Thursday, May 27, 2010

You Will Make Mistakes... And That's Okay. (It can even be a GOOD thing.)

You can't really erase things from your blog once they're posted.

So this week on my "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" Blog I made a mistake.

I shared about a story that had been in the news that I felt sure my readers would care about - 2 men who were arrested for falling in love with each other and were sentenced last week to 14 years hard labor.

And then the very first comment I got told me that I'd missed something HUGE to the story. That I'd fallen into the same mistake many others had made - that it wasn't 2 men, it was a man and a transgendered person who had fallen in love. Suddenly, after reading a great news analysis on a blog, and really reading closely the NY Times reporting, I understood that rather than this being a story about homophobia in Malawi, Africa - it was a story about transphobia in Malawi and here in our culture, too. Our Western media being too quick to accept the "two men" line provided by the authorities who wouldn't acknowledge the self-identified female gender of the transgendered prisoner.

I felt terrible. First, I'd presented the story inaccurately - and while I hadn't meant to, I had still made a mistake.

Second, I wondered what I should do. Should I retract my post and re-write it completely? Could I delete it and my mistake? (Although all the people who get my blog posts syndicated would see the original.) Could I just add to my original post and explain?

What I decided to do was something I hadn't had to do since I started blogging: I published a second post as a correction. (I also explained my mistake in an new addendum to my original post.)

I was nervous at how people would react. I had made a mistake. Would my readers be mad at me? Would they feel let down? I've published over 750 blog posts and have never been in this situation before. Would they continue to trust me moving forward?

Here's one comment after I published the correction that was representative:

Lee, I love that you took in feedback from your readers and corrected your mistake so quickly. That puts you way ahead of the New York Times and many other news sources! There is a lot of trans-phobia even in the gay community and I'm so glad that your blog is combating that. Thank you for reporting this awful story and reporting it accurately.

It turned out my readers weren't angry at me for making a mistake. On the contrary, they were happy to see me learning from the experience, and grateful that I "got it."

So it turned out that my mistake actually improved my relationship with my readers!

My lesson from this:

Don't freak out about being perfect. You're human, like me. Mistakes will happen. When they do, be honest about it.

And hopefully your readers will be cheering you on, too!

Namaste, and remember to keep it Zen,


1 comment:

  1. Your post reminds me of my first year in social work school. I had a loving and skilled woman as my first supervisor, and when I told her that I didn't know what to say to the people who would become my clients, she said, "The very worst thing that could happen is that you would say something wrong, but then, because you are not a destructive person, you will go back and apologize, and correct it." It calmed me immensely - and was a permanent life lesson.