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AdLib On March - 8 - 2010

As the title alludes to, I believe that the most constructive path in blogging is Zen-like, IMO, it is best and most considerate to accept the opinions and blogging of colleagues as being what they are and never take them personally. And I like to keep my motorcycle running too.

This is not referring to actual personal attacks or troll behavior of course, I’m talking about the healthy experience of blogging which includes disagreements with those who may agree in most instances.

Before I continue, let me make clear that this is not aimed at anyone in particular, there have been situations that have arisen along the journey of The Planet with this one thing in common, I’m addressing this in general. So, no one is going to take personally a post about not taking things personally, right? Good.

I have learned a bit about bloggers and people in my brief time as Admin at The Planet. It is natural on every blog for those who become frequent bloggers to become more familiar and friendly with each other, I have never seen an exception to this. It does bring with it a more personal connection between such members and to the site, which on a social blog is fine but on a political blog, can sometimes be a double-edged sword. I see belonging to a blog very much like a relationship, the more we invest ourselves in a relationship, the more we open up, the more we can share and receive…and the more vulnerable we can become.

This can create a conundrum, true freedom of expression where conflicting views are freely shared and vulnerability can’t constructively coexist. So it can become a balancing act, between coming together with others to share personal thoughts and opinions…and not feeling vulnerable, so that responses that oppose one’s opinions are not taken personally.

For me, it’s all about intent. As long as someone is genuinely expressing their opinion, whether or not it undermines or argues against one’s opinions, accepting that without taking it personally is what freedom of expression is truly about.

On HuffPo, the personalizing has led to a too-often ugly and offensive atmosphere. We’ve all seen the troll-Progressive mud fights, petty and exclusive cliques, inter-Dem battles, all that hostility and discord over there that is stoked by taking others’ opinions as personal affronts.

It suffocates true exploration of ideas and perspectives at a political blog and smothers diversity of opinion if there is a feeling that to express oneself openly and honestly is to step into a minefield. This is why we have the rules here that we do enforce avidly, all members deserve respect and are expected to show it to others. However, we can’t be everywhere at all times and we do depend on the kindness of members to support and reinforce this sensibility whenever possible.

The truth is, at one time or another, each member may have an opinion that some, most or all others at The Planet who respond, disagree with. It is not a great feeling to be in that position, I’ve been there, I’d prefer having most people support my POV every time but as long as they’re honestly expressing themselves, I respect their POV as I want mine respected. So even if people disagree with my POV, there is a satisfaction for me that I am on a site that truly believes in and protects freedom of expression.

The fallout from taking others’ opinions personally is a rapid loss of perspective, it is easy to exhibit the same actions one is objecting to in the midst of that. This sometimes leads to generalizing or categorizing people or even the blog, to make them easier to attack in what one may feel is defending oneself or one’s opinion. So, it is not unusual for the ironic protest to be voiced in the middle of such a situation that the members or site don’t allow for a difference of opinions…in the midst of a conflict based on a difference of opinions.

The reality is of course that in that particular instance, it is a situation where one member is in the minority on an opinion…as I have been and most others have been at one time or another. And when I’m in that situation, I rarely accuse myself of being intolerant towards me, I just accept that most people just don’t realize how enormously wrong they are. πŸ˜‰

In truth, I have found myself standing firm in some cases and being convinced to take a different position in others. If one views having opposing opinions as a process in trying to validate the truth in a situation, then the process is very constructive and one can come away from it more convinced of their original opinion or more confident of their new opinion. So, either way, if the quest is not in being “right” or personally validated but in trying to affirm “truth”, then one can only benefit from disagreements.

It is not an easy thing for strong minded people to always get along. Personalizing and becoming emotionally reactive to disagreement is something that is continuing to tear our party, our democracy, our government and our nation apart. To reject that requires self-sacrifice, being committed first to working towards a better level of cooperation and discourse for the many in the long run even when we feel like swinging back at someone in the short term.

UPDATE:

I’ve assumed that this is well known but just to be clear, no personal criticisms or attacks are permitted under the Terms of Use. All members are required to respect each others’ right to their opinion and personalizing disagreements is not permitted.

In the article above, I am instead addressing tolerance for others’ voicing opposing opinions on issues, not taking legit criticisms of one’s opinion personally.

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

56 Responses so far.

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  1. javaz says:

    Okay, so this is nothing personal related to anything personal in anyway, but here goes.

