What I Have Learned This Week… Final Thoughts On The Lubin Incident

This week my naive idea of a Perfumeland where the sun is always shining and the birds are always singing, was rudely shaken and set straight. My post about Lubin’s Black Jade, already published on October 4th, somehow found its way onto Lubin’s owner Gilles Thevenin’s computer on Monday and prompted him to post a comment.

He provided information regarding the perfumer that I had obviously gotten wrong. Although I am certain that I had this information from several trusty sources, those can not be verified now, this is the internet after all, and things change rapidly here. This is just to say that I did not fish the name Giacobetti out of a hat. In any case, I welcome factual correction of course, since I strive to get facts right, but mistakes can happen, even if this was not one I was aware of making, I apologize. (And yes, I know how to operate Google, contrary to insinuations in that direction.)

Gilles Thevenin chose not to contact me through email, but publicly, which would have still been fine, if his approach would have been a bit more accessible. Due to his not identifiying himself outright, but introducing himself as somebody from the “marketing folk” at Lubin, I was not even sure whether I was dealing with a jokester or the real person at first.

To me, his comment had an entirely unprofessional ring to it, it may not have been hostile, but I interpreted it as such. Here I may be to blame, I know myself to be touchy and I respond very quickly to real or imagined aggression. My defenses go up and I start feeling under attack and called to defend myself or my work, although I like to think that my responses were controlled and not designed to provoke.

I believe my initial perception of aggression, or at least severe irritation on M. Thevenin’s part was not imagined after all, since he proceeded to comment further, now clearly incensed. I guess it is not open for discussion anymore, whether his second comment was hostile or not.

As I have said in my responses on the blog post as well as on several other occasions already, on a personal level, I understand how he is feeling. But on a professional level, I certainly don’t. Don’t we all have jobs, where we are challenged now and again? But where it is still necessary and required to behave in a certain way, without totally losing composure? I know I have. I don’t flip out in front of patients, I don’t react personally, I don’t confuse business and private when I am working. And he, in his function as head of a perfume house commenting on a perfume review, is working.

Several commenters have said that the man feared for his livelyhood. Come on, I am not the New York Times, am I? My blog won’t threaten anyone’s livelihood, that is absurd. He made the story huge. He was the one getting this review out there. He could have contacted me privately. He even could have flamed me privately. He did not. He chose the public venue. And public it became. The post was shared left and right on social platforms, discussions got heated, things even got ugly.

It got to the point when I thought: Okay, that is it. I always loved blogging, I obviously love perfume, but I can go back to doing that on my own. If I have to sit there and cry, it is just not worth it.

Unlike a commenter said, I do invest more than the “odd half hour on an off day” into this blog and I have always done it because it was fun, because I enjoyed myself. I did not enjoy being the focus of a scandal because of a review, where I say the perfume is good, but I choose not to believe the marketing strategy.

What will I do now? I don’t want to sit and think with every sentence that I write: Is this too much? How many will I offend with that? Who is out there that I have to please?

You know what? I don’t have to please anyone. A perfume blog, or any other blog at that, is not a professional venture by definition. At no point have I said to be an expert and I think my readers are quite aware of that. I am free to publish my opinion, and as long I stay within legal bounds, this is what I will do.

Unlike magazines, where opinions might be bought along with ad space and the goal is only to be mentioned at all, because every mention is a positive one, in blogging, parameters are different. This is a completely unaffiliated blog, I do not have ads, I don’t accept payment from anyone, I get samples now and then without me requesting them, but there is no guarantee I will ever write about those.

I write about what I like, and sometimes about what I don’t like and the only people I feel a responsibility for, are my readers. The responsibility to post regularly, to provide the facts correctly as far as possible, to state my opinion and to engage in a conversation.

I was buffeted between anger and sadness, faint amusement about the absurdity of it all and massive anxiety in the face of aggression towards me from quarters I didn’t ever expect it from, these past few days. Instead of a source of pride and joy, my blog became something I feared looking at.

On the other hand, and that was the majority of the reactions, there was an expression of great loyalty, trust and faith in me and what I do. I really want to focus on that positive side and not let the negative aspects pull me down, even if that is hard for me to do.

