Let me explain.
I’m a writer with a blog. I’m someone who uses her blog as her medium. One of her media.
Having a blog means I can write whatever I want whenever I want, without someone having to approve it. Except me. For a writer, it’s super-liberating.
I don’t blog to make money, although once in a while I’ll make some. Instead, I blog mostly for personal expression.
I’ve always written for personal expression because I’m a first-person essayist. The old saw, “write what you know,” describes where I’m most comfortable. Fiction is way hard for me because I don’t like to make up stories. Maybe I don’t have enough imagination, I don’t know. But first person writing is what I know and love.
That’s not to say that I didn’t have a long career in corporate communications that involved writing for marketing, ghost-writing op eds and writing news releases. I did all that for many years and then I managed others who did that. When it was time to give that up, I did so gladly and don’t miss it a bit. I was also a freelance magazine writer and editor back in the day. So I’ve made a living at writing.
Still, even while I had a career, I wrote opinion and published it. My own opinion. Newspapers used to pay for op-eds and I placed a few. The same with public radio.
But in the blogging world, opinions can be sticky wickets. Some people are uncomfortable with them. I belong to a few blog support groups with women who won’t support blog posts that aren’t “positive.” Of course, opinions aren’t always positive, as in my post here about the Oscars, in which I discuss how dignity flew out the window, snark about an actress’ strange dress and mention a celebrity’s possible eating disorder. And which a blogger said she couldn’t retweet because it wasn’t “positive.” Although if she’d read all the way through she’d have seen positives about Gaga’s performance, the Glory segment and the revival of women’s rights.
Yes, opinions are not always welcomed in the blogosphere. And that’s okay with me, because I’m really not a blogger in the sense that so many others are. Although I read and support those who make a living at blogging, that’s not why I’m here. And I’m not here to sprinkle fairy dust, either. No, I’m here for another reason.
So here’s what I think:
Great discussions start around opinions. Real opinions. And I like that my blog and sometimes my Facebook page are places where real discussion takes place. Not too long ago a couple of friends had very long and involved discourse on my Facebook page about this post. Although I didn’t share much of my own opinion in that post, I asked for readers to weigh in and I loved that the two opposing views went back and forth for quite some time. It was a passionate, yet respectful, discussion and I loved that my post was the catalyst.
My opinions are not always positive. The other day I laid out the case for why I didn’t watch video blogs or vlogs, even though some bloggers I follow do them. I think maybe one or two might have taken offense. But if they’d read the comments, they’d see readers either explaining why they agreed OR why they disagreed. It was a great dialogue that could help them hone their own vlog skills and it began with a provocative opinion.
Negative is not always negative. It could just be an opinion “con” instead of “pro.” It’s not always harmful, either, as my readers prove so many times in the Comments. They aren’t meant to harm any individual but to take a position. And negative can be helpful, as in the comments made on the vlog post. We are, after all, not sitting complacently in the movie Pleasantville. Our world has many colors and shades of colors.
Blogs as personal expression instead of commercial enterprises must have a certain degree of authenticity to their voice. I try my best to do that without hurting anyone. I hope I mostly succeed. From some of the reader feedback I get, I think I do.
In the opening credits of the Dr. Phil show he says, “this is a safe place to talk about hard things.” I don’t believe that of his show for a minute. But here on this blog, I aim to create a safe place for respectful discussions regardless of your opinion. Or mine.
Thank you for being part of that respectful discussion and even disagreement. If you’re new, I hope you’ll participate here with that in mind. Lay it all out in the Comments. I want to know.