When I have work to do, I like to find ways to procrastinate. Lately, this takes the form of hitting the 'next blog' button at the top of the page, and following links to other blogs through the responses here.
The 'next blog' button goes to some bizarre places. What some people choose to share with the world amazes me. In some cases, it worries me. A few of the things I've seen can't be legal.
The links through responses follow a much more logical pattern. My own forays into the internet have suggested it is a generally impersonal place, but following these links reveals whole communities that often centre on one, or a few, well-visited individuals.
Tracking back through Southern Writer, for example, leads to a group of people whose common thread is Miss Snark, a literary agent who dispenses free advice and who has an impressive grasp of the use of sarcasm. Worth a look, even if you're not planning to be an author.
Unfortunately, as with many of the blogs I've visited, there are snipers who hide behind the universal title 'anonymous'. Now, I have received several anonymous comments, but none of them have been in any way insulting. That may be because this is not one of the more popular blogs. It seems popularity attracts snipers.
I admit to being largely ignorant of the world of computers, internet and HTML. I leave all that to Elaine. I know enough to understand that, unless you have a 'blogger' account, you are saddled with the title 'anonymous'. That is not a problem; as I said, all of my anonymous comments have so far been polite.
There are those, however, who hide behind the anonymous post in order to deliver vitriolic attacks on blog writers. This is cowardly, and somewhat pathetic. There have been some perfect examples of this cowardice on Miss Snark's recent posts.
Blogs are not democratic institutions. Nobody votes for blog writers. Each blog is a miniature dictatorship, with one difference only from the real-life version. You don't have to stay. There are thousands, perhaps millions of blogs out there. If you're reading one you don't like, move on.
I have never posted as 'anonymous' and never will. If I feel strongly enough about a subject to comment, I'll want you to know it was me who said it. Criticism with no source isn't criticism. It's an insult shouted from a moving vehicle, the sort of thing children do. It should be treated with disdain.
It came as no surprise to find that there are a lot of worthless, small-minded, ignorant cowards on the internet who are willing to hurl abuse from the safety of the anonymity-screen. There are just as many in real life. It made me realise how fortunate I have been thus far, in that these snipers have not arrived here.
That was my culture shock. I'm over it now. Should this blog ever reach a level where it attracts the snipers, I'll be ready. There is one point that should maybe be made clear at the outset.
Tolerance is not one of my strong points.