Mea culpa: I had become what I despised -a slime on the Internet.

April 20, 2009

That’s me in the corner…

Last week Alan Wolk wrote about the unpleasant phenomenon of schadenfreude, where one relishes the pain and suffering of others. He was particularly concerned about it as it occurs in Ad Land. It was a strong piece of writing. So much so, Agency Spy posted it on their popular site.

The ensuing comments were a revelation. One reader, by way of example, took umbrage at something I had written… In my recent posts about the collapse of JWT Chicago I’d taken some heat from an anonymous blogger. Childishly, I chose to fight back using my own ugly language and ideas.

Bad idea times two. First, I should not have used vulgar discourse against one of my readers. After all, I’d invited him on to comment. This is no way to treat a guest. Secondly, I should not have tried to explain or defend myself on Agency Spy.

What was I thinking? In recovery programs the troubled soul is taught, among other things, to promptly admit it when he is wrong and to make amends as soon as possible. Good medicine for someone who acted impulsively…twice. So, that is what I’m doing. I’m sorry for my bad behavior. I became what I despise: a slime ball on the Internet! As amends I vow not to allow vile commentary on my blog ever again or to spew it myself.

I’m no more or less thick-skinned than any other creative person, which is to say not very. I’m still learning the protocol of blogging, if not being a good person, and this was a great lesson.


10 Responses to “Mea culpa: I had become what I despised -a slime on the Internet.”

  1. Kitty Monaghan said

    This is why I like you, Steffan.

  2. SRP said

    Thanks, kitty.
    But being honest, sometimes praise can cause me as much trouble as criticism. I get a swell head and boom, I’m a smartass…again.

  3. Everybody has their moments, and the Internets seem an attractive place for ranting.

    On balance, you are a positive force so don’t feel too bad.

  4. Step,
    You don’t owe anyone an apology. At least you are man enough to sign your name to a blog, unlike 99.9 percent of the chickenshits out there.

  5. SRP said

    I know I don’t owe anyone but I felt crappy. Owning my shit relieves me of it…somehow.

  6. Alan Wolk said

    Good for you for owning up and apologizing Steffan.

    You are in a somewhat prominent position within the industry, as such, you should think about what kind of example you are setting. People follow their leaders. And when you follow a seemingly sincere apology with a line like “I know I don’t owe anyone…” you come off, to be perfectly blunt, like a recalcitrant teenager whose dad just forced him to apologize.

    While there is no “official” blogging protocol, when I was starting out, I found that the level of discourse on Marketing Profs Daily Fix, ( – a multi-author site where many prominent bloggers post, is a good guide in terms of how to present yourself and what lines should and should not be crossed.

  7. SRP said


    Trust me I am sincere.
    In answering the above reader/commenter (Jim), paraphrasing his comment, I came across poorly… yet again. I’m not recalcitrant about owing my shit. I think it’s critical, when in the wrong, that I make amends. One thing that fascinates me about all this is that (when commenting on blogs) you are having a one on one conversation in front of others. Figuring out how to do that is challenging…obviously!

  8. Alan Wolk said

    Very true Steffan.

    The public nature of blog comments, at some level, creates a somewhat censored level of conversation since everyone can read it. (And read into it.)

    I have stumbled and fallen many times on that as well, so don’t take it personally. Best advice I ever got on that front was to imagine that you’re on TV and millions of people are listening to your comments. A bit paranoia-inducing, but it worked for me.

  9. Stef,
    I have known you for over 25 years. You are and have always been a class act. I just wish more bloggers out there were like you and took responsibility for their words.

  10. Much respect. Your the cure.

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