If it is true that our manners shape us as individuals, what should we make of this blog post in The Birmingham Post?

At first reading my initial thought was sympathy for the check-out assistant subjected to the blogger’s ire.

At second reading I was angered at the blogger’s arrogance – both towards the check-out assistant and his apparent desire for sympathy and empathy from his readers.

At third reading, I was mystified why the blogger had chosen to share this particular snapshot of his life – after all, we have to endure such idiocy in real-life day in and day out in our interaction with other people so we don’t want it infecting our computer screens too.

There is always an element of doubt as to how far you go in sharing information, whatever you are writing.

Blogging by its nature tends to be acutely personal, even for those who choose to write their thoughts, opinions, dreams and ideas anonymously.

But is there a line on sharing yourself with the wider world, even in the blogosphere, that you shouldn’t cross?

At the end of the day, I’m sure it is really only my close friends and family that care about the fact that I’m turning 40 later this month and I’ve done some inevitable reflection on reaching middle-age by compiling a (Not Quite) 40 Things To Do Before I Die list. The fact my dad chose this post to comment on my blog for the first time in a couple of years probably answer that little point.

So should we judge writer, political commentator, lecturer and former Birmingham poet laureate Roshan Doug on his dust up with a check-out assistant?

Or should we judge him on some of the more considered blogs he’s posted on The Birmingham Post’s site?

Do we get an indication of the kind of person he is from his tirade against a shop worker, or in his musings about Britishness?

Others have been contemplating the idea recently that it is possible to separate the writer from the person. The writer might be sublime, you might hang on every written word, but the person the writer is fails to live up to the high standards you have set for them. Does it matter?

The world of the blogosphere is different to other forms of literature. One of the biggest differences, apparently, is that traditional rules do not necessarily apply. This is the world of everyman, everywoman and everychild.

At the fourth reading of Mr Doug’s blog post I wish I hadn’t bothered first time around and skipped over it.

I think it is misguided and if I wanted wildly misplaced arrogance and self-confidence I’ll just watch a re-run of last night’s Apprentice…or go out into the wide world and mingle with others.

Manners maketh man.

Do manners matter for bloggers?


12 responses »

  1. aj@lecraic says:

    I’ve seen lifestyle journalists in newspapers write about things in their personal life just like this before so it isn’t just confined to blogs. If I were a professional journalist, it wouldn’t be something I would bring up on a blog or a printed piece. There is the newspaper’s reputation to consider and, of course, a personal reputation.

    Regarding the wider issue of blogs and what they contain. I don’t think there should be any rules. Ultimately, if the blog is a creative outlet and you enjoy it and your stats show that others are reading and commenting, where’s the harm in sharing whatever you want to share?

    Re: the Birmingam Post journo, he just smacks me as being one of those people who don’t like being told something isn’t possible. I get it from time to time in my job and it is always a well to do person who doesn’t like being told. They perceive a person behind the counter as “just a shop assistant”. Case in point – had a “lady” in one time, a barrister, who wanted something made. Cutting a long story short, I couldn’t do what she wanted and she kept badgering and arguing and more or less telling me how it should be possible and that I didn’t know what I was talking about. I had had enough at that point and asked her “How would you feel if I came to your offices and lectured you on a point of law.. I’m the expert here and I’ve had enough. If you don’t leave now I will have security escort you out”. She left sharpish with her tail between her legs and uttered not another word.

    Ooops – I have gone on a bit haven’t I?

  2. Paul Groves says:

    aj: I’ve sent back such articles whilst working on the newsdesk of a paper because the author is saying nothing worthwhile, other than how ignorant/arrogant/stupid/self-absorbed they are.
    I’m generally in agreement about the lack of blogging “rules” until I come across a post like the one on the Birmingham site. If he wants to generate controversy and traffic to the blog fair enough, but there are more constructive ways of doing it. The way he chose runs a real risk of alienating readers – the last thing any newspaper needs in this day and age.

  3. Ursula says:

    Paul, how long have you got? Manners matter in all spheres of life – however, nobody has yet written the Debrett of Blogquette. It all comes down to the individual’s own judgement of what is permissible.

    Didn’t I say recently: “What are blogs for if not to bounce around in the confined padded space of one’s idiocy.” (You can tell I am proud of that sentence, can’t you?)

    The beauty of my heureka being, that a blog entry (and how you comment on those of others) shows you up for who you are, what gets your goat and how you deal with it. No wonder I sometimes wake up in a cold sweat and wish I could retrieve it all.

