So I put up a blog on global warming yesterday, headed off for a three hour bike ride, and came back to outbreaks of incivilities all over my Facebook page.
As one commenter, Terry Evans, put it, there could have been all manner of comments and argument about climate change and the politics of the environment, but instead it all went a bit awry. Then I started to get private messages saying I needed to be more active, give more of a lead in the debates which flow from my blogs.
To be fair to those posting comments on the website yesterday, most were about the environment and some were interesting. Most days there is a smattering of abuse comes my way in the comments, but so what?
But the Facebook rows seem to have started because someone asked why I had not addressed ‘the relevant issue of the day.’ I assumed he must have meant the continuing controversy over Damian McBride’s emails, but as I had blogged twice on that, I thought that a tad unfair. Someone else said it may have been a reference to the anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy. but the same person pointed out it was also the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and the assassination of President Lincoln.
I think the whole point of blogging, and its appeal, is that there is no such thing as ‘the relevant issue of the day.’ It can be whatever the individual blogger decides. As I write this, it is just after eleven o’clock. There is no mobile reception. I have not read a newspaper, listened to a radio or gone online to look at the news. So if there is a dominant issue in the media today, I have no idea what it is.
It was the same yesterday when I chose to write about the growing fears of climate change scientists that the world wlll not meet the agreed target of a 2C limit to a rise in temperature.
People are then entitled to ignore anything I say, or to comment in any way they like. But one person’s relevant issue of the day is another person’s reason to log off and head for a bike ride. I also think it wrong for people to get personally abusive about other commenters. I’m not talking about me here, but there was the beginnings of some nastiness yesterday.
So this is all to say people should calm down a bit. It’s only a blog, a single piece of writing at a single moment in time with, usually, a personal opinion or two. I’m perfectly happy to provoke controversy, but it’s not terribly pleasant to learn people have been taking verbal lumps off each other while I’ve been out on the bike.
As for more time spent leading the debate, I don’t think so. I may draw up, or get drawn up, a comments policy for the website to stop people who comment on there being subject to unpleasant and unneccessary attack (happy to exempt myself, as the possessor of a thick skin). But to be frank, I don’t intend to spend much more of my time than I already do online.
My usual routine is a morning blog, a morning twitter to the effect that I have blogged, which automatically becomes a status update on Facebook, then the occasional check on comments, though someone else does most of the pre-publication moderation, with an instruction as a general rule to err on the side of publication.
I enjoy doing it, and am pleased that some people seem to enjoy the contribution I make, but there are lots of other things to do besides, still only 24 hours in the day, and with the sun beating down on the Scottish Highlands, another bike ride beckons.