Whatever happened to reasoned discourse?
A couple of months ago, I was invited to write a blog for the Palo Alto Weekly. I agreed, and thought it would be fun.
And four months later, I am not sure how much fun this is.
Blogging was a new experience, but having gone through it, I don’t know if I like what is happening.
People — mostly those who remain anonymous — attack not the issue, but the blogger. If I happen to disagree with their point of view, they immediately call me "uninformed," "lacking the facts," stupid or whatever. It becomes a personal vendetta.
And under the anonymity cloak, which I don’t wear, they feel free to do anything and name call as much as they want.
Case in point: I recently wrote a blog about the wisdom of the Palo Alto City Council agreeing to spend $1-plus million dollars on a future police station, which needs voter approval to proceed. I asked whether voters should first approve of the expenditure, before spending million(s) of dollars for studies and a campaign to get it approved.
There were those in the community who challenged me, who said they needed the information about the police station (size, cost, etc.) before they could vote to approve such an issue. A very fair comment. And a good dialogue.
But there were those who got into a personal attack:
“I find it disturbing that Ms. Diamond’s smear jobs are found to be persuasive by anyone who is allowed to vote. She clearly caters her arguments to the most penurious section of the Palo Alto community.”
Posted by An Involuntary Palo Altan, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 1, 2006 at 1:39 pm
This is a solitary example, but it echoes so many other responses to blogs I and others have written.
Now I am (relatively) strong, and I can take these attacks. But it seems to me that the blogs have disintegrated into angry, name-calling personal attacks, for reasons I don't understand.
Can't we simply discuss issues reasonably in town? I would hope so, but that is not what is happening.
I've posted about 20 blogs, and a lot of them have encountered angry responses. Nasty, mean comments, particularly my blog on banning pit bulls in town.
But, on the other hand, there also have been spectacular blogs, like the one on "Why shop in Palo Alto?" We had scores of residents with really thoughtful comments on why they do/do not shop in Palo Alto. It was fascinating. It was a discussion every city council member should read.
It's just not my blogs that get this hate mail -- it is happening to blogs nationwide. I see other bloggers being attacked with equal personal vindictiveness.
Why are we doing this as a society? What are we getting out of it? Why are we so angry at each other?