Wednesday, October 20, 2010

8 Ways Badmouthing Bites You Back

I’ve seen a good deal of slandering around the Internet within the past few months. It’s embarrassing to read. I’m embarrassed for those who, out of impulse, release their every emotion out into cyberspace.

If you’ve ever been tempted to use your blog to slander, vent, or rip someone’s reputation to shreds, this post is for you.

Badmouthing bites back.

Here’s how:

You Lose Trust
People visit your blog for a reason. Perhaps you offer insight into the publishing industry. Or maybe you are excellent with crafts. When you open a gushing wound and write a litany of curses at Whosit because they recently maligned you in some way, you enter a whole new ball park. And it’s an ugly place to play. Honestly, few people care about Whosit and what they did. They come for the publishing advice. They come for the crafts. If you are slandering Whosit for what they did, will you be quick to misinterpret Sensitive Sally’s comment? Will you trash talk Inquiring Inky next?

Words Travel
The Internet is a wacky land. A Merry-Go-Round of sorts. You say one thing over on one side and you never expect the people all the way on the other side to be gawking at you because of what you divulged. How did they hear? How do they know what I wrote? The thing spins, people. Not only that, it goes on and on and on. What you write now will still be accessible twenty years from now.

You Earn the Wrong Kind of Attention
Picture this. You crave someone’s attention—say an agent or an editor, maybe. So you start flapping your gums trying to get their attention. “They are so busy. They’ll never notice me. I’ll say something that will get to them like a fire poker to their slush pile. I’ll get ’em riled up.” You might as well be standing at a waterhole waving your arms frantically at the gator eyeing you. Know what the alligator sees? Fodder. He. Will. Eat. You. There is such thing as the wrong kind of attention.

It’s the Antithesis of Humility
Self-pity likes to dress up as Humility for Halloween. Don’t be fooled. It’s just a costume. Self-pity and bitterness look nothing like humility. Humility is taking a hard look at yourself and confessing you have hurt others as well. It’s searching for and finding a way to extend the forgiveness and grace God gave you. This is Holy Spirit work.

Your Words Carry Less Weight & You Lose Respect
Once you wield your slingshot of insults, every word out of your mouth will be assessed. This goes hand in hand with losing trust. You also lose respect. People have to ask themselves, “Do I believe this?” Your credibility is weakened and your sincerity scarred.

You Show You Don’t Know How to Discern When to Be Quiet
Was it Duran Duran who sang about shouting and letting it all out? Um, no thanks. I’m beginning to understand that the moment of our greatest anger is the best moment to pray. What, you think God doesn’t get anger? Oh, He got angry. But Jesus didn’t hike from town to town going off about what the people did to him in the town before. He knew about the spinning world. He also knew how to go to the One who had the power to do something about it.

Your Insecurity is Showing
You might think writing an obnoxious comment or posting a list of ways you were offended strengthens you in some unfathomable way. It doesn’t. It’s actually like someone has cut you open and your guts are hanging out (there’s an image for you). Really. Your own desperate need to be filled up by others, and to have them hold a high opinion of you is dangling outside of you like a warped gall bladder. You are insecure. We all are in our own way. Why broadcast it by bringing someone else down?

You Cheapen Your Witness
You want to shine God’s light to others and to come across loving. There’s nothing loving about detailing your anger in Roman numeral format. No light is shining when you’re calling names as though you’re on an elementary school playground.

Can you think of other ways badmouthing bites back?

*photo by flickr
***For the record, as I wrote this I kept thinking how my blog followers are the last group of people who need to read this post. You’ve been kindhearted, thought-provoking, and sincere with your comments. For that I thank you. Yeah for class!


  1. Wow, Wendy, tough love today...I like it. :) These are principles that apply not just to the internet but to life.

  2. Yeah, once the words are out there, they can't be taken back. Word can hurt, and it won't matter how much you apologize or beg for forgiveness, the damage is done. I typically stay away from blogging rants. Unless they truly are in fun about something insignificant and not about someone, personally. Personal attacks are wrong! Can't wait for election season to be over!

  3. This is a good post, and a great reminder for everyone.

    You asked if it was Duran Duran who sang that song. I think you are referring to the song "Shout" (Shout, shout, let it all out...). If that is the song you are meaning, it was Tears For Fears who sang it. Wow, I'm really showing my age with that, lol!

  4. Wow, yes, great reminder. I often need to remind myself pray, then speak. Or pray, then email or whatever. Needs to be a constant habit and its when I ignore this that I say things best kept quiet.

    Unfortunately the tools that we use for good are very easily used for evil.

  5. Once it's out there, its out there. Good reminder to always review before I hit submit. :O)

  6. I'm writing a lesson today based on Proverbs called, "Speech that Makes or Breaks a Friendship." The emphasis on your post and my lesson are a bit different, but they both deal with one of the same problems - badmouthing, just applied in different ways.

