Friday, April 8, 2016

Responsible Blogging


People have different reasons for writing.  From an expression of one’s thoughts and feelings to looking for appreciation, writing can be motivated by anything.  In most cases, the motives are mixed.  Blogging too has various motives similarly.

Whatever we do as a social activity must be done with a considerable sense of responsibility since it affects the society one way or another.  Quite a lot of bloggers engage in harmless activities such as putting up simple poems or photos.  Many focus on travel, food, shopping or some such innocuous theme.  However, when it comes to dealing with political, religious, social and other such issues some caution is required.

In 1992, American political scientist Francis Fukuyama predicted that human civilisation would evolve towards a conflict-free utopia founded on liberal democracy and free market capitalism.  Samuel P. Huntington, another political scientist, countered it immediately arguing that the clash of civilisations would continue since each of the major civilisations including the Indian one has its dreams for dominating the world.  Huntington was vindicated by the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and the fundamentalist assertions in India by the Right wing.  Cultural and religious identities will clash with one another creating conflicts, Huntington had argued.

We are living in the world which is fulfilling Huntington’s prophecy.  In spite of the tremendous progress we are making in the field of science and technology, we are becoming more and more narrow-minded because of the cultural and religious clashes and hankering after dominance.  Probably, science and technology is leaving us in an emotional and ‘spiritual’ vacuum.  And we are filling that vacuum with the intoxication of pop religion and pop culture in the form of various cults and movements.  Godmen of all sorts are becoming more and more popular.  Cultural and religious intolerance is on the rise more than ever and political leaders are weaving rhetorical dreams using strife.

There are a lot of bloggers too who are actively engaged in these activities.  They spread disinformation, hatred, and extremely prejudiced views.  It is in such a context that bloggers need to look within and ask about the role of responsibility in blogging.


PS. Written for Indispire Edition 112: #ResponsibleBlogging

20 comments:

  1. First of all fashion, travel etc are not innocuous themes. Everything has its rightful place in the world. Secondly - bloggers who spread disinformation or write in a biased manner ( for example the men's rights movement, or bloggers who call JNU students anti national) have their own fan following. This following believes in the same mind set that the blogger is writing about and neither the reader nor the writer has bothered to give a balanced view or done enough research. That's the downside of bloggers and also the reason why not all of them are taken seriously.
    Must write a blog post on this instead of making an uber long comment on your post which btw is awesome, as always.

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    1. By innocuous, I meant 'harmless' (which is the simplest meaning of the word) and I think fashion and travel are quite harmless as far as the influence of such blogging on society is concerned.

      When it comes to gathering a fan following, I get scared. Look at the man who has the most fan following today in the country. Is he doing any great service to the country? That's why I look for responsibility.

      Do bloggers actually do any research? I would like to see some more blogs coming from deep understanding of life and related themes.

      Lookinng forward to your blog on this.

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  2. Well, who is authority in giving the certificate of ‘Responsible Blogger?’ I remember someone asked me to be a responsible blogger because I was asking to plan one’s death. I also remember that you tried to make the person understand the spiritual side of it but the effort went into vain.

    In my opinion, it was responsible blogging to make people aware of spiritual aspect of death. And in her opinion, she was responsible blogger because she was making awareness against suicide. We both were responsible in our respective context.

    Responsibility is relative concept and clashes begin when one starts ‘Responsibility Policing.’ I think it’s better to behave responsibly instead of teaching responsibility to others. And this is the case of present India, where everybody’s teaching responsibility to others instead of being responsible, whether it’s ruling party or opposition or their supporters.

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    1. No authority is required, Ravish. Responsibility comes from within. From our own understanding of life. Nothing more. So in different words 'responsible blogging' would mean 'good understanding of life' simply because any good writer becomes good only because of a good understanding of life.

      Responsibility is a relative concept. Subjective, I would say. Life is a personal affair. Morality is. Religion is (should be).

      I agree with you that present India is trying to teach others what one does not practise oneself. When morality police attacks couples or lovers, they are actually unleashing their frustration of not being able to be in love.

      If I may take that example a step forward, the guardians of cows today are people who have failed to guard their own children!

