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Take heart, Laila--and other bloggers!

One of the best BC blogs, in my opinion, is done by Laila Yuile: I’m Laila Yuile and This Is How I See It. She has broken real news, taken on the powers that be, and opened up some great discussions on many, many topics of interest and importance to British Columbians.


And her recent response to some nasty insults and name-calling in comments she witnessed on my blog prompted me to think about what blogging is really all about.

Here’s Laila’s note:

Harv, I don’t know about you, but I have increasingly found that readers have expectations of what we should, or should not write. As you mentioned above, ( paraphrasing) when we hit the mark of their choosing, we are hero’s, when we use the same tools and viewpoint applied to their baby, we become the enemy.
I called one long time reader on it about a few weeks ago, when I said Harry Lali deserves a big fail for coming out and welcoming middle aged white men back to the NDP.

Wow. One comment in particular surprised me when it was stated they expected much more of me than that, that it was not at all on the level of my other work.

I asked the reader if I had done the exact same report on a Liberal candidate, if they would have approved, and they admitted yes, they would, but they loved Harry and felt it wasn’t fair.

After seeing both parties fail us on many issues for the last couple of years, I consider it my duty as a resident of BC, to question anyone and everyone looking to lead this provincial government, NDP , Liberal or otherwise. I don’t care if someone chooses to vote NDP or not, but I do think after being lied and deceived for so long, that no one should be taking any candidate at face value,regardless of polical bent.

Keep on, keeping on Harv. I for one, value your opinion and views, whether we  agree or not. You have been a very welcome addition to the blogosphere.”

Thanks, Laila.

I decided to blog a response, instead of just writing a comment response, because I think it’s well worth considering who the bloggers really serve and why we do it.

As many of my readers have already noticed, I have no ads on my blog; I get no revenue … in fact, it actually costs me dough, because I pay for use of the server/company where it is all handled/stored. I also allow other select sites to republish my blog without paying any compensation.

Why do I do it?  Well, ever since i was 11 years old and had my first comments published in the Montreal Gazette...I’ve always had a lot to say.

First there were student articles on a newspaper’s kids' page, then letters to the editor, then I became a real reporter at my university newspaper, a corporate newsletter and finally the BIG time…the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.  From there, I’ve never looked back, telling stories and yapping for four decades.  And I’m not going to let a little thing like retirement stop me now. (Actually the blog was my friend Chris’s idea to give me an outlet for my writing and views, and maybe also to  shut me up a little on politics etc when we take our long walks.)

And it’s fun! Gives me some continued presence in media world: enough to make the Top 10 on Vision’s alleged Hit List of journalists …four years after I retired! (I was flattered.)  And I really like to think I still have some interesting ideas/observations to impart, even if people may disagree with my views.

That’s what makes blogging really great… it gives bloggers a medium to express themselves and it allows instant response/discussion of issues and ideas that the MSM simply cannot instantly offer on air, in their newspapers or news programs.

We do …and it works.  What better proof of that than the fact bloggers are blocked, harrassed, arrested in all the dictatorships that still permeate the world.

But bloggers, even here, do pay a price: if they simply disagree with you,  there are those who respond with all kinds of insults and name-calling; derision; bullying tactics; and filthy language.  And they also try to name call and insult other commenters on the blog as well. (I  won’t publish a lot of that.)

Which brings me back to Laila’s note.

Forget about them, Laila.  People who respond like that are nobodies, low-level intellects and who would likely never talk to us that way in person, but probably hurl invective and  insults at well at anyone they deal with anonymously:  telephone operators; service providers; phone retail clerks/complaint handlers … and bloggers. 

The only thing that really worries me about such people is that I fear they may also treat their spouses, children and family members like that as well. That’s troublesome.

But Laila, THEY are not the ones we blog for or try to challenge.  In fact, most of those who read our blogs never write in or comment. However, they read because they like to be informed, sometimes entertained, but almost always, made to think … even if they disagree. And just by reading blogs, they are also participating in the great democratic process, even if they don’t realize it. (Ask those in China, Iran, North Korea,  denied access to the political  blogosphere,  what I mean.)

Of course, the real GOLD are the blog readers who respond, write in and add new information.  Even if they disagree with everything I have written, I value them tremendously because they do make me think, help educate me and substantially improve the debate. Substantially! 

 And the detailed arguments some lay out, taking a good deal of time and effort, are my favorites:  I take them as a compliment to the improtance of what wew are all doing here …even if they take an opposite position. (Wrong as they are!)

Those on the fringe, Laila, will always be there; just as in society in general. And by shouting and insults … like the madman walking down the street, shouting wildlyand hurling his wrath skyward,  everyone notices … and they draw more attention than they should.But no one is really impressed.

But they  ust never be allowed by the majority to take over the dialogue, bully the debaters, or sully the overall richness of the blogoshere.

Blog on!

Harv Oberfeld

Harv Oberfeld is a journalist and blogger. This column originally appeared on his blog, Keeping it Real. Reprinted with Mr. Oberfeld's kind permission.