Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Rules of a Blogger and things I learned this week - Sit quietly, agree politely.

Image my own.
Disclaimer: All views are my own and names/details are withheld for protection. Any links to my own life made by others are purely speculative.

Write things people agree with, is this what we should be doing? Writers have always wanted to write what they thought as truth, provoking reaction and debate among their audience. They also write what they know, sometimes in good jest and sometimes not. When it comes to bloggers, they can write about their own lives, their opinions, and even their dinner although I have never seen the temptation to do so as I live a life dominated by cheese sandwiches. It is a blog, not a newspaper so it must be understood that we have different rules.

We adapt to our medium, and we write what we think is best for it. The best way to be noticed, is to write something people may not agree with. But what happens when you have to take back what you said? The integrity of the written word becomes compromised. You can't retract something if it wasn't false information, so why should you do it because someone took it too far? If we write something then have to remove it, we also risk looking like a coward. Dang nabbit.

Most writers, reporters and journalists must adhere to a strict code of conduct, and there are lines that cannot be crossed for very obvious reasons. It includes such delightful consequences such as legal action and unemployment if we discuss too much. I don't know about you but I can't afford the legal fees as I'm not a natural blonde and I really need my roots done.

When these rules cross over into the blogging domain, how much free speech actually exists? If I didn't name a thing, or a place or a person, is it even worth this debate? If I didn't damage a thing, a place or a person, is it anything more than speculation? If I didn't disclose confidential information or break the rules of a specific policy, is it anything but a personal account of a situation? Apparently so. I repeat, dang nabbit. 

The only way to get around this is to blog anonymously. However, when you blog as yourself, those in your social group might have insight into what you write and why, but they must take into account the only reason they know these things is because you allow them to. Those on the outside don't know who you are, or what you do and they won't speculate, they might just be delightfully relieved that someone else feels the same way they do. Can I get a high five for group therapy?

Blogging, like all forms of writing, is a process and exercise of self liberation and story telling. So I might tell funny yet accurate stories sometimes, now you even want to take that away from me. Come on guys, you're stifling my glittering creativity! Give a girl a break, or no more lattes for you.

The Rules According to the Rest of the World

1. Smile and behave.
An old rule we have been subjected to since early childhood, but it goes along with being seen and not heard. Cross your legs, smile widely and speak when spoken to.
Rules according to a blogger: Say what you want and when you want, eat chocolate biscuits to keep your writing energy high.

2. Do no harm
Do not say or do anything that will upset others. Since when has this stopped anyone? How about you do no harm in the first place and we won't write about it?
Rules according to a blogger: No name and shame, no crime. Sorry Sherlock, you can speculate all you like but unless we name something, you aren't able to prove a thing. Happy Guessing Games! 

3. Suck it up
Don't like something? Deal with it, and be cheerfully proactive while doing so.
Rules according to a blogger: Research it, write about it, represent the people who like me are usually filled with an unusual amount of rage. Extra points if you are comical while doing it.

4. Do as you're told.
Self explanatory.
Rules according to a blogger: I may do what I'm told - for now. We have blogs because we have a voice, and thinking we can be silenced is just creating another festering bitterness inside of us. Don't say you weren't warned.

5. You make us look bad, so don't do it.
Invalid response. Try being better, and we will write nicer things. You are judged on actions, not appearances.
Rules according to a blogger: If it is bad, and we have the sources to back up this judgement then it is a free for all.

So for now we will all sit down, swallow our words and take it as a serious lesson learned. As for me, I'll be a little quieter, however - I don't take it back.

Side note: As for being anonymous, voices shouldn't be tied to invisible creatures. We deserve our byline. 

As for the Code of Conduct, here's number 1:
A journalist:

1. At all times upholds and defends the principle of media freedom, the right of freedom of expression and the right of the public to be informed.

I can check that box on this one.