Sunday, March 02, 2014

Party Manners for Blog Visits

I posted this on 8/16/2007 at my other blog. I think I was being a tad bit bossy, but oh well, I'm re-posting it for history's sake. :)

Let’s compare a blog to a home. My blog is my home; you are my guest. Mi casa es su casa. “My house is your house.” You are most welcome, and I’m really glad you are here!

Now, before I say anything more, let me say that I have never had any problem with pertinent comments here at any of my own blogs. (I say “pertinent” because I have rejected comments that were simply spam.) My only desire regarding comments at my blog would be that more people leave more comments, more often. I’d love it if you’d participate! However, if you’re busy or tired, you are welcome to just come by and take a few moments to look and listen, and then go about your business…or go on to the next party. I know some of you have many to attend. And I know you have much to do in the “other world”…the world of kids and houses and errands.

But here’s what I’m concerned about: The past few days, as I’ve been visiting other peoples’ blogs, I’ve wondered if some people don’t realize that they are guests at a party in someone else’s home. A blog, really, is not a newspaper, where people write letters to the editor…some of which appear in an angry tone.

If we were in a friend’s home and she had a movie playing on the t.v. and we thought some scenes might not be appropriate to the situation, would we get everyone’s attention and tell her loudly how wrong she was to play that movie? Or would we take her aside, pointing out our concerns quietly, assuming she didn’t realize what was in the movie…or at least how it might affect the people there? In some cases, she might not agree with our opinion on the subject. If we felt strongly enough, we could leave graciously, but it wouldn’t be our responsibility to tell her in front of all her guests what we think of her choices…nor would it be polite. Probably in real life, none of us would think of telling her what she must do or being rude about it. But in the virtual life on the internet, I’ve seen comments publicly telling a blog host or hostess in no uncertain terms, in their own blog home, what they should not have posted.

Along similar lines, some blogs are more geared to inviting the kids along than others. Some years ago, we had good friends who often invited us to parties in their home, always making their guests aware beforehand that children weren’t included in the invitation. This way they didn’t have to worry about what types of discussions were carried on in front of the children. Similarly, some blogs aren’t really geared to children, so we shouldn’t be concerned if the discussions that are carried on might not be appropriate for our kids; we can just not go with the kids unless it’s designed for the kids.

A feisty woman who was born in the early 1900’s, very near and dear to me, once talked to me after a party at someone’s home. She told me of a controversial topic that arose, and how she wanted to tell the hostess how wrong she was! She went on to say to me, very sweetly, “But I was a guest in her home; so of course, I didn’t.”

This isn’t to say that no one should have controversial discussions in the comment boxes on any blogs. Some blogs seem to invite controversial discussions and possibly thrive on them. But here’s where the faceless anonymity of the internet sometimes seems to contribute to people not using the same courtesies they would in person. If we stay with our party analogy, it might help if we visualize ourselves at the party of a friend; our host or hostess may even be in another room while we’re talking with strangers, but we know these people are guests of our friend. This might make it easier to tell someone we think their view is wrong, while remaining courteous to the person we’re disagreeing with.

There’s one place where I myself have to really work to be courteous. It’s when someone writes to disagree strongly, sometimes insultingly, with the blog host or hostess – or someone else in the combox – and remains anonymous. To view a public blog, even to comment on a public blog, one doesn’t have to sign up or sign in.  You can comment anonymously, if you’d like, with no contact information. But if you want to comment without signing in, how about leaving a name at the end of the comment? It doesn’t have to be the real name. It can be a screen name. Let’s imagine we’re at a costume party. We wouldn’t mind having a discussion with a character at a costume party. We could say, “Peter Pan, what do you think about this?”, even if we don’t know Peter Pan personally. We could say, “Cinderella, I don’t agree with your point”, even if we don’t know who the person dressed as Cinderella is. But would we be comfortable talking to a number of people who are mingling at a party, all wearing ski masks, all looking just alike? Unless we are really good at picking up the voice, we might not know, as one goes to the refreshment table and one to talk with another group, which one it is who returns to resume the discussion. Is this the person I discussed such and such a point with? Or is it a different person disguised in an identical ski mask?

I guess in order to give these anonymous people their due respect, I should envision someone I know behind that mask. I’m sure that most people who leave comments anonymously aren’t trying to hide anything. Perhaps they’re just not confident enough to give us a firm handshake, and say, “Hi. I’m so and so.” Or maybe they’re nervous about the internet…

And it is a good thing to be aware that whatever you post on the internet, if it’s not a private blog, email or e-group, may be searchable. I’ve done a Google search on my name before and found that a little comment that I wrote hurriedly in a comment box, appears in the search. So, yes, it does pay to think before we speak. But, then, that’s always a good idea, isn’t it? I’ll probably be working on that one all my life.

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