Is it better to be right, or happy?

The doctor recently diagnosed me with a serious case of Right-itis.

He claims that I have a complete need to be right in any given situation. Nonsense. Anyone who’s met me will know I’m not even slightly competitive or argumentative. Cough.

I jest, but lately I’ve been pondering this need so many of us have to be RIGHT. I think sometimes we pursue it at the expense of our happiness. I recently found myself in the middle of a spat between two friends. Both convinced they were right, slinging insults across the ether, neither was prepared to just down weapons and walk away.

Chatting to one of the women on the phone, I asked, “Is this making you happy?” The woman replied, “No, but I want people to know I’m right.”

It didn’t sound like much of a victory to me.

It’s the hardest advice in the world to take sometimes, but it really is better to be happy than to be right.

Maybe you’re reading this and you think I’m a terrible writer. Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re not. But does arguing about it benefit either of us? Why don’t you go on thinking what you think, and I’ll carry on living my life? That feels a lot more like winning, to me.

I’m thinking about this issue at the moment after watching an even bigger, nastier row in the blogosphere between US Mommy bloggers. Seriously, it makes us look like pussy cats. With no claws.

Long story short, blogger was caught plagiarising from another blogger. Offending blogger was outed, and apologized. That could have been an end to things, but some people felt they needed to demonstrate how RIGHT they were to be outraged and how WRONG the plagiarist was to try and excuse herself.

The result was the sort of behaviour we’d be horrified to see in five year olds, to be honest. There were snarky mock-ups of the blogger’s site, complete with barbs about her attractiveness and her husband. There was even – brace yourself – a blogging meme, invented just to make the point that the plagiarist is a terrible person. Bloggers emailed and telephoned her advertisers, urging them to withdraw support.


Plagiarism is a bad thing. I’m a writer. You don’t need to convince me of that. But bullying is also a bad thing. People don’t die from plagiarism. They do from bullying. Let’s try and keep things in perspective, shall we?

You might think you’re right but when you find yourself creating an Internet meme about someone else, maybe, just maybe you’re no longer in the right. You’ve just got right-itis.


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. 15th March 2012 / 2:24 pm

    Talk about a loss of perspective!

    I’m on the side of “happy” all the time…
    Alex recently posted..Small babies are stinkyMy Profile

  2. 15th March 2012 / 2:28 pm

    That’s not the end of it – you are woefully underinformed. She and her husband are bullies. Her apology was insincere and excuse-ridden. I and several close friends have had explicit experiences with their tactics over the last few years.

    She is a plagiarist, which is one of the worst things that a paid writer could possibly do. She claimed that she didn’t know better, which is interesting since she wrote a post in 2009 talking about how plagiarism is wrong because she wasn’t willing to plagiarize a PRESS RELEASE.

    I think you may want to inform yourself a little better before you express outrage at the way that Kristin was treated.

    They are the reasons that companies hesitate to work with bloggers, why other types of bloggers make fun of the personal/mommy blogger set, and why people think that the Internet is filled with immature trolls. They are the worst type of bullies – the ones who are constantly the victim while scheming and plotting to get whatever they can, regardless of the rules or the laws.

    I’ll never apologize for mocking people who deserve it.
    Avitable recently posted..Our Plagiarized Life – Or Blogging 101: What Not To DoMy Profile

    • 15th March 2012 / 2:41 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it.

    • 15th March 2012 / 3:05 pm

      Sally, apologies for butting in here. Avitable, Kristin may be a bully, as may her husband, I don’t know, I am a UK blogger and not a “mummy blogger” so she hadn’t shown up on my radar until the whole plagiarism issue came to light.

      Before you say anything, do I agree with what she did? No. Using other people’s words is inexcusable, regardless of age or circumstance. We’re taught not to copy in primary school.

