29 August 2006

"I'm Quitting the Bloggernacle!"

That's what I said to myself last night as I read this post and the comments on this post. Frankly, I wanted to cry.

Anyone reading, and especially anyone posting, blogs quickly gets an opportunity to be offended. The opportunites to give offense come just as often. Worse still, the opportunity to unintentionally offend comes all the time. So you have to develop some kind of strategy on how you will deal with it.

My strategy has two parts. First, I try to imagine that all of the comments I read are computer-generated. That's right: I think all of you are robots. It reminds me to look past the poster and the whatever rudeness I think there may be and try to understand what is being said. The "robot" who wrote it may be mean, nasty, and arrogant, but there might still be some truth to what's there; what do I gain by ignoring it? And what do I gain by firing back my worst insult? How would I insult a computer, anyway? (insert PC/Mac joke here)

Second, I try to imagine that all of my comments are written to my family. That's right: you are my brothers, my sisters, my mom, my dad. It reminds me to reread, rewrite, double-check, hit delete, hit delete some more, then anxiously hit "Publish Comment."

There are some problems with my strategy, the main one being that I am the one implementing it. There are some "robots" that I just can't read without focusing on the anger inside me; I have to just avoid their comments altogether. It makes me sad that I have to do that--that I can't be more like Jim F--but such is my state. I also fear that I often publish comments that are still rude, arrogant, obnoxious, or simply unwanted.

I haven't been visiting the Bloggernacle for too long, though my blogging days started a little before I discovered the Bloggernacle. Nevertheless, I am no newbie to online "dialogue": I've been doing that since "The Globe" in the early 90's, when it seemed that the only people online were Wiccas, Mormons, and teenagers.

So why should I suddenly feel so let down by my blogging experience? Maybe there's a flaw in my strategy, or a flaw in me. And why should something that doesn't directly affect me, affect me so deeply?

Despite those very depressing reads, I'm obviously still here. A major reason is this post. Another is this one. (In fact, take that whole blog.) And this blog. And this conversation. And the always edifying discussions with Robert C, Jim F, and many others. I'm amazed by this blog. There's also lots of "little" blogs I stumble upon from time to time that make my day.

As a final note, I wasn't even going to post this rant, but tonight's song choice before putting the kids to bed put this right in the front of my mind.

I'm trying to be like Jesus; I'm following in his ways.
I'm trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.
At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,
But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers,
"Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught."

16 comments:

Stephen said...

That is a great song, thanks for the kindness of the post.

Eric Nielson said...

I think quite highly of you, and that you are adding to the quality of life here. I have gone through similar feelings, and posted on it many times. One of my first was www.smallsimple.blogspot.com/2006/01/my-bloggernacle-honeymoon-is-over.html (I tried to make a link but it wouldn't take)

Anyway, I like your approach. It would be hard for me to think of this arena as just cold hard dialog. I think my - personal? - approach sometimes causes my to have a series of ups and downs.

Please don't quit. Any interest in guesting at BofJ or joining? I'm sincere in this and would be glad to 'nominate' you. I think it would come down to what you wanted. I extend this because I was thinking of it anyway, and to let you know that your 'stuff' is valuable.

Dave said...

Wow, if you think this little conversation is harsh, you should see what some people say when they are actually upset! It's all part of the online communication game. Don't let it get you down.

Bookslinger said...

I've been participating in online messaging forums since the dialup BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) scene in 1986. (Anyone here remember FidoNet and RIME?) So this is my 20th anniversary of being continuously online.

Not much really changes as far as human nature.

It's easy to get carried away. It's easy to take oneself too seriously. It's easy to say/write things at a keyboard that you'd never say to the person's face.

"Vanity, thy name is COMPUTER USER."

In a way, it's cheap therapy. It's people to bounce ideas off of without having to drink beer at the corner bar.

It's exposure to a wide variety of new opinions, ideas and experiences. It's the small-town home-body getting to hob-nob with the big-city folks and world travellers.

It's a portal through which the home-bound or bed-ridden get to leave their homes.

It's interactive and a sort-of substitute for television.

But it can also be an addictive medium that can suck our precious time away from us like meaningless soap operas or other mindless TV shows do.

If we let it, it can pollute us even worse than what comes into our homes via broadcast and cable TV.

It can deliver to us 30 years worth of the words of the apostles and prophets from the Ensign and hundreds of other talks stored on the church's and BYU's web sites.

It allows us to share in the joys of others.

But the "bloggernacle" can also deliver us insipid navel-gazing that detracts from the beauty of the plain and simple gospel. And worse yet, there are those on the fringes of our gospel family, along with those who've clearly left the fold, regardless of whether their motives are pure, who set out insidious stumbling blocks of twisted or partial truths, or paint pictures of correct facts with deceptive backgrounds.

