This space, in a very brief period of time, has come to mean an awful lot to me. Obviously it is not the binary bits of data that represent the characters that form the words to create the sentences and so on. It is not even so much the translation of those symbols into thoughts and ideas. It is the human interaction – the meeting of the minds in a medium so new that it barely registers on the radar of human history. The relationships, the concurrence and dissention, indeed even the friendships can be just as real as if a physical interaction were present.
In some respects, it is an even purer medium than other forms of communication. It is based in the clarity of words and words alone. The ancillary distractions of gender, appearance, ethnicity, religion, nationality, even tone of voice are secondary to the written words. In fact, it is most often the case that these other characteristics can only be known through what is written, if at all. Although my challenge is to convey some kind of tone or attitude clearly through only words, when successful there is little doubt as to what I am actually saying.
The other side of that coin, and all to often a very ugly side, is that many will use the anonymity of the black-and-white to hide their agenda. Their true intentions can be hidden by lying about certain key characteristics such as age and gender to take advantage of the innocent, the naïve or the vulnerable. Sexual predators exploit children, the elderly are taken in by con artists and most everyone runs the risk of identity theft. The medium, however, does not create these people – these people exploit the medium as they would anything else.
My affection for the blogosphere has not been tarnished by these ne’re-do-wells . Sure they do drift into this little corner of cyber space with irregular frequency, but they don’t stick around long. Perhaps they are outclassed by this and other blogs in the neighborhood; blogs that have owners who don’t react in the knee-jerk manner that so many under-informed members of the human race do. Maybe the unflappable opinions only appear static to those who can’t present a cogent argument. Could it be that for some it doesn’t matter how the game is played, that it is only winning that counts?
I am attracted to reason. The blogs I read and visit regularly are written by those who possess a couple of qualities that I was beginning to think had gone the way of the dinosaur. Being of a particular religion or ideology are not among the requirements. In fact, I would be hard pressed to label – consistently - anyone of them. They all have respect for other's opinions and they all are civil. Even when debating a position in which the participants are diametrically opposed to one another, there is no animosity when it’s over. There are no winners. There are no losers. What there is 99% of the time is the respect earned through measured, reasoned and responsible debate.