Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Objectivity Objections

FOWL! That’s two forms of the same word! It hardly qualifies as alliteration!

Your honor, I really am arguing about what objectivity is… objecting to prior definitions.

Sustained, but get on with it.

First Objection:

So what is blogging etiquette, anyway? A week and a half ago my friend Mari, a Norwegian, posted two blogs about the Nobel Peace Prize, one the day before the award, the other the day of. The first was a charming peek into the country that considers the Peace Prize its own, and how it has been awarded historically over the years, the second an honest and insightful response that I thought was well-thought.

I was shocked, therefore, to find some rather venomous commentary on her Facebook page about it. Yesterday she wrote a careful response (as she was finally back from her travels) and the same…

So that is okay? Where is the line on responding to blogs? Are people free to respond however they darned well please? Are responses welcome only if asked for? Is restraint called for? Can we say rude things so long as we sign in so we can take the heat of responses?

I guess I feel like balance or something might be the answer. “I agree with this, but not that.” Or maybe I don’t object to objections, only rants... “limit your objections to a sentence apiece, please”. I know I love feedback, even that which doesn’t agree with me, but I have veered away from my political views (strong as they are), and only dipped a toe in the religious pool. And probably if somebody told me I didn’t know what I was talking about, I’d be really offended (it’s the downside of being a Know-It-All).

So now I AM ASKING YOU (and want actual honest answers). All you bloggers out there: Where is the line? Am I absurd to think people ought to keep it friendly?

Objection #2:

My son is in the midst of taking the MEAP. Standardized testing… I am a statistician. I am supposed to LOVE standardized ANYTHING. But MAN do I have a problem with high stakes testing. 1) both my kids are at new schools this year, taking tests in October. Their scores are a reflection on their LAST school, yet if they really stink it up, it is their current school penalized. How messed up is that? 2) These tests are the bane of teacher existence. Every teacher we’ve had for years has started the year with ‘reviewing for the MEAP’. They don’t start TEACHING until late October. And on top of that, they don’t seem to be teaching them to LEARN anymore, because there is too much factual material to cram in there. To HELL with the facts! Teach them to process, seek, find, THINK. The objective knowledge a person holds is NOT his or her intelligence. Albert Einstein never knew his phone number, arguing, “why would I? I know where to find it.” EXACTLY! (or maybe that is just the PoV of someone with short term memory issues).

So those are my objections. Object to them if you will!


Aleta said...

I love to read blogs and I don't care if it's what I agree with or not. It's good to read, to get out there and hear the views. I try to be kind. That's my theory. Kindness is the key. So if I don't agree, then I try to find something nice to post and leave it at that. I don't want to attack someone's blog or hunt them down on FB and do a shout out. I was actually going to post about the Health Care issue and I let Greg read it first. He advised to stay off of Politics on my blog. I agreed and dismissed the post. Tomorrow I'm talking religion and he again said I shouldn't do politics or religion, but the religion tomorrow is also regarding a friend of ours so I figure that trumps the religion card. Hopefully people will be polite with the post. If not, I might delete the comment, only because it IS about a friend. I've had a couple of rude commenters in the past, not much and I didn't delete the comments, just ignored them. It's sad though, when people need to strike out against someone. If people INVITE the readers to a debate, that's a different story.

Not Hannah said...

I've wondered, myself at this a lot. I have been fairly open about my politics on my blog (and not had a lot of commentary on it, one way or the other), but I've been veeerryyy hesitant to talk religion, because I don't want to turn off some of my readers.

However, A: If you put it out there, you gotta expect what comes next and B: If you don't put it out there, are you being your true writing self?

HOWEVER, as a Southern woman, I think that if you are rude or ignorant of facts, it might be best for you to just shut up. Heh.

Cutting back on testing is one of the main reasons I'm endorsing the woman running for state superintendent in our state. As a former teacher, I know that ST was a load of crap that tied our hands and prevented us from teaching and fostering a love of learning.

Watery Tart said...

Great comments! Aleta--I think I try to follow your line... okay to disagree, but be respectful and nice about it. Oi, and healthcare! I will probably give in and go there on here eventually, as I work in public health, but thus far, I've felt I want to stick to the writing, rather than the 'issues'.

NotHannah-I certainly understand the fear on religion. I've talked ABOUT religion (and including it in writing) but would be far less comfortable throwing out my views for scrutiny. I see it as sort of personal. As Aleta mentions... as part of someone's story, that is another thing altogether. And I didn't realize you were a former teacher--I feel like that is the group who needs the loudest voice on what works and doesn't.

M.J. Nicholls said...

I'm an easily swayed sort, so usually arguments end with me changing my mind. Unless they're unhinged.

