Blogs are great forums for folks to share their true thoughts and feelings…but also easy opportunities to make enemies! Not too long ago, a local high school teacher got herself in trouble when she revealed her true feelings about some of her students. While she didn’t name names, she did levy some pretty serious put downs about kids in her school and as a result is no longer in the classroom.
Not too long ago, someone read my blog and took offense at something they thought I was saying. While I wasn’t saying what they thought I was saying, the truth is I left the door wide open by not being all that clear–leaving something unsaid when discussing a controversial topic can get you into trouble as well as what you do say.
For those of you who blog your feelings and opinions (isn’t that what blogs are for?) and/or comments on other people’s blogs…do you have any criteria by which you evaluate what you are willing to write?
Here are a couple of mine that I try to keep (though I admit I haven’t always done so):
1. Don’t write to instigate conflict just because you can. We academic types sometimes like to stir of “intellectual” controversy for the fun of it. This doesn’t meet the standard of saying only that which is constructive (Eph 4:29f) for others. Constructive doesn’t mean noncontroversial. But, I need to ask whether what I want to talk about is wholesome and for the benefit of those who listen. If not, I shouldn’t open my mouth.
2. Avoid gossip. This should be obvious. But, I also think it isn’t necessary to jump on public figures who screw up unless there is something I think we can all learn. For example, do we need to discuss the latest actor who is destroying his or her life with drugs? What benefit do we get by musing about the lurid details of the person’s life?
3. Re-read what you write from the perspective of those who might disagree with you. Did you accurately portray the opinions of others? For example, portraying Republicans as not caring a bit about the poor or Democrats as only interested in taxing you to death isn’t accurate.
4. Just because you think or feel it doesn’t make it worthy of sharing. One sign of narcissism is the willingness to share any and every thought or feeling. And yes, I realize I am incriminating myself since I write a blog.
I’m attempting to finish several writing projects this week before I break for Christmas. I have numerous edits to a scripture and counseling article that I expect will be published sometime next year. I’ve got a couple of shorter essays as well. As I edit my work I am confronted, repeatedly, with the sad fact that I haven’t a clue about good grammar. I’m a fan of contractions. I, love, commas, and, parenthetical comments (don’t you?). Apparently, editors do not. They also eschew dangling participles (“When counselors give in to the temptation…, it leads to…” Doesn’t everyone know who the “it refers to?”)
But, I’m taking solace in Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue. He tells me that it’s not a sin to split infinitives. Some wacko in the 1800s decided it was a bad idea and now we’re stuck with it. And since Star Trek writers realized that it was stupid to say, “To go boldly where no man…”, I’m going to confidently split an infinitive today. Um, besides that one.
Its end of the semester time so I’m back to reading fun things instead of grading papers. Actually, I already finished my grading–I’m just avoiding other important work like prepping for next semester and administrative tasks. On my nightstand is this book by Bill Bryson: The Mother Tongue: English and how it got that way (HarperCollins). Believe it or not, this book is interesting. Maybe I’m only interested because I have two children trying to learn spelling and pronunciation, but Bryson gives ample evidence of the insanity of the English language (e.g., how bough and though and tough are pronounced so differently; why we use teller as in bank teller; how words like brave now mean something opposite of what it used to, etc). He also helps explain how the English language developed and its connections to other languages. This may be his most interesting point: that it is clear that most European languages have the same parent as seemingly strange languages such as Sanscrit. Though he does not defend this point, it seems that linguistic study supports the idea of all languages coming from the same parent.
One interesting chapter details how English words get formed (adopted from another language as English is noted for, made up, adapted from other words, mistakenly written and carried on, etc.). He tells the reader that Shakespeare gave us 1500 plus new words–that 1:10 words he used in his writings were created new by him (or first appeared in his writings). That got me thinking of my 7 year old. He is nuts about football. Each week, he asks me who the Eagles are “versing.” Maybe a new word on the way?
I’m hoping this book will help expand my vocabulary and even help my poor understanding of grammer. But, if it doesn’t, please treat me with ruth. (look it up in the dictionary)