An Unfortunate Medium?

The more I post and the more I read blogs, the more I feel that this is a very poor medium over which to discuss important issues.

I think this has to do with anonymity. When arguing with someone in person, you have to actually deal with them. There is that 90% of communication that is nonverbal, and its going on, your limbic systems exchanging thousands of pieces of information in a conversation of only a few words. Much of this is unconscious, but I think it is incredibly important.

For example, when I met Jim Berkeley in person, we were both quite different from how we come across on our blogs – because we had to actually face each other. He was nothing like what I expected having read some of his blog posts, and perhaps he thinks the same of me. A conversation divorced from a context can be a dangerous thing.

I also think this has to do with the ambiguity of the written word. In a novel, and even in nonfiction, it often has to be made clear who is speaking and in what way – critically, sarcastically, angrily, ironically, etc. This almost never happens on blogs, and I have more than once put my foot firmly in my mouth when I took something seriously that was meant in jest. This means that we lose even more information in the exchange, information that would make the exchange clearer and more meaningful.

Really, blogs are kind of…bastardized speech, if I may be so blunt. And while I’ve had a lot of interesting and even rewarding interactions through this and other blogs, I’ve also had a lot of headaches and even heartaches that I think would have been unnecessary if I was “talking” to all of you in person.

I think that blogs are well-suited to provocation, and maybe dissemination of information, and not very well suited to a lot of other things, and this doesn’t bode well for our conversations, does it?

6 thoughts on “An Unfortunate Medium?

  1. I agree, whole heartedly. Face-to-face for the important stuff is clearly the way to go. The emoticon is definitely not a good substitute for the facial expression. Although (maybe it’s just because I haven’t been writing a blog for very long and so I’m still a bit enamored by the process) there still seems to be something to it…. I mean, it’s fascinating to me that I’m communicating with a stranger in CA, while I sit on my porch in VA.It’ll be interesting to see what sort of impact the medium has in a few years.

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  2. This kind of stuff recently came up < HREF="http://enfranchisedmind.com/blog/archive/2007/07/20/297" REL="nofollow"> on my blog<>, too. Meta-blogging seems popular right now for some reason.Blogs don’t seem to work well for personal conversations, and they are simply broke when they degrade down into flame wars.On the other hand, they’re a really nice place to disseminate information and share analysis, and the comments can be used to kind of keep things in check.

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  3. Doug,Well said. Although I agree with you, I think that by keeping the limitation sin mind it is possible to have some worthwhile comunication through the medium of blogging. The strength of blogging is the ability to facilitate conversations and relationships that would not realistically happen otherwise.

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  4. Hi Doug,You said it very well. But there is also a sense of having good “conversation” by reading other people’s blogs. Anonimity adds a sense of mystery and even delight.

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  5. I think folks can and need to keep in mind that they are blogging to real people. Folks need to write with the reality of what happened to you and Jim. You might meet the people you are having a blog conversation/ argument with in the isle of your church one Sunday. With a eschatological prospective you will be meeting these folks in the halls of Heaven in the presence of God. That could be embarrassing for some ferocious bloggers.

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