If you’ve never heard of Freshly Pressed, it’s a feature on WordPress that promotes blogs. Each weekday WordPress selects and posts about ten new blog posts on the Freshly Pressed section of the WordPress.com homepage to entertain, enlighten, and quietly taunt you for not yet having been selected.
Being Freshly Pressed is an honor. It is to Bloggers what Heisman is to football, Emmy is to actors, and Playboy is to Lindsay Lohan.
It is highly coveted because you get a lot of traffic to your site when you’re sprawled across the WordPress.com homepage like an open buffet.
Like many other bloggers whose blogs are hosted by WordPress, I hoped to one day be Freshly Pressed.
And last week, I did. I received an e-mail notification from an editor at WordPress that my post “Why Snowboarding’s Not So Gnarly,” a parody about the dangers of snowboarding, had been promoted to Freshly Pressed. “You are now part of an elite group . . . be proud!” said the e-mail.
I was proud, especially when traffic came pouring to my site— nearly three thousand hits in two days.
Readers flooded my comment section with positive feedback while I reveled in the glory. Until, that is, the negative comments started rolling in—backlash from snowboarders angry with me for poking fun at their sport, worried that I would discourage people from snowboarding.
I was surprised by their serious and intense reactions. I wrote my post with no objective in mind, other than comic relief to help me process my feelings after my son injured himself on his snowboard. Writing the post helped me deal with the hurt, guilt, anger and fear my son felt when I handed him the hospital bill.
I tried to keep an open mind when replying to reader comments. I used the comment section as a forum to promote freedom of speech, allow readers to express themselves, and poke fun at them some more. When one guy wrote, “What a collection of senseless words” I respectfully replied, “Tghg kprdyddgh.”
A few people made hateful and hurtful comments—a few so unspeakable I removed them from my site. Apparently WordPress only censors sex, not cruelty.
When I read such hostile remarks my heart sank and my blood pressure rose. I am a person who hates conflict. That’s why I write a humor blog and not Ashton Kutcher’s tweets. It was enough to make me wish I’d written about something less controversial than snowboarding, like immigration or gun control.
Others took the time to write heartfelt words about their passion for snowboarding and provide useful information about snowboard safety while they ripped my post to shreds.
A few snowboarders wrote essays longer than my post, filling my comment section with more opinion than an Op Ed for the New York Times.
I don’t begrudge readers for speaking their piece. The beauty of blogging is that it provides a forum for readers and writers alike to speak their minds, expand their perspectives and make informed decisions. I always welcome other opinions, even if they’re wrong . . .
Becoming Freshly Pressed has helped me understand that as a writer, I have a responsibility. I’m just not sure what it is yet.
I do know that as my readership grows, so will my comment section, for better or for worse. If I’m going to succeed in this business I’d better toughen up. Otherwise, I may find myself demoted to . . . Freshly DE-pressed.
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