Like all other relationships between creatives and consumers, the relationship between bloggers/writers and fans/followers is symbiotic. What differentiates our dynamic from most other creative/consumer relationships is that there isn’t much separation between us, and our connection is a bit more intrinsic and fraternal. Aside from a random retweet or an Instagram follow, you’ll probably never interact with the man who designed your shoes or the women who directed the last movie you watched. But, you might have conversations with your favorite blogger three times a week. Maybe even everyday. And maybe you remember when the person who’s your favorite blogger today was just another outspoken and witty regular at what was your favorite blog a couple years ago.
This relationship is built on trust. We trust you won’t use the information we reveal about ourselves to harm us. (And we trust that you, you know, actually read.) In turn, you trust that we stay consistent, honest, and appreciative of your attention and support. The uniqueness of this relationship makes us — the Black blogosphere — a real, live community.
Adding to that uniqueness is the fact that most of us — for reasons practical and understandable — are hidden behind some sort of pseudonym or avatar. And, even those of us who actually use our real names and pictures usually won’t volunteer personal details that could reflect badly on us and people close to us.
So, when someone steps out there and offers intimate details about themselves with their real names and real faces and real locations, we need to have their back. And I’m not just talking to fans and followers. I’m talking to bloggers, writers, popular Twitter/Tumblr personalities. Everyone.
This means when we see that an article penned by or about one of us is shared on our Facebook pages or Twitter feeds, and people are getting nasty and personal with the comments and insults — as what happened last week with Jamilah Lemieux’s Huffington Post profile — we jump in there and defend them.
This means when a person is harassing and stalking several members of the community — yes, Adonis Ash, I’m talking to you — we don’t stand idly by and say “Damn. That’s f*cked up.” and we do actually do something about it.
This doesn’t mean being a part of this community makes you impervious to criticism. Or even that we always need to jump in there whenever we see it happening. I can’t express how much I’ve grown as a writer (and a person) from the feedback I’ve received from my work, and anyone genuinely attempting to perfect their craft will say the same thing. Plus, echo chambers are no fun. And neither are people who can’t take any criticism and don’t allow for their skin to eventually thicken.
The problem is when the criticism goes from constructive to intentionally destructive. And while I guess you can say there’s a fine line between the two, there really isn’t. You know when shit goes too far, and it’s disingenuous to pretend you don’t. And, when it’s taking place somewhere your voice could actually matter — a Facebook comment section or an email thread opposed to a YouTube or Yahoo descent into Hell — it’s irresponsible not to do anything about it.
And yes. This all goes for me as well. There have been multiple times when I’ve neglected to use my voice and status to speak up when well aware that the criticism certain people received crossed the line.
I need to do much, much better, and this is me calling myself out, too.
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)