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  3. I think you have raised an important issue in this post. A big reason why intolerance is growing is the sensationalist reporting by old world media folks and new world bloggers. They look to write on topics that they know will titillate. To that extent, they play up to an unfortunate aspect of human nature. For a moment, conceding that it is the media's job to throw a spotlight on what ails society, let us look at the 'responsibility' when discussing social ills. Truth is there is little attempt to thoroughly research, verify and present a balanced view. In the West, universities train students in the art of critical thinking, which demands that even while positing a hypothesis, all angles must first be examined and debated on before going on to present support to the stated hypothesis. If I may, this is what Matheikal is suggesting here. When we write a blog, do we examine different angles even while substantiating an opinion we may be airing? Let's think about it please. To begin with, all the comments here countering Matheikal could make a start. If nothing, blogs that are personal opinions should clearly state that and not present a post as authoritative.

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    1. Perhaps many bloggers who look at life through colored lenses may have ulterior motives: supporting a political party, for example. But as you say, many are not ready to look at life from well researched perspectives.

      Critical thinking is discouraged in India. As a teacher, I have been shocked by the attitudes of many colleagues in this regard. Students don't want to think, on the other hand. One reason why some exams become tough for students is because the questions demand critical or abstract thinking which the students are not trained for.

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  4. Great article Tomichan. I steer clear of any blog which has a religious or political theme because I already have a opinion of my own on these matters and don't see the need to hear what they think especially since most of the time they are written with prejudiced views.

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    1. Thanks, Jyothi, for the appreciation.

      I too have a clear opinion on religion and politics. But my view is unifying, integrating. So I write about it. Irresponsibility is divisive.

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  5. Im sorry, responsible blogging also means not to hurt one's sentiments... and also of course to give an 'unbiased' opinion but it doesnt quite seem so. Although your article is amazing, I believe its also one's perspective that matters. For example, you just said that the man who's the most followed here isnt serving the country and thats your perspective, but I believe the contrary.
    So its very difficult to be a RESPONSIBLE BLOGGER
    The best way to avoid controversies is to either be silent or be diplomatic.

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    1. There's no need to be sorry. Dissension is welcome here unlike among the fans of the hero. That's precisely why my perspective may remain superior to that of the fans. There can be no debate without dissension. No growth without debate. Unity is not uniformity. What you see as bias is merely a difference of opinion. The question is whether you can tolerate such differences. Or should we all subscribe to only one view?

      It is not really difficult to be a responsible blogger. It may be painful in the sense you may end up offending people who cannot tolerate differences of opinion.

      Can a writer be genuine and be diplomatic at the same time? Diplomacy may be a virtue in a politician. In a writer it is likely to be a vice insofar as it can lead to mendacity.

      A lot of great works would never have been written if the writers had to be diplomatic. Satanic Verses, for example. Even D H Lawrence's novels met with a lot of opposition from his contemporaries because he refused to be diplomatic.

      Well, I could go on. But let me stop here.

      Thanks for your difference. I respect it. Never feel sorry for being what you are.

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  6. Yes, thank you :)
    Reading your article, I found myself an inspiration to write my own in this topic. Do give a read anr provide me with your valuable feedback.

    http://mahathianand.blogspot.in/2016/04/right-or-wrong.html?m=1

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  7. A vey sensible point to raise Matheikal. I think it was about 3 years ago when the issue of paid news was on the raise. I think we all as bloggers have a responsibility to cater to, a responsibility to be open and use our judgement and above all a responsibility to our readers that we do not instigate them or try to influence them for a selfish purpose. I know it is a moral authority and there is no way of instilling it, but that is something which makes it more important and relevant

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    1. Perhaps bloggers don't take blogging very seriously. That could be a reason for all sorts of things appearing as blogs. Then there is the quest for popularity. For gift vouchers. In the whole interminable process of superficial quests, we forget to be responsible. ☺

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  8. Its a very relevant post considering bloggers are being attacked and killed in some countries based on their political views. As bloggers, we need to be responsible to write what he or she feels but also accept the consequences or repercussions.

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    1. That implies also the responsibility of the readers.

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