The Bloggernacle Won’t Save You

The Bloggernacle is no stranger to controversy. One of the recurring trends, at least at BCC, is to tackle a tricky topic head-on, to deal with concerns in an open and honest way. This has some real benefits – often we see some positive apologetics, some heartfelt testimonies and some clarifications of long-held misconceptions. When you engage in this often enough over time, there’s a sense of community that develops. These commenters and bloggers become your friends. With increased frequency we read emails and see comments expressing thanks for a discussion and this community. Occasionally people say things like, “thanks — I could never have this kind of frank, open discussion with the people in my ward,” or “finally someone out there understands me!”

As flattering as such comments are, I have to admit they also make me feel a little uncomfortable.

I have compassion for people who feel like they’re stuck in their local wards, like the Bloggernacle is their only chance to be open with their thoughts without fear of shame or reprisal. It is no small irony that for some, their ward — which is supposed to be a family of love and trust — is a place where they can never be themselves. This is particularly frustrating given the complexities of Mormon history and the difficulty of parsing our doctrine. And so, when I hear tales of desperation and isolation, I am glad that at least some people have been able to find friends and share their experiences online. Indeed, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more vocal advocate for the community that the Bloggernacle affords.

And yet. I worry, sometimes, that our online groups go beyond occasional crutches to get us by, and that they begin to supplant our real-world relationships and our immediate wards and families. For some people, this replacement is nothing but a boon – for whatever reason, their families, wards, etc. are caustic, and seem destined to run them out of the Church entirely. Given the alternative of inactivity, depression or worse, maybe it’s OK that some people find their only place of solace in the arms of the Bloggernacle.

But what about the garden-variety bloggernacle participant, the liberal libertarian intellectual lawyer SAHM that is otherwise a normal active LDS? What happens as your participation and involvement in the Bloggernacle continues to expand? I have only a few observations:

1. The Bloggernacle is a LOT easier. You can lurk in the comments, post trollish remarks, throw outlandish ideas into the fray and see what sticks. Since you haven’t met most of these people, you have far less invested. Friendships come quickly and easily unless you are a troll or a fake persona. So, it is very easy to feel at home, regardless of your leanings.

2. The Bloggernacle takes time. By this I mean it is a jealous mistress. Blogging will take up as much time as you are willing to afford it. The community you choose to participate in will suck up as much involvement as you can give. There is no upper limit. Theoretically the same is true of our real-world relationships, but as a matter of practicality you can only do so much for your real family and friends in the middle of the night…. whereas BCC is open 24/7.

3. The Bloggernacle is deceiving. Because it’s so easy to make friends and influence people online, participants swiftly get a sense of amazing return on their investment. The first time a perma responds to a first-timer’s comment — magic! When someone you respect tells you they like your posts — bliss! These are real feelings of fulfillment. But they are frequently ephemeral. There is no lasting glory in the Bloggernacle, folks. Those relationships are likely to fade as fast as they are created. Even established commenters and participants disappear with only the occasional mention (Kingsley! Lyle! Brent!).

4. You have duties to the real-world. Parents have duties to their children, and spouses have duties to each other. These duties are established in scripture and ratified by law and society as a whole. Your duties to your co-bloggers exist by virtue of general societal norms and Christian duties, but that’s it. These are your friends, folks, but don’t confuse your priorities. If you don’t reply to a post or an email, that’s nothing compared to failing to be there for your spouse or your kids.

5. Your real-world relationships are more likely to save you. I believe that all of our friendships and relationships have potential to bring us closer to Christ, but some more than others. At the top of the pile are those relationships ordained by God – namely, our family. I believe in the family unit as a saving device and ultimately put a lot of faith into the notion that a family, particularly one sealed in the temple, is an eternal unit. Next on the list I would put our ward relationships, not just because of the general injunction in Alma to mourn with those who mourn, etc., but because (a) we have an obligation to help build up the stakes of Zion where we are located, and (b) like our families, we cannot pick and choose our ward members — we may adore some of them, fundamentally disagree with others, but the act of coming together to worship and serve alongside each other despite differences is itself a salvific act. I would put friends and internet acquaintances further down on the list, both because of the ease in developing such associations and because of the relatively minimal investment involved.

