Why do I bother with this site?

I have been blogging since the start of My T. I am not really sure what I thought that I would gain from such an indulgent and time consuming past time, but I soon found that I enjoyed the cut and thrust of debate. I still do. Initially, I had little knowledge of the others on the site or their style of writing or positions on various issues. However, as time went by, it seemed quite fun to build up a network of friends around the world. I felt that I was getting to know people a bit better and beginning to understand them.  It took a while longer, though, before I realised that this could not possibly be true. I came to recognise, through the things that they said, that people did not know me at all and so, if that were the case, how I could I possibly think that I knew them. While we all air our views on various subjects to various extents, many of us are very reticent to speak about our private lives and our personalities. But, unless we learn some of the more personal details of people, we can never truly say that we know them. We are almost certainly going to make many false assumptions about who they are, what is important to them what their true values really are. The aliases provided by our screen avatars disguise our true identities.

So it was that I concluded that these sites are not social networking sites. We do not come here to get to know each other better with a view to meeting up and forming more substantial personal relationships. These are simply discussion sites. I, and I imagine most people, visit them to learn and to debate matters with individuals who have the ability to stimulate them. Increasingly, therefore, I have detached myself from the people behind the avatars and tend now to regard them somewhat like characters in a soap opera. Some will come and some will go. Occasionally they will write things that totally surprise me and other times I can predict what they will say. It is as if they are being instructed by writers and directors whose job it is to entertain me and keep me guessing about what will happen next, but maintaining a sense of continuity, so that I will want to come back for more. But these characters only come to life when I log on to the site and by the same token, they cease to exist when I go away. ‘I blog, therefore they are.’ However, the difference between a blog site and soap opera is that blogging is interactive. I can influence the characters to some extent.

This personal detachment from other bloggers means that I tend not take to heart the things that they say, just as I would not dwell on the behaviour of character after the show has ended. Of course in the middle of a debate I am liable to feel amused, frustrated, or dare I say, even angry and will possible react accordingly. But those feelings are short lived because I realise that I am simply dealing with a virtual character and since I am never likely to meet the person behind that character, that personality has no relevance in my life. It is the substance of what they say that is important. I bear few grudges and easily forgive slights and insults whether they be intended or inadvertent.

So how does that effect the way that I behave on these sites? Well, it liberates me to write about things and express views and opinions that I might not discuss in front of my friends, colleagues and others with whom I interact on a personal level. I can play devil’s advocate without it mattering whether or not my real feelings and beliefs are being misconstrued. I can be deliberately provocative in order to draw reactions which I can then analyse. Although it would never be my intention to offend for the sake of it, if what I say does offend, it is of little consequence. If I say something foolish, I have no fear of being embarrassed.

I recognise that I have to understand, what it is that makes the people here tick and what will interest and stimulate a response. An overly ‘aspergic’ view of the character behind the avatars is self-defeating. They do have personalities even if I will never get to know more than a few details about them.

When I come across a debate that catches my interest, I like to become involved but in a largely dispassionate sense. I am not interested in the sensibilities of the individual, I am interested in the facts surrounding the subject, not the personalities. So, when for example, and please, it is just an example, Bravo speaks about terrorism in Moscow, I , and I am only speaking for myself, do not want the debate to be influenced by the fact that he has a personal involvement in a particular event. As far as I am concerned I want the discussion to be objective. If it becomes subjective, then I learn nothing from the debate, other than the personal feelings of a fellow I do not know.

Of course there is room for a subjective discussion as well, but that is a very different kettle of fish and I believe it is important to distinguish between the two. For example one can debate marriage as an institution but also the marriage of a specific individual. I would expect discussions of the former to be very different to those concerned with the latter. The same applies to subjects such as religion, politics, literature, art, science, history, economics not to mention all the various ‘isms’ that so enrage many people.

I think there is a broad distinction between being rude and being dispassionate. While on line, I rarely engage in personal niceties almost as a matter of principle. It becomes difficult to oppose with conviction, those to whom you have been wishing a pleasant time of day or expressing sympathy for the pain caused by their haemorrhoids. In some ways I suppose I approach this in the same way that a doctor goes about his business. The doctor does not see a person he sees a patient.

