If you read blog posts or news articles or random bits and pieces of things from people, do you honestly assume that the person is speaking on behalf of all those within their community? How about the world?
Chances are you haven’t really put much thought into it at all. You just read what someone says and go about your day. As it should be.
A funny thing happens though, when you are one of the people writing some of the same (or similar) things that other people are writing… you start getting defensive. As if somehow, in some way, those other writers are writing on your behalf and they’re not getting your message right at all.
It all starts to spiral quickly once one person starts naming another person and it gets ugly fast.
But for the most part, I think anyway, most readers don’t care about any of that and most never assume that one person’s writing is indicative of the way everyone thinks or what their experiences have been. I’m not saying they definitely know better and always think that each story is unique but rather that most people don’t even think about it at all.
Most people enjoy what a writer says and comes back to read more another time or moves on to the next thing they read or they go back to stopping their kids from fighting.
If you’re a writer/reader, try not to take it so personally when someone’s opinion is different from your own or if they’ve had conflicting experiences from your own. If it does seem that some other writer is attempting to speak for you, let it slide. You know they don’t. The reader knows they can’t.
If you’re a reader and not a writer and you’ve never really given it much thought, let me put your mind at ease right now. What I write, no matter what it is, is based on my own opinions and experiences and I speak for no one else but myself.
And if you read something from someone that does claim to be speaking on behalf of others, keep in mind that they can’t possibly do that. Don’t get mad at them, but just keep it in mind as you read. Their experiences and opinions are valid too, even if they do have an enlarged ego.
Sometimes they might even have facts and figures to back up what they say with such claims as “the majority of” and so forth. If you think about it… “most” people still isn’t everyone. Meaning, they still can’t speak for everyone.
Most of all, if you do see a writer naming another writer to discredit them or make an argument, keep an open mind that these are two passionate people, both with valid yet conflicting opinions. And try to filter out the ugliness as best you can. Chances are, they’re both not wrong. They just might not be able to see that at the time.
You really can believe everything you read, if you remember to keep in mind the source. They are human too. They are just one person and that’s all that they can speak for.