Jeeesh, What Are You Gonna Do?

Me getting my first few hatemails
Me getting my first few hatemails

A bunch of people offered such good advice when I posted on Facebook two days ago about grouchy reader who wrote in to say he thought my latest column was the most boring thing he has ever read in a newspaper.

I liked all the comments people left, from the one that said, “Tell him to go suck a lemon” to the one who said  “Jealous! Who says that? He hasn’t gotten the memo that mean people suck? You go girl

I nodded and also learned something when one person wrote, “People who take the trouble to write are people you’ve affected, whether it’s positively or negatively. To a communicator, they’re of equal value. Your enemy is indifference.”

I smiled in appreciation of the one that said “I have learned that we are not always *for* someone – kind of like when you hear speakers and some just “speak” to you and others turn you off. No biggie.”

True enough, true enough, Laura.

I even liked the one that said, “You may be controversial at times, or even irritating, but never boring. I love reading your columns.” That one made me laugh right out loud. I’m irritating? Really?

But the one that made me feel best of all came from fellow columnist Mike Deupree now retired. I have been learning from HIM since 1988 when I attended my first ever National Society of Newspaper Editors Conference and here is what he wrote:

I once got a phone message from a reader. He sounded very upbeat, gave his name and phone number, said, “I just wanted to let you know that your column this morning was the dumbest f***ing thing I ever read in my life.” I always responded to people who identified themselves, so I called him and talked for a while. Nice guy. Became a regular correspondent and we met in person several times. (He was wrong about that column, though).

That experience has been mine exactly. Sometimes people write me the most hateful things, me with my liberal theology and my support of equality in marriage. I too always answer – by email because people don’t call me – and I think them for taking the time to write and sometimes say a word about God being a God of love and how I too admire and emulate Jesus and do you know what? Nine times out of ten they write back and say “well I was kind of in a bad mood when I wrote that” and though we haven’t become friends exactly like Mike and his caller, we seem to have blessed each other, which is all I’m hoping for every day when I get out of bed in the morning.

This is Mike, called ‘Doop’ by his friends around the time I met him. I miss him and wish he were still in the business.

Mike Deupree, late of the Citizen of Cedar Rapids, with the Senator Tom Harkin, also of Iowa
Mike Deupree, late of the Citizen of Cedar Rapids, with the Senator Tom Harkin, also of Iowa

5 thoughts on “Jeeesh, What Are You Gonna Do?

  1. I have all my most favorite “hate” mail on the wall next to me as a way to keep from living in a writing bubble. The most mail I ever got from unhappy people came as a result of suggesting fruitcake is better used as a door stop, or chew toy for the neighbor’s pit bull. The fact that people take the tijme to write, even when thay aren’t happy with you, shows they’re reading — and that you have made a connection 😉

  2. For us who want everybody to love us, It’s tough to be criticized! It hurts internally. But if we don’t learn to let it go,
    we suffer. And a negative comment says more about its source than about you. Who sang these lyrics? ” You can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.” !

  3. T, is for tough!! You write from your heart and sometimes that takes courage. Even though I am as conservative as you are liberal and disagree with much of your philosophy, I read almost everything you write and much of what you reference or recommend. Boring?… maybe on occasion but that speaks to my interests, not yours …… so just keep doing what you do so well. Sharing brings us all together.

  4. Nice. I find your account of taking the next step of communicating with critics such a hopeful and positive and constructive thing to do. We are faced with choices daily, and one could choose to hunker down and hunch the shoulders up or…reach out and perhaps disarm someone by the very act of reaching. Glad you’re reaching.

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