Blogmeet Memoir Part 2. Blogger-to-blogger…in real life
The speakers ascend the stage and take their places at the panel… Every blogger in the room has their fingers poised over their keyboard as if they were pianists about to give the virtuoso of their careers. Mobile phones are lifted every so often and then cast aside like broken toys. My heart hammers in my chest. I develop temporary amnesia and can’t remember the speakers’ names. Turning to Thomas Peters, I asked, and ‘that is Elizabeth Scalia..right? How do you spell her sir name?’ I get over my dementia and remember that I am in the Vatican, not auditioning for Father Ted. But if I feel nervous, imagine what the first panel of grassroots bloggers feel at they look upon tables upon tables of eyes-popping bloggers who are about to record their every word.
The Anchoress, who in the opinion of The Ironic Catholic, made the best contribution with her reflections on the need for charity in the blogosphere continent; “We have no business fostering factions and enemies among ourselves, and I say this while admitting fully to my own failings…Let’s face it, when the ego is ignited and the passions are galloping, we all too easily ignore our own better angels, and sacrifice charity for the satisfaction of a what we consider to be a well-deserved jab at some poor misguided other…Need I say, I go to confession a lot more frequently since I have been blogging. Bless me father, for I have sinned…it’s that damned editor at Commonweal, again…”
After the first five panellists spoke, there was the first questions and answers session. Some highlights; "What about the conflict between journalism and bloggers?"
François Jeanne-Beylot - "I see the worlds of bloggers and journalists merging instead of becoming two distinct media forms. They are overlapping and coming closer together each day."
"Have you found yourself changing your blogging style in recent years?"
The dynamic and ever-enthusiastic Fr. Roderick Vonhogen answered; "I've learned, primarily from Pope John Paul II, that more information doesn't necessarily correlate to more wisdom. We shouldn't enter the rat-race of 'who has the scoop first.'" This forces us to get out more information, more updates, and more posts with increasing speed. But the Church should be the one - slow as she is - telling the world to slow down, to process and absorb only the information we need to grow in virtue.”
Thus far and throughout the meeting, much of the talk had concerned the issue of the ‘ego’ of the blogger – and whether someone blogs to nurture their ego or for the noble cause of growing the flower of faith. A sort of pre-occupation with self-image, During the second panel Fr Lombardi said is ‘one of the problems which is worth reflecting on.’ In my experience, however anyone with a brittle ego will crumble when they get their first slew of nasty comments! If I had a heart problem, I would have to reconsider blogging, because some comments from self-termed ‘pro-choice Catholics’ and Pope-haters have left me faint-headed and quivering.
Perhaps, then we need to be wiser to the idea that when we blog, the person who responds to our blogs with abusive comments or the ‘trolls’ (as they are called by writers of Daily Telegraph blogs) is a cyber bully. Another interesting point-of-discussion would be the distinction between the blogger’s cyber personality and how they are in ‘real-life’. Are they one person online, and a very different person in the flesh? One time (not during the Blogmeet conference), I had been reading quite an eccentric blog, and had formed an opinion of the blogger as being kind and humorous. When I met the blogger in ‘real life’, I got quite a shock – they were only interested in giving those around them a horrible and very loud dressing down (‘that’s just so stupid!’), and got misty-eyed when they were detailing how bishops are guilty of ‘all the problems’. I record this to demonstrate the cyber-space encounter Vs real life.
And then the exact opposite can happen, you read some blogs with anticipation for their next post, and when you meet great bloggers, and find that they bring you closer to the faith and are edifying company.
Anna Arco and I met while we were scrambling to get a caffeine fix. ‘Anna, did you see where the milk is? I never needed a coffee so badly.’ We turned around, and were snapped by the friendly photographer. Then I ran into
His Hermaneuticalness. Fr Gabriel and I go back a good few years, and we joined the dots around the old friends that we have in common back in Ireland. Fr Gabriel was having a soutane tailored for him in Rome, and will be seen walking around Carrigtwohill, Cork, in his soutane and with the same mischievous smile.
See Part 1, and I'll keeping tapping away at Part 3.