Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Blogspot - drifting in paradise

I was lounging in the Bagman and Butler office this morning, catching up on all my bloggy friends when Bagman came shuffling in.  Shirtless.

I'm accustomed to seeing him in various stages of undress since that is his habit.  He would be a nudist if Butler wasn't around.  But something about his appearance seemed odd at first.  Then I identified it. 

"Baggie!  You're getting paunchy!"

Bagman looked down at where he was clearly developing flab.  "I'm not as bad as Butler," he said defensively.  "And neither of us are as bad as you!  What are you these days, anyway?  275?  300?"

"240.6," I snapped.  But who's counting?

Then I came upon a post by Sixtyfivewhatnow in which she was talking about how nice it was to have the friends and support of her fellow bloggers.  Her blog was followed by lots and lots of positive comments by her followers.  And, of course, I added mine. 

Blogspot is such a wonderful alternative to real life!  Sometimes I think I would spend all my time here if I could.  Just basking in praise. 

Then I remembered a conversation I had at work the other day when I was trying to get some feedback on a piece of writing I was doing at work.  (I know I usually refrain from talking about work...but this is general enough not to get me in trouble). 

I had emailed something out, seeking feedback.  Everyone emailed back with variations of -- "Great job!"  "Nice work!"  "Very good!"   My ego loved it.  But I learned nothing. 

Don't get me wrong.  I wouldn't change Blogspot for the world!  We love each other unconditionally here and that is rare in a world overpopulated by the judgemental human race.  (If I remember correctly, it original sin wasn't just an apple but the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The ability to judge was our exit from Eden. 

But there is a difference between mean-spirited insults and constructive criticism.  Good teachers a wonderful at providing correction without tearing someone down.  

Bagman looked up from his belly and said, "Is there a point to this blog? Or are you just babbling?"

"I'm not sure," I mused.  "I just feel sometimes that I'm growing lazy.  I'm spending more time seeking affirmation and avoiding places where I get challenged."

Bagman shrugged.  "You could always run for public office."

"Nah,"  I replied thoughtfully.  "I think I'll just sit here and look at a few more blogs.  Pass a doughnut, would you?"


  1. It's true, we're so polite and positive with blog comments. Nothing nice to say, better say nothing... I'd be happy for a little argument and real criticism (which is why my comment box cites "reactions" and "protests"!), but I can count on my two hands the times I've made that sort of comment.
    If you want a gloves-off deal, I'm game!

  2. This virtual world is such a happy little place for me...I can find reality in my real world. May the two never meet!

  3. Well you’ve done it again. This post is definitely thought provoking. I like to think of myself as honest not critical, kind not sappy, and direct not ‘shoot you down’ – in most cases while reading the blogs I follow it is not hard to put my best face forward. There has not been any real reason for ‘shooting from the hip’. If I go to a blog for the first time and don’t like the tone – I don’t go back – the real freedom of blogland. For example, I am not a real ‘jesus’ follower so I don’t go to back to blogs that ‘preach’.
    Maybe we could have a code word in our blogs that say, ‘this is an open forum – what ya think' like adding the words ‘in my opinion’ somewhere in the post.
    Just for the record I have NEVER said something about what you’ve written that wasn’t true. When I say ‘love your blog’ I say that because what you’ve written sparks my interests and helps my ‘limited’ intellect question how I perceive things. NOT trying to stroke your ego, but if it does GOOD.
    FYI – spent time yesterday with stat counter (see!) there is a config setting that says ‘ignore my hits’ (or something similar) and in order for it to count new hits etc. correctly you have to have ‘save cookies’ checked on your browser settings. So my comment yesterday wasn’t exactly correct.
    thank you - should we talk about flab now?

  4. check it out! talk about making you think even early in the morning....

  5. I so agree with this post! There seems to be an unstated norm that has developed (with the best of intentions I'm sure) that encouragement and praise are the only acceptable comments. Constructive feedback is not always well received. I have had my wrists slapped a couple of times for being open and honest in my reactions to something written.

    I don't want to be lulled into a stupor in 'blogland', I want to be challenged, I want to re-evaluate, learn, open up, be forced to reconsider my assumptions.....And I want to be able to offer honest, respectful reactions to what I find here.

    Perhaps we could gently establish a new 'norm'.

  6. Very well said.

    That's a joke.

  7. Dorothea says Bagman should lay off the donuts.

  8. Who needs more challenges? The world is quite challenging enough! ;)

  9. Great post, Mark! Basically I could cut and paste GingerVs comment, she says it all and says it so well! I love blogland and it's what keeps me moving and thinking and photographing and it keeps me off the streets and out of stores and at my age that is a HUGE plus!!

    Have a great week!


  10. I agree with GingerV also. Believe me, I am definitely a believer in constructive criticism on the giving and receiving end. I just tend to like the blogs I visit. Some photos don't appeal to me as much as others and some blogs I visit have a woe is me attitude. The ones with the woe is me attitude usually don't get me coming back. There is one blog in the FSO that sometimes is too negative and it's hard to be a regular visitor because of the vibe. No need for mentioning names. I can tell you that it's nobody who commented on your blog and I don't think they ever comment or visit mine. So, lead the challenge Mark. I'm game.

  11. I think it goes in waves. There are times I crave a challenge and will seek that out, and other times I'd rather be nurtured and comforted.

  12. Won't you like to drift down the river with Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn down the river , their very form of Paradise.

    I love this blog and all the friends who comment.

  13. I am always surprised when somebody offers a slightly critical opinion of a post, but those are the comments I think hardest about. Personally I am a sucker for nice comments, and especially original remarks. They are the greatest, sometimes the nicest part of the day.

    Maybe I'm one of those people W Somerset Maugham was referring to when he said: People ask for criticism but they really want praise.

    Still, sometimes I find myself searching for positive things to say. Although I hasten to add, that is never hard when leaving comments here.

  14. I sigh a little when I come across posts that have only 'marvellous', 'fabulous', 'wonderful' 'beautiful' and all those other lovely things written as comments. While it's true that some blogs are not set up for constructive criticism - fulll of stunning photos, or chronicles of the day spent with family, for instance - others are, but don't get any.
    I like discussion, and when that comes with disagreement or criticism, that's just fine. It might take me a while to digest what's been said, but I like the honesty of it. Sometimes I feel like I have to be a cheerleader on other blogs, and that will tend to make me opt out altogether.
    As a music student a few years ago, I longed for something more than positive, supportive comments, because they seemed to lack real meat. Just tell me what I can improve!