A Matter to Resolve as Professional Growth
A couple of weeks ago, a professional television journalist in Rhode Island suggested that I should pay some attention to the audio for my video blogs, especially that which I’ve collected from public meetings. I agreed of course — could not reasonably do otherwise — but there’s a difficulty that bloggers face in other ways. It’s sort of like the science of physics, in which one must account for the act of observing within calculations. If I were to put a microphone in the faces of people speaking at a school committee meeting, as the journalist suggested, it would substantially change the results.
I bring this up because I seem to be making a habit, recently, of ticking off people with whom I share just about every goal and with whom I’d previously gotten along well. Today, as you’re more likely than not to know (because he has more listeners than I have readers), that person was Dan Yorke. After a contentious exchange between Dan and URI Professor Donna Hughes — with both of whom I’ve had many amicable communications over the past couple of years — I sent Dan two emails from the parking lot of the Portsmouth Post Office (first mistake, I guess). The first raised pertinent information related to his guest, and the second attempted to convey my reason for empathy with Professor Hughes’s being way too evasive in answering questions.
In the second email, I was sloppy with my language. I apparently miscalculated with regard to the attention that Dan would think my opinion worth. And I definitely didn’t anticipate how my note would come across. It was a mistake along the line between interpersonal communications and professional activity, and as a now-public one, wisdom suggests that I take it as the final catalyst for my prior intention to devote some prayerful thought to the series of such instances of tension.
Which is not to say that I believe myself to have been equally wrong on the previous occasions (although I won’t raise them, here). Moreover, I expect it to be a recurring difficulty because, as with the audio at town meetings, the “citizen journalism” captured under the vague boundaries of the word “blogging” is enriched, in my opinion, by some of the non-professional attributes. The phrase “big shot blogger” is denotatively incoherent. I’m a guy who offers my opinion. That’s what I do, and I intend never to write anything for the primary purpose of having it advance my career or have a political effect. Those will hopefully be the results, on occasion, but the moment I become a self-conscious “player” — more than an engaged citizen — is the moment I hope to have the perspicacity to switch back to poetry and fiction.
I do, though, have to strive for a greater empathy with my audience, particularly individual members thereof — and perhaps especially when I think that the individual is the entire audience. So, all of you individuals out there know this: In part because I’ve never really had all that high an estimation of myself, my public and private writing begins with the assumption that the reader is in every way my superior — even if he or she has inexplicably erred on a particular topic or in choosing a particular pathway of thought.
That’s all I have to say about that.