One of the things I like most about the world is its people’s love for calling each other idiots.
It happens, dependably, whenever one person rubs another the wrong way.
And it’s especially noticeable when you work a job that leaves your work on display. For instance, the newspaper business.
A guy at McDonalds overcooks a batch of fries and who sees it? The three or four customers who are served crispy slices of shit. A factory worker messes up a product affects only the customer who happens to get the defect, in most cases. A vet kills a cat, a mechanic forgets to put the oil cap on, a prostitute bites a … never mind.
You get what I’m saying.
When someone screws up at a newspaper, it’s out there for everyone to see. You generally spend the day waiting for tomorrow’s edition to hit the stands.
Or at least I do.
I have been told by many an editor – including some wily veterans who were in their prime when newspapers were the only source of information – I need to grow some thick skin. Nowadays, members of the media are targets for those with dirty mouths. I’m told it’s been this way since the Regan administration, although I offer no evidence to support this.
How right they are. I am anal about errors – I rarely make them and typically don’t write any statements I don’t know to be true. If it comes from a source, I say so, shifting the burden from me to this source should it be proven false later.
That in mind, what I have discovered is that making errors is not the only thing that will get people mad at you. Offering an opinion they don’t agree with will as well. And since they don’t want to say the reason they’re spouting off is because they don’t agree with what you’re saying, they launch some type of variety of “you’re an idiot” comment at you.
And I have always let them get to me.
The trouble is, if there’s one thing I’ve seen proven, it’s that there is no way – NO way – to please everyone. Every story is going to have some kind of neigh-sayer. Whether or not they go so far as to address you about it depends on how passionate they are in their beliefs.
For instance, if I write a story about a town getting a new police station, I can assure you there are people disgusted to read about it, but they most likely won’t say anything. But write a story that proves Jesus was a teenage hoodlum and you’re going to get some phone calls. That red light of death (voicemail waiting indicator) will be lit on your phone when you come into work the next day.
And guess what they’ll say? You’re an idiot.
And the people who appreciate your work? They’ll be silent.
You’re on your own.