You can have a real clunker of a class, with disinterested students and hours that feel like days, and then you can have a class that just bubbles with energy and enthusiasm.
The latter kind of class really sustains me. I leave them boiling over with might. (Then I go home and try to get to sleep when I really should have used that mojo to just keep working…)
I’ve had two of those mighty classes now at Clockworks Cafe, and that has everything to do with the excitement that people in this community have about blogging, whatever their current knowledge or abilities with the medium.
Our first free class there became an exercise in the limits pushed by the new journalism as we all struggled with the presence of one silent camera (thanks, David!).
This last one? Well, this one was all about what happens when you put your name behind what you say.
What does it mean to blog as a person and not as an anonymous entity?
One of the students in my class was interested in writing a blog to share her political views, since she had already accumulated quite a few readers of her opinions through the email list that she was serving. This student was intent on staying anonymous to protect herself from the evil whispers of her neighbors and her fellow Salemites.
My response? Don’t do it. If you can’t put your name behind what you say, then don’t say it in a forum that everybody in the world could possibly have access to (disregarding the digital divide).
I’ve paid the price for my comments in a very real way before. Months ago I made some snarky comments about the closing of the scrapbook store on Hawthorne Boulevard. I don’t hate scrapbooking per se, I just hate the idea that you have to buy a bunch of Leeza Gibbons junk to scrapbook. (For the record, I have three from my days living in Germany).
Then one day I was hanging out near the dessert case at Christo’s, holding my baby in a sling, when I was approached by a woman who pretty much told me off for being so mean.
“Those people lost their livelihood!” she said.
“It’s just an opinion,” I told her.
She was actually pretty nice about it. (Strangely, she thought she had read the comments in the local paper. That’s another lesson in blogging. If your site looks good, people might think you’re a legitimate news organization…).
But back to the idea of anonymity. What bothered me most about my student’s desire to go anonymous was her fear that her comments on her blog, if connected to her name, might affect her children and how they are received in Salem.
So my answer to her is this. If you want a blog to serve an audience of people who already know you and your opinion, sure, run an anonymous blog. But if you want a successful blog that engages people who don’t agree with you as well as the ones that do, readers who would likely refuse to have anything to do with text that might as well have been written by a random Internet troll (and this is most readers), then put your name where you mouth is.
And then be prepared to stick your foot in it.