June 03, 2011

Bloggers of the World - You are Getting Sleepee

I was asked to participate in a survey about political blogging. It was sent to me for my blog, when, really, my main website is McLoughlin Post (no offense intended, I do like Blogger because  readers can leave comments - something I do not have on my website. So, I usually post what I write on blogspot, too, but I do more over on my site.)  Anyway, I thought the survey biased.

As in all areas of human endeavor, there is a range of ability as it pertains to writing. There are schlocky blogs out there.  Otherwise, it seems to me that political bloggers are put-down and marginalized because their views can be threatening to the status quo.

Writers write because that is their calling.  Most writers do not make much money. The survey treats blogging as 'something to do' and asks what does the blogger do for a 'real job?'

My writing is my career. My career just, so far, does not make money. Independent writers like me  need patrons, just as artists are financially supported by the wealthy in other fields of creative endeavor.
Even though I post a donate button on my site, I don't get, and I otherwise don't ask.  Times are tough for
others too.  Terrible times. 

I haven't made a dollar yet from ads I post around my site, either,
for the record.  They look nice, though.

I would be happy to work in the mainstream press but
the mainstream press more times than not fails to explore
the issues fairly or fully. There is no place in MSM for
me that I can see. The fact of the matter is that when
I wrote human interest stories, I could get published,
and I did.

Elsewhere in the survey, the questions 'how much do you sleep?' - or go to church, work, or spend time with family, are found. Here, I believe I detect further slant.  We would not judge poorly other hard-working professionals such as doctors or lawyers for putting in long hours. It's expected. This is a common ploy used to marginalize the blogger as obsessive.

Unlike the survey under discussion, most multiple-choice surveys would provide options such as 'don't know', or, 'prefer to leave blank' when it comes to religious or political affiliation, family and work. I find some of the questions to be unbelievably intrusive.

'Other' in the religion category is slotted as 'non-Christian', when an agnostic may feel closest to Christianity with their doubts.  Why not just say 'other'?

As it was somewhat odd that the request to participate in the survey was e-mailed and addressed to me personally, I googled the sender before opening the e-mail in case it was spam, or worse.

I found the survey sender's webpage, and on it there was posted, among other documents, a paper which I did not read (no link) - entitled:

'How does the political blogosphere represent -- or distort -- the voice of the electorate?'

I'll concede the point - misrepresenting the voice of the electorate is done all the time - by politicians, most of all.

When I write, I analyse a particular situation to the best of my ability and try to provide an independent view. I would never wish to distort the voice of the electorate as it is.  Rather, through strength of argument, like other opinion writers I try to get people to consider something from a fresh perspective. 

We used to hold firmly to the conviction that the earth was flat --- a simplistic illustration of the fact that us humans can believe something deeply and yet be just profoundly wrong. Captains would not sail their ships past particular geographic points marked on maritime maps for fear of literally sailing right off the edge of the world. Somebody had to go out front of the pack once they figured it out, to argue that this was wrong.  'The Earth? She is not a-flat! The Earth, she is a-round!' This did not agree with the prevailing scientific view.  It didn't corrupt; it wasn't blasphemy or heresy: It was, simply, true.

New ideas and discoveries seem radical, at first. They also can be scary as hell.  If we can get the flat Earth thing so wrong, what else might we be wrong about?  That's why it's scary.  It shakes our world view. 

Things don't always go so well for those brave souls trying to point out flaws in our assumptions and beliefs. It takes guts to go against the flow.

I hasten to admit that in any political discourse, be it in the blogosphere, mainstream media or anywhere else, there are always bad actors who stoop to using distortion, character assassination and sometimes flat-out lies in service of some percieved higher ideal, or for personal gain.

But I think people who work to contribute to the public square of ideas, including bloggers - the good ones -see the world for what it is and believe we can do better; that we deserve better.  And they deserve our respect. More or less I said so in one of those little boxes provided for additional comments in the on-line survey, near the end where the survey instructed bloggers not to write about the survey until told they were free to do so.

I'm not saying which survey it was or by whom, because I think it was done by young people still learning the ropes. But I feel it is important to say something generally about surveys,  because in order for surveys to hold any merit whatsoever, the surveyer needs to abide by the dictum of, first, 'know thyself' - and park the personal bias firmly at the door. 

I don't know if it is just me, but I am noticing more and more surveys that are not representing the voice of the electorate.  It is a worrying trend, one which I fear is part of a larger, corrupt, political picture.

Sufficient cause, I will here admit, for losing sleep.

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