      That said, I think that the response has been overblown and is bordering on abusive. Should she have done what she did? No. But here’s the thing- two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because she plagiarised or has bullied people in the past doesn’t give you the excuse to do it now. Bullying, which is what you and other bloggers have done, is wrong. Is it on the same scale as her plagiarism? No. But if you are going to tarnish her as a bully then you need to recognise that you should be tarnished with the same label as well.
      Jenn recently posted..No means noMy Profile

      • 15th March 2012 / 5:59 pm

        Thanks Jenn, I agree completely – just because you’re right doesn’t mean you get to do whatever you like and STILL claim to be doing right.

  3. 15th March 2012 / 2:31 pm

    You know, I like to be right too in life and have had to get over myself. However, I have to admit I’m getting really fed up with blogging/ twitter at the moment generally, I cant stand the competition, the comments about people, the factions and the bragging. I also feel very upset about the blatant use of medical conditions to try to drive blog readership and so on, if I am honest, in particular this flurry of posts about depression. It all seems much more insular than it used to do somehow. Maybe my hormones are playing up this week…
    zooarchaeologist recently posted..Guest Post from The Mummy Whisperer: Limit Your Chores, Not Your DreamsMy Profile

    • 15th March 2012 / 2:43 pm

      I think it’s hormones 🙂

      I think our blogging scene has actually been really quite positive and supportive in recent months, and it seems way LESS insular than it used to, from my perspective, but I suspect there are always pockets of disagreement here or there. I’ve certainly never seen anything like what’s happening in the US over here.

      I would say blogging about medical conditions probably offers a lot of support to people with that medical condition, so I’d never criticise someone for writing about it or reading about it. After all it only drives readership because people want to read about it, no?

        • 15th March 2012 / 3:12 pm

          Honestly, just unfollow people who make you irritated. Life’s too short.

          Don’t unfollow me, though. I’m awesome. And I don’t have any medical conditions, unless you count the allergy to feathers.

  4. 15th March 2012 / 2:34 pm

    This whole thing was so odd. I can completely understand why people were annoyed with her but what possesses people to expend such time and energy on purely being mean? Surely sane and reasonable people would just leave a snarky comment and then get on with their day.
    Cat (Yellow Days) recently posted..On My Birthday – November 11My Profile

    • 15th March 2012 / 2:44 pm

      I agree, I thought it was really, really odd.

  5. 15th March 2012 / 2:51 pm

    I am a long term sufferer of right-itis. It is a horrible and socially debilitating condition that can destroy friendships and nearly wrecked one of my best friendships recently. The difficulty for me is I’m a natural born arguer (should have been a lawyer, debating for a living!) and backing down from a fight and “agreeing to disagree” is not in my nature. But I’m having to learn. Because this is one case where being right would equal being very, very unhappy.
    Jenn recently posted..No means noMy Profile

    • 15th March 2012 / 3:16 pm

      Yes! Exactly this. I lost a friend a couple of years ago because I couldn’t just let it go when I saw something being said that I thought was WRONG. So in I blundered with my size 6s and proved I was right and she was wrong, and then of course realised we now officially had to hate each other for the rest of time, and I don’t think either of us were any happier as a result.

      In short, I was an idiot, and I’d undo those things if I could go back, but I can’t. But I learned a good lesson, at least.

  6. Nikki
    15th March 2012 / 3:22 pm

    Hi Sally,

    Interesting post – however we all saw what happened in the UK (and globally) when Alan Rogan made that stupid comment about women on a blog/twitter and like a raging bull the feminist movement moved in – phoning up his clients urging them not to work with him etc etc. Nasty and uncalled for – he made a mistake – it happens.

    Won’t be long before we see a similar plaigarism-type rant over here either I bet. Sad though, when bullying goes viral….

    • 15th March 2012 / 5:59 pm

      I missed the Alan Rogan thing mostly, thank goodness, it just seemed unpleasant.

      • Nikki
        15th March 2012 / 9:34 pm

        totally – but thanks for not highlighting/blogging/tweeting my mis-spelling of plagiarism 😉 That would be terrible….. LOL

        • 15th March 2012 / 10:33 pm

          I was just going to gloss over it like I hadn’t noticed 😉

    • 15th March 2012 / 6:00 pm

      Aw, thanks – I’m really pleased with it so far.

