Thursday, December 14, 2006

Blogging and Blood-Pressure

This whole blogging phenomenon has got me thinking today. The written word is incredibly powerful, and there is something intoxicating about sitting at the keyboard and just typing away and seeing my thoughts take form on the screen. However, one dimension of the blog that is a little disconcerting is that, though I really don't think many people will read mine, since it is out there on the web, someone might. So, therefore, I find the need to filter what I'm thinking and be circumspect in what I write. Though I've only been blogging since October, I've had numerous posts that I've written, read and re-read, finally published, and sometime later in a mad scramble returned to them to either severely edit or delete them completely. Why? Because upon further reflection I've realized how arrogant, silly, or lame what I've written may be, or because I'm afflicted with perpetual TMI (Too Much Information) disease and realize I've said too much - again.

Another thing I'm seeing in some of the blogs I read is that there is something a little bit voyeuristic about reading other people's blogs. It's like you're taking a peek inside their lives, and if you're not careful, you begin to feel you know them. You don't. You know what they write on their public blog. No matter how personal a blog may be, it is never the same as sitting down with a friend over a cup of tea and having a real, face-to-face conversation.

I see this most on the discernment blogs I read, and especially in the comments sections of these blogs. It is easy to enter the delusion that by commenting you are having a dialogue or conversation. But you're not, really, because much of the art of conversation cannot be conveyed from the anonymity of a computer keyboard. Too much is lost. You don't have the nuances of voice inflection or facial expression or the opportunity to immediately ask for clarification. I've noticed in following some of these conversations that an argument quickly can escalate in the blogosphere, where it would not have had the people been sitting down face-to-face and having a true discussion. Hubby had this experience when posting a comment on a discernment blog the other night. It was obvious from his response that the person who wrote the post didn't really see Hubby's true intent in commenting, and that he had made some assumptions about Hubby that were just dead wrong. We basically agreed with this man's post, just not the fact that he called certain fellow Christians "fools," though we agree that there is much foolishness going on. Upon re-reading this man's reply, I do see the point he's making, but I do think he was making some wrong assumptions about my husband (and I know subsequent commenters made these wrong assumptions). But, to be fair, I think that because this man gets criticism from emergent types about the name-calling, that he just assumed Hubby was one of those emergents and dismissed him at that point. Very wrong assumption. We also agreed that had Hubby and this man been sitting together having a real conversation, the exchange would have been vastly different because Hubby could have conveyed that he's on the same side of the main issue. But this was lost due to the limited medium of the blog comment format. Anyway, I've decided not to comment on these "hot-topic" type blogs because I don't want to enter the fray, so to speak. I appreciate what they are trying to do in educating us about heresy that is creeping in, and I'm glad they are doing that, but I think, at times, they are too careless about the name-calling or a little too quick at implying guilt by association as they sit behind their keyboards. Just tell us the issues in clear, concise language. There is a difference in saying someone is behaving, believing or even associating with someone else foolishly and actually calling him a fool. This has made it hard to read some of the blogs I used to respect.

Also, Tim Challies has an excellent post about why he doesn't homeschool. I'm not linking to it, because I don't want to enter that fray - and boy, oh boy, did he stir up a hornet's nest. Why is it that that issue is one that will get people on both sides all worked up? We struggled greatly with that decision ourselves, and for now we are ok with the public school for our kids. And we've been made to feel pretty badly about it by some homeschooling families we know. We're watching, paying attention and working to make sure we continue to talk to our kids and help them to know the truth, and right now they are doing fine where they are. If we ever believe God is calling us to pull them out and homeschool, we'll have to be open to that, but that is a last resort for us at this time. I know there are some school districts that I would not feel this way about and we'd have to find other schooling options, but, thankfully, where we are right now some of the issues that are of concern are not issues here. The schooling decision is one that should be up to each family's own discernment about what is best for their kids and about what God is calling them to do. But, again, Tim Challies' site is a good example of what I'm talking about. He happens to have a very well-known site, so lots of people comment, but it's still his site. He can say what he wants, and I doubt if the irate people who disagree are going to change his mind. So why do we feel the need to argue and argue and argue? On the schooling issue I think it's because we each struggle so much to come to the right decision for our family, that we sometimes cannot accept that what was right for us in our situation may not be what another family in another school district is called to. I told Hubby I'm bowing out of reading the comments sections on these blogs because I don't need the rise in my blood pressure that happens when I can see that a commenter is deliberately (or perhaps ignorantly) misinterpreting either the poster's words or another commenter's words.

I guess what I'm really saying is that I'm glad I'm not a widely read blog, and I don't want to be. I don't think I could handle the pressure of knowing that whatever I chose to write about today would be read by lots and lots of people. I'm not even sure I can handle the pressure of knowing that my parents read my ramblings!! ;-) While I don't mind if nice people occasionally drop in and visit, this is really just my little space to work out my thoughts. And if it gets to be too much, I'll delete it or shut it down and walk away from it. I spend too much time at it as it is anyway. Oh, and this post is one of those that tend to eat at me, so if you've read it and if it disappears later, you'll know I had second thoughts again. :-)

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