What do I mean when I say that the Bloggernacle won’t save you? I mean that it is no panacea, no cure-all. You might find some answers to your questions, some friendships and some solace, but you won’t really escape who you are or what troubles you while you’re jacked into the BCC Matrix.

A final note: I have developed, over time, real friendships and true love for my co-bloggers and friends over the internet. I don’t mean to minimize those relationships. But even I forget sometimes that as blissfully wonderful and entertaining as the Bloggernacle can be compared to “real life,” it must not be allowed to usurp our rightful priorities.

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Comments

  1. Well said, Steve – says he who has spent inordinate amounts of time in the past in the Bloggernacle.

    I’ve gone through withdrawals lately, since I also love the people I’ve come to know over the last three years, but “life” really is more important.

  2. Excellent post. I think if we risked a little more in talking frankly with those we have real relationships with, we’d be surprised at how much common ground there is among people with very different opinions. And it would be much more rewarding.

  3. Natalie K. says:

    In the time it took me to read this post, I could have returned a phone call from a friend that left me a message two days ago. And yet I read on. And agreed.

    Why’d you have to carry on so long? ;)

  4. Excellent post, Steve, with some salient points

    We don’t all have wards like yours… ;)

    I have spoken up before with ward members, and it has not gone well. There is nothing like eyes glazing over and people avoiding you because they don’t/can’t/won’t process what you have said. Having people think less of you or questioning your faith is painful.

    That said, I’m sure I could do better at reaching out in my real ward. It’s just harder. And maybe that was your point all along

  5. Steve, I agree so much with everything you said, and feel very much persuaded of my own guilt, regardless of whether or not indictment was a goal in writing the post.

    Because I am a glutton for punishment, I would add one additional realm upon which the mistress of the Bloggernacle can easily infringe–that of duty to an employer. While perhaps not as directly important in the soterial sense, part of being a good Mormon is being honest in our dealings with our fellow men, and it is so very easy to lose time to the Interwebs in the Bloggernacle.

  6. aloysiusmiller says:

    Since I am on moderation I’ll say it boldly and obnoxiously.

    Its just this “nobody in my ward understands me” mentality that drives me crazy with the bloggernacle. Y’all are a bunch of misfits. You probaby think I am too but you wouldn’t say so if you saw me in real life because I am not. I home teach, I serve in callings, I participate in quorum discussions, I teach lessons, I occasionally give a talk in Church and I love all the people in my ward… even the eccentric and different ones. I run out of patience to one degree or another with some of the “intellectuals” who can’t come to any meeting unless they’re teaching or talking. But I feel mostly sorry for them as I watch their families disintegrate.

    I don’t know if they are active in the bloggernacle but they seem to be the types that would be johny on the spot with the “did you know that Joseph Smith married that woman who was still married to that man” type of info-nugget. Their church history text is Rough Stone Rolling (not a bad book but not as useful as they think) and they would go to Sunstone any day over turning on the TV for conference.

    Its exasperating.

    aloysiusmiller.blogspot.com

  7. Steve Evans says:

    Indictment was not a goal in writing the post.

  8. Steve Evans says:

    Tracy, yes – it is often harder to engage with ward members than with folks on blogs, particularly when thorny issues arise. It may not even feel as “rewarding” when you do find someone to commune with over issues. But that’s not quite what I’m getting at.

  9. Excellent post

  10. Very well said!

  11. “I have compassion for people who feel like they’re stuck in their local wards”

    I’ve never felt stuck in any ward I’ve been to, even though I’ve been to many in different countries and certainly moved around more than every one I know. (and no doubt others have moved around more than me)

    Either I’ve been extremely lucky, or my expectations are different.

    So while my statement should also not be seen an an indictment, I think the there are many people who need to change their expectations, and often considering changing (dare I say improving) themselves. Of course, the particulars can and will always be debated ad nauseum. No doubt most people have what they consider a valid and rational arguments for their positions as most people consider themselves to be valid and rational.

  12. Steve Evans says:

    sam, it’s likely a mixture of both expectations and luck. There are plenty of reasonable people who feel stuck despite low expectations, but your point about improving ourselves is of course a good one.

  13. Aaron Brown says:

    Hmm. I thought the whole purpose of the Bloggernacle was to provide a forum where we could air our respective heresies in a safe place, hone our arguments and defenses, and eventually feel secure enough in our positions to go out and wreak havoc in our wards and Gospel Doctrine classes. Oh well.

