Monday, April 26, 2004

a word on blogging style

In my senior year in high school, not one person scribbled the obligatory "you're a nice guy, Ryan" line in my yearbook. There are variations on "entertaining" and "interesting", but never "nice". And I was mighty proud of that.

I like to think that time has softened me, making me less of a prick. At the very least, I try to be considerate. And I pride myself in generally making good judgments in social/public situations. One habit I have is to make po-faced insincere remarks (usually an outlandish opinion or a comment that's blatantly provocative) that are sometimes mean or mean-sounding but meant as a joke. This gets me into trouble sometimes, but I've always felt that listeners should be alert enough to scrutinize a statement and figure out for themselves, based on what they know about me and/or the topic at hand, whether something is a joke or not. Why must "This is a joke" always be spelled out? The obviously ridiculous Hawks "Magic 12" post is an example of this, and apparently no reader has taken that one seriously. But sometimes the joke is less obvious or the listener/reader isn't on your wavelength and misunderstandings ensue.

If you're bothered by a posting, e-mail me and I'll see what I can do. I'm not gonna be a prick about it. But you should know that, as a general matter, my overwhelming preference is to let things stand. If the comment in question is, upon reflection, one that shows bad taste or is false or otherwise objectionable, I'll change it or delete it. But look, before I post anything, I take care to make sure I'm not knowingly passing off false info as true or post anything I find in poor taste or is unfairly mean-spirited. I trust my judgment, but I'm open to being proved wrong.

But generally, it's really difficult for me to change something I wrote to mollify someone, anyone -- even a friend. Sure, one attribute of web publishing is that postings and comments are forever impermanent, susceptible to retroactive editing. But just because one can re-edit shit doesn't mean one should. A blog is a journal, and however I may like to go back and re-edit opinions or postings I find personally embarrassing, it's best to leave it as a record of thoughts at that particular time. And further, I'm neurotically obsessed with my own perceived intellectual integrity, so imagine my resistance when someone wants me to change my words to suit his agenda?

As you can probably guess, this was not an unprompted post. Obviously, this is not the Daily Kos, where a random comment by Kos can set off a full-fledged blogwar. This is an infrequently updated site full of useless rants and other trivialities read regularly by maybe a hundred people if I flatter myself. But there is the omnipotent reach of Google. Google allows outsiders unfamiliar with the style and personality of the blog/blogger to read a posting and misconstrue it. And that's dangerous. Otherwise who the fuck cares what is posted on a random blog, right?

I did end up editing the post in dispute with great reluctance. Though in my judgment my post did not warrant redacting, I can see how my jokey comments may be misconstrued by outsiders and so I rewrote the post to appease the objecting reader. It was a trivial post, but three days after revising this post, I still feel lame having done it. Let's just hope no one'll ever have to ask again. But if someone does ask, at least I'll have this post as a reference.