Life, Parenting

Blog Etiquette: A Code of Ethics in the Wake of Violence

It’s been nearly a week. Seven days since unspeakable acts of violence were committed at Sandy Hook Elementary. And yet, I can’t seem to find my blogging rhythm.

Perhaps I’m confused about what content is or isn’t appropriate to post. There is no blogging etiquette to follow. No code of ethics that governs the act of behaving properly in delicate matters. No set of mores regulating social media in the wake of mass murder.

Is it okay to post something humorous immediately following this tragedy? Is it too soon? How do we get back to ‘normal?’ I don’t have the answers. My eyes are still swollen and my mind is clouded.

Proper etiquette is especially tricky when it comes to grieving and loss.

Etiquette of any sort is becoming a lost art. Times have changed. But the principle of manners should remain constant. Manners are a “sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.” It’s about being respectful, considerate, and honest. Manners go way beyond which fork to use.

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Having said that, I felt conflicted about how to present my sincere concern about this crisis.

There was a point, upon hearing the news, that I wished the WordPress gods would STOP the presses. I imagined a news ticker in red, scrolling across the Freshly Pressed page, that headlined:

“We apologize for interrupting our regular scheduled programming. However, in light of recent events, we have elected to take a brief respite and will resume business as usual Monday morning.”

Then I quickly realized this is not reality. The world does not have a pause button. Just because I wanted to curl up into a ball and disengage from the outside world didn’t mean others opted to bow out. Everyone grieves in their own way.

Life must go on.

I will finish shopping for gifts, mailing out Christmas cards, and baking cookies for Santa. I will get up tomorrow and take my children to school. My life will resume a normal course of activity.

But life will never be the same for the victim’s families. No one will know the magnitude of their loss once the cameras stop rolling.

We won’t know what happened to unopened Christmas presents, clothes left behind in children’s closets, or toys that will never be touched by tiny hands again. We won’t know the depth of such grief because we are surrounded by our loved ones.

We can still hear our children’s heartbeat.

How did you approach your first post after the tragedy? Is your blog back to business as usual?


About Anka

Spent forty grand on a journalism degree just to learn that truth is stranger than fiction. Now I spend my days changing diapers and eating bon bons. If you're looking for a place to commiserate, then come join me at It's kind of like a playdate, but for grown ups.


53 Responses to “Blog Etiquette: A Code of Ethics in the Wake of Violence”

  1. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to approach the tragedy, and have thus resulted in not writing anything….. just yet. To be honest, the pain I feel just reading the headlines, keeps me from continuing to read the articles. (I can’t bring myself to read about their funerals.) The night following, I couldn’t sleep and found myself praying for the victims’ family. My girls are so young and we had such a rough pregnancy, I think I’m just still to sensitive to allow my guarded heart to go there. Good question though on blog etiquette. I think it’s one worthy of being defined. :)

    Posted by | December 20, 2012, 6:18 am
  2. I’ve been thinking the exact same things. My first (and only) post since the tragedy was full of venom and sadness and I don’t want to continue along that same vein. Each time I want to write, I realize it’s about my children: silly gripes, funny stories, etc. and I instantly feel guilty. I had been in the midst of writing about why I’m so grateful to have a daughter, but that hasn’t been published. So, I’m stuck.

    Posted by | December 20, 2012, 6:18 am
    • I think you hit the nail on the head. The overriding feeling is guilt. On the one hand, you feel SO blessed to hear your children’s beating heart. On the other, you can’t imagine surviving your children. Ethics in writing seems to be multi-layered and complicated. As for the post you wrote about your daughter, I hope you share it with us soon. You shouldn’t have to mask your blessings!

      Posted by Keeping it Real | December 20, 2012, 6:37 am
  3. we are all one body, united in Christ and what happens to one part affects us all. This tragedy helped remind us of our unity in the Spirit. Now when we send thoughts of comfort, we KNOW that the whole body will begin to heal

    Posted by | December 20, 2012, 6:21 am
  4. I’m relieved you wrote this. I have struggled with what to do. I have sad and mournful thoughts but I can’t say anything that can be said better than what I have read from others. I wrote a short post to express my sympathy…..but have read many others. I have had so many thoughts going through my head but when I go to write….. it doesn’t feel “right” to take comfort from my writing that I want to do every day. Something that feels “normal” to me when so many will not know their normal any longer. Today’s post was a remake of one from a few years ago. I have taken comfort from those who have written happy posts and funny posts. And I have cried at the pictures and words for the victims. I think it will be a mix of both. We need both. I think.

