I am a conflicted blogger. I love blogging and I love this site, and yet I am often concerned about whether the way we do things is the right way. There can be little doubt about the popularity and expanded impact of blogging. But the question still remains as to whether what we do is spiritually productive. Are we an asset to the kingdom or do we hinder God’s work?
If we are going to improve our work, a little self-reflection is in order. I think there is a simple way for each of us to review our own record as bloggers – to do a little self-evaluation that could help us. Here’s my idea; do with it as you will.
Look at your last 25 blog posts, and the comments that followed. (No, we are not always responsible for the comments left on our posts, but if there is a pattern of commenting, it may have something to do with the way we post.) Read them over reflectively. Look at the topics, the tone and the point of your post and how people responded. Then, ask some simple questions.
So, here we go.
1) How many of my posts are “contra-posts?”
Contra, of course, means against. How many of your posts are directed against someone – a person, a doctrine, a movement. All of us need to take a stand sometimes against something we find wrong. But if all or most of your posts end up in the contra category, you may have a problem. That kind of negativity has an effect. I’ve seen some who come to the point of thinking that they are God’s avenging angel sent to destroy the bad guys and establish truth, justice and the American way. Those who adopt this battle-blogging mentality usually end up doing one of two things. Either they become bitter and angry or they get tired of it and quit blogging. In fact, some of the more balanced bloggers today are former battle bloggers who just got tired of the constant fight and decided there was something better out there.
Does there have to be an enemy, a bad-guy in all of your posts (or comments)? If so, maybe you should examine your blogging patterns.
2) How many of your posts are about one topic?
There is a great big world out there with lots to talk about. If every one of your posts is about a single topic (Calvinism comes to mind), you need some balance. There are 66 books of the Bible to talk about. There are a lot of issues to deal with. There are a lot of theological topics to explore.
I agree that Calvinism is an issue that needs to be dealt with, but I think the entire SBC would be healthier if we just stopped talking about it for 6 months or so. I just returned from the mission field and NO ONE is talking about Calvinism in Taiwan. According to Jeremy’s post a couple of days ago, no one is talking about it where he serves. I think we are fixated.
There are other topics that people sometimes get fixated on. If you look at your posts and 15 or 20 of the 25 are about one a single topic or range of topics, you might be guilty of tunnel vision in your blogging. Something to consider.
No one likes to listen to a broken record.
3) Do your posts consistently produce commenting wars?
Commenting wars can come from anywhere, even the most benign of posts. We are not responsible for every angry comment someone leaves on one of our posts. I am constantly amazed at the ability of some readers to misunderstand, misinterpret, misapply or otherwise miss the point of the post. More than once I’ve had someone angrily “disagreeing” with me, making a point that I made in the post. I’m convinced that many begin commenting before taking the time to read the post. Commenters are responsible for their comments.
But there are certain forms of writing that tend to provoke certain forms of commenting. Name-calling, extreme analogies, unfair accusations – these all push a point in such a way that others tend to push back. If you notice that every post you write tends to invoke a comment free-for-all, maybe there is something in your writing that you could improve. If you create an us vs. them, white hats vs. black hats mentality, that will often be reflected in the comments.
Do you often find yourself amazed at the anger of those who respond to your posts? Perhaps you are either not editing carefully, or perhaps you are saying things in a way that provokes anger rather than promotes understanding.
Do you often have to backtrack, clarify, explain or enhance your arguments? Again, either editing or word-choice can be the problem.
At the convention, I was at a bloggers’ meeting and was being made fun of for the volume of material I produce. I gave a simple response – I write but I do not spend a lot of time editing. I should do more. Often, I have to edit things after I’ve published them and I see grammatical or typographical errors. But when I am writing a more confrontational post, I take time to edit. I write it, walk away and then come back to work it through again. I generally tone it down, then tone it down again. When we are being confrontational, it is important that we put a velvet coating on our words. Too often, when I don’t do that, the focus becomes my anger instead of what I am confronting in the post.
What commenters say is not your fault. But if you notice a continual pattern of angry comments, maybe it is not all their fault.
4) Do you find yourself having to correct facts often?
It is crucial that we get our facts in order. When we publish comments or posts in haste, we sometimes have to go back and correct things. That is generally just a marker of being careless in writing. Get your facts straight in advance.
A little self-reflection can go a long way to making us better bloggers. This is just a suggestion – to review your most recent posts. I just did it myself. An interesting and instructive review.