    AB

  14. Aaron Brown says:

    I jest, of course, but in one sense, I’m not entirely kidding. It would be nice if the openness that people experience in the Bloggernacle could translate into an awareness that their views aren’t necessarily as heterodox as they initially supposed. And, it would be even nicer if participants then felt secure enough to transport the openness they feel here to their own wards and classes. I’m a big believer in the idea that lots and lots of LDS members want more substantive/open discussions, but aren’t sure how to instigate them.

    AB

  15. Steve, this was a great post. Obviously, our leaders are concerned about similar things, a la Elder Bednar’s talk on the subject a few months ago.

    I argue with myself a lot about this, because we have counsel on both sides of the line — one to make sure that the virtual doesn’t replace the real, physical world relationships we have, but on the other hand, to get involved online in missionary-type work, etc.

    Also, for all that sometimes I am out of balance, and that tug of blogging is very real (I loved this: “Blogging will take up as much time as you are willing to afford it. The community you choose to participate in will suck up as much involvement as you can give. There is no upper limit.”), my online experiences have made a big impact on my real-life experiences, particularly in helping me want to be more sensitive to the reality that there are probably those in my ward/midst who have questions, concerns, struggles, etc. and I want to be aware so that they feel from me that they have a place. That they are not so ‘different.’ That it’s ok to have questions. That we all struggle in some way, and it’s a journey for all of us.

    There have been real benefits of blogging for me. But I appreciate so much the reminder that “If you don’t reply to [or read!] a post or an email, that’s nothing compared to failing to be there for your spouse or your kids [or your ward/stake family].”

    Anyway, thanks for this post.

  16. Yeah. I’ve scaled my participation way back not because of a conscious decision or a hair-waving ‘I’m leaving this pit of vipers,’ but because the investments I’ve made in real-world relationships has paid off.

  17. Steve Evans says:

    Norbert, and here I was thinking you were just lazy. Turns out you’re principled!

  18. a hair-waving ‘I’m leaving this pit of vipers’

    Pure awesomeness.

  19. Steve,
    You are dead to me now.

  20. Eric Russell says:

    “The first time a perma responds to a first-timer’s comment — magic!”

    As I recall, the first time Steve Evans responded to my comment he accused me of smoking an illegal substance. And it was magic.

  21. I believe the first time Brother Evans responded to me was to recommend not letting the door hit me on the way out. In retrospect I probably should have hearkened to the voice of him that contended with me as I have done little but cause passersby to be astonished and wag their heads ever since.

  22. Latter-day Guy says:

    An interesting post. While I have used ideas from the bloggernacle in preparing lessons of talks (particularly because so many posts point to other excellent resources), I still value it as a place to share ideas which carries no risk of excommunication/church discipline. I realize that concern may seem a bit silly, but in the past five years, terrible havoc was unleashed in a neighboring ward (on some of my extended family members –– and many others) by a bishop who somehow thought he was doing the Lord’s work but was actually exercising unrighteous dominion to a degree I have never otherwise seen or heard of. Also, in that same period, different (but still devastating) damage was done in my own life by a bishop who, though certainly well-meaning, made promises in the name of the Lord that he had no way (and no right) to guarantee. (The promises went conspicuously unfulfilled.)

    As a result of 1) local leaders’ enormous latitude in both running their ward or stake (including to a large degree, if they desire, the lives of the people in it) and interpreting their doctrinal opinions as normative, and 2) the fact that revelation is neither a necessarily simple nor foolproof process, my M.O. will remain, for the foreseeable future, staying low under the radar. I am sure this is unfair to many very good priesthood leaders, but having been burned myself (and seeing the scars carried by those I love), I have little desire to stick my hand back in the fire.

    Consequently, bloggernacle involvement –– for me –– has been a lifesaver, even though it might be something of a crutch.

  23. Latter-day Guy says:

    Clarification: the bishop I mentioned from the neighboring ward was only able to his –– er –– pastime, because he was enabled by his stake president, who was cut from the same cloth. After members contacted the Area Authority Seventies, both men were released, but it took months and months. Indeed, neither man was ever disciplined, and the delay in their release resulted in their both serving a basically normal term for their respective callings.

