Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bloggers Unite - Bloggin' Like Spiderman

One of the most memorable lines from the first Spiderman movie is this: With great power comes great responsibility. Lifted from the Webslinger's comic books, it's most likely an adaptation of a line in a speech written for former US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: "Today we have learned in the agony of war that great power involves great responsibility" [Roosevelt never delivered the speech; he died the day before its scheduled presentation].

What does any of this have to do with blogging tips, or today's Bloggers Unite topic of human rights? In words actually delivered by a former US President, "Watch and learn"...

Most of us who are blogging today have no idea what censorship is like. We write on whatever topic suits us, in whatever way we choose. In such an open environment, it's easy to forget that such freedom is not universal. In many parts of the world electronic writing is rigorously monitored, censored and, if a government feels the need, suppressed. Those of us who are allowed to write freely are given great power. We must use that power in a responsible manner. (I'll return to that thought in a moment) But we are also required to work for the freedom of all who want to express themselves without fear of punishment. Until we do, our freedom is in continual peril. Think on that for a moment. If the right to express yourself can be taken away in one place, it can be taken away any place. It may not come in the form of a brutal dictator. It could come through a well-meant proposal to bar "oppressive" blogs [Understand, I am not in favor of the hate mongers, pornographers, or anyone who makes my skin crawl when I realize they belong to the same species I do. But limiting even their rights could become the first step in limiting mine. And I'm very sensitive about my rights. Besides, if someone reading those posts can't see how useless they are, the world is in much worse shape than I think it is].

Bloggers have great power. They also have the potential to cause great harm. Consider the phenomenon of on-line bullying. Many of us have heard accounts of how bloggers have used their pages to cruly harass persons, sometimes even persons they do not know. We have also seen at least one of these cases end in the suicide of the person who was being lampooned. Now I don't believe that the individuals in that case wanted to see that sad person take his own life. But they should have known that words have power, to hurt, to crush, even to drive a person to death. Fortunately, words also have the power to unify, to lift up, to carry us towards a higher purpose. Your posts don't have to read like the Second Coming of Pollyanna [Mine sure don't]. But, when composing your words, consider the effect they may have on their subject, especially if a person written about is in private life [emphasized because of the legal issue of libel; I'll post on that in the near future].

With great power comes great responsibility. Remember YOUR responsibilities: to your fellow bloggers, to keep the reputation of blogging favorable; to your subjects, that you are as accurate and factual as possible in your writings; to those who are not free to express themselves, that your make every effort you can to get them the rights they deserve; finally, to yourself, that you work to preserve your rights. And keep your Web shooters full...
-Mike Riley


Dave Donelson said...

Thanks for your thoughts on human rights and responsible blogging. As the Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us, “…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

Laura said...

I don't understand how blog bullying works. Or at least how someone can't just ignore a jerk trying to be a bully. No one forces another person to read a blog. If they go to a blog to read junk like that they really can't be helped by anyone.

Just as I am fully able to delete comments from people who choose to be nasty, rude or ignorant. I don't feel I owe them any space on my blog if they just want to curse at me. They can get their own blog and post about what a bitch I am. I don't care. I won't read it.

I gave up on being a do gooder for the world. I just work on what I have in front of me, the people I encounter along the way. I don't have the energy to change the world.

Besides I've noticed that when you are nice people seem to assume you are also gullible and dimwitted. I'm nice by choice. I have a smile for anyone. But I'm not a doormat.

Mike Riley said...


Thanks for your kind words. As a writer yourself, you realize the power of words. We must be careful how we use them when dealing with others.


Frequently those who are bullied by bloggers find that others are reading the posts, having their opinions poisoned by the electronic bully.
Agreed: no one has to read a posting. But if enough people do, reputations, and self-esteem, can easily be destroyed.
With the exception of Christ, no one person CAN change the world [and He was God, for goodness' sake]. The best any of us can do is, as Candide ended up doing in the book of the same name, to cultivate our own garden. If we all do that, things WILL get better. "If this be Pollyanna, then I be Pollyanna! [Someday, I hope to understand exactly what that means...]
Thank you both for commenting!

infinitewebprofit said...

Very nice thoughts about bloggers online responsibility.
Because of blogging with new articles posted every minute. People now spend also much time reading in front of their computers like they are doing in front of TV and reading newspapers.
Because of this great power online, bloggers must not deliver articles that cause great harm to readers.