Regular visitors to my blog probably realize that I’m a big fan of The Sanity Squad (their latest podcast‘s up, by the way). Time permitting, I visit each of their blogs at least once daily. I am not by nature a thorough thinker and all four of them are, which is what I like about the Sanity Squad.
First of all, anyone who reads Blogs comes to the Blogosphere with a sense of curiosity and an often uncomfortable feeling that the “framing” of the media narrative, which has been the primary source of our information about the larger world that is not immediately available to our senses, was incomplete at best, and distorted in significant ways at worst. Readers who have progressed to commenting are people who not only have such interests but have taken it upon themselves to take an active role in propelling the discussion forward. By the time a reader/commenter has decided to start their own blog, it is almost always because they feel they have more to add to the expanding Blogosphere discussion than can be contained within even the most felicitous Blogger’s comment section. In this way, the Blogosphere is deeply democratic; anyone with the desire and energy can Blog. However, shortly after starting to Blog, all Bloggers face certain dilemmas:
Is the Blog primarily for the expression of my own thoughts and interests (an essentially autistic construction) or do I care about gaining and/or keeping an audience (a jointly constructed dialogue)?
Yesterday in Part II he explains, from the psychological point of view, that
No one is likely to Blog on a daily basis unless they are driven for internal reasons. Such reasons include the obvious conscious desire to convince people of a point of view and to engage in a discussion but other, less conscious desires, for recognition, for a sense of community, to reinforce one’s moral and ethical virtue, all play a role. There are also other, often more conflicted and/or problematic desires expressed through blogs, exhibitionist impulses, authoritarian impulses, narcissistic impulses (for worshipful acolytes.) All of these kinds of desires plus many others, are undoubtedly part of the mix of rationalities and irrationalities that are summed by our executive apparatus (our Ego, to put it into more Psychoanalytic terms) and expressed as a Blog.
Once I decided to start my own blog, the biggest decision was whether to blog under my real name. I’m sure I have, as ShrinkWrapped puts it, as many exhibitionist and narcissistic impulses as the next blogger (and heavens knows I’m as vain and superficial as the next blogger, too).
However, vain and superficial as I am, I’m not inherently a trusting person. I didn’t want to attract weird characters by blogging or otherwise. At the same time, living in an area where being regarded as “not a liberal” is a social faux pas, it was time that I expressed my opinions freely. After pondering this for several months, I started blogging under my own name.
Imagine my surprise when I realized that people thought I was posting under an assumed name. Fausta is my real name (I was named after my maternal grandmother, not after any historical, literary or operatic characters). I was also surprised that I have as much of an audience as I do (when I started the blog I thought Mom and a couple of friends would be it), for which I am exceedingly thankful. A great deal of the subjects I post about come from emails I receive, and from others’ opinions on my posts. So, to answer ShrinkWrapped’s first question, I blog both to express my opinions and to engage in a dialogue.
In the past year and a half, there’s an added component to my blogging: Meeting other bloggers. While all along I’ve participated in virtual communities through several groups like The Cotillion, the Liberal Hawks listed on the sidebar, and the Cuban, Venezuelan and Spanish bloggers I correspond with every day, I first met other bloggers at the Pajamas Media Inagural. Later on I went to dinner with Judith and others, to Washington, DC, to lunch with Dr. Sanity, and entertained a new friend from Brazil from the Liberal Hawks group. As Richard Fernandez said in his Blography podcast, the Internet has facilitated social interaction. Without any exception, all the bloggers I’ve had the privilege of meeting are intelligent, personable, sociable people and I’m honored to be in their company.
ShrinkWrapped also raises the issue of what makes a traditional liberal as opposed to a modern liberal. While SW doesn’t dwell on that point, there’s the greater issue of the level of discourse: My experience has been that the more I distance myself from a modern liberal point of view in my posts, the more aggressively obnoxious the comments and emails become. At one point last year I disabled the comments section because I was simply fed up of being called names – and it wasn’t just being called a moron, like it happened with the global warming posts. Since I will not take abuse from anyone – never have, never will – I stopped taking comments. I even came up with Fausta’s corollary:
The amount of animus generated by a post is directly proportional to its distance away from the modern liberal stance
As I explained in SW’s comments section, a year ago I wrote a post on why I used to be a liberal where I said that “Coercion, collectivism, and governmental disregard for the value of the individual have become part and parcel of liberalism.” I received several very hostile emails after that. One of the more memorable emails was from a woman writing in Spanish demanding that I explain myself to her, since I obviously was a fake convert to what she believed to be “conservatism” and had never been liberal, and a fake Hispanic because all Hispanics are liberal. I wrote back in Spanish telling her that not only was I a native Spanish speaker but that I would never presume to impose my demands on anyone, explanation or not.
Because of that post I was condescendingly told by Mahablog (who believes that I can’t discern what a “real liberal” is), “Fausta, dear, you are extremely dim. And extremely dangerous.” Only two of my comments at her blog were not deleted (link at my sidebar, if you want to look it up), and all the comments of three other people supporting my point of view were deleted.
The issue is not whether I’m extremely dim, as Maha put it; maybe I am. The issue is not whether I’m dangerous; I don’t see how I can be dangerous. I’m simply another blogger. The issue is that, as ShrinkWrapped said, I strongly feel that I was and remain a traditional liberal who has been abandoned by modern liberalism. Expressing that sentiment provoked a heck of a reaction.
Because of these experiences, I do not expect that “the weight of the argument must be borne by those who support, in effect, losing the war”, to use ShrinWrapped’s words, or that the weight of any argument, for that matter, will be carried by present-day liberals.