Last week, I wrote a piece about an article I spotted at NBA.COM. In that blog post, sports commentator David Aldridge expressed his opinion about the ongoing stand-off between NBA players and owners. I took exception to the piece running at NBA.COM (as opposed to in having been at the web site of TNT, Mr. Aldridge’s employer), and Aldridge complained. You can read our exchange on the matter of David Aldridge, Journalism, and who owns NBA.COM, here.

I don’t know David Aldridge personally and am only slightly familiar with his work. I have no ax to grind. Aldridge landed in my sights as a matter of random circumstance, and I wrote about his piece because it was interesting and because it seemed important in this era of hard-to-define-and-understand business change that I comment. I expected him to notice, and I’m glad he responded, even though we never got to a point where we agreed with each other.

I don’t think I’ve made an enemy out of David Aldridge, because I don’t think that Aldridge cared or cares about me or what I wrote beyond having an indignant, visceral response to my opinion. But even if I have, I’d do it again.

I’ve picked on David Pogue, plenty. Dave and I remain cordial (we have a relationship that stretches back years; “cordial” is the word I’ve always applied to it). I’ve called out Chris Brogan, too, and I’m pretty sure that Chris and I are OK. Both Brogan and Pogue have complained when they didn’t like stuff I wrote about them.

And that’s a great thing. As marketing dude Mark Schaefer points out here, the whole point of blogging and social media is to engage people. Even the negative kind of engagement. In fact, ESPECIALLY the negative kind of engagement.

But with that said, I’ll cop to something: when I get an unflattering comment here at Answer Guy Central, it BOTHERS me. I welcome the feedback/criticism, and disagreeing with me sure doesn’t mean I hit the “delete” key. But still, negative comments make me personally uncomfortable, no matter how much receiving them might align with my goal of fostering debate.

If you want your social media to actually mean something (and don’t have the following of a David Pogue or a Chris Brogan), you need to have the courage to say what you really think. It’s like the value-add becoming more important that the news, or the use of emoticons even though they feel “silly”.

And the one thing you must never do is refuse to let your community interact with you.

Without conflict in our social media discourse, we might at well all just give up, and watch Fox News.

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