I always enjoy getting comments on my blog posts, both positive and negative. It lets me know that people are reading and that they care enough to go the extra mile and type out a response. Quite often the comments I receive on Don’t Blink come way after the fact. It will be 2:30 a.m. on a Tuesday and I will get an e-mail telling me that someone commented on a post that I published a year and a half ago. Many times people will go on Google searches, find something that I wrote, and sound off. Although this is typical, sometimes comments will come under different circumstances.
Last night I wrote a blog post about the app Bitstrips. It was essentially a review of the service. I did point out a couple things that I didn’t care for but I didn’t go overboard or anything. About five minutes after I published the post I had an e-mail notifying me that I had a new comment on my blog. I opened up the e-mail thinking that the comment would be under a post I did several months ago or maybe from one of my friends who made a facetious comment on the post I had just written but I was wrong on both fronts. Instead I received a reply from a woman named Susan in Toronto regarding my Bitstrips post. In four logical and well-reasoned paragraphs she countered my criticisms by giving me a history on Bitstrips and then using that to illustrate how the service once used to allow for more creativity (one of my main complaints) but was altered when users wanted a more simplified product.
I was intrigued by her response for a couple reasons. First, how did someone in Canada come across my blog post so quickly? Secondly, what made her so passionate and defensive of Bitstrips? I decided to dig deeper into my second question. I sent an e-mail to the address she left asking if she worked for Bitstrips and if she was not employed by them, what was her stake in the app as obviously from her comment I could glean some type of existing relationship. Within ten minutes I had my answer.
In a lengthy and well-composed e-mail she explained that she is related to one of the founders. She once again reflected on the history of Bitstrips when it used to be just a website. She explained that they used to have some of the features that I desired in my review but that they had to do away with them because of complaints from users. Susan expressed frustration that people seem to want something new/changed and once they have it they inexplicitly want the old version back. She talked about how many of the comments people make are unfair. In a pretty telling line from her e-mail she wrote “The negativity directed their way (to Bitstrips) has made me crazy and defensive.”
At that point I knew exactly how I needed to respond. Please read my exact e-mail:
In our daily lives we can’t get “crazy and defensive” when others point out perceived flaws with organizations/initiatives/efforts/causes that we are associated with or directly invested in. While it is definitely important to listen to criticisms, it can be fatal to become so wrapped up in the negativity that you allow yourself to “go crazy”. I work in a position and for an employer where I am/we are judged continuously for every little thing under the sun. There is absolutely no way to please everyone. If I didn’t have this squared away in my head, I couldn’t do the job I do. I tried to pass on this mindset to Susan. The last thing she needs to worry about is the opinion of some guy who lives thousands of miles away from her who had only used Bitstrips for less than 24 hours. Don’t Blink.