So, to answer my own question, I bother with this site because I can come here to learn, to be stimulated, entertained, amused. I come to practise my debating skills and my writing skills.  And, if it does not sound too immodest, I come here to, inform, educate, provoke and entertain others in my own limited way. While there are still interesting avatars debating on My T, I will continue to visit that site, but as more of them join DNMT, I imagine I will spend more time on this.

64 thoughts on “Why do I bother with this site?”

  1. Yep; I think you are right Sipu. My short comment is in no way a reflection on the merits or otherwise of your post, but I think, on first reading, I understand and agree with your position.

    This does not mean, however, that I agree with all your views on each and every subject, but willing to engage on your terms if it is of interest to me.

  2. Very good Sipu,


    There are times when characters get under your skin.

    The Bulletin for example, I was genuinely sorry for his condition and felt very sad when I learnt of his passing. The fact of the matter is that I would not have been able to pick him out of a line up, but on some level I admired him.

    Today I was at a low ebb, I asked for help and it came to me in spades with bells and sprinkles on. I could have asked god, but cock all would have happened, this place on the other hand delivered in style.

    SabinaA makes me question everything, Badger makes me see red. Larry and the rest of the club make me laugh and give me something to toy with.

    Look again at your summation of blogging, is it really as dispassionate as you seem to maintain?

  3. Howzit Sipu

    I am forever asking members of the various sites to teach me something, I knew nothing of AGW until I read Clothcap’s excellent contributions, nothing of poetry but Christopop and Pseu made me sit up and pay attention, I could go on, be it Afghanistan, creative writing or even gardening, I love the international flavour be it the US or China.

    Hardly a day goes by that I don’t learn something or am exposed to something new.

    In return I do what I can, I offer help to those that need it and hopefully give a balanced view on life down here.

    I’ll happily pack it in if I feel that either of my two explanations are not being fulfilled.

    I do however take things a bit more personally than you describe, I look at the members as people, not avatars. But hey! that’s what makes the world go round 😉

  4. Ferret, I guess it depends on the individual. I read your piece today and deliberately refrained from offering you personal support. Call me callous or insensitive if you will, but to me this is not about personal relationships this is about discussing subjects in an objective way. I do not know you. You may disappear from the world of blogging tomorrow. I do not like the idea of being trite or insincere with my emotions. To say I care, when really I don’t, is bullshit. I am not going to worry about how you feed your kids if you lose your job, or whether you can pay your mortgage etc. I have real family and friends who I can see and touch and talk to. And why should you care about me? I am sure you do not and I take no offence from that. As I said, I soon realised that people do NOT know me despite the fact that I have been communicating with them for the past 3 years. Therefore it is safe to say that I do not know them. You and I are just avatars, impersonal entities to each other. I am comfortable with that. If I were suffering from the same scenario as yours, I would not come here for sympathy (I don’t believe that is why you posted by the way). I might discuss it but I would get little comfort from any of the comments unless they were practical advice that I could use. Perhaps I do suffer from Aspergers Syndrome.

  5. Evening HMB (thanks Ferret)

    Welcome, your comments are now auto approved, have fun, author status takes an hour or so.

  6. Soutie, yes, I know you are more empathetic than I am and I like you for it. Funnily I thought about mentioning you in my post since you are the only person that I have met and therefore I feel that I have a personal relationship with you, albeit a fleeting one. I think the thing is I hate it when I invest in a relationship only to see it disappear. It is a form of rejection. There were certainly people in the beginning that I liked. The next thing I knew they had disappeared. One I can think of is TJ Sudbry. I have no idea what happened to him. I have lost too many friends in my life. I don’t want to lose anymore.

  7. Sipu: I cannot share your detachment, but we are all different and sometimes, just occasionally, I wish I felt the same way.

  8. OK Sipu,

    But I say that is pretty cold buddy.

    If it floats your boat then fine chum, but please understand that many bloggers are not as dispassionate and Vulcan like logic does not always sit well.

    Sympathy? Well maybe not because sympathy to me is a personal thing. All I know is I was very angry and this lot got me out of it.

