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WE ARE WHAT WE BLOG

Someone pinged me today and told me that some kind of blog war is going on – again. The last time it happened, I got embroiled. Wasn’t pleasant in the least but came away a better person, and a better writer.

Like the obedient penyebok I am, I went to visit the blogs involved.

The topic at hand was about what a blogger should, or rather should not do in his/her blog. In the end, it was just a matter of differing opinions. However, it did make me ponder the one thing that I’ve written about many times in the past, which is the relative anonymity the Net offers each and every one of us.

And the resulting Dutch courage that leads us to believe that blogging is our unbriddled right to freedom of speech.

You have a right to say what you want. I have a right to disagree, and sometimes, very rudely. You can choose to shut me up, not wanting to look bad permanently, thus deleting my comments. I have a right to create a new blog and continue flaming you like some unstoppable bitch. You can then put on post after post discrediting me. I then buy a “H4x0r for Dumm13s” book and try to do things to your server I can’t even pronounce.

So on and so forth.

But whether it is about attracting traffic or just plain speaking your mind, one thing’s for sure: I sure as hell do not want to meet you in real life. I wouldn’t know how to behave, were we to suddenly meet on the streets, recognising each other’s face from the pictures we put so freely online. I would walk the other way, pretend that I don’t recognise you. You will probably go home and blog about the sad face of mediocrity.

“What are the chances of this person ever finding out who I am?” thinks the Anonymous commenter. “Flame onlylah!”

“I have so many supporters and have spent so much time doing this. Who dares say I’m wrong?” underestimates the blogger who overestimates his/her worth.

“FIGHT! FIGHT!” cheers the sad blog-reader whose life is made up of other people’s blogs.

The unflappable truth is that in this whole wide world, people are the only ones who blog. Whether it’s your alter ego or guilty conscience, you’re the one forming the sentences and typing the words at the end of the day. You KNOW someone out there is reading. Why else would you publish it? Might as well write in MS Word and keep it. Or keep a traditional diary.

As such, would it kill to exercise a little prudence? A dash of discretion? A modicum of decency?

As writers, we are trained to think much before we write. We have to consider many things, not least of which is the accuracy of what we say, and the language in which we speak. We have to plan the intended effect of what we wish upon those who read our work, whether they should inspire or to wreak havoc (many times, on our advertising revenue).

For the writer, the power of the written word cannot be underestimated. And therefore, it cannot be wielded haplessly. For as Horace once said, “Once a word has been allowed to escape, it cannot be recalled.”

No matter how you edit or delete.

Perhaps this is the difference between a blogger and a writer. One is forced to be responsible, and the other can choose to.

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