This week, lets shift gears. Let’s look at our responsibilities as bloggers and why what we do matters.
Blogging is a hobby that comes with responsibilities. The act of writing requires the author to think carefully about the quality of information and what message she wants the reader to leave with. Quality of information is one of the most critical aspects of blogging. One that I take seriously. The internet is full of misleading and biased information. Sadly, many readers do not know how to think critically about information . Readers seek information that validates their world view or makes them feel correct. This creates an echo chamber.
As bloggers, we have the responsibility to provide quality information and differing view points. You may notice how on JP I try to portray both sides of any given topic. The problem with the echo chamber we see in social media and elsewhere is how it narrows understanding. Being exposed only to messages you support reduces your ability to entertain differing viewpoints. The little box we inhabit online can eventually make us think the world should behave that way and does. Blogs, like other sources of information, can contribute or challenge this.
Information quality is lacking online. As bloggers, we have the responsibility to use quality, vetted sources for our articles. No, Wikipedia doesn’t count. Wikipedia is good for general overviews, but sometimes the information is suspect. It’s not that Wikipedia is misleading, though sometimes it is. Rather, information can be omitted in ways that create hidden bias. Simply omitting a contrasting fact is enough to render an entire article suspect. The problem is how we can’t be aware of what information is missing unless we already know much about a topic.
So how do we get around this? By using vetted sources and looking for contrary information. Vetted sources can be found in libraries, college websites, and academic databases. These articles are reviewed by panels of people who know much about a given topic. Vetted sources also are required to point out their deficiencies and omissions. This helps you see bias in the research and areas you need to search further.
This isn’t to say all internet sources are inaccurate. There are many that are excellent. As bloggers we must be able to determine what is good and what is inaccurate in order to write the best articles we can for our readers.
How can we find good information? Well, there are several questions we can ask ourselves as we read a source.
- Does the article confirm our idea or oppose it? It is good to have both.
- Does the source author use their actual name or a username? Authors that use their actual names stake their reputation on their work.
- Who does the source cite? Does the author cite vetted sources and authorities?
- Who cites the source? If academics, schools, and libraries cite the source, it gives that information authority.
- When was the article published? Age may be good if you are dealing with history, but bad if dealing with the sciences.
The ultimate responsibility of a blogger is to her reader. Bloggers write because we enjoy it and have messages we feel we need to share. But without readers, it is just digital noise cluttering search results. The best way to gain readers is to provide useful, quality information. This can be thoughtful reviews, researched opinions, and other articles. There is already too much misleading information and downright drivel online. Don’t add to it.
I don’t often get into personal details on JP, but I am a Christian and have a little different perspective on work. Blogging about anime is work. Work is any action we do that impacts the world around us. It involves moving materials and ideas around. Work is a part of spiritual practice. It can also become a sin, an idol. Good work, like well written anime blog articles, is a way God acts through us. From a Christian perspective, this happens regardless of the worker’s religious views. A farmer’s work benefits people around him even if he doesn’t believe in God. However, bad work – lazy, thoughtless, or selfish – perpetuates the problems of sin. Bad work can hurt people, emotionally and physically. Anime blogging, and blogging in general, has a mean streak sometimes. Poor use of language and downright meanness constitutes bad work. It doesn’t help the state of the world. Words like fuck are terrible words. Not so much because of the meaning behind them, but because of their laziness. Fuck acts as a verb, adverb, adjective, conjunction, and interjection. They have no meaning. Writing with such words is shoddy craftsmanship. It is like a carpenter using wood glue for everything simply because it is handy and kinda does the job. Using such words is simply doing a terrible job.
Yeah, it seems like a big ado considering we write about cartoons. But Christians are called to do the best job we can all the time. It was the first command recorded in the Hebrew Bible:
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28)
The command calls us to work. We are to fill the earth with human civilization and subdue it like a gardener subdues (read: cultivates) their garden. This isn’t a command to pop out kids and pollute. This is a command for us to do our best work, just as God did in the beginning of Genesis. It is a command for us to garden and fill the earth with good work. For those of us who blog, that means writing good, insightful articles using the best language and research at our command. Good work, no matter what it is, is God acting through us. The trouble is sometimes we can’t see the fruits of our labor. We can’t see who our articles inspire or help. This is where faith comes in. We need to have faith in the work we do, faith that it matters. And it does matter. Work, like anime blogging or making a chair or being a cashier, matters. It matters for us because it changes our character, our ways of thinking. It matters because it helps others, and it matters because it allows God to act through us in endless little ways. Blogging improves your writing and thinking skills. It can inspire readers, and if you write well, it makes the Internet a little bit better.
What you do matters. How you do it matters. Why you do it matters. It is best to approach work with balance. Too much work is just as bad (sinful) as too much leisure. Whatever you do, whatever you write, give it your all.