Thursday, September 29, 2005

For the love of dialogue

Why do you blog? About a week ago, Jack explained the objectives that motivate him. Here's the condensed version:
  • This is a place where I can air out my thoughts about life and the experiences I have had and will have;
  • It is a place where I expect at some point in the future my children, grandchildren and beyond will be able to learn more about who I am/was;
  • the blog offers me an opportunity to continually practice my writing so that I can work upon honing my skills;
  • maybe someone will discover me and hire me to write a book;
  • and perhaps the most important thing is that this blog offers me the opportunity to interact with people I might not meet otherwise.
I'd like to pick up on Jack’s last point and explore it a bit.

I blog for the love of dialogue. In my day-to-day interactions, I find few people are willing to discuss meaningful issues in any depth. But in the blogosphere, I can seek out people who are exploring the subjects that fascinate me:  religion, law, politics, history, sociology, psychology, philosophy, art — basically any discipline that offers insight into human individuals and societies.

By dialogue, I do not necessarily mean disagreement. Bloggers are too quick to find fault with one another! Political blogs get boring pretty quickly for this reason:  the exchange of views consists of punches and counter-punches which never add up to anything.

It’s OK to disagree with me; my ego is strong enough to cope with a little rough-and-tumble. But a good dialogue adds one insight to another, creating a snowball effect.

Early in our relationship, Mary P. and I came up with a simile. "When we talk," one of us said, "it's like we're building with bricks:  I lay a brick, you lay a brick, I lay one, you lay one …. The finished structure is something neither one of us could have built on our own."

At this point I must interject that I have nothing against "lurkers". In fact, I think the term is unfairly pejorative:  surely a lurker is some pervert who hides in the bushes outside your house and peers into your bedroom window!

People who read Simply Put aren’t perverts … no more than anyone else, at any rate. When no one leaves a comment, I take comfort in the fact that my tracker shows that people are still visiting. So thank you, lurkers, one and all.

But I love a good dialogue. Consider my recent post on presuppositions, for example. One person after another contributed an insight, adding a brick to the foundation I had laid:  Misanthrope, Mrs. Aginoth, Mr. Aginoth, and Snaars. Go back a little further, to my post on sharia law, and others make a contribution:  Aaron, Jack, and 49erDweet. And once in a long while I hit on a topic that draws comments even from casual visitors.

I enjoy writing, and I benefit greatly from the discipline of setting my thoughts in order for others to explore. But it requires a significant investment of time. Without the dialogue, which I find so stimulating, I would quickly lose the motivation to blog.

That's why my blogroll is entitled, Cast of characters. I have the lead role here at Simply Put, but you share the stage with me.

Monologues are boring; your comments are what make the experience interesting.


At 7:31 AM, September 30, 2005, Blogger Juggling Mother said...

I blog for many of the same reasons (although I seriously doubt anyone will hire me to write a book, & have no idea what to write anyway)

I'd also like to think that blogs in eneral will be a substantial benefit to future generations in understanding our world, as diaries/journals are for us when we find them.

I have to confess to being a lurker on some blogs, because sometimes I just don't have anything to say! If the blog does not pose specific questions, or raise specific issues, there seems little point in putting a comment saying "yes".

you manage to raise issues & invite questions on almost every entry, so you get comments on most. some are agreements, some diagreements & some just explainations/continuations of the blog. All (I hope) increase the "worth" of the blog in some way.

At 3:23 PM, September 30, 2005, Blogger The Misanthrope said...

I am in the process of writing an answer to this question, which will also cover another topic and annoucement for my Sunday column Oct. 16. However, the short answer is that I was so disgusted with the Bush gang I wanted to do something. I have now decided I dislike both parties and the deprived characters in both.

The positive side of blogging is getting to know you, Jack and others virtually. I have also learned a number of things along the way.

At 3:51 PM, September 30, 2005, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

• Mrs. Aginoth:
"Value added" is the phrase I like to use. I think everyone who contributes regular comments here adds value to my blog.

I raise a lot of difficult and contentious issues (precisely to elicit a response). It would be easy to misstep and offend someone, but all my regulars show good judgment.

• Misanthrope:
No one has yet improved on Lord Acton's dictum, "power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Unless you're of the view that the corrupt seek power.

At 7:03 PM, September 30, 2005, Blogger Jack's Shack said...


You do a fine job of engaging people in dialogue in a non-controversial, unassuming manner. I should be so lucky to do so as well.

Unfortunately I am a bit like the bull in the china shop and though this has its place it certainly can miss the mark.

At 10:35 PM, September 30, 2005, Blogger 49erDweet said...

Well put, Q.

My own favorite dialogue analogy compares communication with ping pong. You ping, I pong, you ping, Mary P. pongs, TM pings, you pong, etc.

If it was just ping, ping, ping, ping it would be dull and uninformative.


At 3:46 PM, October 01, 2005, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

Thanks, Jack. You do a fine job of engaging people on your blog — certainly you keep me coming back for more.

I'm sure you're familiar with the proverb, As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Prov. 27:17).


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