Mea Culpa

I recently wrote a blog in which I complained about the lack of response (and thought) on the part of readers of this blog on the topic of parental responsibility. I was reminded by several readers, one of whom thought my comments were “insulting,” that lack of comments does not entail lack of thought. This is true. While I did not mean to be insulting — and I need to remind myself that not all of my readers are old retired farts with too much time on their hands — I was disappointed by the lack of response on a topic that I regard as immensely complicated and very topical. But, then, what is of interest to me may not be of interest to others. This is certainly the case, though the responses that finally did come forth (ironically) were outstanding and the very thing I had hoped for in taking on the topic in the first place. Go figure!

In any event, when I started writing these blogs I did so not to become popular, but to order and express my thoughts, get them out there and see if anything strikes a reader or two as worthy of comment.  But while I do write primarily for my own gratification it would be a lie to say that as one who puts words out there I don’t care if no one reads them. It can be rather frustrating at times. Comments are always fun to read and a type of “feedback” that keeps the engine oiled. Dana Yost, my friend and a former newspaper editor put it nicely: one does care and it is easy to get discouraged, even if popularity is not your goal. I used to hate it in class when I opened with what I thought was a doozie of a question and the class sat there like zombies on Xanax wishing they were somewhere else. The silence was enough to drive you up the wall. But I eventually learned that the silence did not necessarily mean lack of thought and if I was patient a student might just take the bull by the horns and astonish us all. The same applies with these blogs.

But in the end the comments on that blog that bothered me the most were those that suggested that the blog is all about personalities. My comments were regarded by several readers as “out of character,” and even the follow-up to my show of concern for this sort of reductionism struck the same chord: it was so unlike me. What I write, with rare exceptions (like the present blog) is not all about me. I don’t like writing about myself. My blogs are generally about ideas and issues that are worth serious thought. And it is clear that I am very lucky to have some very bright and astute readers who are both thoughtful and concerned (and sensitive). I will remember that, ignore the silence even when it seems deafening, and keep on blogging as long as there are things worth blogging about.

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13 thoughts on “Mea Culpa

  1. I’ll write on your blog! I do find many of your blogs very interesting and some very informative. Some however are either way over my head, you are one of the most intelligent people I know, or I can only wrap my head around easy thoughts and issues at 7 am. And I tend to comment on Facebook.

    So I say, keep them coming! And know that even if I don’t comment, i read most of them and enjoy them! And I appreciate you as well!

  2. How can something be classed as “out of character”? It’s not as if you are playing at being yourself and when you get home you are actually a 3 legged dwarf with four heads playing a role-playing game of life and fail a critical roll.

    I think a better way of saying that is if I had Raynard offer Saskia a cup of tea and cakes over a midday jaunt through a pretty gardens.

    What you write is up to you. What you comment is up to you. I don’t always comment, but that’s because I don’t always have something to say to it. This one, however, I did. You are doing a good job mate, keep it up

  3. This is tough, Hugh. It is true that even if we want to not care if people are reading and responding to our posts, we still care. Your example of teaching a class and asking what you thought was a great question spoke to me. I know that feeling all too well! Hang in there! You are putting out important and noteworthy ideas, and just because we (or I, for sure) don’t pick up on or care about every issue as much as you do, it is still important for you to do it and for you to be the one caring. You are needed because of that deafening silence.

  4. every so often a blogger will say that his/her most-difficult task is finding something to write about. in contrast, there are some of us who have swirls of blog-worthy topics, and we try to decide which to select while leaving the others for later. i appreciate the wide range of topics that you present to us; yours is the ‘coffee shop’ visit that i rarely have out here in the remote tropics, and you keep me informed on what’s happening in our world, pleasant or unpleasant.

    robin’s reply amused me a bit, and i agree that sometimes one needs to read, absorb and digest a post before replying. there are times when i read your posts and ‘like’ them yet i allow my thoughts to incubate for a while before i reply. that, of course, is a compliment to you, who inspires many with thought-provoking material. i think that people sometime don’t reply because you’ve presented material that requires a bit of thought, and then they’ve logged off for the day.

    there are a few bloggers who post daily with a disciplined schedule i always enjoy seeing your post awaiting each morning, and julia’s( http://defeatdespair.wordpress.com) that arrives late at night /at two in the morning. if i receive hers and i’m still working, it’s a reminder to surrender to sleep even though the internet speed has reached optimum performance!

    thanks for always being here with thought-provoking material.

  5. Hugh, one of the bad things about being first to respond to your posts, which are of a consistent high caliber on a variety of topics, is you miss out on the wonderful comments you do elicit. I enjoy reading the interplay of your initial thoughts and responses to/ from others who see the same issue from a different angle. As Bob Dylan would say, keep on keepin on.
    Take care, BTG

  6. I think you also need to keep in mind that while writing a blog can be very satisfactory, commenting on a blog rarely provides any satisfaction and more likely, nothing but frustration.

    From my experience, when I take the time and effort to think over a blog post and respond with thoughtful comments and questions, a small handful of things usually happen.

    The first is that what I have written is largely ignored – the response is a different point of argument or a snarky or dismissive comment.

    The second response is that someone’s feelings get hurt for some reason that I cannot fathom. One of the most intelligent men I’ve ever worked with posted something I had known to be wrong, so I sent him a private note showing him the evidence, thinking that since he was so intelligent he obviously didn’t know about what I was sending him. What I got back was pure vitriol and while we used to occasionally message, I’ve not gotten a response from him since.

    The third thing is a response that vehemently states the person’s opinion, as if they are facts. How do you respond to that in polite society?

    And finally, what I’ve written get misconstrued, either because it was poorly written or poorly read, and suddenly I feel like I have to defend myself against monkeys flinging poo. Gah!

    In addition to those things I occasionally end up wanting to choke the jackass that makes a flippant comment when it is obvious that the person never took the time to read all of the previous interactions.

    Hence my comment that we had something new to talk about when I see you next. Good beer, good food, good company and no monkeys flinging poo.

    I know I’m not the only one that thinks of things like these when it comes to responding to blog posts, so I hope it explains why you don’t see as much interaction as you would like.

    The final thought I want to leave with you is that I enjoy reading your blog and even print some of them out so that I can go back and read them again and again. You make me think. You give me time out of the rat race. You inspire me to do better.

    Thanks for all of that.

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