  9. I came to MyT at the beginning too, it provided a diversion from the boy who slept 14-18 hours a day. I’m not sure what I wrote and don’t actually care.
    Why I stay is increasingly a conundrum.
    I still use it as a diversion for rainy days when I cannot garden.
    I suppose it does provide an insight into how British people think at the moment and tends to give me good reason why I should never return!
    One thing that leaves me totally at a loss, people bitching about losing their ‘archives’!
    It is nearly all drivel that no-one in their wildest dreams would ever be paid to publish, amusing drivel at times but no money in the bank.

    So I know why I arrived but I’m damned if I know why I stay and don’t actually care to examine it all too closely. Should I do so, I feel that I would be regretfully obliged to leave all and any sites.

  10. Araminta :

    This does not mean, however, that I agree with all your views on each and every subject, but willing to engage on your terms if it is of interest to me.

    Hi Araminta, God forbid that you would agree with me on everything. Much of what I say is seriously weird. And of course my comments and posts do not always reflect my true thinking, let alone my true emotions.

  11. Hmmm, unlike you Sipu, I see this and “avatars” very real. And in my case, “get a life” makes sense, I’m afraid.

  12. Excellent blog, Sipu, if I may revert to teacher mode. Don’t suppose you fancy giving a few essay writing tips to my A level English lot, now, do you…?
    For me, MyT is always going to be first and foremost, the Place of Amazing Creative writing competition, complete with Louise Doughty, and secondly, a place that is ‘red in tooth and claw’. I tend to detach much more over there, and have no qualms about the no holds barred debating style, whereas here is much more courteous because it is more of a community of bloggers, I guess.
    I initially had reservtions about DNMT, namely because I was a bit addicted to all the shameless shenanigans and arguments over on MyT. I still am, actually. But there are also some fascinating blogs here that would probably never see the light of day there.
    Only problem now is – now I’m addicted to both.
    HMB; hello

  13. Ferret :

    OK Sipu,

    But I say that is pretty cold buddy.

    Yes, Ferret, it is, but I think that is why I felt the need to say it. I feel insincere if I offer sympathy to someone I do not know. How can I care about someone I do not know?

    Your mention of TJ has me slightly worried. Is it possible that he blogs under a different guise? That would just make my case that I do not know the people who blog here.

  14. Sipu,

    He blogs at an old site I used to frequent. I can get in touch if you like, we used to share solutions to the Torygraph Crossword.

  15. Quite, Sipu; same here, I sometimes debate just for the sake of it, and why not? I do however feel more personally involved with some issues raised here. Ferret’s recent experience being one of them. No need for you to feel the same, and I understand your position.

  16. SIpu; perhaps I’m a silly blonde here, but I do find that I care about the people I’m talking to. To me, they’re not just pink rabbits or classical figures or whatever. I may be being a tad arrogant here, but to quote Ana over on MyT today, I can smell trolls and spot fakery from miles away. Trolls always, always give themselves away by their use of collaqualisms and minor sentences
    Right. I’ll shut up now. But I agree with Levent as well 😉

  17. CO, I think that is why I like your approach. You are completely honest as far as I can tell. But you can do more than I can. You appear to be able to say kind things to people and unkind things to them without feeling insincere or duplicitous. I agonise over the fact that I might have been unkind to people. I wish I had your sangfroid. By being impersonal I do not have to worry about being insincere or being cruel.

  18. It’;s an interesting question.
    I came to MyT because I am a professionbal writer who hardly does any paid writing anymore becaiuse the rates are so bad. But, after a while I really missed it, and I thought a blog might be a good discipline. I went to MyT because I could see how it worked, tho’ the politics of most theer were an anathema to me. Like Sipu, I started to feel that I had virtual ‘friends’ and would be pleased to see them online.
    It has been a welcome surprise that blogging has had a therapeutic effect too. I have found it easier to express my feelings, fears and concerns about my mother’s care, or lack of, in a blog than in real life. Friends don’t always want to listen. They have their own issues to deal with. But the real therapy has been writing about my mother. That is something I would not have done without the blogosphere. So thank-you, That’s to all of you who have read and commented on my posts here or on MyT and helped to maintain my equilibrium.

