Friday, March 07, 2008

We Need To Talk

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.


Anonymous said...

Dave, you are a gifted writer whose work I would read even if I had no ties with the world of disability. You tell stories - your own and those of other people - and I feel that this makes people identify with whatever the subject matter is that you choose to write on.That is also probably why people would prefer you to write, rather than writing themselves.

I'm glad that you are here as an advocate. You make the world a better place. Thank you.

Ultimately though, we all have to take responsibility for this world we live in. We should all speak our truths- even if the words aren't perfect and even if our voices shake.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you just can't get a break from your readers these past few weeks.
I think the key word here is that this is your PERSONAL blog. The very fact that you are willing to share your PERSONAL story's and ideas is what a PERSONAL blog is about. No one should be able to try to coerce you into writing their agenda, they can start their own blog for that.
I enjoy your blog the way it is and feel privileged that you share part of your thoughts and your story's with us. You are a story teller.
I know the "Just ignore them" is a useless group of words that you, and i alike, have heard all your life, but in this case, you have control of the almighty delete button. Use it frequently and without mercy: it will keep you sane.
Just keep on keeping on.

Anonymous said...

Woh. I'm really sorry that you have to read such nasty emails. As you said, if someone wants to hear or say something in particular then they should say it themselves and not be angry at you for not saying it for them.
As only a reader of blogs I find that I don't even have the time to comment on the blogs even though the postings often stick with me and I think about them during the day. I at least feel you have given your opinions and views in the blogs and don't have to reiterate them or justify them via comments.
Hope you don't give up the blog and you can find a way to delete those emails without having to read them.

All 4 My Gals said...

I just simply wanted to say how much I appreciate your blog and how much you teach me.

I think anyone who reads your writing regularly could in no way see you as arrogant or aloof. And as far as angry comments go, it makes me sad to think that there are people out there who don't respect and appreciate all that you do for our community.

I'm off to find your book on bullying
HUGS, Nicole

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dave for all you do and I am sorry once again for being part of the problem before and I hope I am part of the solution now. :)
Wow! 2 or 3 hours?
That takes reall dedication! I hope you know that your blog is really important to me, to a lot of people!
You are not only a champion of human rights but a friend too!
Thanks for all you do!

Sharon McDaid said...

People can be so rude. I'm sorry you are putting up with this. I hope this post will cause those people who may feel some sort of need to influence your blog, to think again about what and how they write.

I read this because of how you choose to write it. It's Dave's voice I want to hear. Thanks for all you give here and I hope you can keep going.

Anonymous said...

Please, I beg of you, do not give up this blog! Your words provoke so many emotions - laughter, sadness, anger, compassion, frustration, empathy, passion, but most of all, they help me to remember why I do the work that I do, and why I love it so much. It's selfish, I know, but I depend greatly on your writings to get me over those infrequent, but irritating humps.

As others have said, you are a truly gifted writer. Please continue to share that gift with the rest of us!

(And, to hell with those who treat you with less than respect. As I learned during one of your presentations, just think of the worst word in your vocabulary and say it to yourself! Don't give them the satisfaction of knowing that they get to you. You have all the power you need to keep on, keeping on. And, for the days that you need a bit extra, there are thousands of us out here who will gladly share ours!)

Shan said...

Yeah, blogging takes a huge amount of time.

I guess the very fact that people write to demand that you address this or that issue, can be seen as validation that you have a powerful voice and your influence is growing.

People usually don't bother with someone who doesn't matter.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave,

I love your blog. I am sorry some people think they own your blog. I'm not one to comment but I read and reflect on your blog daily. I don't know of any other blog (or any other media for that matter) that concerns itself with PWD who work with PWD and I so appreciate your insights.

Thank you,
Missy Anderson (a PWD who works with PWD)

Anonymous said...

Dave I love your blog, it gives me new insight and allows to feel I am not alone on those occasions I feel I'm shouting into the wind.

But Dave Joe is right, your health is not worth this even though it is something I love. I hope those who have been threatening stop because I would hate to lose this precious place.

If they want to make comments about the issues that don't appear here they should write their own blog and link to their posts in a comment as others have done.

Good wishes Dave, I hope we do not lose what you have written, your books are not as readily available over here in Britain and I for one have valued the learning you have given to me. Thank you.


Heike Fabig said...

Well, Dave it's *your* life and *your* blog, and you can do with it what *you* like. If it's more hassle than it's worth, by all means chuck in the towel, you don't owe anyone anything.

I hope you don't for purely selfish reasons - it would be a bit like a friend dying, even though we've never met, and i'm millions of miles away - but it's totally your call. I would sorely miss you - but if it's what your health and your relationship with Joe needs, that's far more important.

Maybe take a blog holiday for a while, and see how you feel...

Dave Hingsburger said...

Whoa! Whoa! Joe made that comment after someone had said something pretty nasty in an email to me ... my health is just fine. These things don't affect my health in any way - they upset me sometimes, scare me sometimes but they don't put me off my feed. That comment wasn't meant at all to suggest that I was thinking of stopping the blog, just that the severity of some of the letters in their need to chastize me was a bit over the top. Your responses have been wonderful, thanks - I'm hoping though that those who have been upset at the blog content will take note and settle down.

a small quiet voice said...

Oh Dave, We all know the world is just full of people that behave like jerks. They come in every stripe and flavor. I want you to know how much I enjoy your could talk about your grocery list and I'd find some unique insight or observation I hadn't considered before.

I know exactly what you're referring to when you speak of the solid 2-3 hours to conceptualize, write, edit and refine a blog post. Your writing is very down to earth, very real....Thanks for being you!

Anonymous said...

I love your blog, because you have such cool things to say. I am glad you stand strong it keeping it your voice. It's your voice I want to hear (read) when I stop by CTF.


Laura x