Recovered from the Wayback Machine.
I was not surprised to get negative comments in my posting, Everything to do with her being a woman. I was surprised, and gratified, when a commenter going by the name of “Lord Trickster” seemed to defend what I was writing. Gratified because it can be difficult at times reading comment after comment that condemns your writing and your viewpoint; surprising because I didn’t expect any of my readers to post a favorable comment — a view that forms a odd comment in and of itself as to my relationship with my readers.
Of the comments, I was bothered a great deal by one made by Euan Semple. He wrote:
I believe that high profile bloggers have a responsibility to behave in ways that reflect their impact on this virtual space we are inhabiting. The more we can make it a place where people behave at least as well as they do in the real world, or perhaps even better, then the more likely the internet is to improve the world and those who live in it.
This hasn’t been a reasoned argument between mature adults – it has been a playground fight and is beneath both of you. It’s like parents having an abusive fight in front of the kids – they may feel justified in behaving badly but it still sends the same message to the kids.
I believe that high profile bloggers have a responsibility to behave in ways that reflect their impact on this virtual space we are inhabiting.
Euan, by saying that Dave and I are prominant webloggers and therefore have a responsibility to behave in a certain way you’re reducing both of us to figureheads, and you’re removing both Dave’s and my right to speak as we want. You’ve made us both into puppets of the medium and of the readers.
I did this once with Dave — told him he had a responsibility to exercise caution with his words because he has so much influence and power. I realize now that that was wrong. If Dave was a professional journalist writing for a professional publication, I would feel justified in saying this. However, in this context, we’re just webloggers. That’s all we are. And weblogs are tools that allow us to express ourselves, even when that expression is low, stupid, foolish, petty, grand, noble, eloquent, caring, loving — all possible expressions that exist in the real world
Lately there’s been so much discussion about writing and corrupting influences. Ben Hammersley even discussed the possibility of putting his professional emails online to ensure there is no professional compromise — something I’m glad to see he eventually rejected. Yet in all this talk about compromise because of pay or corporate sponsorship or freebies, there hasn’t been any discussion about the greatest corrupter of a writer’s integrity — his or her readers.
As we write, people link and comment, and subtly, this feedback impacts on us. We find ourselves hesitating in what we write, holding back. Eventually, we find ourselves changing what we write and focusing on those things that people like to read. After all, it takes a very strong will to write as you want, day in and day out, if you don’t get feedback. And it takes an even stronger will to ignore the feedback enough to write as you want.
(Perhaps eschewing comments is the way to go. Or not.)
Taking a leap, since it’s Sunday and I need my exercise, this is no different than Congress supporting President Bush’s Iraq Invasion plans. No one wants to lose an election by not going along with the supposed flow of popular opinion, regardless of the individual congressional member’s true viewpoint. Senator Daschle did, and he spoke to an empty senate room. Must have been lonely.
I’ve long said that I would vote for a person who stuck by their beliefs regardless of my opinion as voter; but then I couldn’t vote for them because they didn’t support my interests.
Ah, me. Just more Burningbird rambling. I have a book to finish and I think I’ll just break from this weblog until it’s finished (are there faint cries of gladness in the distance?)
In the meantime, Phil and Sam Ruby are having way too much fun with RSS and pings, related to an over-pinging problem that Joel Spolsky is having. I love what Phil says: “We need to solve Joel’s RSS problem, before it becomes our problem”. If a dog is man’s best friend, then Phil is surely the best friend to webloggers.
(Did I just call Phil a dog? Would he look cute with a brandy barrel tied to his neck?)
And don’t forget, if you get a chance, visit my friend Chris and drop him a kind word, a pat on the back, and a few bucks into the kitty to help his friend Rick.
Update: “Unless you feel ‘relationship strain’ when you write, you are always already a Hack”. Wealth Bondage (Thanks Dorothea).