There are those who don't want to share their joys, and who don't want solutions or a hand up, but who demand that others join them in their pit of tragedy and despair.

It's a lot like real life. There are always more dragger-downers than lifter-uppers. And there are always more observers than doers.

Journaling is basically a commandment for all, from the prophet on down to everyone. Whether to make it public is a decision that should be carefully considered.

If you've got something to say, and if your goal is to be a doer and a lifter-upper, then I say go for it.

I recently got feedback from a sister who wrote that someone she befriended in a restaurant, and to whom she gave a Book of Mormon, got baptized last month. The ironic thing was that that man is from my state, and has had breakfast at a Bob Evans on Saturdays with Mormons for 10 years. To quote: "not one of them ever opened up their mouths to talk to him about the church. He had to inherit a larger territory and wander into a restaurant in Ohio to find a feisty redhead that opened up her mouth."

It's up to you whether this scripture applies to you and your blog, but in the D&C it says something like "Open your mouth... Open your mouth... Open your mouth..."

Based on the log of search engine queries, I'd say my blog brings in about 40 non-member visitors per week, about 10 of whom are overseas. That's 40 people per week who may be having their first contact with the church or concept of the Book of Mormon. A few of them click through on the link to get a free Book of Mormon from the church web site.

Proud Daughter of Eve said...

Wow! I was just being silly and indulging my vanity when I moused over all those links to posts or blogs that you said you liked. Imagine my surprise and glee when I saw my blog among them! Way cool. Thanks!

Methinks I shall wander this way more often. (Not to see myself linked! To return the compliment sometime. ^_^)

BrianJ said...

Stephen,

You're welcome, but it is I that should be (and is) thanking you.

Eric,

I remember reading that post back in Feb. Thanks for reminding me of it. And thanks for the encouragement.

Dave,

Thanks for stopping in. I think I may have been unclear in my post. I didn't mean to suggest that the comments I linked to were the worst I had ever seen; for some reason they just got to me in a way that others hadn't.

Calling it a "game" doesn't work for me. Please note that I haven't called for those involved to cease, repent, or clean up their act. They have chosen to talk that way to each other and that is up to them. But I know that that style does not work for me. So when I see a lot of that in a lot of places around the Bloggernacle, I question whether the Bloggernacle is the right place for me. Imagine it this way: you show up decked out in blue for a football game, and find yourself surrounded by people in red. You don't judge the people around you to be evil (unless you are a rabid fan), but you do wonder if perhaps you are sitting in the wrong section.

Which brings me to my last point: this post was meant to be about how I don't let the anger within the Bloggernacle "get me down"--at least not for long.

Bookslinger,

I appreciate your comments (and I hope you noticed the link to your site in my post). It's funny, I feel like your application of D&C "open your mouth" is totally appropriate, but I never would have thought of it. Thanks!

BrianJ said...

Proud Daughter,

Your sincerity is what brought me to your site. Thanks again.

Bookslinger said...

Brianj: Yes, I saw the link. Thanks!

The hits on my blog spiked and I used my counter/tracker to see where they came from. You must have a popular blog.

Clark Goble said...

"It's interactive and a sort-of substitute for television."

Well said

BrianJ said...

Bookslinger said, "You must have a popular blog."

Ha! That got me laughing. I normally get more mosquito bites than visits.

This site also had a massive spike (like, a month's worth of visits in one day), so I looked to see where they are all coming from. No doubt the title was provocative, but it also turns out that Kaimi (thank you) stuck a link in the T&S sidebar that brought in a lot of people.

So if you want lots of traffic, make your post sound threatening and make sure you get Kaimi's attention. For example, my upcoming post on self reliance will be titled: "I Will Destroy Kaimi!"

Bookslinger said...

Yeah, getting a "Notes" link from T&S or any link from a blog entry on T&S or Millennial Star brings in a lot of visitors.

Provocative titles bring in a lot of people from ldsblogs.org and LDselect.org

Bookslinger said...

One way to gain notoriety, if you're willing to spend $6, is to register provocative domain names.

You can register a .INFO or a .US for only $6/year at GoDaddy.com

Or the .com/net/org are only $9/year.

Would you spend $6 just to register
www.kaimi-is-a-(insert derogatory term here).info ?

Then at most registrars, you get free "redirection". So for $6 you
could register www.kaimi-is-a-whatever.info and have it redirect to one of the Snarker's digs at him on that blog.

Robert C. said...

I for one am glad you're still posting. I think the bloggernacle, like wards (esp. one's that aren't an obvious ideal match), provides an opportunity for us rough stones to become more rounded....

Stephen said...

I'm glad you are still here, especially since I've linked to you now.

BrianJ said...

Robert C and Stephen: Thanks! I'm especially flattered by the link.

Anonymous said...

It reminds me of how much I miss by not being able to follow all the less well known blogs out there.

Seth R.