What I learned this past week, was that there is no such thing as a save haven, Perfumeland is not only the good Utopia I wanted it to be, but has it’s places of shadow. It is no great surprise I guess, but there is always a major difference between theory and reality. The latter is the one that can, and will hurt you, now and again.

But it is my responsibility towards myself, to pull myself out of my self-pitying funk and just go on. Today’s newspaper wraps tomorrow’s fish and the internet is no different.

If I put myself and my words out there, I can’t expect agreement from everyone, although I would very much like that. But that kind of wishful thinking would make me just as immature as the emotional outbreak that prompted this whole incident.

Olfactoria will travel on.

Image source: lafeuillecharbinoise.com
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73 Responses to What I Have Learned This Week… Final Thoughts On The Lubin Incident

  1. Irina says:

    I’m so sorry you got hurt in the incident. please, don’t let them- your blog is great, I very much enjoy reading your posts
    travel on….

  2. Learning weeks happen to everyone!!! XOXO

  3. Joe says:

    Nice of you to share your thought process. I’ve really only just been reading your posts this week, but what a week it’s been. You’re obviously quite thoughtful about what you do here.

    I believe you nailed it with: “Today’s newspaper wraps tomorrow’s fish and the internet is no different.” Very true, and always well worth remembering, for those on both “sides” of the issue.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I’m glad to have a new reader in you, Joe. Although usually things are a
      bit calmer here on OT. ;)
      It is good to hear your thoughtful words, thank you very much!

  4. IsabelleMi says:

    Birgit, I am so sorry to read this. Mistakes happens and this could have been easily corrected without hurting you. This perfume does not make me dream any more but there are so many lovely perfumes and perfumers so keep blogging, please – we love to stay with you in Perfumeland.

  5. Undina says:

    Dear Birgit,

    You did absolutely nothing wrong, there is no “other side” to this particular story and I’m so sorry that you felt bad because of that stupid incident. I hope you’ll close this topic for yourself and go on with your perfumed journey. And take us with you.

    A half a year ago there was a similar situation in a different area – books review. It went completely viral. If you’re curious, take a look here: http://booksandpals.blogspot.com/2011/03/greek-seaman-jacqueline-howett.html .

    Have a peaceful weekend!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you for that link, Undina! And thank you for your unwavering support this week, you’re a star! :)

    • annemariec says:

      Interesting link, thanks. It’s been a rule of thumb forever that writers should NEVER react to a critical review, no matter how misunderstood they may feel. You put your book out there, you don’t know how people will react or interpret it, but you have to take the consequences. The idea is that you have had your say in your book. If you have done your best with it, you should not need to add anything else

      The same should apply to perfume houses. That was my first thought when I read the reaction to Birgit’s review – which was, as we all know – a positive review. I liked Black Jade when I smelled it last week. I was confused when the SA told me that it had been Marie Antoinette’s perfume (eh?), but I liked it. But it was too expensive for me.

  6. andrea says:

    I am so glad that you will continue to blog, it was a series of unfortunate events that blew up into something ugly. Your responses at all times were eloquent and dignified, you shared your opinion which you are entitled to do.
    As I have said before you are the first blogger I followed, your opinions and views always mean a lot more to me than other blog sites for that reason.
    Please don’t do that again though, the first few paragraphs I thought was a lead up to you stopping your blog, I was a little panic stricken at the thought. :-)

  7. I am very happy there is some sort of closure and understanding of what happened. I am afraid the blogosphere is not all roses. Most of us blog, as you said, just because it’s fun. Some take it far too seriously. However the fact remains that we are amateurs speaking our mind on professionals and their work. There is always the chance that our opinion is based on more personal and subjective grounds, which is not at all bad among fellow amateurs. Sometimes our paths cross with the professionals and the impact becomes larger. I always try to focus more on what I feel and less on what I seem to know.

    Kepp up the good work Birgit.

  8. Ines says:

    Dearest B, like Undina said, these things seem to happen in the book world regularly.

    I am just very sorry the one in the Perfume land happened to you. Of all people.
    I can’t say I’m not happy it was a learning week for you, even though this learning was of the “trial through fire” type – in the end you emerged unscathed and stronger and more people know about your blog and your fair character. :)
    I think you behaved admirably in this situation.

