I know that this question has been asked various and sundry times since the ascension of the Web Log. I also know that everyone has their own reasons so I guess it’s a bit presumptuous of me to think that my motivations are any “better” than anyone elses. Actually, the reasons I WRITE a blog are very different than the reasons that I READ blogs.
I maintain a blog as a creative outlet. I know, I know…me? Creative?
I may not be an artist, I may not be a gifted editorialist, I know I’m no great shakes as a storyteller, but sometimes, something catches my attention that I just want to share with the world. Whether it is something new I’ve learned, an opinion I feel strongly about or a notable event that I feel I have a unique or interesting perspective on. I don’t post often enough to build a large readership and that’s actually OK by me…if I had too many regulars I would feel obligated to them to post regularly. That happened with my old blog and it got to the point where it felt like a job rather than a hobby. I won’t let that happen again.
But why do I READ blogs? I mean, I don’t really need to do that in order to maintain my own. It is kind of a common courtesy to blogroll those who blogroll you and I won’t blogroll someone that I don’t read. Sometimes other bloggers posts prompt posts of my own; but those are not the reasons I read other people’s blogs.
I read blogs because, in all of my years of learnin’, the most important thing I’ve learnt is that I’ve still got a lotta learnin’ to do. The bloggers that I read daily, I respect very highly. I respect their writing ability, their opinions, their education, their intelligence, their common sense. Not all of them for all of those, but all of them for at least one or some combination.
Almost every day I learn something I didn’t know from reading blogs. Blogs also prompt me to find out more about things, they pique my interest and encourage me to find out for myself. But the most return on investment I get is from commenting.
There are generally only two reasons I leave a comment: I feel I have something unique to contribute to the discussion; or, I disagree and want to debate the issue. I rarely engage in “me too” commenting (although I’m not trying to discourage any readers from doing that here, I’m just describing myself, not making any judgments about the “right” way to do it…hint…hint).
I get the most out of the debates that I’ve engaged in. I try to stay as civil and cordial in debate as I can, but I must admit that I have a rather dry and sarcastic sense of humor which encroaches on my civility from time to time. It can come off as condescending, even when I don’t intend for it to. With that said, however, even the debates that get nasty have redeeming value. Basically, in a debate, I must clarify my position in my mind in order to state (or write) it clearly. Often, when attempting to clarify my argument in my own mind, flaws and holes in my logic become apparent to me that I was not even aware of. This prompts me to research the issue which has occasioned changes in my position or outlook more than once. Also, in researching an argument, I am forced to seek out evidence which either can reinforce my position or, on occasion, rebut it. In short…I am forced to learn more.
The person with whom I am debating may bring up points which I had not considered and I am now forced to factor them into the equation. They may bring to light evidence of which I was unaware. They may simply express the concepts of the issue in terms that I had never considered and place things in a new light. In short…I learn from them.
When I debate someone, I’m not necessrily trying to change their opinion. I’m trying to crystallize my own opinion in my mind. If I cannot, perhaps I need to rethink my position. If I’m wrong, I want someone to call me on it. I want them to tell me I’m wrong and why so I can correct my position.
Granted, I may not admit that I’m wrong right then and there. I may have reservations about what they presented. I may have to do more research, check out their sources, vet their data. But if they are right and I am wrong…I want to know about it. I don’t want to continue being wrong. That would be…well…stupid.
Those are the reasons that I read other people’s blogs and those are the reasons that I engage in debate.
What brought this bit of musing on is an interesting (and rather enjoyable, to my mind) ongoing debate with Bitter of The Bitch Girls regarding the Snickers Commercial that was aired during the Superbowl and its alternate endings.
During the course of that discussion, she got quite annoyed (justifiably, to be honest) with me. What gets me is that she threatened to begin (and now seemingly has begun) moderating my comments. I simply don’t understand that.
Yes, I realize that it is her blog and she gets to set the rules. I’m not advocating a boycott, an e-mail campaign or trying to get legislation passed to reinstate my commenting privileges (if you followed the links you’ll understand the humor in that statement…I hope). All I’m saying is…if all you are looking for is an echo chamber, why allow comments at all?
In all fairness, Bitter contends that she took her action strictly because she felt that I misrepresented her position: but if that is true, why not just challenge me to put my money where my mouth is? Why not just challenge me to prove it and then claim victory when I cannot? Also, why did she wait until AFTER I apologized and explained that my misrepresentation of her position was unintentional? I simply think there was more to it than that.
If you are going to start moderating or banning comments from people with whom you disagree, what is the point of blogging in the first place? Perhaps that is not really the case with Bitter and I’m reading too much into her actions; but I’ve seen it over and over again (not to me, this is the first time I’ve ever been put in moderation…it actually took me quite by surprise…I tend to be pretty civil compared to many commenters I’ve seen on the blogs). The reason I don’t link Kim Du Toit is because of this very thing. I saw it over and over again. I pretty much agreed with him almost all the time; but, on the rare occasion that someone disagreed, it didn’t take much for Mr. Du Toit to find some (inane in my opinion) pretext for which to ban them. After I saw it happen for the fourth or fifth time, I requested that he cancel my membership to his forum, deleted the links to his blog from my blogroll, and I’ve never been back.
I cannot fathom the urge to stifle dissent that some people have. Are they so insecure in their beliefs that they cannot defend them in the face of opposition? Are they so invested in their position that it cannot ever be changed and they will entertain no opposing viewpoints?
I just don’t get it.
Or maybe I’m wrong…if I am, please feel free to tell me so.
Update: Color me ignorant. My last comment apparently being moderated was caused by the fact that I had included three (not two, but three) hyperlinks in the comment. It was caught by Bitter’s filters as potential spam. My impression that she had placed me in moderation was incorrect. My bad. Edit all the areas where I said “place someone into moderation or ban them” to read “threaten to place someone into moderation or ban them” and my point still stands.