  24. Latter-day Guy says:

    …able to continue his pastime… (Sheesh, maybe this early-rising business isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.)

  25. Steve,

    I don’t believe my eyes. Do sentences containing “church authority”, “challenge” and “undermine” no longer spill from your pen? Does the tatoo “Trojan Horse is bloggernacle” no longer grace your left thigh? In response to John F’s question, do you now answer “The bloggernacle won’t save you?” Why do I suddenly feel like Nephi Jeffs.

  26. Antonio Parr says:

    One observation regarding the bloggernacle vis a vis “real” interactions: People resort to insult and sarcasm on internet “conversations” that, in my experience, would never occur had the person making the comments been compelled to look in the eyes and hear the humanity in the voice of the person with whom they take exception. This is one of the dangers that comes from distancing ourselves from each other through electronic communications.

    On the other hand, how wonderful is it that the peculiar amongst the peculiar can share ideas so easily with those who can understand and place in perspective one’s thought and concerns? This is a profound gift to many.

    Steve’s post raises many questions that merit consideration even outside the hallowed halls of the bloggernacle. Thank you for your most thoughtful post.

  27. Excellent post, Steve. I will have to continue to delay writing that book review because of real world demands.

  28. #25: “..the peculiar amongst the peculiar …”. I love that.

  29. Thank you for this post. Can I go back to the real world of Facebook now?

  30. I haven’t looked at any blogs for days because matters at home have demanded my full attention. I made a much-needed trip to the temple for help, and had the most remarkable experience of my temple-going life. That experience is in the sacred, non-sharable realm, and I would never blog about it. Blogging is fun, but when things turn serious in our real lives, we must look far beyond the computer screen.

  31. Holden Caulfield says:

    I’ll admit the bloggernacle does get in the way of my TV time.

  32. Steve Evans says:

    Mathew, those with eyes to see, let them read. You and I know where my heart really is.

  33. Plus the Bloggernacle is a gateway drug to the DAMU.

  34. Finally, someone out there understands me!

  35. ujlapana — I disagree. I think the Bloggernacle is an antidote against the DAMU. But maybe you were just making a joke.

    Steve — Good post. It’s good to hear your thoughts about the State of the Bloggernacle-union.

  36. Kathy – MAGIC!!

  37. People resort to insult and sarcasm on internet “conversations” that, in my experience, would never occur had the person making the comments been compelled to look in the eyes and hear the humanity in the voice of the person with whom they take exception.

    The flip side of this is that people will say, “Hey, I liked that!” on blogs far more often then they will be bothered to walk across a chapel and say, “Good lesson!” (Although I have to admit that getting a real live thank you note in the mail yesterday, that someone had taken the time to write with a pen and to find a stamp for mailing was even cooler than most — not all, but most — blog acknowledgements.)

    I like blogging. It fills a need that is not filled for me in real life, and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon. You-all are stuck with me, unless you leave. Nyah.

  38. Aargh — I do know the difference between “then” and “than.” Really.

  39. Aaron Reeves says:

    I have actually had to work at my bloggernacle participation. I am note really sure why. I have read for a long time and posted for a shorter one. But I have often really struggled to find a place in the bloggernacle (i spend most of my time at MM). It may be because online communication does not work for me, i feel like i need to see people face to face to connect with them. This is weird because I am mid-20’s and should be hooked up with electronic age. I think I spend my time here because there are moments that I love, but I find this harder work than Church. But this may change.

  40. Great post! It is very easy to get sucked in to an online community. It can be very beneficial if you have a need–in the education world we refer to it as a Personal Learning Network (PLN) and if we treat the great community as a place to learn it makes sense. When it is more social networking it can take place of those meaningful relationships.

    I would like to point out one benefit online participation can make to our real-world relationships and that is when a husband and wife can discuss what they read online at home. My husband and I read and laughed together on the comments and post entitled “I was an Hungered and Ye Shot Me” and since then we have had several more (and less) sophisticated conversations based on what we read here. The topics that come up here allow us to have a deeper conversation around things we have never though to discuss so for that, I am appreciative of the conversation stems.

