In the spirit of “summer reading”–that is to say, not taxing– I want to talk about a phenomenon I call the Inverse Ratio of Response. As a regular reader but rare responder to BCC blogs I have observed that the more light-hearted posts, such as Levi’s about dress standards for home teachers, will generate responses in the hundreds while more serious topics will generate far fewer. I have some thoughts as to why.
Anyone in the church who also wears clothes will have had to consider “dress standards” if only for a moment when making a sartorial decision. Since we are all experts on our own experiences we feel we are on firm ground speaking out. And talking about a dress code is a way of talking about the serious issues behind it. As we learn in Primary, “reverence is more than just quietly sitting.” What is the relationship between the outer–the way we dress– and the inner–the way we feel? One can be legislated, the other can’t, but one reflects the other, or not necessarily. So this kind of blog gets lots of responses because people are sure of what they are saying and have an experience to contribute. They have a sense, often, of what lies beneath the frivolity, and it’s fun. Life is often serious and who doesn’t welcome a chance to laugh.
On the other hand, many posts are about philosophical or historical matters that most people don’t know much about. They can be impressively erudite. These posts might be read by lots of people but few choose to respond. Most of us prefer not to reveal our ignorance and aren’t confident enough to ask the questions we have on our minds. Silence doesn’t imply lack of appreciation and it doesn’t mean a person hasn’t learned something.
There have also been posts that are moving. In that case, it’s hard to know what to say. We have the words to be ironic, “snarky’”, sarcastic, critical or argumentative, but we have a much smaller vocabulary when it comes to being appreciative. “Nice post,” or “that was beautiful”–sometimes those words just don’t cover it, so we say nothing even when we would like to be able to say much more.
The French have a useful phrase: “l’esprit d’escalier”–the wit of the stairway. It refers to the brilliant response you think of later. Posting is immediate and at hand. Some people have a slower reaction time. When they finally figure out what they meant to say, the moment has passed. The discussion on the blog is over. Everyone is on to something else.
So, to the people who are shocked that so much bloggernacle time is spent on silly stuff, and to those people whose hard thinking and thoughtful writing don’t seem to draw many out, I say take heart and remember the Inverse Ratio of Response.