  9. Tara says:

    What a well considered post about a tough week, B. Let that draw a line under it.

    The over-reaction from some was quite shocking. You could feel complimented that some people think you are so influential if it weren’t so threatening. It is easy to think as a community of perfume lovers that all is sweetness and light in Perfumeland but this is a reminder than money and ego are involved too. I’m glad however that you have decided not to let this affect the way you write. Reviewing from a position of fear would be no good for you or your readers. Everyone has the right to critique the stories that companies serve up in order to sell us something. Let us not forget that your point was that a good, solid perfume can sell itself!

    • Olfactoria says:

      It does draw a line for me, after answering the last comment here, I will be able to let it go and move on.

      Thank you for being there for me, dear Tara! And thank you for being my partner in crime, your reviews add a valueable facet to the blog, I’m very glad you could be persuaded to contribute! :)

  10. masha7 says:

    You go, girl! You are a wonderful blogger, I knew it from the first and I haven’t changed my mind one bit (you know me and first impressions!). As usual, because I am “Neo-Amish”, according to my friends, no Facebook or Twitter, not even a cell phone or TV, I had no idea this was happening to you. I’m so sorry, but it will pass and you’ll carry on. Hugs to you!
    -Marla

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hey, you Neo-Amish! :D I’m very glad your first impression of me held up. So did mine of you, btw. You introduced me to my beloved 1697, I’ll be forever grateful for that kind and generous gesture.

  11. olenska says:

    I’m glad. This would be a sad road without you.

  12. Kudos to you, Birgit. I am sorry you were injured in the process, but glad you remembered your reason for writing. And you are always free to post your opinions and thoughts – don’t ever forget. Very gracious wrap-up from a lovely lady.

  13. Anna in Edinburgh says:

    Just wishing you all the best and hoping that all will be well.

    Look after yourself, please.

    cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

  14. Sandra says:

    Thank goodness you will tavel on! I am sorry you had to go through that but you came out on top and with a good sense of humor. As you said – chalk it up to experience and just think of the stories you can tell your grandchildren. Hugs – Sandra

  15. Marie says:

    I enjoyed reading your reflections on how you react in situations like the one in question. In my job I deal with people with strong opinions and convictions everday (doctors, by the way – gotta lov’em :-) and there’s always that balance between thinking “yeah, whatever, dude” on the inside while remaining calm as a saint on the outside and occassionally drawing the line in a professional but assertive manner. It isn’t always easy, and we have our weak spots where we are more easily hurt – but we are only human.

    I don’t think you have anything to reproach yourself for in this instance – you were not rude, perhaps a little bit ironic (rightfully so ;-) – you defended your territory in a civil manner, we are all guests on your blog, in your home, so to speak, so you have the right to decide how to respond to this or that.

    Also something to consider, I think: As women we tend to get what I call a “social hangover” much more easily when we’ve demonstrated even the slightest suggestion of aggression (not in the sense of violence, but in the sense of assertiveness) – man rarel suffer like that. But women are still expected to be nicer, sweeter, more pliable, so to speak, and to accept to a larger extent thatn men being corrected in whatever manner without protesting. So when we do react with more assertiveness, we sometimes feel worse than the situation warrants. This is at least my own personal experience and I don’t think it’s that far off the mark for lots of sisters out there.

    I’m sorry that a bit of paradise has been lost for you in this manner, some innocence lost, but there’s a new fragrant world out there to explore and I look forward to folllowing you :-)

    Your fragrant friend (occassionally in arms :-))

  16. deeHowe says:

    We live in a mad world; one where a sweet, kind, generous person can become vilianized by people who don’t know her, and this makes me physically nauseous. Even thousands of miles away, there have been a few mornings where I felt sick with worry over the “series of unfortunate events.” But, in addition to your kind nature, you’re also intelligent and strong, and I applaud the way you’ve held your ground, even when that ground was shifting beneath you.

    OT, and it’s authoress, has become such an important part of my daily life, and I’m glad that you’re not giving up! You deserve a standing ovation!