    Your article is so good and should cause us to think seriously about bad mouthing anyone.

    Perpetual badmouthing reveals an unhealthy heart: "The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean." (Matthew 15:18). It is not just the mouth that needs to be cleaned up, but the heart.

    Great post. wb

  7. sage advice.

    in today's world people are so quick to judge (i try not to throw stones too often, because glass houses break easily).

    i think if people remember that the golden rule still applies to adults, the world would be a better place.

  8. Ouch! when I read post like this I always assume it's me! It wasn't me was it? I always try to be nice to everyone, because, well, I pretty much like everyone. ;)

  9. This is GOOD stuff, Wendy! You pretty much sum it up. Also, the industry is SMALL!!! Words gets around very fast.

  10. Wow Wendy! You really hit it where it should be hit! Great job:))

  11. Right on, sister. As I tell my kids, you can't take words back. We have to be careful what we say, and trust me, I've put my foot in my mouth so many times, I speak with authority!

  12. Wonderful post! This was God-inspired. I'm in agreement with all you've written on this topic. Bless you for having the courage to write and post it. Blessings,

  13. I've seen the same thing. Thanks for a reminder we could all use once in awhile. :)

  14. What an excellent post on this subject! Good for every one of us to be reminded again. We are all still a work in progress. Just recently a friend put her vent into her facebook status - even mentioning 'her stupid employer'. While that was unwise of this young mom, the comments that followed, attacking her for feeling this way, were totally unbelievable and uncalled for. Very hard to know how to help someone who can't see that this also applies to them. Seems so often that a mom can reprimand the kids for behavior she does herself.

  15. Thanks, Sarah. I debated posting it, but I'm glad I did.

    Heather, You bring up a valuable point with elections. Those commercials drive me nuts. This is Wendy and I approve this message.

    Thanks, Kathy. Been thinking about you and wondering how you've been.

    Shelley, Yes--Tears for Fears--but of course! Thanks for the correction. Cleary I'd forgotten. Not sure what that says about my age.

    Julia, The cool thing about writing something rather than saying it, we have more time to contemplate our words.

    Diane, A lesson I'm still trying to learn.

    Warren, That is such a great point and reminder of a key Scripture verse addressing this. What we say is a reflection of what we're feeling in our hearts. Wow, we are a polluted species.

    Amie B., I work hard at this and am quick to dig into where I might have offended. I can only do this b/c I have a great God who refusing to leave me alone with myself. Amen.

    T.Anne, So not you. I don't like everyone. I can find redeeming qualities in everyone, but I don't like everyone. Teach me your trick.

    Katie, True, true. Why shoot yourself in the foot? Miss you.

    Terri, I'm trying to figure out where I hit it. Watched the funniest Dirty Jobs last night and your comment reminded me of it.

    Jill, I hear you! I can only speak to this b/c I've seen the sad outcome from speaking too quickly. In that aspect, yes, I speak from authority and experience. Trust me, it's worth it to be careful.

    Jennifer, I truly hope it was God-inspired. I didn't really want to post it at first and debated. I didn't want to come across preachy or as though I've never said anything I regret. I posted it b/c of what you wrote--God's prompting.

    Bethany, What's up with it? I scratch my head and wonder what certain people could be thinking and then I get to feeling sorry for them.

    Karin, I'm absolutely a work-in-progress and thank God for that. Thank you, God, for that!!! I so know what you're talking about with trying to help others to see. I've opted to memorize the serenity prayer.

    "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."

    I have so much to learn, people. So much to learn. I'm thankful I've been open to learn what I have and often I've discovered things the hard way.

    Here is an open invitation to lovingly hold me accountable if I'm blabbing away about someone in a disparaging way. I may not "get" people, but I don't need to verbally tear them to shreds.

    I hope you all feel wrapped up in love tonight.

    Life is too short for cruel words to linger.

    Don't throw them out.
    And if they're in your head from someone else, I'll ask that God helps you throw them out.

    Be blessed,

  16. Hi Wendy -

    How true that our words travel!

    I plugged Christian Writer/Reader Connection into a search engine the other day. Surprise, surprise! It's listed on a website directory, complete with detailed links to posts.

    Good post. A word to the wise and all that...

    Susan :)

  17. Good post...thumbs up to you for writing AND posting it! Really makes me think about not just what I write, but what I say and even think...trying to live in gratitude daily.

  18. Wendy:
    This is so true. I had to walk away from a woman at church recently when she used a tone that was subdued but the words were accusatory. Someone saw me walk away. I was urged to talk to the pastor about it. When I did and he heard my story, he commended me for handling it in a mature Christian way.
    I have asked God to forgive her but I am still wary when I have to deal with her. This was not the first time she caused hurt to me.

  19. This is a tough industry, and it's something we all will be guilty of. How WONDERFUL to lay the sin at the throne of our Lord (like all the rest of 'em and write that e-mail or make that phone call of forgiveness!!

    Been there, done that in Normal


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