Lee Davy continues his confessions series with a look at the damage your writing can cause to the reputations of those you are roasting.
Do you have any regrets?
I would like to be cool and say that I don’t but that would be a little white lie.
During my tenure on the railway, I had the unfortunate task of reducing headcount during the advent of the economic crisis of 2007-08. It was a torrid time with people being forced out of the door based on suitability.
In the past, people were made redundant based on seniority and in a way this relieved some of the pressure on management because it didn’t seem so personal.
I wasn’t so lucky.
There was one man who I had to make redundant whom we will call Paul. As far as I can remember he had worked on the railway his entire life and he was in his early fifties. He didn’t want to leave and was very stressed about the whole thing but he would have received a decent payoff as compensation.
We couldn’t afford to let those we were making redundant leave early because there was a training plan that had to run it’s course for the newly-promoted and during this time frame Paul walked in between two moving rail vehicles and was nearly killed.
The subsequent investigation revealed that he had put his own life at risk and because it wasn’t the first time he had done this it constituted gross misconduct. I had no alternative but to sack him. He left without receiving a penny.
But did I have an alternative?
Of course I did. I could have been stronger and took the decision to make an exception based on his years of service. I could have just cut him loose right there and then and given him the redundancy money that he deserved. But like Cher says, “I can’t turn back time.”
The effect that my decision must have had on his life is unfathomable. I know that he is responsible for his own actions, and not me, but I still think about him even today.
When I left the railway and started writing, I thought I had put all that behind me. The ability to change someone’s life so dramatically was a thing of the past. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The quill can kill and I don’t just mean by poking it through a persons rib cage.
What we decide to write about can have devastating consequences in the lives of other people and we need to be aware of that. An experienced writer will understand what I am talking about. This avoidance comes naturally to them but I am not experienced. I am still very much learning my craft and I am learning the hard way.
This week, I wrote an article about the upcoming movie Gutshot Straight where I decided the best approach would be to ridicule to the movie. Everyone else was writing a simple news piece to promote the movie so I thought I would do something different.
I love watching movies. It’s one of my favorite pastimes and I am difficult to please. My gut shot straight on this one, and given the cast and plot I decided it was going to be a turkey. Little did I know the writer of the script would read my article, seek me out and call me an ignorant douchebag and rock solid jerk for condemning a film before it’s even released.
I understand his point.
He ended his comment by telling me to ‘fuck off’. Man, I hope I enjoy this movie otherwise, after I have written the review, he may rip out my spleen with a spoon.
People believe that I am controversial for controversies sake. That I somehow revel in the angst that I create. But that’s not how it works. Having an opinion and expressing it is different from creating an opinion and expressing it to receive a high click-through rate.
I have received stories that remain hidden today because I chose not to write about them. Invariably these are personal stories that if revealed, could cause untold damage for the career of the person at the end of my ink-filled knife.
So my fingers don’t tap.
The story remains hidden underneath it’s quiet veil of controversy.
This is why Amanda Musumeci’s decision to publicize her private spat with Kim Shannon irks me so much. You may remember that Shannon was a guest on my Female Perspective on Poker series and she was one of the funniest, most interesting and authentic guests I have ever had on the show.
I have also talked to her on social media and reached out for a few favors and she has always come through for me. So when I woke up one morning and saw the headline of Scammer I was intrigued. Then I read the story and I wasn’t.
I don’t care if Shannon owes Musumeci money. That’s their business. But I do want Musumeci to assess the damage that she has done and compare that to the money that she is owed. Her decision to go public on this could have/has had disastrous consequences on the life of Shannon and her young family.
We are writers.
People find us by many means but one of them is a simple Google search. A search that makes Kim Shannon out to be more dangerous than Kim Jong-un. A few grand owed is nothing to the money/respect lost that the article could cause Shannon for the rest of her life.
During a recent visit to the dentist, I asked him if he could remove all my mercury fillings and replace them with white amalgam. He advised me against it. When I told him that mercury was a killer, he told me that I would need over 600 mercury fillings for it to make any impact.
The dentist continued to tell me that nobody cares that the white amalgam also contains a lot of nasty little things that you wouldn’t really want in your mouth.
“Read the World Health Organization website,” he said.
I’ll just read the headlines.
I don’t have time to dig for the truth.
In the UK the Coronation, Street Star Michael Le Vell went through a terrible time when he was accused of being a pedophile. He was later found not guilty of all charges. What do you think the public perception of Le Vell is?
We are skimmers.
We are headline readers.
We believe everything we are told.
Writers can do tremendous damage when they put pen to paper. They can hurt people’s feelings; they can create tremendous anger and they can make it very difficult for people to find employment and therefore feed their kids.
So think before you write.
What damage is this next one thousand words going to cause?