Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Art of Blogging

This blogging thing is complicated.

I'm the first to admit that I'm pretty computer illiterate. (My keyboarding skills are AMAZING though.) Other than my brother Bill's blog (which he doesn't write anymore...very sad), I'm pretty new to the blogging world. My sister and another brother blog and I enjoy reading both of their daily insights. We're all busy and it's a way I can feel like I'm connecting with them even though I only get to see them a couple times a month. It was for this very reason that I've started blogging.

Until recently, I did not read the blogs of people I didn't know. And then I clicked on a link on Facebook (ahh! yes, the dreaded Facebook). A friend of mine had joined a prayer group for a young married couple and their unborn baby. And the woman had CF. Because of Eilidh's friend with CF, and with me still learning about the disease, I clicked on the link to the husband's blog.

There I sat, for 4 hours until 1 am in the morning, reading their story, crying for people I had never, and will never, meet. I cannot do this family justice by trying to retell their entire story. The Cole's Notes: Wife, Tricia has CF. Was going to be registered for a double lung transplant. Found out they were very unexpectedly pregnant. Refused to abort, Tricia continued with pregnancy, and baby Gwyneth was born at 24 weeks, 4 days. Lots of scary medical issues including not knowing if either was going to survive. Fast forward almost 5 months, and both mom and baby are going to be heading home, mom with new lungs. And all with the belief that God is in control. If you've got 8 hours, I highly recommend checking it out.

I digress.

What started out as a way for this family to keep other family members and friends up to date about their lives has turned into a 4 and a half million hits blog. Welcome to the Internet world. Nate has allowed his blog to be read by anyone as a way of educating the world about CF, premature birth, organ transplant and God. And that's amazing. But what happens when you open up your life, or part of it, to the world?

Some people start to feel like they're allowed to critique, complain, and leave comments all under the veil of anonymity. Misunderstandings arise. People take things the wrong way. If someone disagrees with something written, they feel that they have the right to start a debate.

But here's the clincher. People are critiquing some one's life. The decisions they make. And in a public forum. Is that ok? Is that what is allowed in the blogging world? If I was sitting across from a person I do not know personally telling me about a decision they have made for their infant, unless that person asks for my opinion, do I have the right to give it? Does the fact that I'm reading the information on a computer change that?

What ARE the blogging etiquette rules? Several blogs I've read set the ground rules up front. "This is not a place for debate." Or "I welcome your viewpoint on this." Some blogs I read have disabled the public comment section because of negative or destructive comments. Other blogs want people to debate with their opinions. But here lies the difference. The blogs that want to debate state as such. The blogs who are wanting to share some (and that's the key...SOME) of their life, typically state that their blog is not a place up for debate.

My head is a spinnin'. Have I broken any blogging rules just writing this post? I hope not. Do I want someone debating on my blog? Debating, perhaps. Criticizing my parenting skills, not so much. I have a 16 year old daughter doing a fine job on that point already.

What are YOUR thoughts on blogging etiquette? I'm setting the ground rules for this post. I'm open to debate on this one point. Opinions, thoughts, recipes....what have you. I'm not too interested in rude comments around how lame my blog is, or that I have too many children or something of that nature. Be nice. Play fair. I'm a newbie.

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