In the current New Yorker, there's a great quote from Royall Tyler's autobiography. Apparently he imagined a reader 200 years in the future (he wrote this in 1825). I quote:
The sprawling letters, yellow text, The formal phrase, the bald stiff style And in the margins gravely notes A thousand meanings never meant.
"A thousand meanings never meant". I see that often with some hit and run comment from someone who thinks I mean something I don't mean at all.. had they read more of my blog they might have had a better understanding of who I am and the unlikeliness of my holding the opinion they think they just read.
You might argue that if I had written more clearly the misunderstanding might also have been avoided, but as Royall implies, context is everything, and we bloggers often assume knowledge we perhaps should not. Royall realized that a future reader would not be aware of the context in which he lived, so his words could easily be misconstrued. In our case, we bloggers don't want to bore our regular readers by pedantic explanation of every nuance of our opinions, so we tend to leave some of that out.. and the new reader sometimes thinks we hold positions that we do not.
What to do about it? I think there is little you can do about those who mangle your opinions; it's going to happen no matter how careful you are. Do read your posts with an eye toward that new reader, of course, but remember that web readers are often hasty, so they will misinterpret sometimes no matter how thorough you are - and remember that pedantic thoroughness may bore your regular readers!
You can and should practice careful commenting yourself. Before you tear into someone at their blog, take a moment to at least read a few more of their posts, check out their "About" page, try to learn a little about what makes them who they are.
And then shred them into miserable little bits for the trashman.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2012-07-30 Anthony Lawrence