  19. Interesting and thoughtful post Sipu, not sure if my reasons for blogging are as well considered as yours, or quite as dispassionate, but it is generally an enjoyable and entertaining pastime. Most people here have a consistent style and persona that suggests a real person somewhere behind the avatar, and you are correct in saying that most authors can surprise us all with the quality of some of their posts, worth it for those events alone.

    And speaking of style and consistency, welcome HMB, good to see you here.

  20. Claire: you are not a silly blonde at all. I believe I am in the main talking to real people, but I respect Sipu for detaching personalities from issues. I can’t do it, to quite the same degree. It’s the same sort of argument that says this is all cyberspace and nothing matters, and to a degree, I think that it true, or so I would like to believe.

  21. Claire, you see the problem is that I could develop a crush on you and where would that land us? Or me anyway? Thank you for your compliment. Perhaps I just have a shortcoming in my personality. I dislike trolls as much as the next person and I seriously get fed up with those who carry their fights from blog to blog. You are a good kind person with a beautiful navel, that I am pretty sure about. But I could be wrong. 😉

  22. Sipu: your assessment of CO is interesting. I agree to a point, but she did post on MyT about one of the most awful periods of her life, and I hope it helped her.
    Isobel has done the same. We all want different things from blogging, at different times.

  23. Hi LW, thanks for that. I suppose, I just asked myself the question and having done so, I decided to answer it.

  24. Sipu
    You have answered your own question in the final paragraph in a very good summing of why you blog, pray continue.

  25. Isobel, I can totally understand your perspective and reasons for blogging. I write because I enjoy expressing my thoughts. As you say people do not listen, but they often read. I cant imagine anybody I know listening to all that I said above had I spoken it, and yet several people I do not know have read it.

  26. Levent, you have nothing to be afraid of old chum, mate, mucker, pal, companion, comrade, friend. I do not wish to imply that mine is the correct approach, only that it is my approach. Maybe it will change over time.

  27. Thanks OMG. My enthusiasm for it does come and go, I have to say. Its all a state of mind I suppose.

  28. Levent, no theer are vlots of words for friend! And don’t get me wrong, my friends always ask how my mother is. But most have got their own problems. When we meet up, often we want a break from the things that are troubling us. We always help each other when we are able so to do. But for the friend whose husband has been jobless for nearly a year who I’ve just written about on Ferret’s post, another whose school has been in speciual measures and is now a hellish academy with swanky uniform and no rights for teachers, it’s asking a lot. There are other friends who are more able to give me more support with mother related issues. I don’t know if that makes any sense to you.
    A long time ago, when Cat had just decided that I had a vacancy I knew nothin g about and moved in, I was having a pretty bad time at work. I wasn’t the only one. I would come home, groom cat and tell him all about it. He would just purr and stretch out a limb I’d not groomed. He never told me when I contradicted myself. Never said he’d heard it all before. Never offered advice or told me what I should do. And it helped enormously. In fact, a colleague, whose husband reckoned he had heard more than enough of our woes, took to visiting Cat and offloading onto him too! Any psychotherapists out there?

  29. Isobel,
    We are getting more lonely everyday. 😦
    There are two words in Turkish. One is used for special ones. The ones like Bravo has pu very nicely recently.
    I’m blessed with a couple of them. I was having a hard time two years ago. One of my friends recognized from my voice even I didn’t give any details. He and two others were here from 350 kms, in the morning.

  30. No Levent. I don’t agree. I know that iff things were acute my friends would rally. But things that go on from month to month, year to yaer are harder. As friends we often deal with them silently; going out for a walk, seeing a film, goin g to an exhibition with some talk of our problems, but mainly to have a great day that will strengthen us for what we have to deal with. A bit Wordsworthian really. And the fact that we know each other well, and we know about the difficulties we are each facing, gives us strength and security.

