Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I've been going through a quiet phase online -- everywhere, not just this weblog, obviously. The weblog's a project that never really properly took off. Maybe it would have, had blogging been around when I first came into cyberspace and had so much to say. In fact, it might have been better had I done it that way, and not gotten into so many emotionally-draining battles on email forums, usenet, and posting boards. But, water under the bridge . . .

I admire the people out there who have so much information, and so much to say about it; I feel rather childish by comparison. Of course, not all weblogs are like that; some of the group blogs are as bad as other types of forums -- either you've got a crowd flaming each other or patting each other on the back for how right and clever they are.

If I had started a weblog earlier in my cyberspace career, it might have looked more like Baha'i Rants, which was started up by a friend of mine. This one ended up being the overflow -- that is, it's where I talk, when I don't feel like having anybody talk back. It also has the advantage of being unspecialized; unlike online forums, there isn't a particular topic one is expected to focus on. As far as I know, this space doesn't have much of a readership, so I'm thinking about just putting stuff up here, even if I do look foolish. I've had positive feedback from my friends, and one private comment from an Baha'i administration defender who wanted to get me into an argument. I never argue with Baha'i fundamentalists in private email; there's no point. In public arguments, at least I know I'm reaching an audience, which might well be worth the aggravation.

But it was bound to happen, that I got tired of my role in Baha'i cyberspace. I remember asking myself, way back when I first started posting, in late '99 and 2000, "Are we all still going to be here doing this ten years from now?" And I knew the answer had to be "No." However, there are always new people coming in, and one part of my role that I feel obligated to continue is to offer them support. My Unenrolled Baha'i list, however, has become pretty much self-sustaining. Until this year, it was very much dependent upon my input, and it's not anymore; it just chugs along fine without me most of the time -- except when I'm obligated to intervene as listowner. I usually try to welcome newbies, too. I may be an old burnout, but there are folks to whom all of the agony and ecstasy is new, and they need support.

I always did feel sort of uncomfortable in the rough-and-tumble of cyberspace debate, although one positive thing that came out of it is that I discovered that I could hold my own in a debate a good deal of the time. But I also discovered that there are those that play really dirty -- and against that kind of thing, no one can win, unless they want to spend their whole lives wasted fuming on the keyboard. I lost a good deal of my naivete -- there are folks out there that just shamelessly lie, something I've never felt comfortable with. That's another thing that wore me out -- I really tried to keep everybody on the liberal/dissident side of Baha'i debates happy. When people got crazy or extreme, I either didn't say anything, or I tried to pacify them. I spent a whole lot more of my life doing that than I should have, which is 20/20 hindsight, since it didn't work anyhow. Susan likes to gleefully point out how the Baha'i dissidents just ended up turning on each other and falling apart, but on the scholarly lists where she likes to do her thing, there's plenty of temper flare-ups and people walking off in a huff. The old "faith-based position vs. academic argument" crops up fairly regularly on those kinds of lists. It's just people, who are generally a pain in the ass, no matter what their beliefs or ideology or credentials.

So, where to go from here? Maybe I should just comment on things that I find out there in cyberspace, which I still read, even though I haven't been posting. I could take a stab at commenting on the news, or even light things, like the new Harry Potter book. (Hey, lots of adults read Harry Potter. Besides, I'm a teacher, and have thus gained some appreciation for children's literature. Just because I'm plotting ways to get Half-Blood Prince before my son doesn't make me a fanatic. :-))

What I've found is that the longer I go without posting, the harder it is to get up the gumption to say anything, anywhere.

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