  41. Natalie B. says:

    Wonderful post. I agree that there is a real danger in turning to blogging because you don’t believe that your ward understands you. I have found that there are generally lots of people in the ward who I share common ground with or could learn from. What takes effort is learning about these people when we typically only see them on Sundays and they are busy with kids, etc. Ironically, I have found that the Internet can really help solve that problem. The ward and family members that I am closest to are those who are on Facebook, because I can respond to them when I have a way to know what is going on in their lives. Blogging can be a way of forming new groups at the expense of paying attention to those around you, but the web also allows a medium for facilitating interactions amongst family and friends in one’s geographic area. I think that the biggest danger is forgetting about those who aren’t online, regardless of where they live.

  42. I’ve gained quite a bit of confidence in my particular interpretation of Mormonism through my interactions on the bloggernacle (admittedly, mostly lurking). Perhaps that’s made me too comfortable with my unorthodox views and so in the end will do me no good. But I doubt it. Like Aaron said, I’ve honed (or seen better versions of) arguments, which I think has strengthened my testimony.

    I’ve also thought more about spiritual/church stuff more since finding the bloggernacle. I’m not a particularly diligent scripture reader, but even in those times when I do manage to be consistent in scripture study I often find I read and then don’t think much further about what I’ve read. Hearing others’ thoughts on scriptures and lessons has encouraged me to ponder more deeply on the scriptures when I read them (since I’m not naturally inclined toward deep scriptural thinking). Perhaps I would have gained the same skill set eventually wrt scripture reading and pondering, but I think those skills have come to me sooner because of my reading here, and I’m glad of it.

    Which is to say, you’ve got a point, but I do think there’s an important place for the bloggernacle in my life.

  43. Ah, the old Tom Reagan subterfuge. Glad that slow drift towards faithfulness and supporting the brethren is nothing to worry about.

  44. Steve, do you legitimately believe there is a significant subset of Bloggernacle readers who honestly think the Bloggernacle is a remedy for all of their problems?

  45. I’m one who uses the Bloggernacle as a substitute for the lack of interaction in my real life ward. I am the organist for Sacrament meeting and the pianist for Primary. While that means that I am serving in my callings for the entire three-hour block, it also means that the service is done behind a large wooden musical instrument, where the only interaction I really have is eye contact with whoever is leading the music. I love my callings, and am glad to share my talents in service, but there isn’t much time for interaction. I’m playing prelude before Sacrament meeting starts, postlude when it’s over, and then I run down the hall to play for Primary.

    The Bloggernacle lets me read and sometimes share more than I ever get a chance to in real life. It may not save me, but it at least gives me some kind of connection with other believers.

  46. Great post! I still wonder how some of you manage to both post to and track so many blogs. I have to use the Mormon Archipelago Twitter feed to keep track of it all and filter it somewhat (thanks, @mormonblogs).

    Are you polyphasic sleepers? Or web-savvy Three Nephites? Or Red Bull addicts?

  47. Steve Evans says:

    James (#44): yes. I know of several such people, but even outside of that extreme scenario, the tendency to seek escape from real-life via the Bloggernacle is virtually omnipresent.

  48. Steve Evans, conscience of the Bloggernacle.

    Why is there a Bloggernacle? The Church is rather averse to autonomous study groups and seminars, but doesn’t offer sponsored venues where that sort of free-wheeling discussion is appropriate. Some might have easy access to a real-world forum for discussion (on a campus or near a conference site) but for the rest of us I think the Bloggernacle is the friendly, accessible, and relatively faithful discussion group we’ve always wanted but never found.

  49. Steve Evans says:

    Dave, if I am its Jiminy Cricket you are its Geppetto. I agree with your remark.

  50. The bloggernacle for me serves a couple of purposes. It gives me a chance during the work day to steal a look and remind myself of the more important things in life (The gospel, not the ‘nacle). I also appreciate the chance to explore gospel topics and listen to a lot of people smarter than me about topics that I care about, and learn a few things along the way.

    I should lurk more than I do, especially when I think I have something funny to say. Reading and commenting are no substitutes for real life, just an extra dimension. If you have noticed, almost all of my comments come during work time, as I rarely look at my blogs of choice in the evenings or on weekends. The bloggernacle rarely intrudes in my home or church life, and so I take seriously your thoughts about taking time from my work. And work has definitely limited my blog reading of late.

