good manners and the blog community

I mentioned in my post yesterday about good manners on the internet that I found it difficult to write for fear of being impolite. Thus my instincts spoke to me! Because after I slept on it, I woke with a calmer and deeper understanding. Not about copyright for photographs - which was infact the main reason I was writing - but about blog communities.

This is a much different world than that of our youth, when letters, or very expensive phone calls, were the only way we could communicate with distant friends and relatives. Now, communication is extremely easy - and comes fraught with its own issues. I am learning (slowly) that courtesy includes tolerating silence. It means not assuming a negative about someone just because they don't communicate with me.

This is particularly difficult in certain cases where a response really is basic decency - such as in an ongoing email conversation - but even then I have to ask myself why I am being so angry when I don't know what is happening on their side of the story. They may have had some troubles since their previous email. They may have never received my reply. Politeness on my part doesn't just mean how I behave, but also how I think.

In the comments to yesterday's post, someone asked why people don't leave comments on blogs. I can offer several reasons : shyness (which can be a huge factor), not wanting your name or opinions displayed in public, lack of time, reading with a nursing baby in your arms, reading in a room crowded with noisy homeschooling children, reading on a mobile phone which makes commenting nigh on impossible, not knowing what to say, disagreeing with the post and not wanting to confess such, and more, including this scenario which I described:

Another reason for me is fear that I will be seen like an over-eager creepy person if I comment on every single post someone writes, *especially* if they never comment on my blog. There are many people I read who apparently don't read my blog, or if they do they never let me know, and so I assume they don't really like me. Commenting in that case would be awful, so I just enjoy their blog in quiet (or sometimes leave a note if I am very touched by what they have written.)  

Just after I wrote my reply to that commenter, a dear friend confirmed it for me by saying (at Facebook) that she read most blogposts on her mobile phone, where even the "like" button doesn't work.

So I have been reminded by a loving universe that courtesy means not assuming negative things about other people, and opening your heart with hospitality even to those who do not want to come in.

32 comments:

  1. *This* time I'm reading on my laptop and I can get a comment to go through! :) :) :) I so appreciate your thoughts on these matters, which I too ponder long and often. Comments on my blog posts make me unbelievably happy--those moments of connection with women (nearly always women) who have become true friends of the heart. How much we've seen each other through, this past decade! So often I chide myself for not being better about commenting--oh if you could hear the conversations we have in my head! :) --but it does seem like there has been a string of hindrances. First the nursing babies, now the fussy phone. Periodically I resolve to do better, to make the time for returning to a post on my computer later, and for a while I'll be more consistent...and then life whirls me away again, and I'm reading on my phone in the dark and wishing blog platforms handled phone comments as amiably as Facebook.

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    1. You always teach me consideration and graciousness. And yes, this has been a wonderful decade of friendship such as I would never have available to me in real life. I am so grateful for all the wonderful women I have "met". And quite honestly, I've found that I don't need to talk often with my e-friends to feel connected with them and to know they are there for me.

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  2. This is great advice. At the same time I usually don't think ill of others for NOT commenting, I'm also sad at the lack of engagement. I think I blog because I *need* the back and forth. In the rest of my life I don't have a lot of people who "get" or understand me, so when people respond to a blog post it means the world. So yes, when it doesn't come, the angst begins...(umm, like with every post, lol). Here, I am SO often left speechless, in a good way, or all I can think to say is "interesting." I don't want you to come away with the wrong idea when all I have is a word or two, so I stay silent. Alternately, I talk to much, Heh.

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    1. I am the same, not having many people in real life who are simpatico with me. Luckily, the important people are :)

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  3. Oh and feel free to be an over eager creepy person on my blog, LOL. :) That made me laugh, mostly because I feel your pain!

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  4. First, I LOVE this photo! And it is hard to navigate this world sometimes, this virtual space, perhaps the same rules that apply in person simply can't be the same here? It does feel like fewer and fewer people take the time to comment on blog posts, and I can be guilty of that myself. I think this is one of the ways that social media has changed things... one stop shopping so to speak. And some days, I simply don't have as much time as I would like, so I feel lucky if I even get to read.
    That said, I adore your writing, your photography, and your bravery... even if I don't always say so.
    xoxo

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    1. Thank you regarding the photo :) That is so nice for you to say.

      Interesting thought that perhaps there should be different social rules for the internet. Something to ponder. I felt bad that I'd raised this subject ... mainly it was about the theft of photographs on tumblr etc, and I threw the blogging stuff in there to pad the list ... but now I'm glad because it's inspired such an interesting conversation.

