Are blogs really good for two-way communication? I’m starting to suspect no.
I belong to a forum of people who have only one thing in common. We represent a wide range of political beliefs, religious beliefs, ethnicities, and gender identities. Somehow, on this forum, we are able to have real discussions, including disagreements. People still generally respect each other while engaging in dialogue.
I used to blog a long time ago, when Blogger was still brand new. It seems that people were willing to disagree with each other, while respecting each other’s rights to have an opinion. Two things changed the whole environment. The 2000 election and September 11 and its aftermath. (Some might argue the Iraq invasion, but the shift started long before that, I believe.) I quit blogging a few months after September 11 because of the hostile atmosphere.
I don’t see discourse any more in blogs. With a few exceptions, the blogs I have come across tend to have commenters who always agree with the main post. Commenters who do not agree are ignored, dismissed, or treated as if they’re attacking the original poster. (Ignored is more common.) That’s if a person who disagrees even bothers to post a comment. There seems to be an intolerance for people with different opinions and priorities.
Is it the medium that leads to this kind of environment? Much like how Power Point is often blamed for poor presentations? Or is it people who like to pontificate and be agreed with are drawn to blogging? Or am I altogether wrong?
How does this seeming lack of tolerance for differing opinions and priorities translate to real-life librarian work? Again, how does it represent our profession? If a non-librarian were to come across some of our posts, what would he or she think of librarians? Librarians are, of course, people, entitled to their own opinions. But we also represent a profession, one that people are increasingly finding to be irrelevant (whether true or not, the perception matters.) If we are presenting an image that makes some people uncomfortable with “asking a librarian,” what does that do to us?
Can blogs be used for true two-way communication?