C.L. Bruno continues her guest stint here at BCC.
I am following Connor’s new project with much interest. As I surf around the Bloggernacle, I’m seeing little robotic icons with their right hands raised begging, “Sustain this!”
Sustain’d is a community-driven website where users can submit posts of interest to the LDS blogging coterie. Once a post is submitted, it can be easily accessed and voted upon. A blog which gets many votes remains high on the list, and might even earn a spot on the coveted “front page.” A user can also vote against a post, or “bury” it. An early controversy which arose over at Sustain’d happened when some posts were “buried” and removed from the site by receiving 3 negative votes. At the moment, the bury function is being reevaluated by Connor as well as the other site members.
I’m interested to see how the LDS community responds to a “bury” feature. On one hand, Mormons have little tolerance for ideas which are too controversial or uncomfortable. When such an issue comes up, we want to bury our heads in the sand and refuse to confront it. On the other hand, in the Church model of sustaining, it is unheard of to oppose a proposed action.
Several years ago, my husband raised his hand to oppose an action taken in one of the wards in which we lived. A man was being proposed as a new counselor in the Bishopric. DH hometaught this man and knew him well. He was a jovial, well-known personality around town and in the ward. DH knew, however, that he was in the country illegally. Being from an English-speaking country, he wasn’t branded with the same “illegal alien” status as perhaps a more ethnic person might have been. The man was also involved in many lucrative but shady business deals. Perhaps DH shouldn’t have been surprised at the furor which surrounded his decision to raise his hand to oppose. He later told me, “in Joseph Smith’s day, when an issue was presented to the Church for a sustaining vote it really meant something. Members voted either way, and there would often be a vigorous debate.” This captured my imagination. (I don’t know the historicity of DH’s comment. Perhaps some of you can find some references for or against the statement.) It is interesting how Church practice has evolved to a place where members must choose either to sustain or abstain, or face serious consequences.
Connor’s model of sustaining is, of course, different than what we have in the Church. Our opinions on the internet are bandied about without the weight of priesthood authority and often without the influence of the Spirit. We are much more free to agree or oppose than we are in our wards and stakes. But I’m wondering: when we observe our Bloggernacle community as they begin to use “Sustain’d,” what behaviors will we see? Will there be a reluctance to oppose most posts, choosing rather to support and provide positive encouragement to all? Will we choose to bury away controversial ideas quickly, and with as little discussion as possible? The Narrator, wondering whether a strong critical/progessive voice could possibly be made from the Bloggernacle community, suggested on his site that bloggers register at Sustain’d and submit some of the best controversial posts they could find. The bury feature, Narrator says, was added in response to several posts he, Bryant, and Steve M. submitted–“Censorship at it’s best.” Is the Narrator just being annoying, or does he have a point?
Thank you for reading me, and please go and Sustain this post over at Connor’s site!