What Annoys Me About the Blogosphere

You know, I don’t totally mind being attacked in the blogosphere. What really gets my goat, though, is when people I respect blithely dismiss what I’m saying, make no attempt whatsoever to understand where I’m coming from, or act as if my good point is unworthy of their consideration.

Here’s an example of an interaction I don’t mind.

I said: “If anyone is interested about Moore’s doctored facts, get the book Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Stupid White Man, by David T. Hardy and Jason Clarke. Moore makes things up, distorts facts, and splices scenes to make conservatives look bad. I think that’s what happened in Jesus Camp as well–I got the impression that the scenes were heavily edited to make people look worse than they really are.”

And here’s my noble opponent’s response: “James Pate, you really are an ignorant moronic white trash loser. Conversatives make themselves look terrible own their own. They don’t need any help from Michael Moore[.]”

To be honest, these comments don’t keep me awake at night. I could really care less what this person thinks! He’s just blowing off steam. He can’t even spell “conservatives”! If I don’t respect the person making the comment, then I don’t care too much if his comment trashes me.

What I can’t abide, however, is when people I do respect treat me like doo-doo. Why do I respect them? Maybe because they have a high academic position, or they’ve demonstrated at some point that they’re at least capable of rationality. Here are some statements I don’t care for.

“As I already said…” Sure, you may have already said it, but am I out of line to probe your statement or ask for clarification?

“I’ll respond to your rant in one point…” Well, thank you, your royal highness! Why is it that your anger is righteous indignation, whereas my anger constitutes a “rant”?

“Such a statement is not taken seriously…” It is by me!

“I don’t respond to ad hominem attacks…” No, you just make them.

“You’re projecting what you want onto this issue, rather than letting the sources speak for themselves…” Well, I provided quotes from the sources. Can you at least address those, rather than blithely blowing my point off?

“I would qualify such an assertion…” Why thank you, Mr. Nuance! I’ve had to put up with a lot of this in academia. “Well, I think it’s more complex than that,” a person says, before proceeding to restate my point in different words.

“You’re being disingenuous…” You know, this was a setting in which I really tried my best to be diplomatic, but I felt like telling this guy off after he said that! I typed in something to tell him off, but (to my credit) I did not post it.

“Such false humility…” Excuse me! You can’t read my mind!

I wish I didn’t get so touchy about this stuff, especially since I’ll be encountering a lot of it if I get an academic career. Whoopee! Can’t wait. Maybe there are gems in those kinds of discussions, but I’m not sure what.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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10 Responses to What Annoys Me About the Blogosphere

  1. Anonymous says:

    I would call such people “blogosphere bullies”. They probably come across as equally annoying in person. Unfortunately.

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  2. FT says:

    I’ve always loved Bill Joel’s advice, “Take no sh** from ANYBODY!”

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  3. Peter Kirby says:

    I couldn’t find the link to the person to whom you reply, whom you said you respect. That makes it difficult to form my own opinion on the exchange.

    I would point out that a lot of information is lost when communication happens entirely at a distance in the form of text on a luminescent screen. Much of what is lost are the very cues that we use to determine whether someone is being reasonable and conciliatory, or harsh and aggressive, in the form of body language and tone of voice.

    Overall it comes across to me that you, James Pate, are annoyed by the blogosphere because you do not have sufficient experience with online discussions to (1) try to understand statements in their best light just as you want to be understood cordially, and (2) try to toughen the hide in general, knowing that there is a bit of cut and thrust to all debate, and knowing that it seems more vicious when only mediated by electronic print.

    The ubiquity of smilies is a testimony to the difficulty of attaching gregarious intent to the written word online. 🙂

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  4. James Pate says:

    Hi Peter. Those weren’t all from one individual. Some of them span a lot of time. But I can understand why a person would look at those quotes apart from their context and wonder, “Well, is it TOTALLY one-sided?”

    I have experience in online discussions–only I tended to avoid being attacked by avoiding staking out a clear position. I mostly asked questions.

    I’m not sure if there has to be cut and thrust in all debate. I admit that there is, because people include it. But isn’t there a more diplomatic way to go about things? I mean, when I read one person call Ben Witherington a liar, and he responds with “Back up the balogna truck” right before saying “blessings,” I wonder: can’t these disagreements be handled in a more civil manner?

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  5. Peter Kirby says:

    There’s a concept of the spiral of violence. I do agree that there doesn’t need to be any derogatory jabs in online discussion. But then I also agree with the “turn the other cheek” method of dealing with it. Instead of getting incensed myself, I would try to respond neutrally, even with kindness, in order to heap coals on the head of my erstwhile disputant.

    At the very least it’s a weight off of my shoulders, as I always try to extinguish the need to “take it personally,” recognizing that the person is mostly ignorant of me, apart from a few lines of text. The same person on the same subject would most likely be a lot more friendly over a hot meal with their choice of beverage.

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  6. xHWA says:

    You’re wrong, James.

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  7. xHWA says:

    Of course you realize I’m just joking there. 😀

    I was blithely dismissing you. You know, just like you said you don’t like it when people do…
    It was a joke!!

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  8. James Pate says:

    Hey, that’s more polite than I get on a lot of blogs, XHWA! 😀

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  9. Bryan L says:

    James:

    You know from being pretty absent from blogging for about 2-3 weeks now I’ve been reflecting on it a lot and I ‘m realizing how negative and even childish it gets on blogs between people (or groups of people) and how much this is tolerated. Now and then I peak back in to see what I’m missing and I kind of get the feeling that I don’t want to get back into blogging. My life just feels a lot more chill without it. It’s stuff like what you described that make me think this plus the fact that we end up engaging in debates with many people who if we knew them personally we more than likely wouldn’t give them the time of day. But because we only interact with them behind a computer screen we take them more seriously than we probably should.

    There are some people who its definitely rewarding to discuss and debate with but it’s the bad apples that ruin the whole experience.

    It’s funny how different real life is from blogs. People often become very different on the internet than they are in person and people end up putting up with them a lot longer than they would in person.

    Bryan L

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  10. James Pate says:

    I hope you get back into blogging, Bryan, because your blog is one of the few I like. Your a light. But I understand that you may want to discontinue it for the sake of your peace of peace.

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