A quick mea culpa

For a writer, getting a lot of exposure can be a double-edged sword. It brings you into contact with more people than before, and while that is something a lot of us desire, it can come with some pretty gnarly stuff.

That’s exactly what happened over the past few days.  I wrote something that got a lot of attention, and I handled some of that attention in ways I am not very proud of.  The situation has been upsetting to me, not because of the things people have said to me, but because of the way I reacted.  I have made an effort over the past two years of operating this blog to try to cultivate a space that is above the usual din of discourse on the internet, and for the most part I think I – with the help of the regular readers and commenters of this blog – have been successful at this.

But over the past two days I failed repeatedly, and for that I am sorry.  I succumbed to the feel-good momentary hit of sarcasm and rudeness-in-kind, but as with all quick buzzes, once it wore off, I felt worse than I did before.

I locked the comments on that post, but I will leave them up, even though it makes me cringe to know those words are out there with my face/name attached to them.  All I can do is say that I am sorry, and I will try to do better moving forward.


64 responses to “A quick mea culpa

  1. Awww hun, you took some hard hits in those comments, and it was an EXCELLENT post. People don’t like to have their shows critiqued and analyzed. I work in the biz and totally respect what you had to say. Go gentle on yourself… ❤

  2. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s human nature to fight back when we are unfairly attacked, and only robots can keep their composure all the time. I understand what you feel you could have done differently, but I honestly don’t think you said anything that wasn’t somewhat deserved. Live and learn.
    And besides, you restrained yourself from calling the guy out on his grammar mistake when he told you that “your a moron”. That one would have been FAR TOO TEMPTING for me to pass up without a cheap shot.

  3. Honestly, I thought your responses were good, measured, and just about *right* for some of those horrible comments! People can be horrible, utterly horrible.

    • Thank you. It was amazing that people were so angry over a television show. It’s like, the producers don’t care this much about any of them! The emotional attachment is all one-sided!

    • I think there were three things going on. Some didn’t read what I wrote. They just picked out words and then filled in the blanks with their own ideas about what they think I said. Others disliked the fact that I am critical of the show’s methods and its cheap ploys at generating “inspiration.” And then others also disliked the show but hated that I wasn’t advocating that fat people embrace punitive measures to lose weight.

      Basically I don’t think it had as much to do with me as it did with them.

  4. I didn’t think your responses were out of line at all considering what some people posted. It boggles my mind that people can defend that show with a straight face. I could understand if they didn’t know the facts that are coming to light about the behind the scenes horrors. Hey, anyone that thinks this show is great, do a quick google search on Kai Hibbard. I only hope more former contestants come forward to blow the lid on this monstrosity of a show. Making people workout with injuries, severely dehydrating them for weigh ins, putting their bodies under so much stress that they urinate blood, creating an atmosphere of competitiveness so rabid that they starve themselves (not to mention the show’s “diet plan” of 1000 calories a day with strenuous exercise). Scary.

    • Kai Hibbard’s story was the first time it had ever occurred to me that the show was something more sinister than the tacky piece of entertainment I’d written it off as. I’m glad she was willing to go public with it, especially since I saw some of the pushback she got (and it was far worse than anything I experienced).

  5. I just read through the comments, and I don’t think you did anything wrong at all. The times you got snarky were with people who were obviously being trolls, many of whom were insulting you personally. Few things bring out the trolls like the opportunity to display fat hatred. You are allowed to set boundaries on your own blog.

    My personal favorite comments are the ones who in one breath say that the show is “such an inspiration to fat people” and then refer to them as “those people.” Really? And they know this how? The way they talk about fat people makes it clear that they don’t know any of them well enough for confidences.

    • Ha, I caught that too. My response to that was always that if you really cared about wanting to help people lose weight, you’d advocate ways that actually work. But then there’s no opportunity to make mass entertainment out of it, and therein lies the rub.

  6. Most of the people I saw commenting that you’re talking about didn’t come here to have a conversation. They didn’t come here to demonstrate an alternative viewpoint with the intention of engaging you. They came here to spew an vitriolic attitude, and you (as humans do) picked up on that and used a little sarcasm in return. I understand why you’re disappointed that the conversation happened in a space that is normally productive and engaging, but please try not to beat yourself up over it. This is an amazing blog, and you do amazing work.

