Of course all is not well in the online commenting world. Have you ever read the comments at the end of online news stories? Wow, were did some of these people come from? There are, of course, responsible posters and people who actually stay on topic, but some of the others are, well, I guess extreme is the only word that comes to mind. I am, of course, being polite….
This constant babble has other costs. If everyone is talking do we value those who have something to say? And if there are those out there who have something to say, how do we find them? Rating the comments help, but often it’s the same set of people making them that rate them… Finding the gems can be difficult.
The question becomes even more interesting from the other side: How do you make your voice heard? If you put a comment on a story or article, or if you add a review, I think you have become a “writer” in some sense of the term. In the old fashioned, traditional world writers took responsibility for their words and often put a lot of thought into what they said. Many still do, but then again, it seems many don’t. You sometimes have to ask why a few of these people even post.
As a writer you need to make sure that what you post adds value. If you consistently add value to the conversation people will start paying attention. Telling a previous poster that they suck does not add value, nor does blaming all of the world’s ills on the opposite political party. Isn’t a good feeling to know you’ve helped somebody, even if it’s as silly as pointing out a cool mp3 on Amazon?
Moving into the blogosphere the question of adding value takes on a whole new dimension. If someone writes a blog they must feel they are adding to the global conversation in some way. If you didn’t think you were adding value or enriching someone’s life in some way, why would you post a blog?
I understand that the act of spouting off does feel good and releases tension. I also know that writing a blog can be a good way to practice your communication skills. People do have reasons. Not all great blogs are world changers. Of course some would count humor as valueless, but not me – I think true humor counts as adding value.
I think most people who post, though, want to contribute. They want to join the conversation.
Sometimes when I write I don’t ask myself if it contributes to the conversation. I don’t think about adding value. I sometimes just write what feels good. Perhaps it’s time to start self-editing. Perhaps it’s time that I start reaching beyond myself, time to strive for that something more, to give something more, to add, to contribute, to…
Nah, I think I’ll just write to try for that allusive 15 nanoseconds we’ve all been promised.
My apologies to Andy Warhol, though I think if he were alive today he’d agree about the shortening time span.