  7. 15th March 2012 / 5:12 pm

    Wrong wrong wrong to plagiarise (also known as stealing). Good to ‘out’ the guilty party (and let people get it off their chests in comments). And then I think an appropriate response would be for everyone to move on and leave the plagiariser without her writing job and with her reputation in tatters. However, to start a witch-hunt and hate campaign? Wrong wrong wrong. (And such anger cannot be good for your health #justsaying.)
    Midlife Singlemum recently posted..Ladies Who Lu…mpect 3 – Unexpectedly ElusiveMy Profile

    • 15th March 2012 / 6:00 pm

      Yes, indeed, anger makes you shorter*

      * not actual, scientific fact.

  8. Anthony
    15th March 2012 / 5:22 pm

    Good topic.
    I am not commenting on who is right or wrong here since it would illustrates a wish to be right by judging who is right or wrong….if that makes sense…

    But I am just commenting to tell you that the picture you used to illustrate this post is hilarious !! where did you find it?
    I’d like to copy it but I might be accused of plagiarism…

    • 15th March 2012 / 6:01 pm

      Ha! Good point on not commenting.

      The picture is funny, isn’t it? I nicked it from another website… nah, just kidding – it’s from a stock photo site I have an account with. Bought and paid for.

    • 16th March 2012 / 10:12 am

      I wouldn’t rush, it doesn’t make anyone look good.

  9. clareybabble
    15th March 2012 / 8:26 pm

    My husband and I both suffer from right-itis. You can imagine what it’s like in our house!

    • 16th March 2012 / 10:12 am

      That’s tricky!

    • Vegemitevix
      16th March 2012 / 10:19 am

      We do too, man you should see the fireworks!

  10. TheBoyandMe
    15th March 2012 / 10:42 pm

    That is shocking behaviour! How absolutely appalling to treat someone in this manner, regardless of the need to be right. I don’t like conceding defeat either but I wouldn’t make someone feel like crap or lead a bullying campaign about it.

    • 16th March 2012 / 10:12 am

      Quite agree.

  11. 16th March 2012 / 8:42 am

    Two wrongs don’t make a right.. no matter how much ‘wronger’ one or the other is.

    I’ve noticed a common symptom when my right-itis kicks in – I start thinking about the ‘principle’. As soon as that word comes up for me, I know I need to check myself. We can always justify our actions in our head, and sometimes our justifications need to be checked – things like “I’m right”, “they deserve it” are all subjective notions, and usually shallow justifications.

    I wonder what I’d do if I had my posts plagiarized… What is a good process to follow to ensure ‘justice’ without resorting to bullying?

    Amazingly, when the biggest crises in life hit, about things that matter the most, I have found that I don’t need to be right.. because the focus then is on just getting through.
    Janet Chadwick, Infertility Diva recently posted..5 Traumatic LessonsMy Profile

    • 16th March 2012 / 10:13 am

      Actually, I think you make a great point – phrases like “she deserved it” usually show (in my experience) that if you’re not on dodgy ground you’re probably behaving in a way that’s unkind or unnecessary.

      With plagiarism there are ways to have posts taken down at the host level, and various official processes – we’ve written about it on Tots100 – but I guess some people feel that might not be enough for them.

  12. Vegemitevix
    16th March 2012 / 10:23 am

    Two wrongs don’t make a right? I think it’s useful to consider your own personal values before you wade in, particularly online where nastiness can live and breed for ever! Selective hearing (or reading) can be the most wonderful thing. Just ask any parent of a teenager who daily blocks out ‘I hate you’s and ‘you’re the worst mother in the world’ and only hears the ‘I love you Mum’s and ‘your blog is cool Mum’s! Without selective hearing I think I would have gone nuts.

    • 16th March 2012 / 2:49 pm

      Oh yes, I often cringe when I see things online and think, “that’s going to be there forever”. But in the heat of temper, I think we’ve all done it. I think what shocked me about the US thing is it doesn’t seem to be done in temper or the heat of the moment – it’s really quite calculated. Not nice.

