My blogging philosophy, like most of my interactions in “real life,” is to not say anything about some one that I wouldn’t say to their face. Occasionally it’s necessary or prudent to say something to someone else, but even then I try to speak about my experience or my feelings about the person or situation. That is why I rarely weigh in on internet drama. Besides, by the time I get to it, the drama has usually died down.
In my mind, blogging is supposed to be personal, informative, or part of a discussion. Many people use it as a platform for ego-driven pontificating or power plays. This is particularly damaging in spiritual circles. Sometimes it’s important to write publicly about issues or people in a stronger tone, particularly if we’re doing so in a community setting, particularly if we need to discuss uncomfortable issues.
This doesn’t mean never read anything or anyone you disagree with. In fact, it’s a good thing to read stuff that is different and challenging. This is how our mental blades are sharpened, by being honed against the whet stone. I spent many, many years reading authors whose ideas were incredibly different from mine. It helped me find truth where I saw it. It helped me learn to argue. It helped me find my own beliefs. And then, yes, part of the way through my PhD program I decided I was tired of always reading the words of anti-feminist, monotheist men.
If someone is nasty on-line it doesn’t always mean they’ll be nasty in person. But why would you read stuff that is nasty, mean-spirited, or makes you doubt yourself, your practice, or your beliefs? STOP READING PEOPLE THAT DISRESPECT YOUR WORK.
If John Halstead and Mark Green make you want to throw your laptop across the room, stop following them. Stop reading them. They are not so important that you need to see what they’re up to. Really. There are several people whose ideas I respect, who may even be kind to me in person, but I don’t like the way they treat others online (and sometimes in person), so I don’t read or follow them. I don’t hang out with mean people in “real life,” why would I do so online?
For what it’s worth, I am personally fond of John Halstead. I’ve spent more time than I care to admit defending him “behind the scenes.” But I don’t read a lot of what he writes. His tone is often dismissive – and I’ve told him as such. I also tell him when I think he’s nailed his tone in a positive way – and when he does, I think his work is amazing, even if I don’t always agree!
I never read Mark Green. I think he’s mean, wants to be right, and doesn’t care about individual experience. I’ve never told that to his face, and I base this soley on what I’ve read of his writing in the past. I no longer read Christian writing that assumes my beliefs are demon-driven hallucinations; why would I read a Pagan writer who thinks I’m delusional?
Perhaps I’ll feel differently when some day someone writes about me personally. So far, no one has. (This is not an opportunity to do so! I have many flaws, but I’d rather talk about them one on one, before going public.)
There is a way to disagree with people and their work without being mean or nasty. I encourage writers to find that voice. I encourage everyone in the Pagan and Polytheist world to stop reading mean people. We all have our Good Work to do in the world. Let’s focus on that.