Lessons from the "Francesca in France" Blunder

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Let me start this post by explaining clearly where I'm coming from. This is not a hate post against the blogger who I will be referring to as "Francesca in France". The past week, a blog post I created on May 2008 got pasted in a Friendster group's discussion forum and I went to check what it was all about. I followed up the discussion in the Friendster group at the same time, checking back the contents and comments of a post in Francesca in France's blog that started this whole she-bang. In a way, my blog had some remote connection to what was going on.

It seems that dozens of people have vilified Francesca in France due to one of her many blog posts. That particular post was about something negative or offending that Francesca in France wrote about the Igorots. I for one was offended, so I did my part in writing her in an email, and also posting a blog post here. I'm not surprised that this has come up again, after almost a year. I wouldn't be surprised if the whole thing is going to come out again - 1, 2 or even 3 years from now. That is, if nothing is currently done by Francesca in France.

Let me state that I have nothing against Francesca in France. Do I believe that she is a good woman? YES. SHE SEEMS TO BE A MOTHER MAKING SACRIFICES AND DOING THE BEST FOR HER FAMILY. Do I agree with what she posted against the Igorots? NO. Is she responsible for her blog and what she writes? YES. Is she owning up to that responsibility. NO. Do I believe that her blog is impacted by what happened? YES. Do I think that her real personality should be judged by that one post? NO. Do the online community have a right to discuss her post and link back to her blog? YES, HER BLOG IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Do I agree with how she answered criticisms logged against her? NO. Could she have done better in dealing with what she wrote? YES, ABSOLUTELY. Does it look like she will change her current approach to the situation? NO. Were some of her comments / replies / succeeding blog posts misunderstood? YES, I THINK SO. Do I believe that she should give up on blogging? NO. I THINK THE BLOGOSPHERE IS ENHANCED BY THE STORIES SHE TELLS.

If I was a well meaning friend of Francesca in France, what would I tell her? Now, this is sounding like unsolicited advise but I'll fire anyway. I would tell her to delete the lines with regards to the IGOROT people. By now, she has been educated on who the IGOROT people are, and it is really not helping anyone including her to keep those degrading comments in the Internet. Those 2 lines are not worth the trouble that her blog has received. Her online credibility has been shot, and her dozens of blog posts have been tarnished just because of those 2 lines. It would incredibly help her online credibility if she does this. I can give this advise but in the end, it will be up to her what she follows.

Should Francesca in France apologize for what she wrote? She actually posted a blog post on why she refuses to apologize. It had something to do with the purported "blackmailing" she received. Also, its tough to disregard the many negative comments that were heaped on her. Even a fellow Igorot posted a comment on my blog to say that some of those who disagreed attacked her "below the belt". For me, the honorable thing would be to apologize. With or without the blackmailing, she still made the mistake of equating the Igorot people with being unable to understand. Not all Igorots or Igorot supporters who commented on her blog gave negative comments. There were actually a lot who were very direct to the point, and were constructive in pointing out what was wrong. As one poster in the Friendster forum said, the online community involved would praise her if she goes out her way to apologize.

What happened to Francesca in France can actually be a learning lesson for small time bloggers like me. I am a believer that mistakes do not cause failures. In fact, lessons learned from mistakes can be very rewarding in the future. I did not make the mistake, but this is an opportunity to learn from Francesca in France's blunder. Here's a mind dump of what I will take away from this whole thing:

#1. Listen to your readers. I was one of the first readers of Francesca in France's infamous post. I urged her to correct the error immediately. On a recent check in her post, I found 150+ comments with some of these deleted - I assume these contain obscenities directed to her. It could have taken her just a minute to correct her post, and saved her a lot of trouble.

#2. Improve on ways to communicate. The way we communicate with our friends is very different with how we communicate with blog readers. Our friends know who we are, our strengths, our weaknesses. Majority of our blog readers are strangers we meet online. They will not understand that "sikat pala ako dito" means a light hearted joke, not an arrogant claim.

#3. Win over online acquaintances by writing humbly. If you enter an online forum, write humbly. If you're a new member, do not write anything that resembles a threat or an accusation. You will be ganged up on. Writing humbly is music to online ears, being confrontational while new in a group sounds like long fingernails scratching against a blackboard.

#4. Owning or writing a blog doesn't mean that one has brains. Anyone can write a blog. My 10-year old son has a blog where he posts his original jokes. I'm urging him to write his book reports and reading responses on this blog as well. It doesn't take special skills to initiate and maintain a blog. Just because one has written a blog for 5 years doesn't mean that person has brains. I know very intelligent people who don't write any blog. I also know people possessing 2-digit IQs that have been writing not just one, but 2 or more blogs. See also #3.

#5. Protect your online credibility. Guard your online reputation. While this may have no bearing on your real life reputation, a blog's credibility is diminished if the blogger's reputation is questionable. Avoid being diagnosed online as someone with dementia.

#6. Not all publicity is good publicity. Contrary to advertising's assertion that any publicity is good publicity, I'd rather be known for writing something good, not bad. Cruella de Ville was famous but can you guess where she ended up?

#7. Finally, be forgiving. Today is Easter and we are COMMANDED to forgive. Note that we are COMMANDED, and not REQUESTED. We, human beings all need forgiving, who amongst us hasn't sinned? Forgiveness doesn't make the offending party right, but it puts us right with Our Father in Heaven. Furthermore, unforgiveness is a heavy burden to bear. God has sent His One and Only Son to die for our sins so we may be forgiven. Since we are forgiven, how much more should we be forgiving to our fellow men/women? In the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, Matthew 18:21-35, God warns against not being able to forgive.

The ladies in the Friendster forum seem to have accepted what may have been an "apology" from Francesca in France. That's definitely something to be thankful about. HAPPY EASTER to all! Hug the Easter Bunny for me and take it easy on the sugar.

Related Posts: Filipinas Slam Francesca in France; Igorot Slur on a Filipino Blog


Chip April 13, 2009 at 12:08 AM  

"Forgiveness doesn't make the offending party right, but it puts us right with Our Father in Heaven."

AMEN to that. Happy Easter to you and your family.

Kia R April 13, 2009 at 5:49 PM  

I think you are being too nice to this lost soul - ang tanong, may kaluluwa nga ba? I read her very offending blog posts - hindi lang isa. Have you noticed how she always talks about money? It's true that it's not the rich who have a lot who are greedy. Sometimes, even the poor who do not have much are greedy too.

Anonymous April 14, 2009 at 1:50 PM  

Pumunta po ako dun sa blog ni Francesca. Bakit po ganun siya magsulat? Kahit mga elementary students sa amin ay talo pa siya sa pag-Ingles. Hindi po tama ang pagsulat niya tungkol sa mga Igorots. Kababayan rin po natin sila.

^`º_ßÖßËLLê^ª* April 14, 2009 at 8:01 PM  

HI juan,,nice blog i saw ur link in our group on friendster..
Masasabi ko lang meron talagang mga tao na matigas ang mukha,,kahit na nakasakit na ng damdamin ng iba wala pa rin siyang pakialam..thats FRancesca..

Francesca April 16, 2009 at 1:32 PM  

sagada, hi.

we had been in some inconvenient situations about it,and it is regrettable but I understand all the sentiments.
Cest la vie.

even the issue would be open again after 150 years,it only shows, not many can move on and forgive.
Or forget.
what can we do to people who doesnt want to move on?

Again, c'est la vie.

Thanks for your visit too in my blog, and hope you will learn french language more on your next visit to France.

All the best.