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  5. Funny, I sometimes don't comment here because I've felt like an awkward voice in a sea of lovely women who are much more elegant in their ability to put thoughts to words. Plus I feel a little like an outsider in that I am more of a city girl, whereas you (and many of the commenters here) are more in tune with nature. That said... I eagerly await your posts and find myself agreeing in many other ways with your worldview (blech, I hate that word but hopefully you know what I mean).

    As an aside, one of the things that turns me away from commenting is if a blogger repeatedly does not reply to comments. I'm probably one of the few who will check back later in the day to see if they have. Of course, I know it's not always possible to answer. But over time, you can tell who wishes to engage with their readers and who doesn't. I don't stop reading the non-commenting blogs... I just don't spend time putting my thoughts together to "speak" my opinion. To me, the fun in commenting has always been finding like hearts and/or opposite hearts who teach me to grow and stretch my views. The exchanges are one of my favorite things about the blogging world, and it's just not the same if it's only one-sided.

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    1. Your voice is not awkward at all, and a city girl is definitely welcome. I try to be in touch with nature ... but the truth is, I could never go too far from town. I love galleries and libraries and tea shops and convenience too much!

      I hope you know how welcome you are here, and how appreciated.

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    2. Other than being a suburb girl, I could have written this word for word, Barb! :)

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  6. ditto ditto kelly. and i will add that some days, in the middle of a reply, i get interrupted, and just flat out forget i didn't finish responding. (and hey, i've rec'd comments from people telling me to just get over the death of my cat, or that my blog was so lately depressing, what with too many deaths and everything, so seriously, i sometimes post a saddish post and think that no one will say a thing. i'm always surprised when/if someone does.) xoxo

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    1. oh my, I am so sorry people have said such awful things to you. I myself know the pain of losing a beloved cat - my Bella died fifteen years ago, and I still mourn her. I still remember her beautiful gentle face and the loveliness of her spirit. She was such a very good and precious friend to me, and I so much hope we meet again beyond the veil. I would love to hug her once more and feel her purr which truly was like a sound of love. Therefore (((hugs))) to you, and sympathy, for the loss of your cat, regardless of how long ago it was.

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  7. i love you. i love what you wrote and your honesty and that you have the ability to look at things in many ways. i couldn't agree with you more in not knowing whose reading, leaving comments or not, etc. and not judging them.

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  8. As in life, we have to be tolerant in the blogging community. I like your honest thoughts.

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  9. I really struggle with the speed of communication these days. I don't own a cell phone, because I know it would overwhelm me. Even though we have lightning fast email and internet, I feel less connected today than ever. One of the things I miss about hand-written letters (besides the sweet thrill of finding one in my mailbox!) is the opportunity they afford to savor someone else's thoughts--the time and care taken for me--before responding. I miss the lovely ritual of choosing stationery and little enclosures, of pausing to really think about the recipient and my reply, and returning their kindness with love. We do everything today with such speed and brevity that a lot of our communication has become a meaningless blur of sans serif font on a white screen. We communicate more, but perhaps not better. I do my best to keep up and honor my friends' and relatives' wishes to communicate via the computer, but half the time, I feel like my messages are read in a rush, given a hasty reply, deleted, and quickly forgotten. It is, indeed, a very different world from our youth.

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    1. Wow, a life without a cell phone is a huge deal this days! I am really impressed. I also agree with you totally about being connected less than ever. I do not remember much of the times where internet wasn't common (I'm 22), but I wish I was born much earlier to be able to live without all of these.

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  10. I have many letter penpals, with whom I also exchange emails. I get quickly involved, especially when it's a person that I feel can be my soulmate. And I AM a little bit angry or disappointed if they do not answer frequently. I feel like starting a story or a good conversation, but the other one suddenly goes to the other room with a quick "I'll be right back" and he or she doesn't come back for a long while. Then of course there are apologises and expplanation, really reasonable, so I easily forget about disappointement. Just to the next time, which is just the same. I'm waiting everyday, but there is silence.
    The same is about writing letters, which I do not understand. Some of my pals have an enormous amount of penfriends and I just feel like it is more like factory of people, not a friendship. I am afraid they are writing quick, similar letters to everyone. No place for a long talk, sharing stories or impressions.

    Of course, I am guilty myself. sometimes I do not answer messages because I have no will at that time. I think so do others.

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    1. I only got a cell phone two years ago when it finally became necessary. Half the time I don't enough know how to use it, lol.

      What irritates me about email exchanges is when you ask someone a question - or reply to their request for a favour - and they never answer back. It leaves you wondering all kinds of things.

