I recently lost a friend because I wrote an article on Medium.
Well, it’s a little more complex than that. Here’s the story.
About a year ago, a friend of mine, let’s call him Kevin, started to date someone, let’s call her Jackie. Two weeks into their relationship, an incident happened that bothered me.
I found Jackie’s behavior appalling and told Kevin so. He even agreed with me at the time.
Then I wrote a Medium article. It had a paragraph in which I referred to the incident between them. I made sure not to use their actual names.
Fast forward a year. Kevin is now married to Jackie. We’ve all socialized together a few times. I thought all was well.
Then a few days ago I got a text from Kevin. It seems that Jackie had read the article I wrote way back when. Now Kevin and I are no longer friends.
I understand. I was careful when I wrote the article not to mention either of them by name, or to use any details that might identify them. I was not trying to hurt or embarrass them. Yet I did.
I took responsibility for my actions. I apologized and offered to make amends.
Yet… there was nothing in the article that Kevin hadn’t heard from me at the time. I am a bluntly honest person and when he’d asked my opinion, I’d given it to him, in spades.
There was also nothing in the article that he had told me in confidence. I was very careful to only write about the events that occurred, but not about private thoughts he’d shared with me.
Looking back, I don’t think I did anything wrong in writing the article. What I should have done, however, was discuss the article with Kevin before publishing it.
There are two reasons for this. One, it would have provided me with his perspective. Two, it would have given him a chance to let me know if it would be hurtful to him.
I am sad that I lost a friend. I am even more sad that I hurt him. Hopefully, however, I have learned a valuable lesson and will not repeat my mistake. In future, I will run stories past friends before I publish.
With people who are not my friends — the stranger at the supermarket, for example, or the person who bullied me when I had cancer, or, at this point, Kevin and Jackie— well, I’m still going to change their names.
Previously published on medium
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want a deeper connection with our community, please join us as a Premium Member today.
Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.