I want you to disagree with me. I want you to wholeheartedly take an opposite view. If I say black, you say white. If I say bark, you say bite. If I say shark you say, “hey man, Jaws was never my scene, and I don’t like Star Wars”.
Do this for me not because I’m asking you to, but because I want you to say what you think and feel.
The 14th January saw my 2nd blogoversary (thank you, thank you, very proud, etc) and in the past two years I’ve been blown away by the feedback I have received for my writing. The majority of the comments are congratulatory at my style and in agreement with my opinions. Comments to the contrary are few and far between. When they have come I’ve always published them; I’ve never censored an opposing view.
I say this and do this because I believe that to be what a blog is for. My site doesn’t exist to reinforce a personality cult. I appreciate my posts (as with so many of yours too) exist in a blogosphere within a blogosphere, and the audience comes from a relatively narrow blogging gene pool. I also appreciate the blogging communities in which I exist are populated by generous, magnanimous folk who would rather say nothing than disagree or dissent.
Is that entirely healthy?
This question presented itself to me this weekend when I put my foot in my mouth, and then, as is so often the case, tried to remedy it by shoving it further and further down my gullet. I’ll spare you the details, but something I said led me to losing an online follower. They didn’t like what they read and decided they didn’t want to read more. Fair enough. What I said was, to someone who doesn’t know me, uncharacteristic and offensive. I would do the same.
Then, an interesting twist. The former follower wrote a blog post about it. They named no names, nor did they detail what had been said. It was merely “I saw something I didn’t like, and it’s not funny, so there…” followed by a bunch of comments fully agreeing with the blogger’s argument, even though it had been made in the abstract and was devoid of context. I read it a few times, and came to the conclusion this was little more than an attempt at personal reinforcement of a decision. I felt the person was unsure of the courage of their convictions, and had run (with remarkable haste) to the arms of their blog audience for some positive affirmation.
I considered leaving a comment myself, to be the one dissenting voice the post needed, but I’ve been around social media long enough to spot when a terrier has a stick it won’t let go of. An online spat would have been akin to being chased by said terrier on a treadmill while wearing treacle-soled shoes. Thanks, but no thanks.
Instead, I choose to turn this experience into my own affirmation: I will never use this blog to trawl for nodding dogs. I will never use this blog as a safety net underneath the highwire of my viewpoint. I will continue to ask you for your opinions and I will welcome them all. And if you think I deserve to hit the deck, say so.
I should add, none of this applies to readers who genuinely don’t like Star Wars. Every man has his limit…