVE and people were trash talking about you all. (Co-dependent much? Yup.) I was so upset and was really tempted to make a user name to defend everyone, but decided against it because that would just end badly. (Yay for trying to make good choices!) So I'm glad the ridiculous ones don't' bother you, you ignore the hurtful ones, and learn from others. I know I need to work on that. I try to do all of the above, but it doesn't always work.

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    1. Ha! I've been tempted to make an account too to defend myself and defend others but decided not to. In teaching they tell us not to "engage" with a student when they are throwing a tantrum or misbehaving, so I kind of took that same advice with gomi. Thus far not engaging has been the best way to minimize the damage.

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  23. Okay, since you're so good with criticism, here I go:

    Just kidding! I agree with you that criticism is good and can be beneficial. But I think there is a huge difference in criticism and just being plain rude. For example, yes, I always thought it was silly that you didn't call your husband by his name, but after I saw "Hubs" several hundred times without ever learning his real name, I thought maybe you were keeping him anonymous for a reason. So I let it go. Why would I ever tell you or any one else online for that matter that I thought it was silly you called your husband "Hubs"? If something about a blog or a blogger bothers me, I either get over it or I stop reading the blog if it's _that_ big of an issue. Some of these things you've called criticism are unnecessary. Yes, you put your life in the public sphere by writing in this forum, but I still don't think that entitles your readers to tear you down. That is my main problem with the internet--it has made people too mean because we are all hiding behind the veil of our computer screens. No one (well most people, anyway) wouldn't walk up to you at your desk and say, "Bonnie, everything you said today on your blog is stupid and immature." Simply because we can type it into a comment box doesn't make it any less hurtful.

    Now that my min-rant is over, I will say that I love your blog. I stopped reading others' blogs and writing my blog (if you could call it that) for a while because I was feeling kind of down. For the most part, I still don't read any of the blogs I used to anymore. You are one of the only blogs I read on a regular basis. You are honest, funny, and real--the last quality being seemingly hard to come by in many blogs I've read. It's even such a testament to you and your blog that I've continued reading it now that you're having a baby, seeing as baby talk makes me squeamish and I tend to be irritated by the whole "Oh, motherhood/baby/child is the best thing you'll ever do" talk.

    In short--keep up the good work!

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    1. I agree 100% that there is a huge difference in criticism and "plain rude." And I totally agree that the internet allows us this veil of safety where it is much easier to be "plain rude." I always try to ask myself if the person were right there in front of me, would they be saying that to me? No. Probably not. So I do try to take internet criticism with a certain grain of salt- it is always going to be more severe than real criticism.

      And I appreciate what you said about my blog! And don't worry, baby talk also makes me squeamish so we're in good company!

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  24. I love this post. And I completely love your healthy attitude about criticism, because boy is it out there. Some of it is helpful and some of it not so much. Here's what I've learned over the years of well, just living. The minute we do anything, even as mundane as walking to the mailbox, we're going to draw both critics and fans. And the farther you step and the bolder the statement, the more of each you draw. It's inevitable. So we can stay relatively safe from criticism and choose to fly under the radar OR we can live life, own the stuff we do, and apologize when necessary. And we can remember to freely and generously gush when we love stuff. I'd rather be numbered among the fans than the critics any day!
    I love your blog. I love your sense of humor and your insightful posts. And I loved this post...a lot!

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    1. Excellent insight about being very generous with our praise when we really love stuff. I love that!

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  25. I think it's really mature to recognize the different kinds of criticism and learn how to respond appropriately.

    I don't mind when readers disagree with me or offer a different POV, but I've also received some extremely misogynistic, hateful comments. Besides my problem with spam, the occasional hateful comments are why I moderate my comments. I like offering anonymous commenting because I know I bring up some pretty sensitive and/or controversial topics, and I want people to feel free to speak their mind without dealing with real-life repercussions. But I do NOT allow mean comments on my guest posts, and I am perfectly fine deleting mean anonymous comments from any of my posts.

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    1. I could see how people could get particularly mean on a blog like yours because it does deal with sensitive and controversial topics. People can get really nasty really quick with stuff like that. I try to not delete comments, but there has been a few times that I have had to!

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  26. I read this post from the first word to the last word. I loved every minute of it! I have yet to deal with a lot of criticism, but I've been nervous about how I would handle it if I ever got to that point. I will continue to refer back to this post because I sincerely hope I can respond to criticism the way you do (or try to do). I don't have a lot of tips or suggestions for you, but I will more than happily be sharing this! I do a favorite things link-up at the end of every month and I'll definitely be sharing this post for the month of May! Seriously, if I had any criticism for you... I'd give it. I truly don't though because I really enjoy your blog and don't have any complaints. If something comes up though, I'll be honest and let you know! :)

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    1. Thanks so much Heather! You are so sweet!

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  27. I really admire your ability to learn and grown from the criticism. I used to blog regularly (it's been years now), but I ended up shutting it down because I didn't know how to deal with all the types of criticism I was getting, especially from people I knew in real life! People don't realize how hard it can be to filter through 100 opinions every week haha! Anyway, kudos to you. I just started reading your blog and I already wish I'd started a long time ago!

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    1. YES. The filtering through 100 opinions every week is insane. At some point, you do turn it off and just do what you think is best. Of course you have to take the criticism into consideration, but it is amazing how many people want a say in how my blog is run.

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  28. Reading this helped a lot, as weird as it sounds! I have major exams coming up and hearing teachers constantly criticize my work and they always have something to say of what I did wrong, I realise now it's going to be better for me in the long run. Time to turn my ear back on. ;)

    guesswhathollie.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Evaluations are always tough. I hope your mentors aren't too hard on you- I've heard that in general we need 3-5 positives for every negative. If there's too many negatives, we get frustrated and give up. I don't know if it's true or not, but it is interesting to think about.

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  29. I just got some negative comments on my blog from gomi, not a ton but enough to sting. I talked to my blog bffs about it and they directed me to this post! I was literally just thinking "how do I deal with this kind of negativity?" and your post answered it!

    The comments were just dumb stuff about how I have a "smug" smile and that I say I'm from California and that my kitchen is ugly...um say what? haha! Definitely falls in the first category, something I should laugh at. My mom also hates when I smile with no teeth (haha), I can't change that I'm from CA, and I can't help how my kitchen looks cause we're renting. I've found that when I'm sad, leaving a positive comment on other blogs makes me happy :)

    All of this is to say, thanks for posting this Bon!! <3

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