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