Blogs and FB comments are restricted to friends/blog allies so there's less chance of encountering an opinionated shitstorm. But if you do, I agree that friendliness is the best way to avoid misinterpretation.

Also agreed about the fact-cramming nature of standardised tests. See? That was easy.

I'll disagree next time. Violently.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I try to remind myself every time I post to my blog or comment on others that what I'm writing is going out into the world. I have no problem stating an opinion as I can usually defend it fairly well. However, I have no patience for vitriolic comments; I just don't see the point. If you have an objection, or a contrary opinion state it clearly and concisely. Debate is healthy. Mud-slinging just gets everyone dirty.


Cruella Collett said...

Thank you, Tami. I really am amazed how well my point seems to have come across (and it pleases me to no end that people, whether they agree or not with my opinions, seem to be sympathetic to my request for having a civil discussion. I love a good discussion, but for it to be good it needs the participants to respect each other and the fact that their opinions might differ).

As for standardized tests - MAN do I agree with you on that one! (And everyone that doesn't can just put a sock in it. KIDDING! I swear - just trying to lighten up...) For a couple of years now Norwegian schools have come out poorly in some of these international, standardized tests. In some areas this is definitely justified - I agree that Norwegian schools have a lot of areas where they need to improve. But there are grey zones there that the tests definitely don't catch - like the fact that Norwegian students are better in some of the areas not tested, and the fact that unlike in certain other countries (that do well on the tests), students are allowed to continue in their class even if they fail. Thus these students continue to affect the average on the test results, while if they were forced to re-take the class, they wouldn't. Whether this is a good system, I don't know, but it certainly makes the standardized tests skew.
(Sorry to once again "Norwegianify" the blog world, but it seems I am on a roll....)

Watery Tart said...

Mark, I will have to remember you are a pushover. I am always looking for minions.

Elspeth--TOTALLY agree--love the discussion. Keep it civil.

Man, Mari--your stats yesterday were through the ROOF, you controversy rouser!!! And great point on the 'pool'--there are a few high schools in Detroit with a great reputation for sending kids to college: their trick? Kick out any kid who can't maintain a B average. Humph, I say. If you can't succeed with the full range, you aren't succeeding, and you CERTAINLY shouldn't get to claim the stats without also claiming 'but we threw out 37 who couldn't cut it, so our odds are skewed'

Alix said...

I agree with keeping things polite and friendly. Does anyone really expect to change anyone's mind by hurling insults at them? It is very, very hard though for me to keep a civil tongue in my mouth when I read/hear people spouting what seems like vitrolic idiocy to me (you know, stuff along the lines of comparing people to hitler, racist, sexist, and otherwise demeaning remarks, spouting that we're all going to be living in a Stalinst state soon, etc).

Watery Tart said...

That is when I have the hardest time keeping quiet too, Alix--when someone has reacted strangely to something that to ME seemed reasonable, and they go about their objections in a bizarre way. If someone posts a blog I disagree with, I can ignore it most of the time (though I confess to FB defriending people because their statuses too often annoyed me--only twice--once a reality TV nut that I kept saying to myself I DON'T CARE ABOUT JOHN AND KATE when I read his statuses and I decided instead of yelling, to just make it go away, and another that was REALLY conservative with daily status messages that frankly offended me--sometimes, fine... but statuses should not ALWAYS be about politics)

Rayna M. Iyer said...

I quite agree with you, Hart. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and they have every right to try an convince you of the rightness of their opinion. But only if (a) they are civil about it, and (b) they are willing to listen to you try convince them (that the arguments should have some kind of a basis is a given, though not always the case).

I still remember a time when I got caught in an argument with someone on the Bush administration, and they took a statement I made totally out of context, twisted it, and publicly called me a fascist. When I quite tongue in cheek pointed out that since English was not my native language, perhaps I had trouble expressing myself, they agreed emphatically. And there were many conversations on how people who couldn't express themselves in English should not presume to do so....
And all along I was rolling with laughter, because their "I am perfect and anyone who disagrees with me is stupid" attitude was what I was accusing the Bush administration of having.

/ digression. But I am in the right place for that.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I can't imagine why someone would blow up on someone else on a blog and commit their comments to the web..forever, really. Besides, it's not like any of us are policy-makers or on the Nobel committee--they should address their concerns to someone who actually can make a difference.

I respond to all my bloggers (except spammers, who I delete.) I've had a couple of kooks in the past, but even then I said something along the lines of, "You bring up an interesting point. I'm sure that many people feel _____. Thanks for visiting my blog." Kill with kindness. :)

Mystery Writing is Murder

Watery Tart said...

Natasha-your convo is sounding familiar to me. I don't remember if I was present or heard the rant later, but yes... some people really only hear what they want.

Elizabeth--ALWAYS a class act. I try to do that most of the time, but I have a few hot button issues where I just can't.