  31. Sipu, Ara; yup, I like to think of you all as more than just avatars, but I also like CO’s reality check take on it all too. She is the one who reminded me that my version of blogging can be something akin to self indulgent navel gazing at times.
    That said, this site has proved to be great for reading about/speaking to all kinds of fascinating people/subjects. I’m thinking Boa’s history blogs, Levent’s music, Pseu’s poems, Tocino’s jokes, Val’s anecdotes…Jan, well just Jan full stop actually. All sorts. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there. 😉

  32. Oh yes please! Only prob is, I probably won’t be able to get to it, since I am about to be unceremoniously thrown off computer by my other half… 😉

  33. I joined MyT right at the beginning for the debates.

    I’ve always looked at the avatars and believed that each one represented a real, living, breathing person. Characters shine through, some I know I wouldn’t let near the front gate (if we had one!), others I’d take a chance on and invite in for a beer, a wine, or even a cup of tea (if they insisted!)…

    I’ve always tried, although not always succeeded, to leave any arguments on the blog on which they originated. It’s my belief that everyone has at least one opinion that I will agree with and so far, almost without exception, I haven’t been proved wrong.

    Why do I stay? It’s fun … 🙂

  34. Levent, my expectations are also high. Maybe it’s a gender thing? I have found out recently that one of my friends follows my blog but doesn’t ever comment. – Hi P!.
    Claire can we have a video, or just a sketch?

  35. I can get to it! Will check it out now Levent. While I finish the ironing (martyred sigh!)
    Isobel…video, sketch; certainly…what of though?! 😉

  36. LOL Claire. Just coming to the end of a good read and didn’t expect to see my name mentioned?!! Actually i feel you and I could have a bloody good laugh but perhaps this isn’t the right place for a full and frank on lady matters 😀

    Really want to say Sipu, thank you for this. You express many of the things that have occurred to me too. You are absolutely right about the text thing giving the impression of connecting but isn’t necessarily so. Certainly on MyT you never know if the person is who they say they are, or someone with lots of time on their hands playing around with two or more different identities.

    Debate has never really interested me too much. I have my own opinions on most things but I see no need to impose them on other people. I like to read people who inform, entertain, alert me to ideas, music, books or make me think chuckle, laugh, encourage me to be more creative, to write better and to just make the most of the world, really.

    As someone who loves writing, blogging is one outlet and it’s brilliant to feel a connection with others – but with the real people not the fakes. In the course of being on MyT I’ve met some bloggers who are genuine people and obviously have not pretended to be anything other who they are.

    On the other hand, I’ve had suspicions about other bloggers and that as meant, as you say Sipu, that unless you want to play the multi-ID game too and have oodles of time to waste, it’s futile getting involved.

    It’s also shown me strongly that there are lots of emotions in play that we don’t even realise until someone throws a firework into the mix. I felt really gutted when some prat put up that false post about Ferret’s death, for instance. I have also regretted the undoubted passing of The Bulletin, whose writing I admired and who I felt was by and large a decent bloke. Most of all, I mourned the passing of Stefa, whose writing and humour and humanity I admired hugely and who did become an email pal.

    When it comes to subjective and objective, Sipu, there we differ. I am much more interested in people’s experiences and responses than I am in objective general discussion. Also I think there is room for “personal niceties” because it’s always good to aim to make someone’s day rather than ruin it by being a mean-spirited pain in the ass.

    I don’t know what happened today with Ferret but I’m glad he felt supported by others here. Isn’t it just a natural human thing to rally round those you know and like when they’re a bit down? I would hope so.

  37. Ach, Jan I daresay you may be right there! Let’s save the girlie chat for, um, a girlie blog. Will have to dream one up now!
    Isobel: I’m relieved there. Video of me being shoved off laptop. Not by scruff of one’s swan like neck of course. But I am relieved; for a moment, I thought you meant a video of said navel…

  38. Levent, I heard Tarkan when on holiday in Turkey years ago. The v poppy song whose title I shan’t attempt here, instantly addictive. But I think that album had Kiss kiss on it later coveerd by an Australian. Almost next door to whwere I live is a Turkish supermarket. They sell CDs so I have been able to follow T’s transformation from boy nbext door to Turkish George Michael. I didn’t know he was gay – how does that play in Turkey? – but it makes the parallels all the closer. The girls at the old checkouts (it’s all been updated now, much less personal) recommended Mustafa Sandal. And there you have it. I love the east meets west moments. They send a shiver down my spine. Also Natasha Atlas, she’s Egyptian. Does she get airplay in Turkey? In Goizo I stayed up much too late addicted toa cahnnel playing live music from I don’t know where because I couldn’t read the script or understand the words.