    Posted by | December 20, 2012, 6:55 am
  5. I saw something about helping your children deal with this. They suggested you have them draw or write their feelings/emotions. That resonated with me because I am a creative person. I am terribly upset about this and so I thought I had to get that out somehow. I wrote my two blogs. From a parent’s and a kindness perspective. It helps me work through what I am feeling. I’ve always been that way. I started writing in elementary school. So that is how I decided to go forward. To be honest about my emotions when I am feeling strongly about them. We all have to sort through this in our own ways.

    Posted by | December 20, 2012, 7:04 am
    • Writing from a place of honesty is THE best starting points. That is exactly what I tried to do here today. I just spoke about the confusion and sadness in my heart. As always, I find myself so encouraged after posting my thoughts. It is wonderful to be surrounded by such supportive friends like you!

      Posted by Keeping it Real | December 20, 2012, 9:33 pm
  6. Ja, eine ganz schlimme Geschichte. Es sollte ein anderes Waffengesetz her, aber Waffen sind Teil der amerikanischen Kultur und der Entwicklung. Trotzdem glaube ich, sollten die massgebenden Politiker mal einlenken und eine Modifikation im Grundgesetz machen. Ernst

    Posted by | December 20, 2012, 7:05 am
  7. I’ve read several posts that say exactly what you’ve said here. I think everyone is in the same boat these days…still with a heavy heart, yet trying to keep the “normal” part of our lives going. We are all trying to do this with the guilt of even having “normal” to consider, unlike those poor families. I’ve been praying for those who died to rest in peace, and those left behind to somehow find peace again. I haven’t watched any news coverage at all. I can’t bear it nor do I want my kids to hear about it. I wrote “We’ll See…Maybe Tomorrow” immediately after hearing the news. After that, I posted about the most neutral topic I could think of…a thank you to those who gave Little Miss Wordy blog awards. My most recent post was in memory of my dad. I think those with solely humor blogs are finding it the most difficult to continue along their same line of posts…understandably so.

    Posted by | December 20, 2012, 7:16 am
    • Oh, yes, humor blogs must be feeling it the most. Kind of like after 9/11. You couldn’t laugh and not feel guilty. :/

      Posted by | December 20, 2012, 6:27 pm
    • You’re right Little Miss Wordy, we are in the same boat. We ALL have heavy hearts. I remember reading your post “We’ll See . . . Maybe Tomorrow,” and it resonated with me on many levels. Primarily because tomorrow is not always guaranteed. So, in that regard, we have to make the most every minute we have with our loved ones. Even if it means hitting pause on everything else just to “play circus with our kids!” :)

      Posted by Keeping it Real | December 20, 2012, 9:46 pm
  8. Grateful to your post Anka. Tis very appropriate. I actually deleted my recent post on the tragedy. Although it was written with relative “logical perspective”. It also included an overly personal and passionate response to society in large. It didn’t seat well. So, I too have been in suspension with a minus in “blogging rhythm”. I think two things: I just wish there was something other than prayer that I could do ! (reading lots on random acts of kindness) Number two, I’m trying to work through my ‘writers block’ with something really deeply philosophical other than my deeply philosophical concerns about tragedy. Anyway, Thank you again Anka. This is a good and needed post. xo

    Posted by | December 20, 2012, 7:47 am
    • It just occurred to me that sounded really funny. (the deeply philosophical part) meant in a sort of pun way…. immerse into, sounds better. Have a great day. :)

      Posted by | December 20, 2012, 8:18 am
    • I’ve been there. I was at a loss for words for nearly an entire week. Then, just like a dam, I broke. Put my fingers to work and let my heart direct this post. Don’t worry about the complexion of your post, whether it’s a “logical perspective” bent or “deeply philosophical” one. I would encourage you to write when you feel a strong tug on your heart. The words will begin pouring out of you!

      Posted by Keeping it Real | December 20, 2012, 10:28 pm
  9. There are unspeakable tragedies that happen all over the world every day — including many of the countries I’ve visited int he past. While my heart goes out to the victims of each tragedy, life must go on.

    Posted by | December 20, 2012, 9:16 am
    • I was thinking this the other day. How must the world, in countries where they have violence all the time (children included), how do they view this tragedy? And why does it somehow feel more intense and overwhelming to me than when there are natural disasters that take lives?

      Posted by | December 20, 2012, 6:36 pm
    • I couldn’t agree with you more, All Seasons Cyclist and Valerie. Tragedies do happen all over the world. And yet, for reasons I still cannot articulate, this particular tragedy slammed me at my core. Even so, I know that life will go on. We are a VERY resilient nation!

      Posted by Keeping it Real | December 20, 2012, 9:53 pm
  10. This post is perfect, Anka. I feel very much the same. Life will continue for me as normal, but my whole outlook on life and our society has changed. My blogging hasn’t resumed to normal. Like you, I feel out of sorts, to say the least. I’ve wanted to write about the tragedy because it weighs heavily on my mind, but I haven’t brought myself to do that either. I wrote a post related to something already underway, light-hearted. I included my cats. That’s where I’m at.

