The internet allows almost everyone who plays to have a voice. Some folks have more than one voice. Back before message boards and blogs, I knew people who wrote things in emails they would never say in person.
Some people have "E-Personas". What I mean is that some people's personality on the internet is much different than who that person really is. I suppose it's possible that the internet version is the true person and the day-to-day variety is reserved, repressed, or simply scared to show true colors.
I can't imagine how frustrating that has to be. This if life, however. Sometimes keeping ones mouth shut is necessary for survival, especially in the corporate world. Imagine you had a very nice high paying job for Corporation A, but in secret, despised its business practices. The internet would allow you to carefully express your frustrations if you chose to. You could join a message board, a listserv, or perhaps start a blog.
Since I began using email in the early 1990's, I have been consistent. I am always me. Over the years, I have participated in various message boards that discussed topics ranging from Gibson Les Paul guitars to Distance Running to Tube Amplifier Repair. I have met people from various boards and I am always told I am just like my online self.
I have also done online dating, which is a little scarier. But I also used a recent picture and wrote things about myself I felt were accurate. I wish I could say that was true for everyone, but sadly, it's not.
The Internet is by far the biggest technological advance I have seen in my lifetime. I have been online since 2400 baud modems, UNIX servers, and Cello. The World Wide Web was almost non-existent. Almost no commercial businesses had a web presence. It was mostly universities.
I predicted the WWW would be a game changer but it's gone beyond my wildest dreams. My life these days is interwoven with it, but I could still survive without it. I think. But, I wouldn't want to. The Internet has made my life simpler.
But I fear the digital age is having a negative impact on the young. Social skills seem to be disappearing since communication, for the most part, is no longer done in person. Or even on the phone.
I text regularly with the person I have the closest relationship with. However, we can still talk in person.
The blogosphere is a strange place. Anyone can write about anything. And anyone writing can be anyone they want to be. A lot of people that blog or comment on blogs are fake. You could start an anonymous blog claiming to be a professional musician, write about associated topics, but in reality be a beginner on your instrument.
And people could anonymously comment on your blog, also claiming to be a professional, but not even play an instrument. I amazed at how convincing people can write while knowing very little. But I am even more amazed at how easily so many people are fooled into believing what fakers write.
For this reason, the Internet can be very dangerous. I can't walk into the Chicago Tribune, hand them a story, and see it on tomorrow's front page. But I can write a blog post, hit the publish button, and it's there for anyone to read. And it can be completely false, incorrect, misleading, propaganda, rumors, gossip, plagiarized, or any number of other adjectives.
The Internet is quite the gathering place for misinformation. But some people write simply to piss others off. They offer snarky comments and add nothing to a discussion. And most do this behind a veil of anonymity.
There are also the blog authors that become unhinged when someone gently disagrees with them. If you can't handle someone disagreeing with you, why publish where anyone can read what you have written?
The legal blogosphere is no exception. Some authors write with a pretentious tone. They belittle younger, inexperienced attorneys and criticize colleagues, sometimes harshly, for almost anything. At times, it's downright childish. I have always found Internet flame wars lame. And a waste of time.
I don't personally know any other lawyers that blog. But I don't read many legal blogs, and comment on even fewer. The blogs I do read are authored by attorneys that I feel are real people and not some hot shot, holier-than-thou, lawyer that spends more time blogging than in court.
The pissing contests that I have seen on some blogs by disagreeing attorneys has at times been humorous. But too often, it's been enough to make me stop reading that blog. Completely.
One of the reasons I typically don't like lawyers is that so many of them don't listen and only want to be heard. Last I checked, we have 1 mouth and 2 ears.
I fear that many attorneys, who might have some interesting things to write about, have been dissuaded by the trolls that simply like to argue, but offer nothing to the discussion. On some level, I must have feared the same thing since I tend to write for non-lawyers.
When I started this blog, it was designed to give me a place to vent. Criminal defense work is very frustrating and I found a certain cathartic value by opening up and writing about my day to day headaches. But I never set out to educate other attorneys, or anyone for that matter. I don't know enough to teach.
I think some people find what I do for a living interesting. It's for them I write. If attorneys from other jurisdictions read my posts and make comparisons, that's great. I have no idea how many regular readers I have. I know only 2 people are registered followers. Yep, that's right, just 2.
But based on the anonymous comments here and there, I am sure there are more than just 2 that read my posts. And for those of you that do read, thank you. You might be happy to know I am the same in person as I am online. Well, actually in person I am pretty quiet, unless it's appropriate for me to talk, i.e. in court, for instance.
Some attorneys take blogging quite seriously. Nothing wrong with that. I am sure some people take blogs about gardening very serious as well. But, I think some people need to really lighten up.
If your blog or E-persona, is the sole means you have to generate attention to yourself, you probably have bigger problems than comments on your blog's content or flaming people on Twitter.
And it's hard to believe that some of you are as acerbic in person.