  39. Well video of nael too if you want. Make the most of it. I wouldn’t bare my flesh for anyone unless under cover of darkness these days. astonishing and shocking what becomes of one’s flesh.
    I missed Co’s comment when I read through earlier. I’ve now found it. I do want to keep my archives. ‘Being a Daughter’ is probably the best thing I have ever written. It came from a very raw place and when I read it recently I made me tearful. So at the moment, if I could choose one post to represent me in the hereafter, it would be that one. And I just hope my mother, on some level, understands how much I love her.

  40. Isobel; great comment there…perhaps you could repost that for us one day? I’d like to read it.
    No, not sure I will be posting vid of said navel.I haven’t even got the guts to put a normal mug shot up.

  41. Hi Sipu – I would respond to this lengthy post of yours, but Boadicea has slapped a three-line whip, an injunction, a gag order and a ‘D’ notice on me. 😥
    Never mind, neither of us really exist.

  42. Thanks Val. You probably have not come across Fayray who writes on MyT. She is one of my favourite bloggers there. She posts little pastiches about such mundanities as moving house or a meeting in the school yard. She writes beautifully, wittily and very simply. But I don’t want to get caught up in her personal life and share her agonies when her son does not get into grammar school or her daughter is dumped by a boy. I can’t go round for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine in order to comfort her. I can make some trite remark about things looking better in the morning, but for all I know, it is all fiction anyway. Of course if you were an undercover agent working for the FBI well, I would be fascinated to hear of your exploits.

  43. Ha, Bearsy, I thought the title might grab your attention; a little bit of porvocation. Don’t worry, you don’t need to post. “Occasionally they will write things that totally surprise me and other times I can predict what they will say.” Let’s just say, you have not surprised me yet but I live in hope. But thank you both for your restraint. 😉

    Seriously though, give some thought as to what I am saying and why I have said it. I want to be able to come here to debate without having to defend my personality, just my arguments. Naturally I have an opinion about you; I am sure it is wrong, but it exists and it is bound to colour my interpretation of what you say. I do not like that fact. I want to know what you mean to say, not what I think you mean to say.

    If I want to chat with mates, apart from going to the pub, I can go on Facebook or LinkedIn or MySpace etc. But if I want to debate in depth, a range of subjects, then I come here. My blog was not meant to offend anybody, I just wrote it to explain my position.

    It is raining here. Winter always seems to begin in the week following Easter.

  44. Sipu, good day. I was one of the great escape from MT several years ago. Since when I have been on a number of sites, finally arriving here a couple of days ago. At that time I left, in order to get away from the self-appointed idiots who specialised in rudeness and general unpleasantness, I was doing my best to work out your identity from a meagre ration of clues from yourself. I several times regretted not completing the task, but such is life! I noticed my name in your posting, and thought I would make myself known, although I operate with a different name now.

  45. Hi Sipu,

    I too started on MyT right back at the beginning, and broke away with Zen and several others who are here now and to be honest with you it is so lovely seeing some old ‘faces’ here and some new ones (to me.)

    I am quite a shallow blogger, as you can probably tell by now, and I tend to always blog about my family or what is going on in my immediate life. I was on Zero’s until its collapse earlier in the week and I tell you, I have, maybe foolishly, but not in my opinion, come to think of them all that blogged over there as my ‘cyber family’ and they have all hellped and supported me through lots and lots of hard times and situations and have always been there for me. I was really ‘devastated’ that we were splitting up, the thought of no more Rick, Zen, Val or others being there was a truely gutting feeling to me.

    I realise that we never really get to know the people behind the avatars, but as someone said, you do get to know something about the people behind the pictures. I have also been known to go to sleep thinking about something that someone has blogged about and been anxious to get online the following day to see how the situation is or to give them my conclusion.

    (This is coming from someone who met, dated and fell in love with someone that she met on facebook and two and a half years later we are still here and going strong!)


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