I feel a bit awkward writing on this topic as I’ve been quite delinquent in posting the past couple months (to your great sorrow, I’m sure). But I heard such a disturbing thing a couple days ago that I cannot remain silent — surprising as it may (not) be that I feel rather strongly about something.
A certain well-meaning father told his daughter that she could not start a blog, that she could not have a blog of her own. Because, as I heard it fourth-hand, he was aware that some girls use their blogs to discuss (brag about? encourage in others?) unseemly behavior, including the kind of stuff that I certainly hope to steer my own girls away from as they grow up.
Ban the books! Burn the computers!
My first thought was that Dick’s reaction to our daughter’s desire to start a blog would be opposite to this father’s. Not that he would attempt to make a unilateral decision like this in the first place. Dick knows what aspects of our lives he’s in charge of; I’ve told him what they are.
If Sally were to tell her father that she wanted a blog, Dick would be delighted. He’d help her set it up, pick a platform, choose a theme, brainstorm topics to write on, work through any technical difficulties, support her in taking pictures for uploading or scanning schoolwork for posting. And what does that translate into right there? — lots and lots of time spent together.
As Sally posted and explored her own thoughts, feelings, experiences, goals, frustrations, triumphs, what would we do? We’d comment on her posts, encourage her in her goals, congratulate her on her triumphs, commiserate with her frustrations. In short, we’d know even more about what’s going on in her life, what her hopes and dreams are, and we’d know how her writing, reasoning, and reading skills are coming along, and we could probably figure out ways to challenge her to improve where needed.
If we thought she could use some more spirituality in her life, we could suggest that she post a favorite scripture or inspirational quote each day, or that she use a meme or other writing prompt to examine where her life is now and where she wants it to go. She could write birthday wishes to friends and family members or post a goal each Sunday and be held accountable for her progress on it as she reported each day.
We could keep track of links incoming and outgoing and comments made. We could make sure she never used her real name or any identifying information and only posted pictures that represented her in a way she would always be proud of. And if any mistakes were ever made, or bad things happened, we would do whatever is possible to fix them. It isn’t a perfect world, and the world of blogging isn’t perfect either, but it’s worth living in.
But you don’t have to take my word for it: I have it on the best authority (Dick heard it from someone who heard it from someone who knows) that the Apostles of the LDS church have an internal blog where they can share their thoughts and experiences with each other. I hope that’s true (and I wish I could read it), but either way it sounds good to me.
And here’s something I’ve been thinking about since I taught the R.S. lesson on “The Women of the Church” from Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball:
Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world. … Thus it will be that female exemplars of the Church will be a significant force in both the numerical and the spiritual growth of the Church in the last days. (my emphasis)
Perhaps it is incorrigible human nature to be afraid of new technology (ipods terrify me). But if we’re willing to concede that not all books are bad just because some books are very bad, I think we need to explore web 2.0 (as Dick would say) possibilities. It is not only our right, as women of the church, to have blogs of our own, but, as they provide unsurpassed opportunity for developing our articulateness, it might just be our duty.