What I’ve learned from Blogging, Part 17*
It amazes me I’ve learned social skills here in blogland that I’ve actually used in Real Life. Usually it’s portrayed quite the other way in the media: those of us who spend large chunks of time in the fantasy worlds of WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, or Role Playing Games are at best geeks, and at worst clueless social misfits.
I beg to differ.
I have learned, for one thing, to moderate my emotions. Note that I’m not saying to “not have” them, but rather to moderate their expression. During the first year or so that I had this blog, I would sometimes receive comments that were critical, or challenging, or argumentative. One person even said “That’s just…wrong!” (Actually, that one didn’t bother me much, because it was just…so…blatant.) But I will admit that I’d sometimes feel “attacked” and have an immediate emotional reaction. The most useful practice I’ve learned for these occasions is: “Do not respond to such a comment when feeling great emotional intensity!” One of the things I most like about blogging is that there is time…(if time really exists, but that’s another discussion) 😉 Time to calm down. Time to meditate and do energy releasing practices. Time to realize that no one can really “attack” me on a blog. A person can type her/his words, opinions, thoughts, and even rants, but they belong to that person, not to me.
What I can do, is sort through the comment for a “learning”. I know, I’ve just stated that the comment is theirs, not mine, but I also believe (somewhat contradictorily) that it shows up on my blog for a reason. It’s my job, should I choose to accept it, to observe the learning opportunity, compare and contrast it with my values, and internalize what I find does have value. Fortunately, I rarely receive comments which disturb me anymore! (Perhaps I’ve learned!) I am so blessed in the amazing and wonderful people who visit my blog. I’m truly grateful for that.
So, now, I don’t often respond to a comment the moment I log in and read it. This not only goes for comments I “don’t like” upon first reading, but also the ones that delight me immediately. I always feel that if a person has taken the time, care, and thought to comment on a post of mine, I owe it to them—and to myself—to provide a thoughtful response. These can change in tone depending upon the nature of the topic, from lighthearted to deeply serious. Each comment is a gift.
Another thing I’ve learned I’m still learning is: “Don’t justify yourself (or anyone else, for that matter) on a blog!” Again, if upon first reading of a comment I’m feeling my ideas are “attacked”, there is such a great temptation to try to explain them further, or show why “the other guy’s” position is inferior, etc. When I step back, and lose the emotional reaction, I am certain that my blog friend’s opinion is every bit as valid as my own. I remind myself that I’m not here to convince anyone of my point of view, because that’s all it is—my point of view. I’m pretty attached to it myself, but, heck, I wouldn’t read any of your blogs if all you did was repeat exactly what I’ve said on mine, would I? So now, if a commenter challenges my point of view, I do what I can to find common ground, and then try my best to celebrate diversity! I still catch myself out in this regard more often than I’d like, so if I’ve argued with you at all recently, please forgive me. I’m working on it! 😉
And that’s another thing I’ve learned—an expansion upon the last point, perhaps: “Do not argue upon the blog!” I know there are some bloggers and commenters who enjoy igniting “flame wars” where they’ll post something controversial or inflammatory and wait for the angry responses to start pouring in. In many of our cultures, negativity is much “juicier” or “energetic” than positivity, so I can understand how stimulating this can be. It’s not what I’m here for, though, and, in the end, I’ve found that in a “discussion” I learn things; in an “argument” I don’t. The difference is in the emotion I bring to the exchange. If I’m “getting all defensive”, my mind tends to close, restricting understanding and joy. I suppose it goes without saying that I seek to refrain from criticizing others on my or their blog. Or in my or their life! Another ongoing project. 😉
At this point, I almost don’t want to publish this post. When I look at “what I’ve learned”, it seems I just have a list of “behaviors to avoid”. I do think these are valuable, and have helped me have a pleasanter blogging experience, but I would be remiss were I not to include some of the many joyous things I’ve learned!
I already pretty much knew this, but it’s been reinforced from blogging: People everywhere in the world are more alike than they are different. We all want to be loved; to be acknowledged; to feel our existence matters.
I’ve learned that I CAN write (relatively) consistently. I don’t write here every day, but I do get something out once or twice a week, at least, and have been doing that for nearly two years. When I started, I wasn’t sure I could do that! 🙂
I’ve learned that I have a greater variety of companions here on the blog than I do in other parts of my life, as I’ve met people online who, if meeting me in person would run screaming from the room perhaps decide instantly I wasn’t “friendship” material because of my social status, age, other people I hang out with, or blah, blah, blah. Here we’re all in the same living room. There are a couple of qualifications. Once must own or have access to a computer—and I realize that still leaves out many world citizens I might like to meet—and the ability and fortitude to string a few sentences together fairly regularly. Other than that, anything goes! Whee!
And finally (at least for this post), I’ve learned that this is a fabulous place to learn! Not only do I get to explore my own ideas in a way I would not otherwise, but I get to explore YOURS, too! Does it get any better than that? We’ll just have to see! 😎
* There are no Parts 1-16 on this topic; at least not here. It’s just that I’ve learned So Much From Blogging that it didn’t seem right to confine it to one set of ideas held in time.