So, I’ve been blogging here for about a week or so, and already I have become troll bait. Not intentionally, mind you, but I guess it isn’t too hard to attract these characters even if you aren’t trying. That’s why today’s post is an FYI – just to establish a few facts for anyone who stops by.
The other day, I posted a piece about Bill O’Reilly and his Sandra Fluke/White House conspiracy theory. It got more views, by far, than anything else I’ve written since I started this blog (not that that’s saying much, considering I have just started it, but still). I found a handful of comments waiting for moderation not too long after I’d posted it, so I checked to see what they said, hoping that maybe there had been some thought or discussion sparked by what I’d written.
If you look at this post, you’ll notice only one comment. That’s because, out of the several I received, only one was not completely obnoxious. It seems that my views on the validity of O’Reilly’s comments did not sit well with some of the conservative audience here on WordPress. Now, I have no problem with people disagreeing with me. I don’t even have a problem with people who want to post a comment on my blog, in which they explain why they disagree with me. I’ve done it already and I’ll gladly do it again, but I do have a rule in place about that. In case anyone out there ever finds themselves aggravated by something I’ve written and wants to tell me about it, let me just lay that rule out for you, real simple like: This is MY house.
This blog is MY little patch of internet turf. It is the spot where MY standards set the tone. It is MY house. Everyone should know better than to come into someone else’s house and be rude or disrespectful, and that includes those who disagree with me. It is possible to do this, people, and I’m gonna give you an example to illustrate my point.
After I posted my piece yesterday, I went looking for other people’s blogs to read. I’m still pretty new around here and I am trying to find different and interesting pages to check out. As it happens, one of the first ones I saw was a post on another blog which was also about the O’Reilly/Fluke thing. I figured I would give it a click and see what other people had to say about the subject.
The post in question was written by a blogger, J Roycroft, who has a decidedly conservative viewpoint. His post made several points with which I disagreed, and I decided to submit a comment stating my thoughts. When I did so, I did not call him names, I did not make assumptions about his intelligence, and I did not tell him that he was full of any particular substance. I did these things for 2 reasons. First, I don’t know him personally and I am in no position to judge someone I don’t know based on a blog post. Second, and more to the point, I was in HIS house. I knew better than to be disrespectful to someone while I was a guest in HIS house.
After I left my comment there, Mr. Roycroft replied to it. He also came to check out my blog, read a few things that he took issue with, and submitted some comments to me. I had no problem posting them, because he knew better than to be disrespectful to me in MY house. We ended up having what I would consider to be a civil and thoughtful exchange, which is the whole point of blogging in my opinion. I feel a little bit sorry that only one conservative blogger who read my post was able to discuss it amicably, and I would have welcomed other points of view if they had been stated in a reasonable manner. Unfortunately, they weren’t, so you will not see any comments under my O’Reilly article from conservatives today.
Coincidentally, I saw an article on CNN’s website this morning, about the very topic of online comment sections and how ridiculous they are. I simply don’t understand why people think it’s productive to be rude when they comment online. I do know why they do it – there is a certain amount of anonymity to hide behind, and it’s much simpler for people to hurl insults than to actually express something thoughtful about a topic. But as for why they think it’s useful, I have no idea. It doesn’t get their opinions across effectively, and it certainly weakens the whole idea of online conversation.
I’d said, in an earlier post about the Rush Limbaugh controversy, that people seem to lose their humanity when they are online, and that is the really sad part of all this, in my opinion. I always assume that anyone I engage with online could be a neighbor of mine – someone I say hello to at the grocery store, someone whose mail I take in when they go on vacation, someone whose kid is in my kid’s class at school. I would never publicly insult or yell at anyone in my neighborhood just because I discovered they had an opinion that differed from my own. I just wouldn’t, and I’m willing to bet none of you would, either. So why would you do it in a comment on someone’s blog?
Every post made online expresses the thoughts of an actual human being. When you reply to a post by being rude or demeaning, you are talking to an actual human being in a way that civil people simply should not do, whether you are doing so anonymously or not. One comment I received questioned my sexuality, since I have posted some pro-gay marriage sentiments here. I mean, really?
Let’s clear something up here, folks. Online privacy is an important thing, and since I have a kid, I guard mine as well as I can. But, for the sake of introducing all of you to the actual human being who writes these things, I’ll tell you this much. I have been married for 20 years (just celebrated our anniversary last month). And, I am married to a man who was born a man, and I am a woman who was born a woman. We have a school-age kid. We have a house and a couple of dogs. We like movies and mini-golf. I do occasional freelance work from home. The rest of the time I take care of my family – buying the groceries, paying the bills, cleaning the house, walking the dogs.
And, I blog about things that interest me or seem worth talking about for whatever reason. I am a liberal and not particularly religious, so there may be things I post with which a lot of people do not agree. But I will not write things that insult your intelligence, and I will do my best to make sure that what I write is based on verifiable facts. I have no problem with anyone who wants to share an opposing point of view with me. Being challenged on your opinions, and defending your positions, is a learning experience, and it sometimes helps you realize things you didn’t realize before. Being insulted, however, teaches me nothing. It communicates nothing to me about why my position might be wrong, and it communicates nothing to me about why your position might be right. All it communicates to me is your total and utter lack of ability to act like the grown-up that I assume you are.
Frankly, the details about who I am and what kind of life I lead are none of anyone’s goddamn business. But now that you know a bit about me, keep it all in mind when you read my blog from now on. I may not be someone whose perspective you agree with. I am, however, a human being, I deserve the same common courtesy that I would extend to anyone else, and this is MY house. Respect it or stop visiting it. I’m fine either way.
In an effort to promote the sense of balance and fairness that I’d like this blog to maintain, I’m posting links to some of the more politically-oriented blogs that I’ve discovered and followed so far on WordPress. As you’ll see, they represent various points of view. I actually make a point of reading things from both the right and the left, because I’m missing something if I filter out things I may disagree with. I’m also going to include a link to Mr. Roycroft’s blog. While I have issues, in general, with both the content and the tone of his blog, I appreciate the fact that he made the effort to interact with me in a thoughtful way, and I have every intention of doing the same with him should I ever comment on his posts in the future. Plus, he has a right to say what he wants, how he wants, in HIS house.
Blog of Rivals: http://ablogofrivals.wordpress.com/
Unedited Politics: http://uneditedpolitics.wordpress.com/
Mashed Potato Bulletin: http://mashedpotatobulletin.com/
Defining My Conservatism: http://timstrickland.wordpress.com/
The Roycroft Report: http://theroycroftreport.com/