  13. 16th March 2012 / 10:25 am

    With out knowing the ins and outs people DO make mistakes. An apology should be the end to it and this SHOUlD be the catalyst for both sides to do some quality blogging.

    I understand the need to vent but balance is the key and a witch hunt is not the answer.

    Great post by the way.x

    I have myself been a victim of bullying of cyber bullying ( not justified and yes I was bullied at school so such subject makes me feel quite strongly)

    So I give myself a pat on the back for commenting now ! x
    Claire Toplis recently posted..We are going on a Bear HuntMy Profile

    • 16th March 2012 / 2:48 pm

      Yes, accepting apologies and moving on is a skill I think a lot of us could be better at. Ah well.

      I’ve also experienced cyber-bullying, and it’s unacceptable. No matter what you think is your justification, it just isn’t justifiable.

  14. seasiderinthecity
    16th March 2012 / 10:26 am

    I thought Amy’s post on the whole thing took absolutely the right tone, she was the victim and yet came across very well in her response. She didn’t incite any of the bullying as far as I can see and made some very valid points. Why couldn’t it have been left like that? For other people to get involved and start hatred is just awful, and totally wrong.
    I do sometimes suffer from right-itis but it is massively overshadowed by my chronic lazy-itis!

    • 16th March 2012 / 2:48 pm

      Ah, Lazy-itis. A close personal friend of mine…

  15. Nicki Cawood
    16th March 2012 / 10:43 am

    Roy and I are both right all the time but the husband is wise enough to pretend he isn’t because I could get huffy or something.
    Seriously though, I hate being wrong but I’m grown up enough to admit when I am and try to learn something from the experience, even if it is from behind gritted teeth.

    I read another post about this whole sorry tale and to be honest I was appalled. Talk about going too far! Stealing someone’s work is unethical and inexcusable, organising or partaking in a modern day witch hunt is fine though? I’m sure they were justified because of the plagiarism though, because after all bullying / abuse is nothing compared to that.

    Those taking part have made a much bigger spectacle of themselves that their target.

    Cracking post Sally.

    • 16th March 2012 / 2:47 pm

      Thanks Nicki, I agree a witch hunt never makes you look good. And I also have someone who likes to pretend they don’t think they’re right, to protect my feelings. Bless.

      • Nicki Cawood
        16th March 2012 / 6:24 pm

        Such people are very thoughtful 🙂

  16. 16th March 2012 / 2:47 pm

    I think it’s really, really, really HARD to back down but I do know these days it’s almost always the best approach. But it doesn’t come naturally to me, or I suspect a lot of other people!

  17. 19th March 2012 / 9:28 am

    Just wanted to say that I have found the Parent Blogging community incredibly supportive of late.

    • 19th March 2012 / 10:29 pm

      I’m glad – you’ve had a tough time and deserve all the support in the world, amigo.

  18. 19th March 2012 / 7:50 pm

    Plagiarism brings all bloggers down. The petty fighting brings bloggers down even further.
    Which brand would ever want to wade into these shark infested waters?

    That said, when you look at the history of the accused (and husband) it was something that needed to be stopped. Is a public hanging in the town square stockyard enough? One should hope so. A bannination needs to happen. Brands need to be aware that bloggers are not like these 2 and we care about our content and our readers.

    I agree, it’s time to stop the catcalling, it’s making us all look worse. That said, it had to be done.

    • 19th March 2012 / 10:31 pm

      With respect, I’m going to disagree entirely. Two wrongs don’t make a right and as an outside observer, those who thought they were doing what was “necessary” look every bit as bad as the people they were targetting.

      I don’t personally believe brands distinguish between who’s right or wrong in a spat, they just see a spat, and a bunch of adults behaving like children. Although, of course, this is based on our experience in the UK, which might be different to the situation in the US.

      Thanks for taking the time to come and comment, it’s much appreciated.