    Me and my sensitive stomach will be glad when those fish get wrapped. ;)

    **big hug**

  17. Lucy says:

    So true. Blogging is in it’s own category. The most interesting ones are extremely personal and very up front as to biases and preferences. As long as those are clear, we are all entitled to our opinion and intuitions, and you don’t have to be perfect either.

    I think the best perfumes blogs are not about trying to be objective or making a judgment from on high. It’s all very very personal and the more personal the better in this particular medium, that’s what it’s all about actually. That said, we will get reactions sometimes, that will happen sooner or later to everyone. Especially if you post a lot, as you do, every day.

    Sometimes commenters can get way out there. I personally believe in the use of comment moderation. It’s a necessary tool, many would not be able to post at all without it. It’s your space and you don’t have to allow yourself to be used as a platform, a soapbox, or hijacked or treated badly on it. Some have even disabled comments altogether. Personally I don’t want to go that far.

    It’s clear that people want to read you and you want to write, so glad you will not allow this to stall you. It’s obvious that your experience and appreciation of perfume has grown through so much exposure to different ones all the time, and and your discoveries are a delight.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Lucy! Commenting and the dialogue it allows, is an essential part of blogging for me, the immediacy of feedback and the friendships that are forged and fostered through the sharing of a common passion, is amazing. I wouldn’t want to miss that, it would be only half of the experience. Thankfully such incidents seem to be not very prevalent in Perfumeland. So I’ll travel onwards! Thank you for coming with me!

  18. Suzanne says:

    Birgit, the care that you take with your blog and your readers is and has always been impeccable. The quality of your writing, the thoughtfulness with which you weigh and express your opinions, the generosity of spirit that you demonstrate on a day to day basis–in responding to not only your readers but in reaching out to other bloggers–has made the perfume blogosphere a joyous place to be. And knowing the amount of time involved in accomplishing all of these things, I can’t believe anyone could ever doubt the investment which you’ve made in blogging, heart, mind and soul.

    I’m so sorry for the hurtfulness you had to endure this week, but I can tell that despite the acute sadness, you have emerged stronger. Keep traveling on, my friend … be reminded of the many bright and beautiful olfactory journeys behind you, and know that more of them lie ahead.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you, Suzanne! I’m happy everytime I see a comment from you, your wise words and benevolent personality are highly appreciated. I look forward to sharing many more fragrant moments with you.

  19. JoanElaine says:

    I’m happy you are going to continue blogging!
    I can totally understand the mixed emotions and anxiety, especially when your post was not written with any intent to harm. You were suckerpunched.

    I am shocked to learn that the commenter is actually who he said he was. If he was so worried about his business, why on earth did he choose do lash out in such an unbusiness-like manner?

    Best wishes, B!

  20. About midweek, I felt someone should declare a moratorium on this topic, I felt so badly for you that it just kept going on and on. So I won’t say more here, except that you have our respect and loyalty because you have *earned* it with your integrity, the quality of your content, and the fact that you shine through this blog as a lovely person. I’m glad you are going to travel on!

    • Olfactoria says:

      So here is the official moratorium! :)

      Thank you for being there for me. I thought your post about blogging that was sparked by this unfortunate incident, was very good!

  21. Alnysie says:

    I completely missed that story (where was I?) but I was scared, reading this post, that you were announcing you were quitting blogging! I’m glad you’re not, I really like reading you (and I think you like writing, too!). I’ve been caught in tiny versions of something like that in the past and it’s so overwhelming and quickly escalading and stressful, it’s horrible. I’m sorry you went through that. I hope you can forget it soon — because of course, the Internet will have forgotten it tomorrow!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hi Alnysie, I thought about not posting this, because it could serve as a way to even prolong the whole incident and/or alert people to it, who hadn’t heard about it. And it does of course, but on the whole I needed a proper ending. Once I had written this post I felt I could let go of my negative thoughts and move on. You didn’t miss anything important! :)

  22. I echo all of the sentiments left by other commenters but would like to add one thing: Olfactoria’s Travels Rules.

    That is all. :P

  23. More hugs and love for you, Birgit. You handled this unfortunate situation perfectly- much better than I would have. I’m sorry you were hurt by the back-and-forth with Lupin, but so glad you will continue with the blog. I would have missed your reviews and thoughts on the fragrance industry. Happy weekend to you :)

  24. Dear Birgit, we have always enjoyed reading your blog and are glad to know we will continue to do so.
    Blogging is all about independence and freedom of speech. You have always showed a judicious use of this freedom and been deeply respectful towards everything and everyone you write about.
    We wish what happened didn’t make your week too bitter.
    Love.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I’m really overwhelmed by all those wonderful comments here tonight. The good thing that has come of this, is that I got such a wave of support and sheer loveliness! Thank you!

