This isn’t necessarily related to finance, but I need to say it anyway.
After a little more than a year in the personal finance blogosphere, I’ve come to the realization that many personal finance bloggers (and readers) are extremely judgmental. I know that we all judge others at times, but some people take it to the extreme.
Some bloggers don’t share very much of their personal lives in their posts. And that’s fine – not everyone is comfortable writing about certain things on the internet. But some of us put a lot of ourselves out there for the world to see; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Because we need to share our stories. Because we feel like someone may benefit from hearing about what we’ve been through. Because we want to know we aren’t alone, and we want others to know that as well. And the worst thing that can happen to us is receiving a virtual slap in the face for taking that risk.
I could very easily lie to you all about the things I buy and the choices I make. None of you live in my house; you have no clue what I’m really doing or spending. But instead of portraying myself as perfect, I choose to present myself as I am, flaws and all, in hopes that you can learn from my mistakes. And it’s very hurtful when people use that as an opportunity to attack me, my son, or my life experiences.
I’ve heard people say, “Well, you shouldn’t post about it on a public blog if you don’t want to know what people think.” Maybe that’s true. However, the only people I hear saying that are the ones who want an excuse to berate or ridicule others for their situations.
There is a big difference between saying, “I disagree with you,” or, “Have you thought about doing this instead?” and saying, “You’re a total idiot and you have no business ____.” Whether that’s breathing or owning a computer or buying a bag of Doritos, or whatever else someone feels like going off about that day. The fact is, until I (or anyone else) ask you to provide financial support, it’s really none of your business. If you feel that strongly about it, find a different blog to read.
No matter how much someone shares on his or her blog, you have no way to know everything that person is dealing with. Your harsh, judgmental comment could come at a time when the person desperately needs encouragement, or when they’ve hit a wall and are looking for a sign that things will be okay. Your words could be the last straw for someone who is hanging by a thread. That self-righteous remark that made you feel important for five seconds could affect the recipient for life.
When you are cruel and thoughtless in your dealings with others, you risk destroying them. If that sounds silly or dramatic to you, I’m glad you’ve never been vulnerable enough to understand. But as someone who has been there AND someone who spent more than 7 years working with people who were, I’d like you to realize that your reality is not always the way life works for other people.
If you’re prone to judging others harshly, and not just in your own head, I encourage you to keep your comments to yourself. Words are powerful even when we tell ourselves they’re not. And we don’t always recognize when that power is enough to break someone.