    Good food for thought, but now back to work.

  51. Next you will be telling me the internet won’t really make me thinner, have whiter teeth, get women, and make $5,000 a day while I do nothing. I am not falling for your deceptive lies you flattering Amalickite.

  52. Steve, I think this may be the first time I’ve ever seen you ever sell yourself short ;)

  53. I am a high priest group leader in my ward, and very active in assisting with the Scout program, etc. Yet, I feel stuck in my ward.
    I’d like to hold quarterly firesides on things like the Dead Sea Scrolls and Mormonism, or other esoteric discussions. But three bishops in a row have shut me down.
    I’m not allowed to speak of such things in group meetings, etc., and follow the guidance given. Still, a major interest and facet of my life is not welcome in my ward, and the Bloggernacle is the only place where I can easily and safely (and obediently) gather with others and discuss some things.

  54. Steve is Jiminy Cricket? I always thought of him more as Honest John.

    Steve, is this post just a lawyerly CYA post? It seems like you’re trying to limit your exposure so that if anyone comes to you (in this life or the next) and says, “look at all the havoc you caused!” you can point at this post and preserve a measure of deniability.

    In my view, the bloggernacle can save you, if what you need to keep you from falling into inactivity or non-membership is a place to discuss gospel topics in a non-threatening way. The Church does not supply that in real life and if you think it happens in GD class, you better think again. You could form your own study group at your house, but that would be much more difficult (and sparsely attended) than the places that exist already here in the nacle.

  55. Glenn Smith says:

    I agree with kevinf #50. Very new to the bloggernacle, I find myself challenged by others’ comments to find my own answers to important questions. I never realized how many different faith challenges people experienced. In real world conversations, I often grasp at vague memories of missionary scriptures, or General Authority quotes. Here, I can cut and paste quotes from lds.org, scriptures and other sites, I can pause to find just the right word(s) lest I be misunderstood. I can verify my facts before posting.

    Still, one cannot discount the value of eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart connections of real world conversations. Last fall, my assistant manager was released as my stake president. It is great to occasionally sit together and discuss doctrine during the day. (Fortunately, I am in a position to grant staff time to attend to church and community service duties, LDS & other.)

  56. Steve Evans says:

    MCQ, a CYA? Not really my style, and I doubt this reduces my exposure. It’s just some musings.

  57. No, I’m the honest John. Also, I have some shore front property in Oklahoma to sell.

  58. Such a great post. I think it’s important if we find ourselves in a ward where we feel that isolation because we think we have opionions that are so different than anybody else’s, it’s up to us to open up and find ways to respectfully and effectively communicate our thoughts and opinions. I think we will be surprised at who we might have something in common with and what we might have in common with them. I also think it’s a fantastic exercise to try and find ways to express yourself to people who don’t necessarily agree with you, especially if part of that process includes seeking to understand the other side. Everyone wins.

  59. Steve, I love you, man. And not the way you’re thinking. What I mean to say is, I want to have sex with you.

  60. Steve Evans says:

    GST: ditto.

  61. eww, keep it PG boys. While the bloggernacle won’t save me, I don’t want it to damn me either.

  62. But Ardis, do you know the difference between Aargh and Arrrggggg? And by the way, I do like your sturff. I mean stuff.

  63. MCQ has a point- when I was still a newbie floundering in uncharted waters, thisl saved my faith when I might otherwise not have lasted. Yes, now I must last in my real world ward, but I likely never would have kept going at all without what I get here.

    Again, I know, not what you were getting at- but important nonetheless.

  64. Of course, the best of all possible worlds is when a Bloggernacle friend becomes a real life friend (or sex partner . . . I KID! I KiD!) that you get to hang out with on a regular basis.

  65. I turned on my computer last night after hauling it around the Western US and only using it once or twice. I like being involved in the ‘nacle and I love the people around these parts, but I treasure the time I spent with my wife, children, and extended family last week while on vacation.

  66. Justmeherenow says:

    Just an electronic means of evesdropping on people with LDS beliefs/background sharing deep thoughts (which I was amazed to find it existed!)

