Over the last month, there's been more than a couple of occasions when I've thought - WTF were they thinking? Today alone, there's been at least three. One of which was Maura Kelly's blog post - pretty much about finding obese people on television disgusting to watch. *Shakes head - WTF was she thinking?* It's a long post but I walked away with that singular impression. Then, the awesomeness of the backlash caused her to edit her post and add an apology. She basically crawls for forgiveness - which, for the most part, isn't given. She isn't the first, won't be the last.
Apart from the above blog post, I've seen people pretty much destroy their fan base with a single (horrendous) comment. Even I, a self confessed book freak, have been put off authors by one idiotic outspoken moment. Others, because of a few moments. Being rude and patronising is offputting to watch. Sympathy towards dangerous/law-breaking acts don't generally go down so good. Scoffing differing opinions because you always know best is mildly irritating on a 13 year old - adults don't wear it half as well. There's a way to say things, if you're alienating (or worse, intimidating) people you come into contact with then you aren't getting your point across so well.
Do you really want the world to know what you're thinking? Because it isn't always pretty. And there will always be someone who disagrees. And even if you apologise, it's not really enough because the impression is probably already in there too deep to fill in with something else.
It bothers me when people burst out with a controversial comment or blog post and then retract it all once they get aggro from it. If you're going to say something (like Maura Kelly who basically insulted a significant percentage of people) that is controversial, you've either spoken without a second thought (not good online because someone always remembers) or else did it on purpose to get a reaction. If it's what you truly believe and you want to share it then at least have the back bone to stand by it and the common sense to not make it any worse.
Lots of people want that reaction, that one comment/statement/blog post/idea that sets them apart and gets them remembered. But it's scary. Especially when there's a big kneejerk reaction. Backing off at the last moment doesn't work. Trying to carve a different statement for yourself takes a long time. Getting attention might be good but do you really want to be remembered for being a *insert appropriate term here*
If you want to make a name for yourself, make sure it's one you're willing to wear for a looooong time.