Monday, January 30, 2006

Rational Discourse.

(This is not my usual kind of blog. I promise to be found back in the shallow end of the literary pool very shortly)

There are a few blogs I jump into whenever I feel like trying on someone else's life. One of them is written by a woman named Mel, who has written some very kind and very funny comments on this little blog right here. Considering that her life would be best described as "Everything, all at once, while trying to home-school and run day care", I am amazed at her output, which is thoughtful and entertaining.

Anyway, a few days ago, I danced into her blog and found that she had written a blog entry about the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. She presented her feelings about this subject clearly and passionately, but without ever degenerating into lecturing or haranguing. I noticed, though, that she had a fairly long list of comments underneath, and my heart sank. This isn't a subject which lends itself to polite discourse, and I knew this was going to be a series of escalating, increasingly venomous, attacks, guaranteed to make the reader (me) feel angry, slimy and sad. For no other reason than masochism, I clicked the "Comments" button.

I read one, and then another, and then all of them in something approaching shock. The readers had opinions on abortion ranging from "Never, never, never" to "I helped transport women to abortion clinics when it wasn't legal, and I believe that was the right thing to do", and every single one of these writers took the high road. Each person managed to convey the depths of his or her belief without having to make another person feel badly or look stupid. And this on the Internet, the place where the promise of anonymity has brought out the jackass in the most unlikely people.

Was this because Mel has an audience which naturally selected out the bombastic trolls? Did she set a tone of "Conversation, not conversion" with her blog that her readers unconsciously followed? Or is it just possible that while screaming and name-calling gets attention (and money and ratings), more people would really rather find a way to look at and discuss the large issues without drawing blood and causing pain?

5 Comments:

Blogger houseband00 said...

Hi Quinn,

Thanks for sharing Mel's blog. You and Mel write so well. Not only do the both of you write with honesty but both of you possess that writing voice that a lot can relate to.

12:56 AM  
Anonymous janiezip said...

I started to post a comment, but got into a discourse about politics, freedom, personal choices, differing views, etc. Let me just say, I wish everyone could discuss rather than be called names.

8:55 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

Quinn, thank you for your kind remarks. I've been here three times today, trying to think of a coherent response to no avail.

But thanks! I have a remarkable tribe of readers who make me think and offer great comments regularly. I'm lucky! (And I use a slingshot to keep the trolls away.)

11:01 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

I'm a regular reader of both of your blogs and I think you have both collected intelligent, kind-hearted readers by your style of blogging. From time to time you'll have trolls drop by to leave a few bombs in the comments, but when you treat your readers with respect, they'll behave respectfully. Thank you both for adding to my daily life.

4:31 AM  
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3:07 AM  

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