  67. OK fine. I’ll just have to find my salvation through my World of Warcraft avatar!

  68. I think both are possible–to be fully involved with ward members and to find the really good stuff in the ‘nacle. My ward is stodgy, but my lessons to the high priests are intended to be different–astride the line if you please, sometimes a little off the reservation. In over 30 years of teaching, I’ve never had ANYONE criticize, carp or complain. Ward members have always been complimentary, even young people, now grown, who occasionaloly tell me I was their best teacher ever. It can be done.

  69. “I still value it as a place to share ideas which carries no risk of excommunication/church discipline”

    I wish. (See letters to my Department Chair).

  70. Yeah right, SteveP, no one would do that.

  71. In my case the dichotomy between Bloggernacle and real-life eternal family relationships is collapsed, since I blog with my siblings. This happy concurrence allows me to seek not just salvation (an individual matter, I’m told) but exaltation (a matter of the family) online.

    Or perhaps we’re all just going to hell together….

  72. Latter-day Guy says:

    RE: 6, “Since I am on moderation I’ll say it boldly and obnoxiously.”

    Mission accomplished, Brother Miller.

  73. is it me of whom you speak spud darling? Let’s quilt, let’s blog, then let’s quilt some more!

    Almost all of my real life BFFs I met on the ‘nacle. It has been a great force for good in my life, I’m fairly sure I’d be utterly inactive if I had this spot, you people, to help me reconcile my dissonance. But still it’s true enough that it’s easy to get sucked in, I could easily spend all day every day doing nothing but blogging and not read nor write half as much as I could.

    I have to take breaks to focus on my family, and even breaks to more spend real-life time quilting with my ‘nacle buddies. As with most everything, it’s a balancing act, no good thing is still good when taken to extremes.

  74. Researcher says:

    It’s rather curious that someone put up that sideblog link to an online autism test, since I was thinking last night about this post and wondering whether to mention that online communities can be very valuable for people with Aspergers.

    On a personal note, this community was very helpful for me a couple of years back when I was more or less shut in for the better part of a year due to the health needs of one of my children. Yes, it provided “some answers to [my] questions [and also provided a bunch of questions], some friendships [including some that have moved into "real life"] and some solace,” but as is stated in the original post, it is no substitute for “real life.” Just like any other social obligation or hobby, it should be kept in its place and not allowed to intrude too far into the most important responsibilities. (Of course, the same could be said for church activities and callings!)

  75. Bro. Jones says:

    When I first encountered the bloggernacle back in ’05 or so, I let it suck up a lot of my time because I was in a place (spiritually and geographically) with few friends, and I’d lost touch with the 2 or 3 close LDS friends I had whom I could discuss things with. I’m not even talking about weighty stuff like the priesthood ban or history of polygamy, just stuff like “Hey, that was an awesome conference talk” or “That Sunday School lesson really stunk.” So the bloggernacle served as instant conversation space.

    Nowadays, I don’t post just for the sake of posting. I usually only read and comment on threads that are particularly interesting. (The aggregator ldsblogs.org is very helpful here.)

  76. I think very few of us live in wards where we are alone. If we run to the bloggernacle to give us comfort and assure us of our place in the Mormon universe, perhaps we don’t feel the need to dig as deep to find what we are looking for in our ward.

    I know I’m extraordinarily lucky to have the kinds of friends that I do, and I don’t expect that my experience is typical. Surely there are people who are in wards where they are more unique. However, when I look back at times when I have felt more “alone” around my church acquaintences, I realize that the person who was failing to understand was me, not anyone else. If I want to be so special and more complex and more thoughtful than the rest of my ward, I’m going to think that I am. When I wanted to believe that I wasn’t alone, I found out that was, in fact, much more true.

    I realize I sound like I’m saying tht the bloggernacle is made up of a bunch of whiny people who want to think they are better than everyone else, which is why I didn’t say this earlier. That’s not exactly what I mean. I just think that it would probably benefit most of us to try a little harder to find what we’re looking for in the real world, and I think that most of us probably will.

  77. In my house, we read the blogernaccle together as a family – that way, it doesn’t replace my person interactions, but becomes a part of it. Whenever I come home, the first thing my kids ask me is if Uncle Steve Evens wrote anything new today. I guess it’s because of the funny voice I use when I read his posts.

    Oh man, you should hear the voice I use when reading FMH posts.

    It always scares my 3 year old.

