Some of you only read a handful of blogs from friends and family. You are wise.
For the rest of us who read a couple dozen blogs each day, following and engaging in a handful of discussions, the blogging world is a dizzying experience.
And every once in a while you run into this: two bloggers who "go at it" and engage in a cat-fight online. On some political blogs, this is an almost daily event.
I have Google Reader, and I check in at MommyLife for each new post. Blogger Barbara Curtis is an experienced mom, writer of parenting books, guest writer and speaker for conservatives, and one busy woman. She has 12 children, 4 of whom have Down Syndrome. She's a Roman Catholic.
I find Barbara hard to take sometimes, but I still read her because I think it's good for me to read not only those with whom I strongly disagree, but those whose beliefs I often share, but whose tone I find troublesome. They are a mirror to me, reminding me that I should be careful not only in what I speak, but in how I speak. I need that.
Barbara has sensitive issues, as we all do. She is like a mama-bear if anyone challenges her on Catholicism, large families, or special needs kids. I no longer leave comments on her blog on these issues; it's not worth it to experience her backlash.
But recently another blogger did, Molly. Back in February, I had a brief discussion here at my blog, with Molly. In this limited dialogue, I discovered a strongly opinionated woman who could express herself with friendliness and even humor, all while disagreeing with me whole-heartedly. I need to learn from her too.
It's not appropriate for me to use either Barbara's or Molly's blogs as a place to honestly assess them as bloggers. We all have strengths and weaknesses, blind spots and moments of superior wisdom. I suppose both women have those who adore them and those who avoid their sites. But in my opinion, Molly got the raw end of the stick in this situation. You can spend an hour reading it all in the posts and comments, but in the end I find it sad that many people cannot disagree with civility.
Blogging is tricky. It's a casual venue where deep issues are addressed. You can spend hours each day delving into the thinking of a person you've never met. Then you can leave 2 sentences of comment for her, and actually engage in discussion. (It's rather like reading a book by your favorite author, and then writing him a letter to which he responds!) Tone of voice and facial expression aren't there to help you communicate, and many offenses have been given and taken in the blogosphere because intentions are veiled in text. Motivations are assumed. Sides are taken. And people who thought they were friends (but have never met) become enemies (who will never meet). It all feels rather strange. With a click of your thumb you can disconnect from your life a group of people with whom you've spent months in friendly banter.
I don't want a famous blog. I always imagine that it's just my family and a few friends who read here, although perhaps that's not true. I kind of don't want to know. Life is messy enough without alienating friends that were only connected to you through the thin thread of a wireless hub. It's too easy to lose them. Do these people not count? Is it somehow safer to hurt them? I don't think so.
So, to all my blogworld friends out there -- please forgive my occasional soapboxes, and I'll try to post more about our favorite subject. Food :)