Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What you say may not be what you've done (or said)

Having posted on a forum/blog (see last post) this morning, I have come back to find a very active series of exchanges (mine's in there somewhere). It was interesting to note (and worthy of separate comment), that when I posted the board was still a blank canvas, though obviously many had been posting well before me, which can lead to unfortunate disconnects, especially if referring to another post.

I have tended to prefer such the Telegraph version to some other major media, because there is point in contributing beyond venting, as you do have the chance of a credit, and this can be of value. We have had sign-ups to the site as a consequence of my posting to these things in the past.

Now I am thinking of pulling back from these arenas, as explained by this subsequent post I have been moved to add (and may or may not get 'approved' at all, much less 'as is', despite the following: ' does not monitor, approve, endorse or exert editorial control over information posted by users'. Which I had taken to mean what one wrote, so long as it followed guidelines, was what went up. But apparently not):

"It hadn't occurred to me until now that, despite having a few issues to cover and working within a stated limit, what one has contributed even to a Blog/Forum can be edited before sharing. And this of course can seriously affect context. Not to mention shape the direction of the piece in the direction of the media controller's agenda. It can enhance the pros or cons of an issue, or simply keep things bubbling ratings-wise by emphasising the best 'bites'.

This has added to my doubts about the value of such things, but in mitigation here at least I offer a 'big up' (or maybe it should be 'God bless') to the power of the blogging system and its participants. Thanks to some today, I realise I should have been much more concerned with discovering further substance on what the good Bishop may or may not have said, and done or not have done, before so enthusiastically endorsing a piece that was quite harsh on his words and deeds, at least as reported. As we're on a theological roll, to paraphrase Pastor Niemoller , 'First they selectively quoted the Bishops, and I did not speak, yadayada... and now they have selectively quoted me and no one had the time (or inclination) to delve any deeper to find out what I'd really said'.

Otherwise I think most of what I anticipated earlier has been almost all been illustrated in many posts."

Maybe what ended up on board was pithier, and hence my effort benefitedtted from the editorial input, but it was not what I had written. And I think it omitted some key aspects I thought important.

For that, at least I still have my own blog.

A point well made is a point well taken

A good blog in today's Telegraph - Ignore the bishop: enjoy your holiday - on a subject (actually a couple) about which I have commented before, have here (below) and doubtless will again. It will be interesting to see what replies she gets. Here's mine ( a bit fuller than online, as they 'only' allow 4000 characters, which to a windbag like me is a cruel constraint:

"Very good. Ignore the bishop. Enjoy the holiday. But please don't dismiss the message.

This is an excellent post, so long as one reads all of it.

I agree totally that one of the greatest impediments to promoting the benefits of responsible (the definition and scope of which is obviously still wide open) environmental practices by the individual, is the notion that everything green must be black and white. Nuances abound, and too often those that seek to effect positive (in a global warming sense) changes, for whatever reason (career to enhance, book to sell, viral to promote, consultancy to secure, pension fund to stock up... or possibly even genuine concern), have to think very carefully before taking a moral high ground and aggressively tackling a narrow topic, especially one that may be dear to their hearts. Especially from a position of relative privilege. And more so by the excessive use of comparative negativity. Because it can all too easily backfire, and while debate is great, I fear for effecting change when everyone is too busy pointing fingers at each other when they should be encouraged to just get on and do what they can. How much of the introduction to this post was strenuous rebuttal before the positive suggestions kicked in?

Things have to be debated, and I use the blog on my site (which tries to offer solutions, ideas and things to do to hopefully improve matters 'enviro') to do this a lot, and sometimes end up in some 'healthy discussions', which unlike here I prefer to conduct one-to-one offline, as things can get a bit flaming daft as the entrenched camps weigh in. Not long ago I tried to convince a respected media commentator that calling fellow petrolhead scribes 'selfish' (that word again) for their obsession with high speed exotica could have set in motion a confrontational situation that did not serve his point as well as adopting a less personal and reasoned approach might have, especially as he introduced his article as written on a plane to Australia.

My other concern was that he seemed to also be tipping the wink to groups who were engaging in 'more robust' commentary on the rights or wrongs of others to buy and use a legally and freely available consumer good. This cannot be a productive route, no matter what the frustrations. Now it seems it's a plan to spit in my farmer (they do wear suits and often visit the big city) neighbour's coffee, if a new anti 4x4 viral ad is to be emulated. I'm sure the making of this latter was carbon offset to the nth degree, but having been on a few shoots I very much doubt every aspect was totally 'environmentally sound' with no compromises to getting the job done on time and within budget. Cast and crew drinking water from a tap and not an spring water bottle in sight?

We have to accept the compromises of living in an overpopulated (and 'ing') world, with an infinite desire and ability to make new things and (at least in affluent countries) the means and desire to embrace them. People no longer stay in their village their whole lives, and the desire to travel is almost ingrained.

Hence better ways must be found to change behaviours, some of which look like being painful. And must be massive in scale. I only have to glance up at the contrails in the sky each day (or revisit BBC Horizon's Global Dimming documentary) to feel that air travel has to be to be a hefty influence in unnatural weather patterns. But reversing a global industry that employs millions, provides pleasure (accepting this is one instance when the journey is not part of the holiday) to hundreds of millions and brings in revenue to billions more is not going to happen easily. Especially when one looks at the rate of new airport construction in developing countries.

A start has to be made, somewhere, and as we cannot be unaware any more it may as well be at home. One can't really ask a neighbour to put their house in order when you have historically been trashing yours and enjoying the party up until now (and still want to). Examples must be set. Alternatives sought and offered. As suggested, subsidies to pollute need to be restricted, but incentives with rewards introduced wherever possible (the points on fuel tax and rail costs are well made). And such notions need to be (excuse the pun) aired. But by whom?

Hence pedestals should be mounted very circumspectly. And those who take it upon themselves - priest, politician, celeb, commentators... blog participants - to pronounce from them to others on what not to do should think very carefully on what qualifies them to do so. And before being too smug, ponder also what circumstances have allowed them to pontificate. I have read a lot lately on the 'Green Elite', and it is not a club, like many, I could easily afford - in money, time or opportunity - to join. So practice what you preach, and if you do preach what you practice please make it inspirational rather than critical. Nothing can compromise a message more than being accused of hypocrisy, which usually ends up distracting away from simply getting on and doing.