My obligation to you…

06/24/2003

I feel a personal obligation to the people who read this site and to the world at large not to lie in my posts. I feel a personal obligation not to mischaracterise the truth and to correct any mistakes I make. I feel a personal obligation not to lie by omission. I consider it part of every human being’s duty to stand up and fight for what they believe in whenever the feel capable of doing so in whatever way they feel they can. I feel an obligation to foreground any conflicts of interest I might have.

I feel a very different kind of obligation to the friends that I’ve made online and the community that has grown up around this site, and to the communities that have formed between all of our sites. I have no desire to anger anyone, frustrate anyone or humiliate anyone. I believe very strongly in the power of reasonable debate, trying – whenever possible – to avoid blatant rhetoric and appeals to emotion, territorialism and nationalism in favour of serious attempts to find some kind of reasonable, workable solution or truth.

Much like Mark Pilgrim, I feel absolutely no obligation whatsoever to write to entertain the people who read this site. This is my space to be able to speak my mind or make whatever contribution to the world that I want to make. I feel absolutely no obligation whatsoever to change what I’m interested in writing in to fit the desires or needs of people who read this site. Nor do I feel any obligation whatsoever to avoid talking about things that they are not interested in reading or comfortable reading.

I believe very strongly that my site is a representation of myself in cyberspace – and I think that’s true for a lot of people who run personal sites wth weblog software. It is not a publishing venture. I have no potential revenues. I have no obligation or desire to maximise traffic for myself simply in order to get money. And for that reason I don’t feel an obligation to target demographics precisely or maintain any form of continuity on my site other than to say, “I wrote this. The thread through all this stuff is that it matters to me“.

If I was to self-censor and self-adapt purely in order to write for our audience’s desires alone (however big, however small), then the thin cord that separates our online selves from our offline selves would be severed. Our sites would become little more than costumes we wore – and I think that would be a betrayal of ourselves and the dozens of overlapping communities that each of us belongs to.

So on the days when I write things that you enjoy – relish it! Get pleasure from it! Sometimes people out there even get commercial benefits from stuff that I write – and that’s fine! Enjoy it – I want you to! And on the days when I say something that angers and infuriates you, tell me! Write to me and correct me or explain to me why I’m wrong. I want to know. I want to learn. And if it turns out that what I want to write about doesn’t interest you, then that’s fine – go elsewhere – there’s a world of sites out there to read. And you never know – I might even register your absence and try and mend my ways…

But I swear to god, the next person who tries to tell me what I should and shouldn’t be writing on my own site – which I produce for free and for which I ask nothing in exchange – is going to get a kick up the arse so fucking hard that when they finally land again they’ll have frost in their hair…