    Blogging is today’s equivalent of yesterday’s diary. Now – living in the age of letting it all hang out – we write “diaries” in public. I try hard to keep my brakes on.

    You ask whether we should judge Mr Doug: Yes, and no. If he wrote his piece when stone cold sober we should judge him a prat, on more counts than one; if he wrote it whilst steam still coming out his misguided ears then let’s just put it down to the human failing of our believing to be amusing to anyone else (remember the pub bore?)

    As to separating the person from the writer: Blogs and emailing – by the very immediacy of the internet – allow an urgency (often a recklessness), quite different to finely crafting an article or a book.

    You ask whether there are lines we shouldn’t cross in blogosphere. I believe there to be definite lines we shouldn’t cross; yet, how we define them, choose to overstep them at times, is our individual choice – the beauty of the whole exercise. Boundaries vary as much as human beings: Some people are nudists, others barely make it to the beach.

    However, Paul, I am now slowly drifting away (fully clothed) on the waves of your original posting. Might tell you something about me.


  4. […] Manners maketh man – what about bloggers? « Groves Media If it is true that our manners shape us as individuals, what should we make of this blog post in The Birmingham Post? …is there a line on sharing yourself with the wider world, even in the blogosphere, that you shouldn’t cross? […]

  5. dp says:

    Like AJ, I say no to rules. For a range of reasons not entertained here. Like Ursula I say yes to freshness. I also say yes to intemperance. For without it, would we all be more perfect? No. I also say yes to being embarrassed and chagrined by the people around me, because it helps take the edge off the embarrassment and chagrin I feel for myself.

    Lastly, I say yes to inviting that shopgirl to join the crew of bloggers at the Post. Not for a rebuttal, but as a working class hero, an ordinary person, a woman with something to say. Any or all of these.


  6. Paul Groves says:

    Ursula: You did indeed recently say: “What are blogs for if not to bounce around in the confined padded space of one’s idiocy.” And you are justified in requoting it.

    dp: Yes. I don’t think there should be rules. One of the things I love about blogs and blogging is that I don’t have the constraints that existed when employed full-time by a newspaper – other than my self-imposed ones. I’m still confused what Roshan’s post was doing on a regional newspaper’s News Blog and why it was felt suitable for inclusion. I think anyone and everyone deserves a platform – be they working class hero or middle class suburbanite (whatever those terms actually mean these days). It is then up to us whether we choose to read or not.

  7. […] Manners maketh man – what about bloggers? […]

  8. joannie derby says:

    There are good blogs, bad blogs and mediocre blogs. Blogs that are worthy of comment and those that aren’t. If this bloggists blogs are so atrocious why are you spending so much time and energy getting worked up and writing about them.

    This guy must really rattle you. Is it personal?

    On 1st May you wrote that you wouldn’t be reading any more of his blogs. You’ve obviously changed your mind or can’t resist.

    Surely, by their very nature, blog writers are egotistical, arrogant wannabee writers who can find no better platform than an unsupervised blog site. So what do you expect?

    And let’s face it, yours is a prime example.

  9. Paul Groves says:

    Joannie: Your views are gratefully received and thanks ever so much for stopping by. The point is the blogger in question is writing for a News Blog on a regional newspaper. I didn’t think this particular post reflected that brief very well, or did the newspaper in question any favours. He has written posts before and since which I’ve enjoyed and I’ve stated so. I’m more of a reader of the newspaper’s blogs, than individual bloggers who have been asked to write on them – there is a difference.

  10. Ursula says:

    My my my, Joannie. Are you spoiling for a fight? You can have it.

    Who are YOU? An altruistic self effacing respondent sacrificing yourself and your time on the altar of a sincere blogger?

    You are not, by chance, a nanny are you? “Unsupervised” – I should hope so for grown men and women. So where is your chaperon who helpfully points out the pitfalls of being an arrogant critic and very little of a writer?


  11. Hilary says:

    paul – you really should take a page out of roshan’s book. He’ writes about what we want to read – something gutsy! not your usual drivel.. we should welcome daring columnists and not try and bully them into submission! Quite frankly if this person had been a woman, would you have spent so long criticising her and her view point? i guess not…as far as your reaction is concerned, could it be the case of a green-eyed monster raising its head?

  12. Paul Groves says:

    Hilary: Thanks. I’ll take a long hard look at myself…no, no, yes and no.

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