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Excuses for not blogging, part I

June 28, 2010

At some point, I used to regularly (heh) blog at three blogs. Now, I’m lucky if I scrawl out a piece on one. Whatever happened here?

In thinking about this, I thought it would be too pathetic just to make it about me. So, instead, I want to make it about other people first, so that you can glean whatever you want about me after the facts. In my obnoxious mania, I would like to think of this series as a psychoanalysis of the parts of the bloggernacle and outer blogness that have touched me. This will be a three-part series, with this first part analyzing Irresistible (Dis)Grace and my involvement at Main Street Plaza.

I guess to begin, I have to start with the character this one here. It, along with the character of the other two blogs I have I blogged with, prods into different environments, personalities, and characters which have affected me psychologically.

Irresistible (Dis)Grace, of course, is my home base. Like my room, I feel comfortable doing whatever I want on it, writing about any topic I want. (Ironically, my first blog ever, which I had not given a formal “purpose” or “theme,” was one I burnt out quickly on. Irresistible [Dis]Grace, on the other hand, which is about Mormonism officially, has persisted much longer…even if I rarely blog on Mormon issues these days.) My first excuse for not blogging at the other sites is that I feel like I am a guest (even though I am a permablogger on each). What I mean is…even if someone says that their home is mine, I never feel like I am allowed to do anything I would do at my house. I feel more like a hotel guest.

I do whatever I want with my room. If you don’t like it, deal with it. Similarly, if there are just entries here that you ignore and automatically skip, sorry. Deal with it. I feel free to write about anything and everything here. (Nevertheless, I do worry about alienating readers. I worry about 0-comment posts. I worry about whether I am adequately attracting the traffic for a niche like this, or if my niche is too exclusive to even sustain any traffic.)

In some way, I feel bad for writing this entry, because I am airing out what I see (perhaps in a silly way) as being secret information. Again, the issue is not about this site, but the others. Who am I to air out dirty laundry about other sites? It feels rude, a violation of guest etiquette.

Anyway, the first group blog I joined was Main Street Plaza. I was very excited to be invited, very excited to write. I understood that it was more on the “disaffected” side of things, but I was ok with that. I have come to grips and realized that I am not, in any meaningful sense, a faithful member.

Joining MSP was my first introduction into the so-called Outer Blogness. I know it sounds naive now, but at the time, I didn’t know that members had issues with the church. I thought I was out doing my own thing. So, my involvement with MSP was my first branching out to try to figure out what this loose community of disaffected members was like…what the pecking order was…where the hangout spots were…

From MSP, I discovered Further Light and Knowledge. From interactions with both these and a few solo blogs, I realized a few other things. First, many other disaffected Mormons, former Mormons, and ex-Mormons had a lot different issues with the church than I did. Second, many other disaffected Mormons had far worse feelings and things to say about the church than I did. So, I didn’t feel disaffected enough for the atmosphere. And so, I began to withhold some material from MSP because I didn’t think it would “work” there.

This is not to say that MSP is the most disaffected site out there. Actually, it is rather mild, in comparison with some other sites (uhh…Recovery from Mormonism, anyone?) But this is what I felt.

From a structural sense, the disaffected Mormon underground (DAMU) is…like its name probably implies…informal…behind the scenes…disconnected…disaggregated. I think the same thing occurs with atheism in general, for example. In the past, I haven’t been concerned about it. I don’t know if I’m truly concerned with it now. My past rationale has been…”Why would I want a central atheist or ex-Mormon organization? My entire point was to free myself of my prior organizations.”

But the entire character of a community can be impacted by the organizational structure.

Main Street Plaza, in my experience, was always a very relaxed and informal environment. I didn’t have obligations or expectations. Similarly, there didn’t seem to be organization or hierarchy or formal community. I got to know some people better than others because they commented more frequently, or because I went to their sites, or whatever, but…it was very unofficial. I continue to like this conceptually, but functionally, this doesn’t give me a sense of belonging, and that lack doesn’t give me a sense of urgency and loyalty. (Of course, these latter things are good is up for grabs)…

This quality seemed particularly surface. Like I didn’t feel like I was getting to know so much about anyone. (OK, I definitely have to say this is my fault. I don’t really engage as much as I should anyway, so how can I complain about this? Also, this is the internet. Perhaps I’m missing the point.)

In many ways, although I say a lot about this stuff now, I understand (from working with Mormon Matters) that moving along the continuum, so to speak, doesn’t necessarily fix everything. And I sense (but without first-hand knowledge) that the other side is not necessarily greener. But that’ll be for part II.

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  1. I know from personal experience that my own interests are probably the most niche subject ever, they draw an audience of one (me) and probably ensure very little traffic comes my way. The only time anyone who I didn’t know started reading my blog was when I went all anti-mormon up in there. And these types of posts are the only ones that ever draw any comments. But hey readership isn’t everything (I keep telling myself), I just can’t stick to one topic, it all comes down to authenticity, like you keep saying. Write what you wanna write man.

  2. I appreciate communities without a great deal of structure or hierarchy. I do not think someone always has to be “in charge” or the heavy (not that you, Andrew, were suggesting that). If people care about something, and it’s worth doing, it will happen (IMO). Otherwise, maybe it was not meant to happen.

    I too appreciate reading your thoughts. I think it would be great if you would blog more for MSP but I also respect each person’s time and privacy (i.e. how much they want to reveal about themselves on the internet).

    I think this notion of belonging to a community – who gets to define the boundaries of a community, etc. has been a major theme in your blog/with your posts. I look forward to the other installments. I also don’t think there is (or should be) one type of former mormon website(s) or community – there is simply way too much diversity and diversity of thought and experience for one group to speak to everyone.

  3. aerin,

    I also appreciate communities without a great deal of structure or hierarchy. Nevertheless, I can see that structure isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and that lack of structure can be a bad thing.

