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.