    When a person writes something that is against the consensus, and another person agrees with the original poster, there can be a different reaction, and it’s nothing personal.

    But when the originator posts an opinion that is not in agreement with the consensus, and then there are opposing viewpoints, that’s all well and good.

    Because those replies are respectful.

    But when another person, just happens to agree with the original poster, and the replies to that person are filled with profanities and accusations, well, that suddenly doesn’t seem all good and it sort of does feel like an attack.

    And then when that person, not the originator of the post, but in a separate post, posts an opinion that is not with the consensus, and then that person is treated with the same disrespect, and accused of being a person that they are not, that sort of feels like an attack.

    And when that happens, it makes a person think twice about voicing a different opinion that isn’t popular, and it has nothing to do with being overly sensitive, or being a reversal of bullying, or whatever.

    It’s in the attitude, and yes sirree, attitude does come through strong and clear even online.

    Some can speak freely and be treated with respect, whereby some cannot, and are treated with derision, patronizing attitudes, and accused of being something that they are not.

    If we all agreed all the time, wouldn’t it be boring?

  2. TheRarestPatriot says:

    I might add a comment about intent, as well. I know it’s been discussed here and elsewhere about blogging and opinions, but communicative ‘tells’ are poorly expressed when blogging. There are times when I type something in a snarky or sarcastic manner and think..”Oh…I DO hope they know I’m having a laugh or kidding.” Because there are definitely times when I read a post that was meant as sarcasm and it comes across as profoundly mean or spiteful. Since we can’t observe each other’s body language or personality traits in person, sometimes the intent is surely misread. I am guilty of this I’m sure and will make every attempt to police myself accordingly. I love you all like family and with any ‘family’ there are spats sure to arise. Yet I know we are all who we are and that’s what makes the Planet such a great landing place for all of us when we have a hard day or want to mix it up a bit. Frankly I don’t know any of you personally enough to really make personal comments about or to you…nor would I. I may disagree with you on topics or opinions, but isn’t that where common ground is found? I hate to make such a cliched and lame analogy but here goes:

    We are all on this roller coaster for ONE ride. We can all live it up and have the time of our lives…or we can hate the experience and puke on the unfortunate soul next to us and ruin their ride, too…~smirk~

  3. whatsthatsound says:

    Waaaaayyy back when, when she was still a pup, I dropped my daughter off at day care. While there, I noticed two boys fighting, and it looked like they wanted to rip each others’ throats out. Not wanting to bust it up myself, I alerted the attendant, who was sitting there helping the new arrivals with their shoes and coats and things. She, a bit older than the typical day care attendant, just looked at me beatifically and said, “so, desu ne”, which basically meant, “yep, they’re fighting”, and proceeded with her work. I was outraged! What a neglect of duty! I was tying to work out the best Japanese I could to reprimand her for her lackadaisical behavior, and then glanced over at the two boys, who were now playing together like two friends who would take a bullet for one another. And I realized the wise day care attendant had seen it all before.
    The lesson is we can learn a lot from kids and day care attendants.

    • Khirad says:

      Those Japanese kids sound a lot like Irish at a pub!

      • TheRarestPatriot says:

        HEY! I resemble that remark…’Erin Go Blahhhhhhhhhh~

        • BigDogMom says:

          Yeh, what’s up with Irish men? Hubby and his older brother, both well over 50, go at it like they were still 10 yr. olds….my God.

          • TheRarestPatriot says:

            It’s how we express our ‘love’ for each other….LOL~
            My mother used to say of my father’s outbursts of ‘love’…’..it’s when he STOPS screaming like an Irishman that you have to worry’….LOL~

            • BigDogMom says:

              I always tell the Hubbsters that, it’s when I stop that he should worry!

              My Mother always said, “I yell because I care”.

              I come from a very loud, verbal family, each one of competing for our opinions to be heard, Sunday night cards with my family was the best! πŸ˜€

            • TheRarestPatriot says:

              Loud verbal family…sounds REAL familiar…Haha~

              …and hand gestures…OMG…we used to say one way to shut everyone up was to tie their hands behind their backs…!
              I honestly don’t think several of my sisters could carry on a conversation without using their hands…LOL~

  4. Khirad says:

    I totally agree about the cliquishness. I want to jump in for those I know better, but that’s not fair. Instead, I try to posit my own opinion. Well, here at the Planet, anyway. πŸ˜›

    On a personal note. No one has ever, ever, ever, changed my mind by cranking it up to 11. They have changed my mind with thoughtful discourse, which is humble, concedes a point here and there, or compliments and applauds a point you agree with and gently persuades me why if I agree with them on that, it logically follows that I should agree with them on their point, as well.