    I think that “if people care about something, and it’s worth doing,” then the reason that it will happen is because SOMEONE will take the lead, someone will organize, someone will delegate and persuade and do all that stuff. These positions don’t have to be rigid; they can be fluid…but these things happen, IMO.

    I don’t think that if something doesn’t happen, then “maybe it was not meant to happen.” I think that things can fail to happen simply because no one took charge.

    I might get back to MSP; I will say that my absence isn’t necessarily a time or privacy issue (although time sometimes is an issue), but more of a relevance issue. Am I relevant to MSP? Well, I’m always relevant to Irresistible (Dis)Grace, even if I make IDG irrelevant to everyone else…but that isn’t the case at any blog I did not begin.

    I agree that the notion of belonging to a community is a new theme here, and I DEFINITELY agree that there shouldn’t be one type of former mormon website (nor should there be one type of faithful mormon website, for that matter). But from there, things get hairy. If there is too much diversity of thought, then can we splinter off and splinter off until the idea of community is not even meaningful?

  4. I disagree that someone always needs to take charge in situations, that someone always needs to delegate. I am comfortable with disagreeing with you on this point. I respect what you’re saying. There are situations where someone needs to be in charge. But, with that said, I don’t think all communities or groups need to have leaders.

    I think your point is an interesting one – that things can fail because no one took charge. Nonetheless, it’s my opinion that
    sometimes inaction is also an action. I can’t speak for anyone else, but my own life is pretty full at the moment. I assume that other participants (at MSP and elsewhere) just have a lot going on. Some of which may mean they’re not able to post or focus on issues related to mormonism. I think that’s fine. I think that’s healthy. Would it be nice to have additional posts, bloggers and discussion? I think so. It’s also a take the initiative type of thing, however, from my perspective.

    As far as relevance goes, I can’t say. What is relevant? To whom? I remember (I’m pretty old) back when rfm (recovery from mormonism) was the only game in town, well, aside from (Ed Decker’s site). There was a need to have other voices, and additional websites, blogs and voices have exploded.

    Does that mean that there is too much diversity of thought among former mormons? Not at all, IMO. That former mormons have to believe x, y and z in order to get anything done? I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t have an agenda.

    Maybe that’s when the organization and structure comes into place – when there is an agenda involved. Maybe other people have an agenda, but I don’t have one. Back to mormonism – usually there is an agenda involved. An agreed upon destination. “To bring the world his truth”, right? Not all mormons or mormon bloggers, sure. But that’s my experience with former mormons, and I certainly do not speak for everyone, just myself. But for the most part (with some notable exceptions), I see former mormons as just sharing their experiences, their take on life. And how they move on with their lives beyond mormonism and mormon thought.

    I could be wrong or way off base. Maybe additional structure and persuasion is needed. I’m certainly not going to “be the heavy” for that.

  5. I agree to an extent that inaction can be an action…but in the sense that it is a redirecting of attentions. This can be dangerous for one cause or effort, if many people abandon it or splinter away.

    For example, I think that in the not voting example, it’s not only the case that that means they don’t care. It can also mean that they are burnt out, that they lack faith in the efficacy of voting, etc., and they don’t want to waste their time. It can mean that they have other things to do that they deem more important than voting, not out of any slight to voting, but to the compliment of the substituted activity.

    So, I think that in addition to people not able to post on mormonism, there might be: they are able, but unwilling, whether because they are moving past, or because they are getting involved in different things. This is healthy, yes, but it also points out the transitory nature of any site we might have. Again, that may be how things must be.

    Relevance is an issue related to the community in question. I think that the reason there was a “need to have other voices” than just RfM was because outside of a particular niche, some things aren’t just relevant to that community. The same can be as true of the other blogs, websites, and forums.

    But additional websites, blogs, and forums do represent a flowering out, a splintering away, a separation. Whether you appreciate and defend it or not, this shouldn’t be controversial. If you want to check things out, you go to several blogs instead of just one or two.

    I think that if we’re talking about agendas, then perhaps the reason I say communities need people to take charge is because this taking charge — that keeps the community defined and organized — is an agenda. So, the Mormon agenda is not just “to bring the world his truth,” but to form a community and to define (sometimes pretty exclusively) the conditions of membership to that community.

  6. I think it’s true that MSP is extremely laid-back and doesn’t have much hierarchy (or all that much behind-the-scenes discussion). I don’t think it’s a question of “if it’s worth doing, someone will take charge.” I think it’s more a consequence of choosing this particular niche.

    The thing is that — for most people who leave the church — there’s a very real arc of feeling angry and then, eventually, not caring so much. After that point, some people still find Mormonism interesting enough to keep discussing it regularly. Those folks are the backbone of our long-term community. But the thing is that — even if you’re interested in your Mormon heritage — you’re not going to spend as much time thinking about it as, say, somebody who spends 20+ hours a week in callings and meetings (plus getting kids ready for meetings, etc.).

    Naturally, we end up with an attitude that you can post when something interesting strikes you, and, if not, no biggie. Plus — because there are constantly new people filtering into the community and old friends wandering off to new interests — you won’t see too much cliquishness.

    BTW, if you have an interesting topic that you think is too pro-Mormon for us, why not try it out? It may lead to an interesting discussion! 😀

  7. I guess I can see your point (e.g., a consequence of choosing this niche, the general arc of emotion [and then not caring], and of course, the point that different levels of investment will naturally follow.)

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Excuses for not blogging, part II « Irresistible (Dis)Grace
  2. Excuses for not blogging, part III « Irresistible (Dis)Grace
  3. Sunday in Outer Blogness: Independence Day Edition! | Main Street Plaza
  4. I dare to address polygamy…at Wheat and Tares « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

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