  78. Steve, I think you make very good points about not letting the Bloggernacle overwhelm real-life relationships and responsibilities.

    But I also agree with other commenters that they don’t necessarily have to be separate. I guess, like Eve said (#71), I’m in an unusual circumstance of blogging with family members. It’s always extra fun to see what my sisters have to say because I know them so well in real life. But like Idahospud said (#64) making real life friends with people you already know online is great too. For myself, I’ve only met a few bloggers in real life, but those few I’ve enjoyed immensely, and I now enjoy reading/interacting with them online even more. I guess I think MCQ is right (#54) that if the Bloggernacle supplies your particular need, whether it’s discussion or meeting people you can be friends with in the real world, then maybe it really will save you.

    (Of course, I’m a super-addict, so I’m probably a bit defensive about my addiction. :) )

  79. Ziff, fair enough. I just see things (for purposes of this thread anyhow) in terms of explicit duties. Our responsibilities to family and ward members seem to be (at least on paper) to be pre-eminent. So when people talk about how they’ve found new families in the Bloggernacle or talk about so-and-so as their Internet Bishop, I get nervous. I think that no success in Bloggernacle relationships can compensate for a failure in the home.

  80. >so-and-so as their Internet Bishop

    Who on says that and *means* that, Steve?

    Also, stop getting nervous. It’s bad for your sciatica.

  81. I think that no success in Bloggernacle relationships can compensate for a failure in the home.

    Good point. But you should know I’m taking this advice seriously only because I consider you to be my Internet Bishop. ;)

  82. Steve, if you are the internet bishop, how many people have you disfellowshipped (ie, banned)?

  83. Ronan, I think some people do mean it. Not many.

    My sciatica is fine, it’s the shingles I can’t stand.

    Kevinf, time for your cybercourt of love.

  84. So if disfellowshipping is banning, what would excommunication be? Launching a denial of service attack on someone’s site?

  85. Yeah and also, what’s the bloggernacle equivalent of getting a visit from the Danites? Kevin Barney shows up and does donuts on your lawn?

  86. Oh man, you should hear the voice I use when reading FMH posts.

    uh…don’t read them?

  87. I have been posting for several years as Karen. I had 7 of my grandchildren here for several weeks of the summer. When they left and I managed to come back to the blogs I found another Karen was posting. Only one person realized it wasn’t me.
    I have missed Ray though, but he moved from here recently, so “Hi Ray, from Karen in Cincinnati”

  88. What I like about the Bloggernacle is that having taken offense to some random thing someone said, I can decide to leave and never return, and I don’t have to worry about people gossiping about me when I’m gone. In point of fact, no one notices.

  89. We obviously haven’t offended Rebecca J near enough, because she keeps coming back to the Bloggernacle….

    Topic: Rebecca J and her link to the Danites. Everyone discuss.

  90. Thanks for articulating this, Steve.

  91. I would love to hear Matsby’s FMH voice!

  92. Excellent preamble and post, Steve. I have a fear, that many have expressed, that some LDS members have become “two faced”. They are one way in their wards and another way on the internet. This state of being cannot just go on and on because the responsibilities of the fast growing LDS Church are growing to such a degree that it’s members cannot be much longer “two faced” because these responsibilities will be just too great.

    Another problem is D&C 19: 29-33, especially verse 30: “And thou shalt do it in all humility, trusting in me, reviling not against revilers.”
    Unfortunatly, I have been guilty of ‘reviling against revilers’ here on the internet on other blogs. And I guess I’m in violation of this scripture. So, I will not be surprised if we all receive direction from the General Authorities not to engage in these type of discussions on the internet that result in ‘reviling against revilers’. – Which if followed, would leave those who are ‘two faced’ to just discuss issues with each other – without any conservative feedback.

  93. Re: 87
    It was me, original Karen. I must have found the Bloggernacle during your brief break. I have since given myself an initial. Sorry if I tarnished your good Bloggernacle reputation!

  94. In addition to #92 – I’ll admit that I’ve read more scriptures and official LDS statements in the last 4 months since being on the internet than in the last 4 or 5 years.
    I found that this has to be done to counter the unbelievable amount of “wordly” analysis by many concerning LDS positions or statements made by LDS General Authorities.
    This process has helped me personaly, but my communication skills have not earned me many friends.

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