    I’ve seen problems with the fairer sex getting “catty”; but as a guy, I think there’s a tendency for my fellow guys to let their testosterone take over, and dig yourselves deeper and deeper into your respective trenches getting ever more counterproductive in a spiral of belligerence because of pride. I am not above this, but I realize when it happens I try to stop it, apologize for going over the line in a momentary fit; and try to mend ways and find common ground. This is a common observation -- and personal experience -- no one is meant over any other. Take solace that it’s pretty common in being a man.

    Let me share something I was reminded of:

    Persian speakers know that most times when one is reprimanded by elders, they are first reminded of the good things they have done and then told off. For instance if a child gets bad grades in school, he is told “You got good grades in math last year and even this year when you were sick you still studied and got a good mark.” Then comes the warning that only Iranians understand: “I know you know how important it is to study your math lessons.” The hidden message is, ‘If you do it next time you will get the spanking you deserve.

    You know, I’d rather not have any implicit threats or condescension, but have we lost all subtle arts of communication in the digital age, to not know how to soften a blow? I am not recommending the passive-aggressiveness in the above, merely the nuance. Taking the good with the bad.

    P.S. I was thinking more of examples on HuffPo, btw, when writing this. I do worry in that atmosphere being injected here; though it is still far off.

    P.P.S. my Biology teacher in 9th grade wrote on my report card to stop reading that “motorcycle book” in class. πŸ˜†

  5. KQuark says:

    I still cringe when I read what reminds me of anonymous company memos. But you know where that is coming from in my case.

  6. Chernynkaya says:

    I gotta do some errands but mark my words--I’ll be back.

  7. escribacat says:

    It’s hard being a human being.

  8. bitohistory says:

    Well, no one (not using any names) here understands me and you all can go to hell!! But I’m staying!! πŸ˜†

  9. PepeLepew says:

    When people fight, that makes skunks spray indiscriminately. :(

  10. Chernynkaya says:

    There is a difference between saying,

    • AdLib says:

      Indeed, in all the instances you give, it is the personalizing of a comment, making it about the person and not the opinion that is inappropriate and not in keeping with the site’s rules.

      In writing the above article, I’ve assumed that it is well known by all that personal criticisms or conflicts are against the Terms of Use.

      As for intent, that is my point. The author of a comment needs to be mindful of aiming criticism only at an opinion, never a member personally. The one reading the comment also has to be mindful of not taking a criticism of an opinion as a personal criticism.

      Jumping to another topic I just remembered that I didn’t mention above. All of us are capable of posting something that we wish we hadn’t.

      IMO, seeking to work things out and if good faith is shown, forgiveness, is the thoughtful and constructive path.

      • escribacat says:

        adlib, I have never written anything that I then wanted to take back. :roll:

      • Chernynkaya says:

        Oh, OK — now I hear you. I just find that even though I don’t intend for a comment to be insulting, I may use those “you” messages unthinkingly.

        But more to your point, I really appreciate what you are getting at-- again, that legitimate disagreement is just that: Legitimate! And should not be seen as an attack. I am so glad you said that.

        I would like to think that I can disagree(even adamantly)without causing someone to feel awful. If that happens, then I can never really disagree and then where are we? I remember the post you wrote about the suicide plane into the IRS-- boy, I think most people disagreed with you-- some pretty strongly-- and the discussion went on for quite a while. I’m very glad you decided not to desert us after that! :-)

        And, yep, there are plenty of things I have written that I wish I hadn’t.

        • AdLib says:

          Yes, I see this as the sneakier thing in a community about blogging. We can all agree that personally insulting someone in a comment is wrong.

          But we don’t often talk about or recognize how we may take legit disagreements personally.

          People feeling that they are being dissed in a disagreement may be unjustified in others’ eyes but to the one feeling that way, it is wholly justified.

          For me, the issue is not about judging anyone but about saying, “Let’s all agree to these ground rules so we can all be comfortable that we are not being dissed.”

          1. No personal criticisms or attacks.

          2. No personalizing of legit disagreements.

          3. Forgiveness towards those who mess up and apologize.

          Sounds pretty Progressive to me.


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