I have to redirect some energy, and when it came right down to it, I couldn't think of a better way to do that than to give thanks for some of the work out there that has inspired me. I don't really care if some folks think this is a trite and useless exercise; this is how we roll here in the Clown Posse, and I think maybe we can squeeze one or two more in the car yet, so feel free to hop in.
I started thinking about this while reading this beautiful post of Al's, which I found via Creek Running North (see comment number 25 in this thread). First of all, I love Al for having thought this whole "blogging" thing through way more thoroughly than I ever did, not that that would be difficult to do considering I never thought it through at all, but, well:
When I began writing online I had a lengthy chat with myself regarding the things I would, and would not do. Given the context and power of the net, two things were central for me. One, I was not going to needlessly kick the underdog. My own sense of self worth is not predicated on my ability to socially eviscerate a "likely" suspect. I'm sure you will all agree, in cyber land, the role of societal gate keeper and bully, is played out all too often, in the same cruel, humanity redcuing ways.
Now as you know my own sense of self worth IS predicated on my ability to socially eviscerate a likely suspect. So why am I praising this? Because it inspires me to stop being like that. There are good, moral reasons for not being like that:
Telling someone newly HIV infected and dealing with crystal meth issues, for example, that "maybe Darwin was right" and it's all a matter of will power, addiction is bullshit, blah, blah, blah, may garner temporary credence among the obnoxiously vapid set who regulary reach Nirvana wagging a finger from behind cover of a computer screen, but it also has some very real damage potential to human lives.
No, not because you have hurt another's feelings needlessly and for sport, but instead because you may have actually silenced a voice. One that belongs to a person you would have no way of knowing what it may have taken for them to even get to that point. The point at which, without so much as a thought beyond your own readers perception of you, you cleanly knocked them down. But hey, it no doubt got a laugh, and your attempt at sarcasm may have fooled a few into perceiving you as witty. Thanks, but I'll pass. And whenever the chance presents itself, I'll relish in calling you on your oh so brave admonishments.
I try not to silence voices, but no doubt I often do anyway. The only voices I'm actively interested in silencing, though, are the ones that make people I love cry. One fool's learning curve should not leave skid marks on another person's heart.
This is the part of Al's post that got me in the heart:
The English was awkward and halting, but the description of the night she left her life and husband behind, was none the less potent. An abused woman, living in poverty, her story is a dime a dozen. For the drama queens among you, sorry, there was really no water shed event, no final bone shattering beating. Simply, this random woman who none of us would give passing glance to on the street, finally decided she had enough.
For whatever reason, and through that odd combination of luck, fate, and circumstance, that womans resolve found its way to a helpline linked on the pages of my site. Twenty minutes later, with a single bag, her daughter, the family cat, and the phone number and address of a shelter they would spent the night at, she walked out of her house, doing what had to be one of the hardest things she had ever done, and ventured into the world head first and with a very uncertain future, alone.
I see the stagnation in parts of the blogosphere as a failure of imagination, a failure to imagine what blogs can do. No, I am not a blogging triumphalist. Yes, I am aware (albeit far too recently for a woman my age, who by now ought to know better) that other parts of the blogosphere are amazing testaments to what blogs can do. I am merely saying that if you think all they're good for is achieving ego strokes and ad revenue, perhaps you should think again. Let your imagination take you beyond AdSense and Technorati. Read what inspires you. Read a little something whenever you can that lifts you up instead of bringing you down, and remember to give credit where credit is due.
Thank you, Al.