Thursday, December 10, 2009

Demands, Requests, and Rights

By Nichole Giles

The other day I got a strange phone call. Without detailing the entire conversation, I’ll just say that it resulted in me being asked to delete a past post on my personal blog. The post was eight months old, and the reason behind the request was beyond stupid—it was, well, insane.

Needless to say I found myself somewhat incensed. Who did this person think he was to tell me what I can and cannot write about on my blog? (I need to interject here that while the person on the phone was my someone I know, the request didn’t come from him. It went through three separate channels, just to make things more complicated.) The post had nothing to do with any one person and in fact was a silly joke about the people of Utah starting a potato revolution. (I know, right?) But some childish potato heir got his feelings all hurt about it, and called someone who called someone else, who called my caller and demanded (yes, demanded) that I delete that particular post.

The situation brought up a question that is relevant to all writers. At what point do we let an outside source tell us what we can write, or what we should write, or what is appropriate in our writing? And if we do allow this kind of influence, from whom will we accept it? And when we do post a public blog, how will our words affect us in the world outside the writing/ blogosphere? How will they affect the people we love?

I have to be honest. The trouble-causing post used no names, no brands, and nothing that should have been seen as offensive in any way. Yet, someone I’ve never met somehow found the post—which was so old I’m still working on finding out how, aside from absolute stalking—and got offended. That person thinks that because he has oodles of money, he should get to say what I’m allowed to write about. Only he isn’t an editor, or an agent, or even someone I know.

But the person on the other end of my phone had other reasons for making the request, and the bottom line was that having me delete it would make his life easier in dealing with the person who was dealing with the rich kid. (Are you still with me?) Thus I found myself in a tough spot. On the one hand, to delete the blog wouldn’t mean much to my readers. Sure, I’d lose the few comments on the post, but no one would really miss it, right? I mean, most people read the most current posts unless they’re looking for something specific, which generally doesn’t include potatoes.

On the other hand, the person making the demand (not the one requesting I comply) had no right to be asking, requesting, or demanding any such thing. And my inclination is to say no out of principle. The truth is I absolutely detest having someone attempt to push me around or strong-arm me into doing anything.

So what to do? To tell the truth, I replaced the blog with a scathing paragraph for about two hours—just long enough for the right people to read it—and then I deleted the whole thing (after backing it up on my hard drive). It really wasn’t such a big deal, except that I was extremely angry for even being asked. But… I saved what I wrote and will probably repost it eventually out of principle.

Have you ever been asked to do something like this? Who asked you and what did you do about it? I want to know.


David J. West said...

So the revolution will not be blogged? I can sympathize with making a friends life easier, but yeah it would probably just make me want to go on a potatoe tirade for weeks.

Potatoe potpouri posts for days.

I kill and eat potatoes on sight. No mercy for potatoes.

Do I waterboard them? No, thats too easy-I shred them and add butter-has to be real butter.

Oh yeah, are you unwelcome in Idaho now?

MoJo said...

having me delete it would make his life easier in dealing with the person who was dealing with the rich kid.

So? Why is that your problem?

You're a far better person than I. Not only would I have not taken it down, I would have written a new post and named names and left it there for posterity.

But I'm touchy that way.

Th. said...


Potato heirs. Seriously.

Karlene said...

Oh my gosh! That is so lame. Really.

I missed your potato post but now I'm totally wanting to read it and blog about it with links!

Unless the person making the request was my husband, child, parent or sibling, no way would I take it down. Because I'm a total brat that way.

Nichole Giles said...

Yeah, David, the revolution is probably coming. And yes, go ahead, kill and eat potatoes on sight--just don't buy them from Idaho, okay?

As far as I know, Idaho still welcomes me at this point. But maybe not the small town where those particular potatoes are farmed.

MoJo, thanks for sharing my anger! Actually, it became my problem because of the thing Karlene mentioned. Husband, child, parent or sibling. So... I did feel some responsibility. Unfortunately, it's a side effect of love. Sigh.

Still...the new post is on my mind, as is the repost. And believe me, I've considered links. When I ever do post something about potato boy again, you, my faithful readers, will be the first to know! And then you can all blog it and link away.

Taffy said...

I remember an authors post last Christmas about guessing how many Santas were on her mantle/home. A few people wrote and berated her for not counting nativities instead and what kind of LDS person was she? SRSLY people, take a page out of Thumper's mom's book: If you can't say something nice...

L.T. Elliot said...

I think it's just sad that someone has nothing better to do with their time than obsess about a post about potatoes--farmer or not.

L.T. Elliot said...

p.s. I don't mean you, Nichole. I meant the complainer.

Nichole Giles said...

I got that, L.T., no worries. I had the same thought, too. Great minds think alike, huh?

In all seriousness, I'm over it now. Still shaking my head about it, but how sad that someone really has nothing better to do! And that he's so spoiled as to take offense to that.

Sad life indeed.

Keith Fisher said...

I would keep it up. there is one thing interesting though. You are getting readers. In the future, when your books get a million readers, there will be many who love them . . . there will be many who don't. the constant in the equation is that people are reading. It's nice of you to want to do for a friend.

with my obstanacy, I would thank the offended party for reading and leave it up.

Nichole Giles said...

Yeah, Keith, that was my instinct too. And when I actually did delete it, I vowed to never, ever stoop to that again. It was absolutely a one time thing.