    Posted by | December 20, 2012, 10:11 am
    • I agree with Amy 100%. This was heartfelt and appropriate. I actually posted a funny post on that day. I started to feel a bit out of line but a few people thanked me for making them smile on such a horribly sad day. I can’t imagine what those families are going through, and I know they wont be smiling any time soon. It just breaks my heart that this is even possible.

      Posted by | December 20, 2012, 12:31 pm
      • It’s not out of line. We need sunshine right now. Now, jokes *about* violence, no, of course not. But just random humor? Yeah. :) I nominated my friends for the Beautiful Blogger award on Saturday even though I was struggling with denial of the tragedy. Then on Sunday my heart was breaking with grief. Monday morning I posted my weekly exercise update. I didn’t know what else to do! I have posted responses to others’ posts, but I don’t know how to bring it up myself or what I even want to say. :/ I think it’s made everyone very sensitive.

        Posted by | December 20, 2012, 6:43 pm
      • Check out my blog today. I have something regarding this coming your way if I can get it done in time.

        Posted by | December 21, 2012, 5:50 am
      • Just rolled out of bed. So GLAD it’s Friday! I will visit your blog once kids are dropped off at school, PYT! :)

        Posted by Keeping it Real | December 21, 2012, 6:03 am
  11. Yes, this is a fine balance to find. Obviously life goes on for the living. And no-one is helped by us all just sort of giving up life. But then again, – there is a time for everything. And certainly, when tragedies hit close to home, it is the time to mourn with those who mourn.
    I like your honesty in blogging, and I think many of us can relate to what you are writing about. Thank you for keeping it real!

    Posted by | December 20, 2012, 12:53 pm
    • Yes, Te’ena, there is a time for everything. I think that’s what I’ve been trying to sort through in the wake of this tragedy. The right moment to address my feelings, my shock to such horror. Like you, I agree that we need to mourn with those who mourn. But we should also be able to dance with those who dance. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, my friend. It’s good to hear from you!

      Posted by Keeping it Real | December 20, 2012, 10:02 pm
  12. You are a truly wonderful person. I love your compassion, empathy and way of thinking. I certainly wasn’t sure how to go about this sensitive subject either but I was very impressed with how my fellow bloggers handled it. I was touched by many of the posts I saw including this one. When I read them it made me realize how many wonderful people there are in the world.

    Posted by | December 20, 2012, 1:11 pm
  13. you’re right, there’s a lot of guilt and trying to be respectful. it feels wrong to go on with normal life when there are so many for whom life will never be normal again. but as you say, we must. and we will.
    (and thank goodness manners go way beyond how to use a fork, or i’d be in trouble.)

    Posted by | December 20, 2012, 1:21 pm
    • The feelings of guilt and paying proper respect are an odd pairing. But, I think these conflicting thoughts will sort themselves out over time. The important thing is to try to be “normal” for our own children. To make every moment count going forward. As for the manners bit, I have yet to master the proper setting of a table! :)

      Posted by Keeping it Real | December 20, 2012, 10:15 pm
  14. You are such a good person. For your honest thoughts, and for writing them out here for everyone to become increasingly aware. When to post and when not to post. In Norway we were lost for words and feeling blank, sad and confused when tragedy hit Norway last summer when 77 youngsters were killed. When the worst thinkable hits close to home it becomes even harder. We saw the blog sphere in Norway come closer during this difficult time. For support, for respect and for standing together. It helped and it helps in keeping their memory alive.

    Posted by | December 20, 2012, 2:32 pm
  15. You are a very sweet person, I love how you think of and respect others. I love how you and many other blogger-friends have expressed how they feel about this tragedy. At this moment, I haven’t been able to express my thoughts in my blog or even in person.I have cried many times and can’t imagine how the parents of all those little angels must feel. I don’t have an idea of how they are handling things during the Holidays and how their families have been affected, it’s too sad. I’m glad so many of you have been able to do so. As for my blog, it continued with posts that aren’t related, I thought about posting first and didn’t know what to do or how, then I went and post it. I understand you and I think you should post about and when you think it’s the best time for you and when you will be ready! :-) Again, you are a sweetheart! :-)

    Posted by | December 20, 2012, 2:59 pm
  16. I was the same, I wasn’t sure what to write. So I just let my scheduled post go as normal. A few days later, I reblogged a post I wrote a few months earlier following deaths close to me. I didnt feel like it was right of me to comment on the terrible events in Sandy Hook. It is not my disaster, or my country but I could still feel the pain and fear. So I used my old post that contained words of comfort from many years ago.
    Your honest post here is very much worth reading.

