Every morning before I write my blog I check my emails. Because my address is in my profile description I'm now getting a fair number of emails from 'Fat' readers. Often the emails are wonderful. There are two I've got on line to publish - having received permission from their authors to do so. These are usually comments to a blog that are either far too long or far too personal to be put in the comment section. I enjoy reading these.
I also get a lot of emails from readers who bring stories to my attention. I first heard about Brent Martin's murder's conviction via a personal email. I first learned about the famous 'wheelchair dumping' the same way. Again, I appreciate getting these emails as I do sometimes miss things on the news - or with the state of disability news reporting - sometimes things are simply not reported to a national or international audience.
But over the last few months, something different has been happening. Some people are writing and telling me what I need to write, what has to be exposed. Thse emails make me feel a wee bit uncomfortable. I appreciate the passion behind the sentiment, but I don't want to give up decision making about blog content to others. I want this blog to be a balance of commentary on real world events regarding disability, but I also want this to be a blog about the personal observations of a disabled guy who works within the disability service sector (that would be me).
My problem is that some of the more recent emails have been quite angry. That I didn't write about the 'wheelchair dumping' incident in the States was, in the opinion of one reader, a missed opportunity for me to make the point about crimes against people with disabilities. OK, that's an opinion but the writer was very, very angry at me for 'ignoring' a real issue to write 'personal drivel'. Much like the comment made by Pat (who owned up and apologized) in an earlier post - there is real anger directed at me for not writing the blog that they 'have come to expect'.
I think we all need to slow down here. Chewing the Fat is a 'personal' blog. I don't work for a media outlet, I don't get paid for writing this ... it's just a blog. I feel that I have a right and an obligation to keep writing the blog that I envisioned and to do that I have to retain control over all editorial decisions. But I have to say, some of the blasts I have received have been both hurtful and frightening. One in particular had Joe saying,"Maybe it's time to give up the blog."
Again I want to clarify, because I really don't want to be misunderstood. I'm not talking about the comments on the blog that disagree with something I said. In fact, I love that. I love hearing divergent opinions and see how people have different takes on the world. Disagreement is cool, it means that there is a free exchange of opinions. That's not what I'm talking about here, I'm talking about angry personal attacks on me or my character, even worse are vague threats of harm.
Without exception, I encourage those with strong views to start their own blog, write what they think needs to be written. I go to a lot of other disability blogs and in fact have to be careful about how much time I spend in the disability blogosphere - there is a real world.
One other thing, I have been called aloof because I don't respond to the comments on the blog. Arrogent has been another word. I said in an early blog, and it probably bears repeating, I have made the decision to not comment regularly in the comment section. I find that as I work every day, full days, I travel and tire from the trips, that I have only a certain amount of energy for maintaining 'Chewing the Fat' ... and that goes into writing these daily posts. I worry that if I take on commenting to the comments that I wouldn't have the time or inclination to write a daily column.
One thing that I have found that readers don't sometimes understand. Ummm ... it takes me way longer to write this than it takes you to read it. Please don't imagine that I get up, sit down, and spend 5 minutes typing, and then publish the blog. A blog takes anywhere from 2 to 3 hours to conceptualize, write and refine. I'm afraid that's all the time I have. I read each and every comment and sometimes those comments have led me to write a new blog. But, if my lack of comment on comments is an irritant for you, accept my apologies and understand if I had a wee bit more time in my day, I'd comment on comments.
Ultimately though, I still want to get email alerts for news stories and other items of interests, I love the longer responses to my blog - that's cool. But could we tone down the anger, stop the threats and eliminate the presumption that Chewing the Fat is anything more or less than Dave Hingsburger's personal blog.