More on politics and friends
I want to spotlight this question that appeared in the comments section of my earlier thread on politics and friendship [some spelling corrections made here]:
...if this is the state of your personal relationships, is the blog a chance to say all those things you can't with them, a place to find ideological fellowship, or both or neither? Do [your friends] know about the blog? Just curious.
I began this blog mainly because I was spending so much time reading and commenting on other blogs that I figured I might as well start one of my own. At the time, I was writing quite a few emails to Andrew Sullivan, and a great many of them were being published on his blog (this was back when he was still featuring a couple of emails a day). It was fun to think that, because of the enormous volume of Sullivan's traffic, many people were probably reading my words.
But at the beginning, I never thought this blog would generate much traffic. I started out very slowly and tentatively here around the time of the build-up to the 2004 election, not ever thinking I'd be using it as much more than a dump for a few of the emails I'd sent to Andrew, or some of my longer comments on other blogs.
But I did have an idea; that's why I gave the blog the name I did. As I said, I really wasn't thinking that I'd ever have much traffic. But I was thinking that I wanted to make this a place to discuss the changes I'd undergone post-9/11, and to make it a place where people who'd had similar experiences would feel especially welcome. I knew I'd be discussing change in general, and it's interesting to me that so many of my posts have indeed continued to deal with that topic in one form or other.
And yes, since I began the blog in the intense period of the buildup to the 2004 Presidential election, it was at least partly an effort to channel the energy I had to speak about these things away from friends and family, most of whom had made it clear that they wanted to take such topics off the table. I was only too happy to oblige, because the experience with them had been so unproductive and unpleasant.
So the answer to the first question from the commenter is "both." Primarily, however, this blog has been a way to say things I just feel I need to say, and to make them available for others read them. In that I think I resemble most bloggers: we like to get our thoughts out there in written form.
As for the second question, whether my friends know about the blog, the answer is also "yes." I've given all those who are close to me--and many who are less close, but still friends--the URL. I've invited them to read it, with the caveat that they probably would disagree with my viewpoints. But of course, most of them already know that.
I've never sent them links to any political posts of mine, however, unless they've specifically requested that--and very few have. To send such things to them at this point would constitute a sort of mild harassment. Now politics only comes up if they choose to bring it up.
There are two family members who read my blog regularly. It is probably no coincidence that those are the two closest to me, and that they also happen to be the two who have come (at least partially, and to different degrees) over to the dark side along with me. There's one good friend who remains staunchly liberal who reads here regularly and thoughtfully. But most of you probably won't be surprised to learn that the rest of my friends virtually never come here, although I do send them links to some of my lighter, nonpolitical, pieces from time to time, if I think they'd enjoy that.
Of course, there are many possible explanations for my friends' general lack of interest in reading my blog. I was drawn to blogs the moment I first found them, back in 2002. Something about them just resonated with me--I liked the personal voice, the lively give and take, the sense of a Greek chorus (sometimes humorous) commenting on the news that had heretofore been intoned mostly by the likes of Cronkite and Rather.
But since the majority of people don't read blogs--left or right--most of my friends fall squarely into that category. Therefore the fact that they never read my blog isn't all that strange. But I still like to think that, if the tables were reversed, and I was the non-blog-reader and my friends the bloggers, I would have enough curiosity to go to their blogs and read from time to time.
But nothing I write here is a secret, not only in the sense that a blog is in the public domain, but also in the sense that I've given the information out to friends. What they do with it is their business.
I've found a lack of general interest on both sides in reading much of what the other side has to say. Since I'm the Tiresias of bloggers (metaphorically, that is!), I've spent quite a bit of time reading on both sides now. I think that's especially true of other "changers." And I still do quite a bit of reading of the NY Times and the Boston Globe, as well as my old favorite, the New Yorker, as well as a smattering of articles decidedly to the left of those publications.
But back when I was a liberal Democrat, I hardly ever recall reading periodicals on the right. One reason was that I thought I already was reading media that presented both sides fairly (the above MSM publications). I think that's a common perception still, among liberals.
There's also a perception that there's no need to read the other side because it's all garbage any way. And no doubt there are many on the right who feel that way about the other side, as well. But I think it's a bit harder for those on the right to avoid reading views from the liberal side, since it's so well represented in the MSM. And it always strikes me as strange that liberals, who pride themselves on openminded reflection and inclusion, as well as respect for different "truths," should so often be doctrinaire about shutting out the voices on the right from their own consciousness. If liberal stereotypes about the right are to believed, that's exactly the sort of behavior one would expect from the narrow-minded right, isn't it?