html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: In my quest to be the scold of blogland...

Monday, September 10, 2007

In my quest to be the scold of blogland...

I am not upset by those quotes below. They crack me up. The idea of being mentally lazy is a delightful new self-image for me, like being strong and fast. Since I am not hurt right now, it is a good time to bring up a couple things I've thought before.

Bloggers:

Your framing matters. If you picked the paragraph about how I don't like to deal with health care but stripped the paragraph contrasting that with my diligence about natural disasters, you know you betrayed the point of that post, which is that people do not spend equal attention on all of the matters of getting responsibly through life. (Again, I don't care this time. I'm not mad or hurt or anything.)

I know it isn't the norm, but it would be both professional and rigorous to put your links from a blogger into context. In addition to thinking through the argument you want to make, you should also think things like 'Am I accurately conveying my sense of the post with this excerpt? Does my excerpt create a false sense of the post or blogger?' If the interesting piece can't represent the post alone, explain why the quote is unusual or how it fits in to the blogger's larger worldview. At the very least, do not let your careless blogging set up another blogger for abuse. Maybe you think the internet is a savage jungle, but the circles of interesting content-generating bloggers aren't all that big. We would do well to treat each other with respect.

Commenters:

Will you never give someone the benefit of the doubt? People can hold simultaneous contradicting thoughts, you know. I could not want to attend to my health care, but then reluctantly do it because that is the system we're in right now. People could complain about something and then do a good job of it anyway, because that is what integrity and self-respect requires. Grown-up people are not all or nothing; people have doubts and weigh trade-offs (some of them even in public) and may even decide things against their immediate self-gratification. Some of them act according to principle, even though they admit they don't want to.

In fact, if you do things like that regularly, you come to expect that other people are too. If you know that you do your best, through complexity and uncertainty and against your selfish desires, then that is what you think other people are doing as well. I read other people falter or admit doubt and I think, well, that person is struggling, but doubtless she will pull through to a position she can be proud of. I always think that of people. Admitting flaws or doubts is not the same as saying that you act on them.

I'll tell you one more thing. I read every pronouncement every person makes about 'people' or me (if they have not been reading here long) as a first-person statement. When some stranger writes that I default to an overly simplistic childish view of the world, I understand them to be saying that that is what they do. You can't accuse people of doing things that have never crossed your mind. You only accuse people of doing what you would do; that is what comes to your mind. So - "people cheat", "people are only motivated by money", "you are a blind ideologue" - I read those as straight-up admissions. Be generous, folks. Be generous partially because it is a good way for us to get along, and be generous because when you don't, you reveal your own nature.

11 Comments:

Blogger JRoth said...

Sorry I missed all the excitement this weekend! Also, did some of the same people who mocked that know-your-watershed quiz also mock you for not wanting to comparison-shop emergency rooms?

Anyway, I'm just curious: the thing you wrote at the end, about assuming that statements about others are admissions about ourselves: is that just a rule of thumb, or do you really think that's a pretty accurate guide? I think that the "you wouldn't accuse someone of doing something you wouldn't consider doing" has some vailidity, but as a broader rule, I think it glides over the ability of some to have a good understanding of others - either to really know what someone else is like, or to effectively extrapolate from minor examples in your own life.

For instance: if I am obsessive about just one or two things in my life, and laid back/passive about everything else, I may still be able to have insight into the thought processes of people who are obsessive about (nearly) everything.

Finally, you don't think that everyone who believes that Karl Rove has/would steal elections wishes to do so themsleves, do you?

10:22 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

It is a decent first cut.

You might come to the conclusion that other people will do things because you have a lot of information about them. So when people who've been reading here for a long time say things about me, I think they are likely to be talking about me. But people who reach conclusions on the strength of a short quote are talking about themselves.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You only accuse people of doing what you would do" Come on, that's ridiculous.

So, if I say, I think OJ is a murderer, it's only because I'm a murderer too?

And, I'm wondering where you draw the line with this? So, adults may not WANT to take care of their health care, because it's so complex, but they will figure it out, but you don't think they should have to.

Well, I think eating a healthy diet is too complicated, it's too hard to figure out, why not have the government choose our diets for all of us? And, getting a proper workout is tough too. I mean, I exercise regularly, but I'm pretty sure I'm not doing it right, why not get the government involved there too? We could have some bureaucrat choose an exercise regime we all have to follow.

Justin

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Ennis said...

You can't accuse people of doing things that have never crossed your mind. You only accuse people of doing what you would do; that is what comes to your mind. So - "people cheat", "people are only motivated by money", ... I read those as straight-up admissions.

I'm not sure I follow this either. Your affirmative kindness policy seems to be about giving people credit, right? So why assume that somebody's intellectual beliefs are merely excuses?

For example, you've made statements about how farmers behave and how people at Los Osos behave. Are we to read those are simple projections of your psyche? Wouldn't it be more charitable to assume that you have a sense of fairness which you bring to your work, and which allows you to generalize about others without projecting your sense of self all over your conclusions?

I'm puzzled by the statement in italics, it seems intellectually ... unfriendly.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

"You might come to the conclusion that other people will do things because you have a lot of information about them. ... But people who reach conclusions on the strength of a short quote are talking about themselves."

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or stereo typing, and often times stereo types work.

Justin

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Ennis said...

You mean you want me to read the comments too before I respond? Sheesh.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

No, no. I'll just repeat myself. It is all I ever do anyway.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous D said...

you're on a quest? and here I thought you were just speaking your mind to the void...

3:06 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Hee. I have noticed that my posts scolding bloggers don't get linked. Wierd. Props to Tyler for linking the one on moderating comments.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Ennis said...

I figured if it was something important, it would be in the main body of the post. I suppose you can infer something about me from that statement though ...

4:47 PM  

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