    • Thanks, I appreciate it. And yes, you are absolutely right. I was supposed to listen to their opinions and seriously contemplate them, but they were not willing to extend the courtesy the same way.

      And for what it’s worth, I generally do approach dissent with an open mind, and I have been swayed from opinions – even things I’ve written on this blog! – by reasonable comments. But if the comment starts out with an insult? That’s a really good way to make sure I don’t listen to a word of it.

  7. Caitlin, I enjoy reading your posts and I admired the fact that you called out the producers and the show rather than body-shaming the winner. I also thought you handled your responses well but respect you for taking responsibility for your responses.

  8. I thought the post was interesting and well written, I would agree with others here about the fact I felt you handled your responses well and that many of the negative commentators did not seem to want to engage in a discussion but were being negative and downright nasty. Your blog is really good and I enjoy reading it, keep it up and please don’t be so hard on yourself.

    • Thanks, I appreciate it. I guess I’m just not well-practiced when it comes to dealing with commenters like that, which is a quality problem to have. 🙂

  9. Oh my GOD you do not need to apologise for the way you handled that. You were classy and witty and on the right side.

    On a related note, I’ve had your blog in my newsfeed for a little while and in that time, every single entry of yours has made me want to high-five my computer. Please keep being amazing.

  10. I just found your blog the other day – a post about bulky women from last year some time – and started following you yesterday, when I read the referenced post. I think you handled yourself a lot better than many of us would have, given some of the downright rude and hostile comments left. Thank you for a well written post. Haters gonna hate. 😉

  11. I think some folks feel they can say whatever they want in a comment. You handled yourself with integrity. I appreciate that you apologized for not thinking through what you wanted to write before you wrote it, but consider too that you have a right to some snarkiness when someone is being ugly in what is, after all, your space. BTW, I loved your article.

    • Thanks. The part about this being “my space” is probably a big part of why I got so defensive so quickly. It’s like someone walked into my house and started screaming at me. I think there’s this idea out there that comment spaces are supposed to be a commons or a public space of sorts, where people can say and do whatever, and I just don’t agree with that at all.

  12. I agree with your other commenters. Especially want to echo lusciouswords, because I saw a lot of people online using pretty derogatory language toward the winner and I so admired the way you handled it. As for your responses to the unkind posts yesterday, I thought you handled it very respectfully — and I also totally agree with your decision to close comments there! Please don’t beat yourself up. Your blog is great and so are you!

    • Thanks. It’s mostly just my own issues with my own expectations for behavior. I try to remember that there are other people on the end of the series of tubes, and I just got so fed up yesterday that I stopped operating that way. (Even though I’m pretty sure I wasn’t getting that kind of consideration from some of the more insulting commenters.)

  13. I think you handled the comment section very well. It would be extremely overwhelming to have to deal with that kind of backlash and impossible not make at least a few sassy comments. A lot of the people slamming you went for really low, personal attacks and that just isn’t cool. I think you represented yourself and defended your opinion well and I think it’s impressive that instead of raging against those people who came after you. you looked to yourself and wanted to do better next time.

    I have been reading your blog for a long time and I will continue to do so! Your posts make me feel good about myself and the world around me. So congrats. Nuts to the haters.

    • Thank you! And this – “Your posts make me feel good about myself and the world around me.” – is pretty awesome. I’m glad I can have that kind of an impact on you.

  14. I honestly don’t think you owe anyone — yourself included — an apology. I think you handled the comments well, and I was really surprised how many people personally attacked you for that piece. I thought it was an excellent post — extremely well thought out and you did not personally attack Frederickson at all. I don’t know, but I’ve got your back on this one 🙂

  15. Definitely don’t feel bad. It’s really hard to stay calm, polite and not be snarky when people are saying sometimes silly, rude things. I actually think it’s kind of cool to see you being real:) But I know how you feel – it’s never nice to have those things out on the internet.

    • Thanks, I appreciate it.

      Your comment about “being real” reminds me of how we might all aspire to be professional and calm on the outside, but it’s not possible for many people to be that way all the time. I’m going to work to keep that in mind.

  16. Don’t be sorry! You post was great and so glad it got pick up in the mainstream press. I actually wish you’d post more often on all the topics you cover. Thank you!

