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My Adventures in the Blogosphere and Thinking of a New Blog Name

January 23, 2010
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I mentioned on a previous post that I had grown weary of the debates I’ve encountered on the blogosphere. I’d like to share a little bit more about my introduction to the blogosphere and my experiences while residing here (albeit quite sporadically of late).

I didn’t grow up typing on a computer; we didn’t even own one until I was about twelve and it was one of those old Commodore 64’s that looked something like this museum exhibit. The DOS-based system was so confusing I couldn’t figure out how to operate most of the programs it boasted of. My relationship with technology has been somewhat sketchy ever since. I have a cell phone and digital camera that I know the basic rules of operation for and I’ve recently mastered the ability to change the cable between the TV and the DVD player, but I don’t rush to purchase the latest model of anything and I have a reputation among those who know me of being a little bit behind the technological times.

I can’t remember the first time I stumbled onto the blogosphere, but I have had a general concept of blogs for several years. However, I hadn’t participated in any blogging until a couple years ago when I ran into some blogs where Evangelical Christians were seeking to witness to LDS. At first I was awe-struck that there were all these people who enjoyed discussing faith topics as much as I did! I enthusiastically participated on one of these blogs for awhile, but found that often the debates could get hostile. I’m a conflict avoider in real life, so I didn’t find it very pleasant and thought I would try branching out on my own with a friendlier approach. I also felt like I needed to learn more about the subjects that were being debated. I thought I knew a lot about Mormonism, but I really had nothing on some of the other bloggers.

I didn’t spend a great deal of time thinking about or planning for this blog. I thought I would just start my research and post my thoughts in order to get my ideas out there and motivate myself for further study. So, in August 2008, with very little planning or foresight, I launched this blog.

At first I had very little traffic. I thought of myself as this little island, free to say whatever I thought with no one to bother me. I was surprised and unprepared when I started encountering some hostile comments from readers who happened upon my blog and were offended by the topics and tone. As I mentioned, I’ve always leaned towards conflict avoidance in real life and inciting hostility was not my idea of a good time. Further, my original intention was to try a friendlier approach in order to avoid the conflict I had encountered on the other blog.

I decided to create a comment policy so I could censor comments that were disagreeable to myself or other bloggers. It was an equal-opportunity policy which I also used to censor comments from non-LDS that offended me or that I felt would be offensive to LDS.

I never anticipated that the blog would become so busy. There were some days in 2009 that I could barely keep up with reading all the comments, let alone write any of my own. At one high point of blog activity in May 2009, an extremely hostile LDS commenter entered the scene and began posting scathing reviews of me over on his site. He tried to link readers from my blog to his site, but his comment went into spam and I didn’t retrieve it. I was shocked and horrified that someone would be so mean to me. In order to respond, I became a member of the Society for the Prevention of Anti-Mormonism.

I tried to reason with him and also to defend myself from his erroneous accusation that my undergraduate degree in Biblical Studies was from an unaccredited university. At first I found his ad hominem attacks kind of humorous because no where on my blog had I boasted that I even had a degree. I had listed my credentials as having researched Mormonism and admitting I had more research to do. I was this nobody out here typing on a computer and this guy felt the need to google my name to try to trash me on the internet. At the same time, it was scary for me because I was so new to the blogosphere and wasn’t quite sure what all of this meant or how it might affect my personal safety. He seemed so angry that I irrationally envisioned him coming to my house to try to shoot me.

I later left the Society when he posted curses in the name of the LDS priesthood in his final comment to me. I was sad to discover that my comments defending myself were automatically deleted when I left the site. As a result of this experience, I decided to change my URL which I had previously had in my own name and to remove my last name from posting on my comments.

I later learned that this particular commenter was a notorious blog bully, thriving on hostility and conflict, and launching personal attacks on anyone who disagrees with him. I realized later that I shouldn’t have taken his threats so personally or seriously.

