On comments and communication

Jonathon just posted entries from a mailing list that seems to suffer the same fate of so many comment threads. Without repeating the entries here (you must take the time to read these) what started out as a discussion about scanner prices ended up with a rant about nuking all the liberals. Within the space of three entries!

It took Jonathon’s Sisterhood posts and the comments this weekend to make me realize that most of what’s happened to this weblog in the last few weeks — the feminist to free speech to freedom of religion to terrorist sympathezier thread — wasn’t personal. Aside from the emails, comments, and cross-postings of kindness and support, most of the other discussions just weren’t personal.

Well, shoot myself in the head with my own vanity, won’t I?

When I realized this one thing, it changed everything for me. Before this realization I was feeling battered, and hacked, and worse — that I wasn’t communicating effectively with my writing. And believe me the thought that my writing was poor hurt worst of all because I love to write. I love to communicate.

I realized this weekend that a lot of people have a lot of things to say, and sometimes, they’ll say them even when there is no context for what they’re saying. And sometimes they’ll say them even though the result is hurtful. They won’t mean to be hurtful (for the most part) — they’re just burning to say these things inside and sometimes reactions result.

Way back when, at least a week ago (almost a full weblogging generation), Mike Sanders said some things and I took these things personally. But he really wasn’t slamming me. He wasn’t attacking me. Not really. Mike was caught up in his own moment, his own crusade, and in his own hurts and thoughts and actions. And his weblog and his postings reflected that. Unfortunately, coincidentally, other things were also reflected, including implications of this and that, and discussions about moral equivalency and so on.

I reacted personally. I now know that this was a huge mistake. What I should have done at the time is just ignored Mike. Such a simple thing I could have done — ignored him. That was the *weapon* that would have been effective in this particular battle. And I’m finding out it’s the hardest damn weapon to learn how to use.

If anything, last week I should have focused on what Mike was saying outside of the “I’ve pulled these people” stuff — that was the issue. That was the important stuff.

Some of us (me) take so long to learn what others (you) already know.

I started this weblog back up today with a new “rule” I was going to apply — no comments unless you open your weblog to comments. Realistically, this isn’t always doable for some people. Or even wise or safe for others. It was a stupid rule, still based on that “I’m taking this all personally” effect from last week.

The silliest thing about this “rule” is that I’m probably one of the luckiest webloggers there is because I find that my readers’ comments are almost always on topic, erudite, thoughtful, and for the most part, civilized (well, except for my own a couple of times). I can count on one hand the personal attacks I’ve had in my comments. Considering the topics I originate, that’s pretty damn good.

Long and short of it is: This weblog is totally “open” for business. Under management with a new attitude.

Thanks for coming by. Come again.

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