Long before someone came up with the phrase "social media", blogs were doing it. The essence of blogging is connections, links to people and information we want to pass along to readers and links to other blogs we believe readers will enjoy.
In April, when I posted the criteria I use in choosing blogs for the Elderbloggers list (now posted permanently on the About page), I caught a bit of flak for mentioning that I don’t link to far right-wing political blogs nor to blogs the purpose of which is to support the Bush administration.
“As for your criteria, I thought long and hard about the item on far right-wing politics and Bush administration supporters. I even drafted a comment. Yet because I respect you and the TGB community so much I thought extra hard before posting it. And then didn't — because others covered the gist of my thinking and it is your blog. You get to make decisions (and change them if you want).”
I have wondered if and how Tamar’s last sentence could ever be in question – about any blog. People who run topic blogs generally link to other blogs related to that subject matter. People who write personal blogs link to blogs they like on many subjects and often, to blogs that link to them.
Most never bother to state their criteria for the links on their blogrolls and I would not have mentioned mine except that some readers ask.
Those who objected to my political link choices (or non-choices) said that I am being discriminatory and that since the U.S. is “based on equal rights”, I should link to other points of view.
It is too easy to argue these days, given the shredding of our Constitution over the past six-plus years, that if the U.S. ever was based on equal rights it is not anymore. But so far, we have not been deprived of our individual right to support the points of view we believe in and oppose those we do not unless we are attending (a speech given by President Bush or try to hold an anti-Iraq War press conference in Lafayette Square).
What concerns me about those who argue that my blogroll or any blogroll should link to other points of view is this: how far should this idea be taken? Should I restore the link I removed a couple of years ago because the writer made anti-Semitic statements? What about the link I deleted to a blogger who used an anti-Arab slur?
There are a couple of well-produced, well-written elderblogs that espouse white supremacy. Although I disagree, should I link to those? I don’t write about it on this blog, but I support abortion rights and oppose the death penalty. Now that I’ve mentioned those, am I obligated to link to elderbloggers who oppose my positions? And while I’m asking, is it discriminatory to not include people younger than 50 on my blogroll?
Down at the bottom of the left sidebar, there is a link to the Electronic Frontier Foundation with a quote I heard from Jay Rosen of PressThink at the first Blogher conference in 2005: “Blogs are little First Amendment machines.” I know that Amendment by heart:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
In explaining that bolded phrase, people have traditionally quoted Voltaire: “I may not agree with what you say, but I defend to my death your right to say it.”
And so it is at Time Goes by: I express my opinions here through writing and, sometimes, through my choice of links and so do readers in the comments. Is that not true for all our blogs?
[For those of us who like to play with words, at The Elder Storytelling Place today, Paul Henry - the Old Professor - holds forth on the vagaries of English idioms in Corn On and Off the Cob.]