As I’ve been reflecting on my experiences I’ve been thinking about the importance of research and planning when it comes to any kind of intentional interface with those of other faiths. I think my own ignorance of LDS culture and beliefs has perhaps contributed to the hostility I have encountered through my blogging. I had envisioned that it would be possible to remain amicable while stating my opinions in no uncertain terms. I hadn’t realized that the opinions themselves might need to be censored in order to avoid offending others. I’m still not sure that offending others is entirely unavoidable, but I’m trying to figure out the best approach as there are a number of different approaches to consider and learn from.

Overall, I’ve learned a lot in a short amount of time during my adventures here in cyberspace and feel very humbled at all the things I still need to learn. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting several wonderful people that I was first introduced to through the blogosphere. Real life is still so much better than the internet! But, then again, maybe it’s been me and my approach and/or my ignorance and/or lack of experience in the blogosphere.

I am definitely a work in progress, but that’s okay. Jesus loves me and He’s still workin’ on me. 🙂

I would like some ideas, though, in possibly coming up with a new title for this blog. It was really funny when Psychochemiker and Tom named their blog I Love Gellies and I still smile when I visit their blog. But I don’t know. There’s been quite a few comments recently where people mention they don’t like the name of the blog. As is fairly obvious by now, I did not spend a lot of time contemplating the blog’s title. I’ve never been all that creative with my post titles either. I’m open to any and all suggestions.

I’m grateful to all the LDS and non-LDS bloggers that read and comment here. You have taught me a TON in the past year and a half. Thank you. May the Lord continue to reveal Himself to each of us as we seek Him and, hopefully, we will someday soon end up in harmonious agreement.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. January 24, 2010 1:36 am

    I had spamLDS show up on Nine Moons calling me an apostate too.

    So don’t worry about it. Just ban him if he doesn’t behave.

    Although I’m not one to talk. I imagine I’ve done my own share in contributing to the burnout.

  2. January 24, 2010 2:25 am

    New blog title? How about:

    Conversations with Evangelical Babes
    Bringing Sexy Back (to Interfaith Dialogue)
    Graceful Dialogue

    I can understand getting tired of people giving you constant grief about your blog title though. I remember, a long time ago, I used to sign every comment or post I made with “In Christ, [name].” If people didn’t like my tone in the slightest, they would sneer things like, “In Christ? REALLY?” It got old fast, so I stopped doing it. Now if they get mad about my behavior, I’m like, “It’s called CLOBBERblog. What were you expecting?”

    And I totally hear you out with being surprised at blog traffic. I started my blog a month before you and I was a little stunned when people started coming back and regularly reading. Like… “um… I’m not that special… why are you people so interested in what I have to say?”

    I tried to reason with him and also to defend myself from his erroneous accusation that my undergraduate degree in Biblical Studies was from an unaccredited university.

    Ha-ha. Sounds like ol’ spam got a little envious of Robert and Rosemary Brown and was desperate to expose some evangelicals touting fake degrees himself.

    Jessica, I apologize for the grief I’ve given you in the past. While I don’t really agree with this “point out the problems” method that you and NChristine and Stephanie seem to favor, I’ve been consistently impressed with how patient you’ve all been with your rude commentators. You’ve earned my respect.

  3. January 24, 2010 3:22 am

    The problem is that Mormonism is just a topic that has a built-in audience.

    Mormons tend to care what people think of them. So they really can be surprisingly active bloggers. And critics of Mormonism tend to be equally passionate. Newspaper websites sometimes report being surprised at how much controversy gets stirred up in the comments section whenever Mormonism is a topic.

  4. January 24, 2010 4:05 am

    Mormons tend to care what people think of them.

    You guys are so vain. You probably think this blog is about you.

    Don’t you?

    Don’t you?

  5. January 24, 2010 6:18 am

    You guys are so vain. You probably think this blog is about you.

    Don’t you?

    Don’t you?

    I’ll admit, this made me laugh.

    Jessica, I really like you. That’s all I have to say ’bout that. 🙂

  6. January 24, 2010 9:11 pm

    I imagine I’ve done my own share in contributing to the burnout.

