A few months back I read a blog post that a friend shared on social media. I let my inner grammar police get the best of me and posted a snarky comment on my social media feed about the responsibility of a published writer to do a better job proofreading before publishing.
I am by no means perfect and certainly make mistakes from time to time like everyone else. But in this particular blog post the error, to me, was so obvious that I couldn’t help myself. I have been a teacher of literacy for 24 years. The last 15 of them have been as an English teacher in a middle school. With that being said, there are certain things that drive me crazy. Grammar is one of them. To be clear, I did not call that blogger out by name nor did I post my comment directly on the blogger’s social media feed. Trust me, in retrospect, if I could do it all over I would have kept my mouth shut. I took some serious heat for my sarcasm albeit my comment opened the door to a healthy discussion about how being critical stifles others from having a voice. Thank you, George Couros for opening my eyes to the error of my ways. So, why am I rehashing a moment in time that although I learned a valuable lesson from I honestly regret? Because as the title of this post says, Karma really can be a bitch.
This spring I spent a weekend in Rhode Island at an EdCamp Leadership Summit. I connected with some old friends, had the opportunity to meet some super cool people I had only known from the worlds of Twitter and Voxer, and I also met some avid EdCampers like me from Rhode Island, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.
I had been to an EdCamp Summit back in March in my home state of New Jersey. The energy was amazing the entire weekend. I met some awesome people, solidified some friendships but mostly spent a good deal of time talking, sharing ideas, and growing myself the entire weekend. My expectations for the Rhode Island Summit were set high based on my recent experience. Boy did that image crash and burn quickly. After the opening activity, we broke out into sessions based on topics or interests that the people wanted to talk about. I loved the idea of having an open room the first session for people to just connect and talk about whatever organically came about instead of attending a session with a predetermined topic. There was only a handful of us in that room maybe 10 tops. After brief introductions, I quickly realized that these people were all organizers of EdCamps from the northeastern corridor and they all seemed to know each other. I was definitely the odd man out being from New Jersey but I didn’t think it mattered. The one thing I love about EdCamps and the people who attend them is that they are the most friendly, down to earth people I have ever come into contact with.
The conversation started and the topic quickly evolved into how can veteran EdCampers and organizers can find ways to continue to grow their EdCamps while also continuing to grow themselves. The leadership of EdCampNJ had just turned over and I, along with a few others, are now at the helm. We just experienced this phenomenon in New Jersey and found some ways to work around it to make a well established EdCamp feel new again. So when the time came to share ideas I was ready to talk about what we are have tried in NJ and also some cool things I picked up from my new friends at EdCampLI. Here is where karma jumped in and bit me in the ass.
Every time I opened my mouth to say something it was met with a snarky comment, laughter, or simply dismissed. I have to be honest, after the first two times, I didn’t think much of it. I just attributed it to a tight-knit group of people and I wasn’t part of their crew. But as it happened two more times I began to wonder that something was really going on here. In the end, I still don’t really know what that was all about or where the motivation came from to treat a fellow EdCamper in that manner. But what I can say with certainty is that I did not like how that experience made me feel.
But it did also occur to me that I may just be on the receiving end of what I put out into the universe a few months back. I was attempting to share my thoughts and ideas and they were met with sarcasm and snickering. The more I thought about it the more I just couldn’t help but see the parallel between what I said about that blogger and what happened to me in that session. By commenting on that blogger’s grammatical error instead of focusing on the content of the post it was no different than what these guys did to me. I clearly began to shut down in the session, thought twice before sharing anything, and took the first opportunity I could to leave and move on to a different room. So what did I gain from this experience and why am I writing this post? In the end, my mother was right. If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say it at all. I should have kept my comment to myself about that blogger’s error and these guys should have kept their sarcasm to themselves as well. In the end, neither was nice behavior. Lesson learned.