This post is a reflection on blogging and what bothers me about blogging. Today I just wanted to take a step back and express my concerns about what I am seeing on the internet. If I ever decided to hang it up how and why should I do so? This is a post where I ask myself why do I write?
“If a story is not about the hearer, he will not listen. And here I make a rule – a great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last.”
“The best time to plan a book is while you’re doing the dishes.”
Old picture from the Community Evangelical Free Church story in Elverson, Pennsylvania
Currently I have two EFCA posts in the works, another post about Liberty University, a post about atheism and three related to modern evangelicalism which I have on my to do list. While working on all that I just wanted to stop and do a post that is reflective on the problems with blogging just as a way to contemplate and be honest. This blog is over 6 years old. I have published 1,906 posts and have 268 blog categories. Its read far and wide. I do know that the EFCA watches it, as I have heard that a couple of times. Its had over half a million visitors and has been read by nearly 1.5 million people. Its not something I take lightly. To be honest this blog has been a heavy burden. The stories and information processed has been dark and difficult at tines. I would be lying to you if I did not tell you how much I struggle to write some of the posts that I have done I also have the ability to stop and consider scandal and chew on it after it is over and done. This blog has written about a number of scandals that have come and gone. And as time passes I find myself thinking about what was written.
Below are the concerns I have about blogs and blogging and in this post I just want to lay done my thoughts and offer another side in my desire to be fair and honest.
Bloggers Can Develop Tunnel Vision
Survivor blogs can develop tunnel vision. They can be so focused on on a couple of issues that they miss the bigger picture. Some blogs can be so focused on sex abuse or spiritual abuse that they miss other problems. And the very real challenge of good people becoming causalities can exist. The more I write the more I realize how complicated these stories are. There can be one or two good people in the middle of a mess and I labor hard to be respectful when I come across them. But do others? When you tie your identity among a couple of issues then you can lose the bigger picture. Your personality can be warped I would suggest. The other problem is that once you are defined you have to keep up that persona and that has to be continued. When the blog takes on the role of autopilot and it just continues by itself people also run the risk of being trapped.
Fear of Being Wrong With a Personal Subject
When I write I sometimes have the nagging doubt that hangs in the back of my head. What if i am wrong? What if I was wrong about a pastor or the character in a story? When I interact with sources I ask plenty of questions and posts have gone back and forth quite a bit. But the question often remains…what if I am wrong. This blogger was the subject of a false accusation. I know what one feels like. It was the darkest thing I went through, and yes I say that with burying both of my parents. But after what I went through I want to make sure I am not doing that to another person. That is something that I would have a hard time living with. My concern with other bloggers as I have observed over the years is as follows. Do they wrestle with that? Or are they so caught up in the the stats and numbers and internet ranking that they don’t care? Do some people get addicted to blogging? Yes I think some do so . But I put a lot of effort into making sure I get the story right. But this situation hangs with me and yes I wrestle with it.
Noticing Narcissism Among Bloggers
In doing this for a few years there are some aspects about bloggers that I have noticed. One of them is narcissism. Narcissism can be a problem I would suggest in the blogging world. It attracts people who want to be in the center of attention and crave praise or controversy. As time passes and as I age I see narcissism being a problem in the blogging world. Its my hope that others can see this as well and be able to acknowledge this problem as well. But another factor is that there are blogs that want to tell other people’s story when the writers of them won’t tell their own. For me that is quite troubling in many ways. Narcissist bloggers are very much driven by statistics and blogging feedback. The better the stats the more the narcissist gets their fix.
Missing Good Stories and Positive Developments
Blogs can be focused so much on scandal that they miss positive, historical or other stories. Here at this blog I try and find balance and do all angles in the course of time. But I also do something that I feel is important. In normal times I drive around and sit in churches and other locations and visit. I think its important to not hide behind your computer but to be in front of it. One day I was traveling and popped up in a place o the East Coast. I met a pastor who was the subject of criticism by another blog. This pastor was troubled by what was said about him. I listened and chatted with him for awhile. As the conversation went on I realized that this pastor was the subject of a hit job. The original blog post by another blogger was done out of context. He explained to me the problems with the original post and I agreed with him. This and several other situations weigh on me and I think about them from time to time. IN writing this blog I certainly do try and go for context as well.
The Issue of Double Standards
The other day i wrote about SGM whistle blower Brent Detwiler and showed the issue of double standards in blogging. You can read that in, “How Brent Detwiler Never Learned From the Sovereign Grace Ministry Scandal.” One of the aspects that I find troubling about blogging is the double standards. You add tribalism to the mix and you have created something toxic. In the blogging world you can find inconsistency. Sex abuse or abuse is wrong in one context and in another is permissible. Yes you read that correct. Sex abuse or other abuse is wrong in a Sovereign Grace or SBC church but then sex abuse can be dismissed by someone for political or other reasons. I was taken back by how many people were opposed to sex abuse in one context and dismissed it in another. This blog desires and longs for consistency. That people would be opposed to abuse in all forms and way of life. For example that church, Boy Scouts, swimming clubs, sports leagues, Karate clubs, education, business world, government and politics, etc.. would all be consistent.
The Issue of Confirmation Bias
Confirmation bias is a problem. When I was in grad school I was taught to follow the facts where they lead. With that in mind I buried myself in libraries or achieves and more. Sometimes in blogging people will state something and then find stories to prove it. Confirmation bias leads to bad writing and bad blogging. What has led me to get more careful with this topic? Sex abuse and the EFCA. If I come up with e theory and then just hunt for evidence to confirm it what I am thinking then what appears is a flawed picture. The key is to follow the facts and to see where the facts lead you. But I have seen confirmation bias in the blogging world. Google can be misused to find almost anything.
Am I Writing For the Right Reasons?
A while back this blog explained why I am not involved in advocacy and the reasons why. You can read that post in, “Why I am Not an Abuse Advocate. And My Concern With the Blogging and Internet World.” There are many times and late nights where in the quietness of my kitchen where I ask myself the following. Am I writing for the right reasons? Sometimes blogs over-extend themself. Other times they got lost in the course of time. This blog has been driven by pain and I have harnessed that pain to write and look at a number of issues. But I often ask myself am I helping to contribute to the internet or am I making it more toxic? These are questions that I wrestle with as time moves on. For me this is good as I don’t think many bloggers tale the time to ask these kind of questions. 80% of all blogs die within a couple of years. This blog is well over the hump and does well. But just because it exists means I want to always ask the right questions and search myself along the way.
If I Decided to End This Blog This is How I Would Do it
If I ever decided to stop blogging one day I would just stop. I would work to stabilize the stories I wrote as there are many questionable ministers, churches and pastors that still need to be held accountable. What would lead me to stop? I realized that blogging is not effective. Or I became tired of writing. Or it consumed my time in ways that I lost friendships. Any of the previous reasons could do it. But if that day ever came it would be well thought out and planned in time.
However I have no plans of going anywhere. I am going to stick around for a long time.