LLama12 Blogging is an interesting and rich experience. I’m sure people blog for many different reasons.  The main ones for me are selfish, I enjoy writing, enjoy organizing my thoughts, and any kind of journal writing is of course therapeutic. So, first and foremost, I write about what’s on my mind, what’s happening in my life, how I’m feeling about something at the moment.

I write mostly for me, with no particular agenda.

My blog posts are usually about the farm, or the house, or the animals, because those things fill my free time and hours of enjoyment. But I also sometimes write about work, because it’s a different aspect of my life, it pays the bills, and I do derive enjoyment and fulfillment out of my career too. Some people blog to generate website traffic, or customers for their business; and I’m aware I derive a small amount of those benefits for our farm. But that’s just a side affect, I blog solely because I enjoy it. If I were to use the blog primarily for commercial purposes, I would probably choose different content and frequency to maximize that goal.

MrsPeteAnother positive side affect of blogging is that sometimes other people stumble across the blog and happen to just enjoy the content. The point of blogging, versus journaling privately, is to extend your experience to a shared experience. Maybe someone else is feeling what you are feeling, and is comforted in that. Maybe someone else has a problem to which you’ve already found a solution, and is grateful to find a post that helps them. Maybe in blogging about a bad day or a stressful time, a friend will extend some cherished kind words. Sometimes blog posts generate discussion that enhances the knowledge and experience of the blogger and all the readers who contribute to that post’s thread. Blogging is strangely both deeply private and widely communal at the same time.

But choosing to blog also makes you vulnerable. You are sharing a lot of yourself with anyone who chooses to take it in. You cannot set a flag that says only display this post to friends, not foes. And the web is equally full of both supporters and critics. I try to keep my posts reasonably clean, family-friendly, and non-controversial, because I don’t wish to invite negative vibes, nasty comments or disrespectful debate. (Some blogs and bloggers, I think, purposely try to spark a battle, and some people enjoy that kind of discourse. That’s cool. It’s just not for me.) And I’ve been lucky, the vast majority of comments on and direct contacts about my blog have always been kind, thoughtful and helpful.

DuckInTubBut every blogger gets wounded sometimes by a poisonous comment now and then. I’ve certainly been saddened to see some of my blogger friends terribly hurt and absent from blogging for a time, while they lick their wounds after a cruel commenter has struck. Maybe the critic meant it, or maybe the offense was inadvertent, but it’s bound to happen to every blogger now and again. Being a writer of any kind definitely makes you an easy target for critics, who can shoot from behind a blind of anonymity. But I think there are some ground rules to the blogosphere that sometimes people forget, or perhaps don’t understand when they first stumble upon this wide world of sharing-up of one’s heart and mind.

The main one would be the saying we all know, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Because if you don’t like someone’s blog, you don’t have to read it! If you disagree on a point and wish to express an alternate point of view, or hope to correct a factual mistake a blogger has made, that’s always welcome, as long as the comment presented kindly and respectfully. Blogs are a discussion, after all, if comments are enabled on them. But if you don’t like the blogger, you think he’s a jerk, a whiner, a liar, a terrible parent, an idiot, or whatever, then, just move along, read something else, don’t dwell on it. Because it’s a breach of etiquette to attack a blogger personally or make judgments on his character. Even if you didn’t enjoy his writing, or don’t agree with, or approve of, his point of view or how he lives his life. It is a crime of argumentum ad hominem, where when you disagree with a point someone has made, you attack the person rather than the point, to try to win a debate or get your message or agenda across.

TripletsIf your a blogger who is on the receiving end of a biting comment or email, I think the best way to handle it is this: delete. There is no reason to engage the offender, whether or not they intended offense; if the message bugs you at all, just deep-six it and forgetaboutit! Electronic data gets lost all the time, and some of it should be purposely directed into the bit bucket. 😀 You are not obligated to defend your character, your beliefs, your mood, your ethics, or your anything else to a blog audience. And you are not obligated to allow particular comments to be displayed on your blog if they are not consistent with your message or your ambiance. Your readers aren’t interested in viewing aggression towards you, so just prune it like a noxious weed if and when it arises.

The blogosphere is an awesome realm that offers community, comfort, companionship, help, support, knowledge, friendship and entertainment to anyone who stumbles into the room. And it’s static- as long as a blog post stays on the Web, it has lasting power to benefit others, bridging the span of time in a way that no live community can. But just like live communities, there are sometimes conflicts and scuffles, inevitable as millions of people bump up against each other in virtual space. They can leave a temporary bad taste in your mouth, but fortunately, it usually doesn’t last.  This is just a reminder, Gentle Reader, to be gentle. And for bloggers, to keep your chin up even when your readers are less than gentle, for they are the exception, not the rule.