Sunday, February 17, 2008

Momentum + Inertia + Disorientation = Timeout

I have learned that I cannot write at a certain level of fatigue. Only inchoate ideas pass my consciousness. Nothing gets tapered, refined, critiqued. I thought I was learning something about recognizing this threshold at which I was actually saving time and saving my life when it was better to sleep than to struggle on.

But these days, even power naps don't seem to work. Maybe it's a mild depression occasioned by a sense of loss and of losing which clouds my clarity. What I think I need is diversion. Whether my affliction is mental paralysis and writer's cramp, mounting frontal assaults don't seem to work.

In the past, I've found that a good way to shake myself out of these 'slumps' is to comment, sometimes at length, on friends' sites. Trouble is, some of them seem to be likewise afflicted and are not posting suitable grist for me frequently enough. Others, somehow misconstrue my friendly and positive contributions as rampant negativity, delete me, and tell me not to return.

In my travels through the blogosphere I have encountered many stimulating and attractive sites which temp me to stay longer and return more often than my increasingly limited time and energy permit. On some of these, I find myself drawn into rewarding dialogues and roundtables which extend for days and are informative and challenging. Others on this point, frankly, disappoint for various reasons. I'll mention three explanations.
  • Comment Moderation: It is very frustrating to go to the trouble of responding in a thread by composing a paragraph only to see that it will not be displayed until reviewed by the blogmeister or blogmistress. This feature denies me that satisfaction of appraising my contribution with the possibility of replacing it with an alternative. This feature also denies me the right to know if some other comment was posted in the interlude between when I began my composition and when I finished it. (I am a slow deliberate thinker typist.) I like to blend in the with flow of the conversation and use appropriate segues whenever possible. Thirdly, this comment moderation feature squelches the spontaneity of discussion. All activity has to await the approval of moderator. Finally, it's all unnecessary. The blog's administrator can just as easily check his site and capriciously delete objectionable content as he can approve comment double-parked in his email.

  • Anonymous Comments: Another irksome feature of some otherwise fantastic blogs are anonymous comments. These are especially frustrating threads that extend over some significant column inches or days. I fooking hate it when a good topic is beaten to death with a random trail of comment after comment by someone known as 'Anonymous' or 'Anon'. There's no way you can respond to any particular participant, or take a measure of his or her logic or consistency. You can't discern WTF is saying what. It's like a bunch of drive-by tagging crews throwing up a bunch of graffiti. The randomness of it all destroys any sense of linear discussion or community. Plus, total anonymity or anonymous comments frequently encourages the hijacking of the topic down the low road, racing to the bottom, ultimately invoking the very stupid language of hate. When I happen upon one of these I think I have arrived too late to a cocktail party; every one is drunk and every one is wearing identical burqas. The point is, this is also very easy to avoid. I don't think it's too much to ask opinionated folks who want to make their opinions known, to at least establish a distinct pseudonym. One site I write on is bending over backwards to be as permissive as possible on this point. It is going to experiment with permitting the use of noms-de-blog which are not attached to email addresses. The plan would be that when comments are posted by 'Anonymous', they will be deleted. That's really not enough to satisfy me. I don't think it's really workable but at least it's a start in the right direction.

  • Time-Stamps: Whether by design or neglect, some sites are set up such that comments are stamped with only the date or the time of day designated. This formatting does not inform the reader as to how current the discussion is, and will probably discourage him from investing any time participating in the discussion.
All this having been said, I cop to being a blog-addict. I'm truly hooked on all of the sites I regularly visit. They inform, challenge, and entertain me. I also treasure my own readership, be they writers or lurkers. I may not always acknowledge my appreciation through my own comments in my pages. Often, I would rather follow the discussion here than lead it. If anyone thinks I'm ungrateful to, and unresponsive for, comments in my pages, they should review their own sites. That's where I'll be engaging in pay-back!