There has been some debate recently about freedom of speech, moderation, flame wars, leaving in a huff, learning to live with criticism, differences of opinion – a whole raft of aspects really. The most popular topic on the MyTelegraph blog site is – blogging. There seems to be very little sympathy however for the effete, the shrinking violet, the gentle soul. The attitude is if you can’t stand the heat you should get out of the kitchen. Me? I’ve been around the block a bit when it comes to blogging, and posting on USENET before that. How many of you even know what USENET is, never mind have used it? rec.humour.funny, remember it well, alt.flame, another cracker and rec.org.mensa, where I cut my teeth. It is certainly true that many people develop a thick skin and can look after themselves well in what can be an unremittingly viscious environment. And it can be that at times. What we have on MyTelegraph these days is like the proverbial vicarage tea party. Even so, we see people storm off in high dudgeon and I’ve seen that before, oh so many times.
Why do I believe my premise is true? Well you might believe that what you have to do to survive is develop a thick skin and learn to fight back when attacked. You could pick up some flaming techniques from the experts and you might even get quite good at it yourself. But I don’t think that’s what makes you a better person. What I think could make you a better person is if you learn to read between the lines, behind the actual words being used. If you learn to use words yourself with care. If you develop toleration not just of the views of others but of the way they express themselves. If you develop a skill at understanding someone else, you will learn so much more about life, about other people, and those are skills you can use in everyday life too. Life’s too short to worry about punctuation. Life’s too short to take offense where none was intended. The neat thing is, if you learn to ignore what you wrongly perceive to be an insult directed at you, you will learn to ignore real insults when they are intended. That’s actually quite a useful trait. By then you have probably learned what causes offense to others in the way you communicate, especially when you don’t intend it. That’s especially valuable to learn.
So I believe that blogging can make you a better person, if you wish it to.