  25. lady jane grey says:

    Don’t worry – be happy, Birgit.
    This issue had something positive as well : to find out how many friends you have out there :-)

  26. annemariec says:

    Adding my voice – all the best Birgit.

  27. Sombreuil says:

    Just chiming in too with a song of support. This blog is marked by its quality and consideration, something which came across in your response to the week’s issues. I always enjoy my daily dose of Olfactoria’s lovely smelly writing and pictures, keep it up! :)

  28. I am so sorry you had to be dragged into something that you clearly did not mean to cause. Your review was wonderful, and it’s a shame that certain people did not see it that way.

    Keep writing, keep sniffing. The internet would be a sad place without you inhabiting your small corner of it, as you bring us all great joy and laughter.

    And to hell with silly marketing stories! The juice is what matters the most.

    xoxoxo

  29. As someone who has been at the center of more than a couple of controversies, I totally sympathize with how you’re feeling right now. It’s not fun, it’s disheartening. There are some people who feed off of drama like this and love to be in the hotseat, but I’m not one of them, and neither are you. I would love to see you go on blogging just as before, without another thought of this whole thing. In fact, if I could suck the memory right out of your brain and dispose of it, that’s exactly what I’d do. In lieu of that, I will just say what you already know- you are my sister, I’ve got your back, I always have and I always will.

  30. Alice C says:

    It saddens me that you were hurt in the exchange. You did nothing wrong through the entire transaction. Mr.Thevenin should have remembered the old adage: “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” While his posts on your blog may have corrected a mistake, they served primarily to damage the reputation of his company. He could have accomplished much more with a friendlier approach.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you, Alice! A friendly approach would have made all the difference, I would have been glad to being set right about my mistake and would have felt honored that the company is paying attention at all, but done like this, it was really unnecessary.

  31. I missed it too, but want to add my support – you are such a good writer and contribute such a lot to my, and no doubt others, perfume education. I guess the support and encouragement is the silver lining!
    It is a shock to find bad manners and meanness in places where one wouldn’t expect them, but we are all flawed human beings, and accepting others flaws helps us accept our own – we are a work in progress!

  32. Stef says:

    I can’t add much more than what has already been said on this situation, however I must say I’m glad to hear you’re continuing on. It would be such a shame to let this incident take away such a pleasure in your life.

    All the best and looking forward to your next review!

    • Olfactoria says:

      That is what I was thinking, I love this too much to let it go, because of a week of feeling bad. ;)
      Thank you for reading, Stef, I look forward to hear from you again!

  33. dremybluz says:

    I am glad to find that you are not giving up on your magnificent journey. You are one of the most talented and sweetest bloggers out there. I always come away with a peaceful joy reading your blog.
    I have learned a great deal in the short time that I became one of your followers into Perfumeland.
    We all may have different ideas about everything that is posted, but I find it rude and hateful with what has transpired. So pull up your boots, grab your staff, and continue to lead us happily down this road to Oz.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Dear Dremybluz, thank you for those lovely words of encouragement. I left the whole story behind now and look forward to new adventures in Perfumeland, so glad you are coming with me! :)

  34. Sabine says:

    I’m discovering this blog and the Lubin incident — and I have to say I found nothing faulty in your critique. You were appreciative of the scent itself and slightly ironic towards the marketing spin, but let’s face it, most marketing blurbs for scents are ridiculous.
    Anyway, people can get heated up very easily on the Internet, and I am glad that you will keep on writing.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hello Sabine, nice to meet you!
      I’m glad you found my blog, even if through this unfortunate incident. It is not always as action-laden here. ;)
      Thank you for your support.

  35. Pingback: Smell With Me – Olfactoria’s Travels Turns Two! | Olfactoria's Travels

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