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    2. I carry perpetual email-tardiness guilt. I think in recent years--as FB, Twitter, and texting became avenues for real-time conversations--I have attached a kind of snail-mail schedule to my email inbox. :) I'll think "oh it's only been a week (two weeks...three)--I still have time to answer that." Probably this is because I think of email as warranting longer, more thought-out responses. But I had a sad moment recently where an online friend I love emailed me a question, and weeks passed before I replied, and she said she was relieved--she thought she'd offended me! (Very hard to do, btw. And in the rare event I'm upset by a note, that's the one likely to get an immediate reply! LOL. Sort of.)

      Another recent incident: a close friend emailed me a quick question. A day passed and I hadn't replied. (This time I have a reasonable excuse: it was in the middle of Comic-Con.) But I posted something on Twitter, and I liked something on FB, and she made a wry, friendly observation that I sure was active on social media for someone who owed her an email, ahem... ;) We got a good laugh out of it. But it speaks to the point, doesn't it? Social media is so quick, and sometimes (not always) so surface, but I don't want to be relating to people mostly in quick, surfacey ways, do I!

      (Related: my worst response time of all is FB private messages. I read them on my phone and then, because the notification is gone, I forget to come back to them later. Except in the shower. I answer SO MANY letters in my head in the shower!)

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    3. I also have troubles with FB private messages. They mix up "email" with "FB" in my mind in the most disturbing way ;-)

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  11. Good morning, Sarah.

    I read your post yesterday ~ twice, but didn't know what to say. I didn't agree with everything you'd written, so I didn't leave a comment.

    To me, politeness is a set of social rules. Instead, I think it is more important to be true and kind. We are all trying to find our way, and everyone is on a different level, making communication difficult. I visit a lot of different blogs ~ not just the ones that are simpatico with me, because I believe everyone has an important message to share. It's like going to an art gallery and looking at all the different forms of art, learning a little something from each piece.

    I am a terrible writer. Stumbling around, trying to learn how to express myself better. Art and music are my communication tools.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us. I will have to return again tomorrow to read all the comments left in this post. Must run for now.

    In friendship,
    Lin

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    1. Hi Lin :-) I agree with you that politeness is a set of social rules - a codification of kindness, so that even when we are feeling unkind or unhappy, we can keep up the act of kindness. And I agree with you about everyone being at a different level, which is pretty much what I wrote in this post. I don't mind disagreement :-) I would love to know what you disagreed about in my previous post - do you think photographs should be free to use, regardless of copyright?

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  12. Most definitely, good advice, and what a beautiful photograph this is!

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    1. Thank you for such kind words :-)

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  13. Dear everyone,

    thank you so much for the marvellous conversation. As I said to someone up there in the middle of it, my original post was mainly concerned with issues over copyright for photographs, and I tacked on a bit about blogging to pad out the list. But it obviously touched a nerve. I know some bloggers long for comments, while others actually close down the commenting facility, but generally I've noticed over the recent years a desire for more communication, reminiscent of "the old days of blogging" (a whole ten-twelve years ago, lol!) I myself have moved on from those days because I no longer write about my family life, and I don't believe readers are interested in my most common thoughts and experiences, which involve writing and photography. And I find Facebook is where all the conversation has gone, which is good for me because it's more private. But I am fascinated with blogging culture and I love to discuss it - unfortunately though it is a sensitive topic, hard to write gracefully. Thank you for indulging me :-)

    I've enjoyed reading everything you've had to say and I appreciate your lovely words and friendship.

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  14. Sadly, we live in a world where good manners and common courtesy are often the exception. And the Internet has made it nigh to impossible to even find those who steal your work, be it words or photos, let alone punish them for their crimes. (Yes, it's still a crime to plagiarize and use photos without permission.) Such things may seem insignificant to many, but I can speak from a writer's standpoint and say that the average person has no idea the hard work that goes into writing well and to have someone take something that belongs to you, and claim it as their own, is revolting to me.

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    1. Yes. I agree. And while I love pinterest I think it and tumblr robbed us of any chance of defending our copyright. Abuses are so widespread, even the threat of prosecutions a couple of years ago didn't stop people copying things at will. I think too when people steal your words it is perhaps even worse.

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  15. So here lies the problem. This form of communication is limited. To have written that I disagreed with something you wrote was "impolite" of me. We cannot be open and honest.

    Do I think photographs should be free to use, regardless of copyright? Certainly not.

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    1. I respectfully disagree that your disagreeing with me was impolite :-) I didn't mind at all, and I felt you were gracious in the way you stated it.

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  16. I find this funny as I am a new reader and just scrolling through past posts for the first time.
    I just left a comment, but wasn't signed in. When I went back it appeared the comment was lost. Alas.

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    1. i'm sorry for your lost post. you shouldn't have to be signed in ... sometimes blogger is strange.

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