Now what?

About a dozen years ago, while playing in our front yard, my kids and I watched some contractors pour wet cement around a manhole in the middle of the intersection at our corner. After they’d smoothed the cement, the workers barricaded the spot with sawhorses and left. Though they probably worked for the DOT, they did not re-hang the street-name sign that had fallen off its pole and was propped against a low stone wall at the corner.

I went inside to put some water on to boil to start dinner. As I waited at the sink for the pot to fill, I glanced outside and saw my son inside the barricade, digging in the wet cement with the fallen street sign. I flew outside and hauled him back to the house, then climbed inside the barricade in the middle of the intersection and tried to smooth over the cement with the street sign, the only tool I had to work with.

Talk about mortification.

I’m kind of feeling that way now. Don leaves me in charge of the blog for a few weeks; somebody does something unexpected, and I’m left to clean up the mess as best I can.

But the only tool I can fall back on is my seemingly bottomless supply of good advice (just ask Don and the kids). For what it’s worth, here’s what I’ve got for blog readers:

1. Don’t automatically ascribe the worst motives to others. If something can be interpreted two ways, give the commenter the benefit of the doubt.

2. Disagree without destroying.

3. Learn what all fish know: hooks only hurt if you take the bait.

The next Town Council meeting is almost two months away, leaving us little to write about during the recess. And the heat does make everyone testy. Stay cool; we’ll have plenty to argue about come September.
– Nancy Oates

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  1. Nancy,

    I wouldn’t worry too much. Your post got me to look at the discussion that bothered you (I hadn’t seen it before) and I’d say that it’s pretty tame by Internet “standards”.

    It’s too bad that “Steve” and “Bill” wouldn’t identify themselves because that would have added a bit to a sense of civility, and it’s a shame that it’s always so hard to cite sources for the “facts” that everyone in the discussion referred to, but that has nothing to do with a blog. It happens in conversations, too. But I just read a chapter of Dan Ariely’s Behavioral Economics where he points out that people with different “facts” will never agree, and we’ve got a case of different “facts”.

    If you want an example of a blog gone horribly wrong, go look at squeeze the pulp; it’s too bad they hid the old stuff before they made it read-only (it had no comments the last time I looked, in case this “fact” is wrong).

  2. Runner

     /  July 22, 2010

    I would have no problem if you had to identify yourself when posting comments on this, or, any other website.


    Patrick McGahan

  3. Fred Black

     /  July 23, 2010

    As the Sherrod case has shown the last couple of days, a blogger can have impact well beyond what they should ever have and nothing says it has to be a positive impact. As much as I agree with you about hooks, it still remains that when you let people say things that are patently false, they remain forever on the web. Not challenging them is great for the blood pressure but I draw the line on personal attacks and accusations of wrong doing. Yes, everyone seems to feel entitled to their own set of facts, but many times THE facts are easily available if people will take a little time to find them. The Sherrod case has made that very clear.

  4. Terri Buckner

     /  July 23, 2010

    The problem is that there is rarely one set of facts. There are the facts as one set of individuals see them, as in the neighbors of the proposed Community House, and the facts as another set of individuals set them, as in those of use who support the new site. In between there are probably some facts that both groups can agree on, but the totality of the facts cannot be separated out from interpretation. Leaving the process of dialogue and negotiation, neither of which benefits from direct attacks or an unwillingness to listen to the other sides arguments.

    While I object to the tone of certain posts, I learn alot from those I disagree with. I’ve even become friends with some folks that I’ve met online and had extreme disagreements with. Why bother to participate in a “discussion” if you are totally entrenched and have no intention of listening or possibly changing your position?

  5. Fred Black

     /  July 23, 2010

    Agree Terri. But I’m talking about “facts” like the HWA Advisory Board had absolutely nothing to do with the Chancellor’s decision to close HWA in order to build Carolina North. That’s a fact, not an opinion. Also, ascribing the motive of personal financial gain to someone’s participation on boards, commissions or committees should require some “factual”proof before being alleged. No wonder some won’t bother to participate on these things.

  6. Terri Buckner

     /  July 23, 2010

    I agree that slanderous allegations should require some evidence, Fred.