There is a Private Place for Pain

Post Date: February 19th, 2010

LYN: Don’t you want to write those teachers who doubted you and tell them how well you’re doing now?

LYN’S FORMER STUDENT: No. I realize that some of my teachers were bad people but good teachers. And some were bad teachers but good people. There’s a difference.


I just deleted a comment on one of my posts. That’s a first. Is that a sign of entering a wider sphere of influence and communication?

Perhaps not, but here’s why I deleted it: the person criticized a person I’d mentioned in a post. The person called out is not a writer, a public figure, celebrity, or anyone sharing themselves publicly that I know of. The person is someone important to me. For those two reasons, I deleted the comment.

The anonymous writer wrote:

“Upon reading this article my eyes do a double take. The name ______ is staring me in the face. Would this be the same _____ who __________? Just seeing or hearing that name evokes a flurry of fear, anxiety and despair.”

I as blogger read this and feel sadness for the writer, because clearly, there is bad blood between the writer and the person being named. I as a former teacher can only imagine the students out there who remember my name with “a flurry of fear, anxiety and despair.” I hope there aren’t too many. Or any.

But I also believe that blogs, while very public spheres with seemingly no limits and free-for-all opportunities to express oneself, need some boundaries.

Whatever issues we have with individuals need to be worked out just that way–individually. Posting your unhappiness or anger with someone on a blog is like shouting from your front window to anyone who will listen. (I’m recalling the character of the anonymous neighbor in the film You and Me and Everyone We Know.) And the moment the shout comes forth, the name is sullied, the allegations begin to swirl, and those listening wonder, “Wow, what did ___ DO to make Anon so miserable?”

And while ____ may indeed have made Anon miserable, what do random neighbors have to do with it? Frankly, it’s none of our business.

Call the person out in private. Write the perpetrator a letter and say, “Why did you think you could treat me this way? You are a horrible human being. And guess what? I’m doing pretty well right now, no thanks to you.” But don’t do a Michael Jordan and during your Hall of Fame speech name all your most-hated figures from your past. Yes, Michael, I call you out on this, because you very willingly embrace your celebrity and ask for this kind of dialogue.

My friend did not.

And since I place myself in the public sphere, let the comments begin. Thick skin, on, with my mind open to the fact that what I post may hurt. And for those I taught: if you hated me and my teaching, write me a private email. I won’t relish it, but maybe, it will help me be a better person.

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