    Actually, I really enjoy your comments, Seth. I think you are usually a fair and reasonable debater. I think of you as a blogging friend. It would be fun to meet you and your family sometime in real life. I also appreciate it when you keep me informed of all the happenings elsewhere on the internet.

    Thank you for your kind comments, Jack, and for the blog title suggestions. I especially like the first one! Very creative. 🙂

    Katie, I really like you too! 🙂

  7. January 24, 2010 9:21 pm

    Actually, you don’t have to be with nasty or rude bloggers to get tired.

    Defending your faith is tiring work. I should know…

  8. faithoffathers permalink
    January 25, 2010 4:02 pm

    Jessica,

    I too have been to plenty of other sites. I do return to yours because the tone is more respectful usually. I have appreciated your willingness more than once to admit when you were wrong in your knowledge about mormonism. It results in credibility, at least in my little brain.

    fof

  9. January 25, 2010 8:30 pm

    Thank you, fof. That means a lot. I really appreciate that you participate here and for the valuable challenges you have given me. I deeply respect the sincerity of your beliefs, as well as the sincerity of other LDS that comment here. I hope to convey my respect more in the future. I have been doing a lot of personal reflection and hope to improve things. More to come…

  10. January 26, 2010 3:46 am

    Jessica, I noticed earlier that you had the theme switched to something else. It seems you’ve switched it back.

    Are you thinking of a new theme for this blog? If so, might I make a recommendation?

  11. January 26, 2010 3:55 am

    Yes, Stephanie and I were thinking about it – I’m a little tired of this theme and we were playing around with some different themes. What were you going to suggest?

  12. January 26, 2010 4:47 am

    I suggest Regulus by Binary Moon. It’s one of the more customizable ones, and it’s a clean two-column theme like your current theme. It has:

    ~ Different color options: pink, pale blue, pale green, pale orange/yellow, and white.
    ~ Different header options using the pre-set graphics, or you can use your own custom header
    ~ The option of putting the sidebar on the left or the right
    ~ The option of hiding the blog’s title from the header (if your custom header reproduces the title in it’s graphic, for example).

    Here’s some samples of what it looks like on my private blog:

    Blue, Left Sidebar, Preset Header, Title Displayed
    Pink, Right Sidebar, Preset Header, Title Displayed
    White, Right Sidebar, Custom Header, Title Hidden

    Very fun, clean-looking theme, and not very often used, which helps keep your blog from looking like every other free WordPress blog out there. If I were still using WordPress.com, I’d probably use it.

  13. Vin permalink
    January 27, 2010 12:31 am

    Just dropped in, read several posts here. Good job on the interfaith dialogue. Don’t worry about the bullies–they’re usually dweebs pounding away at the keyboard from their mom’s basement.

    As a Mormon, I appreciate the generally respective tone here. I tire of people (LDS included) saying Christ “did not come to bring peace, but a sword” and using it to justify offensive and obnoxious tactics.

    If there’s one thing I’d ask of you, it would be to let your fellow evangelicals know that most Mormons who resign from their church resign from religion in general, so make sure you’re leading them to something better. (Seems like I read a post on this topic on some interfaith blog somewhere…)

    Anyway, good luck!

  14. January 27, 2010 12:54 am

    Vin ~ A Mistborn fan?

    Seems like I read a post on this topic on some interfaith blog somewhere…

    It was probably this one:

    We Push Them Out Into What?

  15. rosswasatch permalink
    February 1, 2010 2:48 am

    Regarding Vin’s observation that “most Mormons who resign from their church resign from religion in general”, the Pew Forum’s study called “A Portrait of Mormons in the US”, which was released last July, showed that of those who were Latter-day Saints as children, 70% retain their faith as adults. Of those who disaffiliate, 15% converted to another religious group, with 14% being unaffiliated with any faith.

    Source: http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=428#conversion

  16. February 1, 2010 3:19 am

    Thanks for sharing those statistics, rosswasatch. I remember seeing that study, but forgot where I had seen it.

  17. September 3, 2014 4:30 pm

    Thanks for this wonderful makale.

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