    Posted by | December 20, 2012, 2:59 pm
  17. Anka, this is exactly how I feel! That’s why I haven’t post anything. Today is the first day I get on wordpress. I’m still crying. I can’t experience anything without thinking about this tragedy and what these suffering families are going through. I even feel guilty for feeling joy. You said it loud and clear “We won’t know what happened to unopened Christmas presents, clothes left behind in children’s closets, or toys that will never be touched by tiny hands again. We won’t know the depth of such grief because we are surrounded by our loved ones.
    We can still hear our children’s heartbeat.”
    Thank you for your post friend. I’ve missed you.

    Posted by Cynthia Matos-Medina | December 20, 2012, 7:42 pm
    • Oh Cynthia, I can relate to this inner conflict. The coupling of guilt and joy is such a strange feeling. It’s almost like a paralysis came over me this past week. But, tomorrow is new day. The only thing we can do is stand in the gap and pray for those who are broken.
      I’ve missed you too my dear friend! If I don’t speak to you before Christmas, I wish you a day filled with peace and lots of hugs. Hope your beautiful babies are doing well!

      Posted by Keeping it Real | December 20, 2012, 9:41 pm
  18. You said just what I have been feeling and wondering! Perfect post Anka!

    Posted by | December 21, 2012, 3:44 am
  19. I went on a fairly massive social + traditional media fast for, well, almost until now. Auto-piloted the blogs with irrelevancies. Couldn’t bear to be on Twitter. Couldn’t read any more. Just now in a place where I’m able to reflect and process.

    Posted by | December 21, 2012, 5:08 am
  20. I felt the same sort of conflict after the Christchurch earthquakes in NZ. I essentially went into radio silence mode, because like me, 90% of my social network knew someone who died, was paralysed, brain damaged, injured, lost their family, friends, home, job, car, favourite things and the multitude of things that don’t really matter, but are overwhelming to have to replace all at once. I didn’t want to add to the plethora of sincere but copied-and-pasted sympathy statuses that seemed to be shouting all the way down my news feed, and I also didn’t want to post the latest dinosaur comic. Eventually, after talking and crying it out in real life, I resumed my internet life when it felt appropriate and even useful to get as back to normal as possible. BUT, I wasn’t a blogger back then, and so I wonder how it might have been different. Despite being far removed from Sandy Hook, I’ve still maintained radio quiet if not silence, and find myself doing a lot more reading rather than writing on the topic – mainly because I don’t feel I can contribute helpfully in the midst of the shouty-shouty debate going on now. So well done for managing the fine line yourself.

    Posted by | December 21, 2012, 10:21 am
  21. I agree with your sentiments. No posting for me after the event but life goes on. Etiquette and values…don’t seem to hold much water in today’s world. We just have to stay strong.

    Posted by | December 23, 2012, 7:08 am
  22. I still haven’t blogged. It just didn’t feel right to talk about how stressed yet blessed my world is when their (the victim’s families) world has been turned upside down. I have a first grader. I have friends that are teachers. I just can’t imagine. I’m aiming for a Christmas Eve post. We’ll see…

    Posted by | December 24, 2012, 6:25 am
  23. I feel pretty lousy right now. I don’t think I really ever missed a beat with my blog. That’s not to say that I wasn’t deeply affected. All we talked about was Sandy Hook and what we could do to commemorate those children and teachers. But that was all in private. You ask what happened to those unopened presents? Let me share with you. We survived the death of our firstborn who only lived 5 hours. The nursery that we had fully furnished, had to be dismantled and the furniture returned by my brother-in-law while my wife was still in the hospital. All the clothes, too. The only problem we had was trying to return the car seat (opened but never used) to a nationwide chain store. They refused to take it back. After repeating my story over and over, I finally got a manager who allowed us to return it. The only item we saved was a purple teddy bear. A constant reminder of our daughter, Alison. As if we needed a rememberance. She would have been 30 this year. How time flies. And she is still with us.

    Posted by | December 26, 2012, 9:37 am
    • Paul, I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine how difficult this must have been, and continues to be, for you and your wife. I appreciate you taking the time to share your story. The purple teddy bear seems like a very special keepsake. Wishing you and your family tender mercies and healing.

      Posted by Keeping it Real | December 26, 2012, 9:57 pm
  24. It was really hard deciding what/when to post again afterwards. I spent hours browsing other people’s blogs in hopes of finding ‘the answer.’ Of course, there really isn’t one and I finally came to the conclusion that continuing to live would be my way of honoring those who died. Some may find it callous, though that’s far from the truth.
    Excellent question, and interesting comment’s you’ve gotten.

    Posted by | December 29, 2012, 1:08 pm
  25. Hello- I don’t know if you participate in the awards on WordPress or not, but I nominated your blog for the Sunshine Award. More details can be found here: Keep up the great work and Happy New Year! :)

    Posted by | December 30, 2012, 11:07 pm


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