Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Man Who Hates Blogs

 No matter what you try to do in life, someone will believe that your efforts are worthless.  I had this fact proven to me again recently by a university PhD who paused during a presentation to launch into a five minute attack on blogs and online journals.  Let me explain.
Not too long ago, my wife Krissy heard about a writer's meeting which was to be held at the local public library.  The topic of the meeting was memoir writing, which is an interest of mine, so we attended.
The talk went well for a while as the university instructor and his female co-leader gave helpful advice about writing, with a focus on memoirs.  Then, about 30 minutes into the talk, the man's attitude changed abruptly.  He began speaking about blogs in a hostile, mocking manner, saying that blogs were worthless and boring (I believe the term he used was "mundane"), and he claimed that all blogs were written in "stream of consciousness."  He was convinced that people who write blogs and online journals couldn't be considered real writers, and wrapped up his attack by saying, "Who'd want to read a blog, anyway?"
I wanted very much to stand up and walk out of the room midway through their presentation, but I forced myself to stay and listen to everything else he said, since I was planning to write him a scathing email.  
When the presentation was over, I did walk out, while the audience stayed for refreshments.  I was furious and I knew that if I talked to him that night I would have chewed him out in front of everyone there.  I wanted to avoid that.  Krissy, however, went up front to talk with the man.  She told him that she and I wrote blogs, and that we've been told that we write rather well.  To this he responded, "Not everyone who can use a keyboard is a writer."  She tried to talk about this with him, but he just kept repeating that one sentence.  Eventually he said that he might consider editing our work so that someday we might have some hope of becoming writers.  Krissy refused his offer.  She described him to me as being arrogant.  Personally, I might go to him if I ever want lessons on becoming a pretentious snob.
When I'd calmed down a bit, I realized that this man had used arguments that anyone familiar with public speaking or debate would have recognized as being irrational.  He might have read a blog or two that was not well written and assumed that all blogs were written that way.  I was surprised that a college instructor (probably a professor) could have fallen into an illogical belief like this.  Professors are expected to be clear thinkers.  Also, despite his claim, all blogs aren't written in stream of consciousness, as anyone who has read a fair sampling of blogs would realize.  There are many good blogs, including nationally known and respected blogs which are certainly well written.  Instead of saying that he personally didn't like blogs, he tried to throw all blogs on the trash heap.  I realized that he had not been giving his professional opinion that night.  Instead, he had been expressing a pet peeve. 
I never did write that scathing email.  I saw that it wouldn't have accomplished anything.  I could have given him a piece of my mind, but that wouldn't have changed his view of blogs.  I got over my anger after a few days.  I understood that I had been angry because he had put me down as well as Krissy and the many fine blog writers who don't deserve to be dismissed out of hand.  
Everyone has a right to his own opinion, and if this one professor wants to harbor an unrealistic hatred of blogs and online journals, he's free to do so.  My concern is that he may influence the minds of students and other professors, prejudicing them against blogs.  Hopefully, one teacher can't do much damage to blog writers.
Maybe I'll write him a calm, thoughtful email about his irrational reasoning.  I'll have to think about that.