June 19, 2007

We are not alone

I always get this huge kick out of when I meet other bloggers and I say "Hi, I know you from your blog" and they say "No, no...you're just saying that" and I say "Dude, you were knitting those blue socks and your dog took the yarn and you found it in the kitchen" and they say "WOW, you did read my blog" and then I remind them that this is a community. That the whole point of the thing is a community. Knitters blog and comment and take part to form a community and I am a knitter who blogs and comments just like all the other knitters and it is truly no more remarkable that I do it, than that any of you do. Sure I'm busy. I bet you are too. Sure it takes time to read the blogs, but you do it, and there's just no way that most of you have way more time than me. We all have lives and jobs and families and friends and knitting and ....
I'm losing track of my point. My point is (and I do have one, no matter how long it takes me to get there) that we are all right here, in the community, reading the blogs together, seeing the stuff you do...reading the stuff you write.

"Stephanie" I can hear you saying "We know that". True, most of you do, but lately, I see people sometimes writing on their blogs, or in the comments of other blogs, like they think they are in private.

Blogs are not private. Sure, I hear "It's my blog and I'll say what I want" and "If you don't like what I write, don't read" and sure enough, you can, and you will, and you've got a fine point, but it is this bloggers humble opinion that having a blog is like throwing an open-house party for your neighbourhood and saying that anyone who wants to can come.

I've been to a fair number of neighbourhood parties, and I bet you have too, and I have never once, not ever, not even a little bit, ever seen the host get up with a microphone and tell the rest of the party what they thought of one or two of the guests. Can you imagine? You're over at Jane's for a neighbourhood thing and Jane stands up at the head of the room and says "Excuse me? Yes. Thanks so much for coming, I'm so glad you're here. Now that I have your attention, I'd like to point Susan out to you, that's her - in the back in the red shirt. I just want to tell you, I don't like her. I think she's ugly, tremendously damned stupid, and that she's a terrible mother and can't knit her fool way out of a washcloth. Also, this is my house and I'll say what I want. Comments?"

Never going to happen...Right? There are a few types that we all love to hate who are going to say that sort of stuff at a party where Susan isn't invited, trash her behind her back and have a good time doing it, but there are very few of us who would do it to her face, in front of everyone she knows....and if any of us did do it we would certainly not wonder why we didn't have any friends any more. There's simply very few human beings (and thank the fates for that) who would lie in bed after trashing Susan over the microphone and watching her burst into tears and flee the party, and in the dark truth of midnight say to themselves. "I'm not mean, I'm honest" or "Well, I have a right to share my opinion" or "If Susan doesn't want to hear things like that, she shouldn't come to the parties I invite her to."

Yet, even though blogs are PUBLIC, and even though most bloggers are hoping to get more of the community to stop by and read at our blog parties, the scenario happens all the time. I've noticed, more and more often, people writing about other people like they aren't going to see it. People, people who would never, ever say it to you if you were in their living room, or if they knew you would read it, writing away like they are in private, even LINKING to the person they are saying the hurtful things about, with no regard for the fact that the odds are pretty damned excellent that the person they are writing about is going to read it sooner or later.

Now these people may just have forgotten that you don't choose who reads your blog, or maybe they would argue that they aren't part of the community (even though they are in a whole bunch of knitting blog rings, or leave comments on other blogs) , and some of them may perhaps be confused about the difference between vicious invective and considered criticism (Hint: "Her grammar is poor" is criticism, but "She looks like a weasel" is vicious invective.)

Stunningly though, most of the people writing this stuff aren't like that. Most of the people writing this stuff would never, ever say it to the face of the person they were talking about if they were in the same room with them, most of them, if they knew the other person was reading, would be downright ashamed of themselves. (Note my acceptance of the existence of a few people who are simply downright mean or troubled, and know that I don't expect them to be reasonable, nor I am naive enough to believe that everyone should think that we are all able to play nice or get along) If - for it is only "if", since we all tend to look the other way during these things, the writer is called on their behavior, then they invariably claim loudly that they have a right to their opinion, that it is their space and they can do what they like, or suggest (with increasing ire) that if you are going to get your feelings hurt about something as unimportant as what people say about you in rooms full of thousands of other people, then maybe you shouldn't read blogs....


They are right. You do have a right to write anything you want on your blog or when you write comments. You have a right to any opinion you want to hold, and you can scream it into a microphone as loudly as you want at any party you want. My point is, and it's the only one that I have...is that when you write this stuff, you are not in private. You are in public, and WE CAN ALL HEAR YOU.

Posted by Stephanie at June 19, 2007 12:56 PM