Duff is back but I understand that he’s deep into a “Man-Cold”. As men are sometimes baffled by estrogen, women can just never understand that there’s something about the presence of testosterone that exponentially multiplies the effects of the common cold in some men.
Today I may ramble a bit, bear with me or click on another link, the joy of the internet is that there’s no required reading if I’m not entertaining or engaging you. I may remain inspired enough to find the time to post from time to time once Duff returns.
I’ve looked at the couple of weeks of moderating and contributing to this blog as an opportunity and a privilege, and I’ve used the experience to try to learn some things about blogging. I have not had as much time as I would have liked to contribute, I have a day job that’s had challenges over the same time period. If no one feeds a blog with content number of visitors and page views drops rapidly. That’s my first lesson of blogging; you need to feed this blog beast constantly.
My second lesson is that blogs tend to attract mostly like minded people, which can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Growth of ideas and development of movements and democracies by intelligent dialogue is important to me, so understanding all sides of an issue helps one find the center that the majority will approve. I came into moderating an existing group and was able to have some great learning experiences and exchanges of ideas. I gained new respect for a number of our readers who comment regularly.
By being a shameless self-promoter and cajoling people on Facebook to read and share, we set some records for both visitors and page views. I learned that the majority of people who visit don’t comment or even mark the post as a “like”. We know someone has been reading but we don’t actually know what you’re thinking.
When writing for the weekly paper formerly known as the Hudson Gazette, I considered our paper the deeper end of discussion, opinion and local government and the other local weekly was the shallow more social end of the spectrum. On Internet discussion, Facebook is mostly a social place where people are “friends”. I purposely have few “friends” on Facebook as my main purpose for using it is to have near real time pictures, video and news of our grandchildren. I find Facebook a nearly impossible place to engage in deeper discussions that might change people’s views, life philosophy or politics or educate yourself to change.
This blog experience has inspired me to learn something of WordPress, the open source platform that this blog is running on. It appears that, in a modern world, being without an ability to communicate your message on the Internet will leave one effectively mute in the near future. I’m a technician and prefer to understand the underlying process and technology and so I’ve stretched myself to learn some things. Visit one of my own first admittedly not well designed website to see some examples of my day job’s products at: http://t-slots2go.com/tslots2go-home-page/rpt-motion-inc-examples/. Not as hard as I expected it would be, but it only took a few hours much of that gathering pictures.
Democracy, especially in the US, has abandoned ideas and policy as selling points and has instead become a high stakes media game. I believe that this trend is a reflection of how the younger generations are becoming engaged and mobilized by political parties. I fear for the isolation of the older and not connected parts of our society, but they’re less and less important to getting elected. Democracy by leveraging media and social media may bring the USA some unexpected challenges that will test the checks and balances designed by the founding fathers.
I started thinking seriously about the failings of modern democracy in about 2009, based on the low voter interest and high levels of apparent dissatisfaction in Hudson. I should clarify that, because I believe the vast and silent majority is quite satisfied. Long before that I had simplistically blamed apathy for every evil of our system, today I see things differently and blame a combination of things with apathy being only one component of why people aren’t getting involved.
Social media represses most people’s willingness to speak up and risk judgement, and so do blogs. Small communities are among the worst places: without a solid vision from leadership they can divide easily into small herds of like minded people with each group often having a fairly narrow vision. These groups can have disproportionately big voices and the silent majority simply won’t engage them.
Probably the most isolated group in any small town is the Mayor and Council, especially if there are any contentious issues or angry people in town. They mostly hear good feedback from their supportive friends and harsh criticism from special interests, past opponents and future mayors in waiting at council each month. At the council meetings I’ve attended, I’d estimate criticism and complaints outweigh compliments by about ten to one.
Because I don’t believe small town or large country democracy is working well these days: I am actively looking for and thinking about ways we might reform the governance of small towns so that the governments that we elect can might have some real time feedback from the silent majority during their term. We need ways to engage people to speak honestly without fear of judgement within a small town, or simply people an anonymous way to give a thumbs up or thumbs down to any given idea that the leaders or citizens might have. Until that day, we all need to treat our local democracy with the respect it deserves and the effort that is each citizen’s responsibility.
Have a great week ahead and give someone words of love, a hug, or just a casual compliment or encouragement. We’re all on this random space rock together, and our journey is finite and of indeterminate duration. My advice: treat the gift of today as a special event not to be missed.