Actually, not so much love today.
Two articles have been somewhat recently published about the J-Blogosphere: one in the Forward, and one, in April, in the International Herald Tribune. Both articles cast Richard Silverstein as an injured party, a victim of the mean, uncivil blogosphere. It seems clear to me that he was the victim of at least one troll, but hey, who hasn't been?
At any rate, these two articles have caused a great deal of discussion in the J-blogosphere. Mobius re-posted some parts of the Forward piece both on Jewschool and on Orthodox Anarchist. Two contributors to Jewlicious have posted responses, The Middle focuses on the Forward's piece, while CK's later post reminds readers about the Herald Tribune's article. Both Jewlicious pieces point out that Silverstein, and some other Jewish bloggers who claim to have been victimized have, if not engaged in the same type of behavior, then something like it. These behaviors include, but are not limited to: removing the comments of those with different opinions, uncivil comments to commenters on one's own site, uncivil comments on someone else's site, and changing the text of what a commenter has written.
I have several thoughts about this:
1) As POLJ said a few months back, the J-blogosphere shouldn't BE the news. While that's a bit meta, I agree. I understand that bloggers will always have disagreements, that it is easy to "type mad" and then make a comment that you can't erase, and that something, once said can't be taken back. Really, I get it. There are a number of individuals involved in this thing we call the blogosphere, and everyone has feelings. But really, when we're being written up in the press (mainstream AND Jewish) for incivility, it feels like a chillul Hashem. Anyone can wander into the J-blogosphere, and we put things up for everyone to see. We really are representing the Jewish community. It seems to me, then, that bloggers (especially those whose blogs have a Jewish-themed name) have a responsibility to think not just about their own feelings, but how their comments/posts will affect the perception of the Jewish community at large.
2) Comparatively, the sniping and other behavior recorded in these articles and the subsequent posts is rather mild. While it isn't nice, by any stretch of the imagination as bad as what happens in the general blogosphere. Brittany Gilbert, blogger for a Tennessee TV station, in her blog post of resignation gives some examples of the comments that made her feel like she could no longer continue to blog. And they are awful. Recently, another female blogger, Kathy Sierra (who wrote about the fairly inoffensive subject of technology) had to cancel a speaking engagement due to threats of death, and rape. Again, this seems to make the J-blogosphere's controversy pale by comparison.
3) I realize that I can't have it both ways (that it is bad, and isn't THAT bad), and that I have engaged in writing about the J-blogosphere, and that I sound somewhat preachy. I know. I don't mean to discount the hurt feelings that people have as a result of trolls, and I understand the desire to respond, but really, can't we be grown-ups? If someone leaves an awful comment, don't respond to it. Why engage with them? If someone on the streets of New York City said something awful to you would it make sense to confront them? No, you keep walking and try to put it out of your head. Or, complain ad nauseum to your "real" friends. But why do we need to air this dirty laundry on the blogosphere?