    • Thanks, Deanna. I would like to post more too! In fact, my (totally far-fetched but oh-so-lovely) goal is to be able to write about this stuff full-time. Oh well, a lady can dream…

  17. I agree with the others here. I think those of us who read you with any regularity understand.

    But, I hear you. When you try to cultivate some kind of equanimity and lose it, it’s painful–even if it was a normal reaction to the context. We all fail to live to our own standards sometimes, and it sounds like you are getting right back into the game. Good on you.

    • This phrase – “try to cultivate some kind of equanimity” – is perfect. A lot of my years were spent in various states of emotional turmoil, and part of my self-protection is to try to exercise some control over the way I respond to certain things. But, like others have said, we are all human, and so sometimes we don’t live up to our standards, no matter how much we may want to. :/

  18. I’ve read some of your posts for awhile now but never commented. Now I will…to say that I think you handled the rubbish comments and accusations very well. I would have most likely said much worse so kudos to you! Besides, sometimes when people make disparaging remarks about others, it may be to highlight their own insecurities or cover up their own fears. Keep writing and sharing. Those who are meant to see it and get it, will. Those who aren’t…well they just won’t.

  19. Agreed with the other commenters. I think you handled yourself very well in the comments. (And I’ve loved your blog since I found it recently! Please keep it up!)

  20. I didn’t read all of the comments/your responses but did read a few and, frankly, I can’t see how you could have handled them any better. You don’t have to put up with people coming to what is essentially your virtual home and insulting you like that. When I say this “mea culpa” post, I didn’t even know what it would be about. Your reactions show how you feel about things in a transparent way and that’s why people love reading you. The internet needs more difficult talks like this. Your biggest loser post was public service at its best.

  21. You did a great job and were far more gracious than I would have been! Commenters who do not use any literacy skills when reading (like determining what arguments are being presented) or writing (like citing relevant and real evidence) drive me insane.

    But what do I know, I’m just a jealous hater who wishes she could make unfounded statements and sweeping generalizations while judging all the skinnies for being skinny.

    Rock on, sister.

  22. Can I just say, holy crap! When I saw this entry I went like, oh, I don’t remember her saying anything all that controversial, did I miss a post? So I went to look for controversy and all I saw was the last post I remembered from you, about The Biggest Loser being kind of really terrible, and I was like, no, that isn’t controversial at all is it? Everyone knows how sketchy that show is, maybe she deleted the controversy post after all. Then I went and read the comments on the Biggest Loser post. Insert that “holy crap!” here. I really don’t see anything you need to apologize for; you were completely respectful to everyone who deserved it, and the only time you got snappy was when people were outright insulting you. And even then, you were far more civil than they were being, even when you were calling them idiots. Which really says something about how civil they were starting out.

    Also, that one dude who literally linked a photo of a biology textbook to make a point in one comment, then two posts later was all “just using the word ‘science’ doesn’t make you right!” Hilarious.

  23. The fact that you even feel the need to say this to your regular followers, and their responses to it, say a lot of good things about the space you’ve created here. I’m glad to have found it, and look forward to seeing more of your work 🙂

  24. I can say from experience that it sucks to be bashed in your own space. There’s nothing like pouring your time, energy, and self into a blog only to have someone call you a bitch or an imbecile in a space that should be positive and your own.

    I read through the comments and you handled yourself well. Sure, you were a bit short but who doesn’t get defensive when their very person is attacked? Don’t beat yourself up.

  25. I think this post is really brave – it takes guts to apologise and I love that you did that, whether you need to do so or not.

  26. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s human nature to fight back when we are unfairly attacked., and only robots can keep their composure all the time. I understand what you feel you could have done differently, but I honestly don’t think you said anything that wasn’t somewhat deserved. Live and learn..

    And besides., you restrained yourself from calling the guy out on his grammar mistake when he told you that “your a moron.”. That one would have been FAR TOO TEMPTING for me to pass up without a cheap shot.

  27. I read your blog posts by email, and I hardly ever read comments or comment myself. I just wanted to say that I appreciate your writing very much. I read the comments on the other post and I think you handled yourself well, considering the provocation. It was quite frustrating to see people being so antagonistic, when they could have made good points.

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