So glad that David Sasaki had stirred the pot a bit with his recent post about the South African blogging community not being nearly diverse enough.
I know that it’s frustrating when you feel that you’re only trying to help, but I’ll put this out there: how much are we as a blogging community really trying to do to heal the divides and build a bit of diversity into the South African blogging community? Diversity, as we’ve learned all too well in South Africa, is not just the right thing to do to build a stronger nation, it’s the right thing to do because it improves the quality and uniqueness of the industry. And in a world where quality and uniqueness are so important to stand out from the global crowd, this is the *most* important thing that we as a blogger community can do to uplift a frankly tired and staid local industry into something that we can be proud of.
Again the question: what have we done?
Have we actively sought to invite a diverse range of people to blogging events like the 27 dinner?
Have we done anything to bring new bloggers into the field with any training or mentorship?
Have we sought out the opinions of bloggers from people outside our own circle?
Have we commented on and supported the posts of new bloggers?
I say this because I accept some of the blame myself. This is a community. A community where we take collective responsibility for moving the industry forward because it’s important for all of us. Bloggers tend to be huge individualists, and I think that’s why we’ve focused on being better bloggers, getting better contacts, extending our own individual networks. But I think the time is ripe now to give some time and energy to the collective.
Let’s try to be less defensive and more reflective. You might think that David was being overly harsh. But the really average thing to do here would be to keep things as they (averagely) are.
Let’s make some communal new year’s resolutions to try. Because, frankly, I don’t think we’re trying hard enough… in fact, we’re not trying at all.
5 thoughts on “We’re not trying hard enough… in fact, we’re not trying at all”
truly an issue, if one wanted diverse reading online in SA we would need translation services but blogging seems to ignore the fact that blogs are not central to the lives of Africans. Further north there are two blogs which are really interesting not in their blaque-ness but rather in their translating of ingenuity of the Dark Continent into Digital meaning. The flatter the world gets the less force traditional trend setters will have.
Thanks for the comment, Andrew. Certainly, blogs are not central to the lives of everyone in Africa – what I’d like to see is more connections between bloggers from different social circles rather than attempting to force people from a certain group to blog 🙂
I think I’m finally getting it. Black people have the opportunity [finally!] to become content producers. We can finally rewrite the negative stereotypes that exist. We can write our own stories. And we’re not doing it.
I do, however, think that the points you and David made do not take into account black people’s apathy. It exists. Not sure why but it does. Perhaps we should ask why black people are not blogging instead. And perhaps we should ask why black people are not attending these events. We should also ask why they use closed blogging platforms such as Bruin-ou.com instead of WP and Blogger.
Heather, I don’t think people from different social circles *will* interact. Or want to interact. Your thoughts on this?
Thanks so much for pointing me to Bruin-ou.com, Joy-Mari! It’s funny that you mention it because when I started blogging in 2005, I found it interesting that South Africans were still using the then (very, very bad) ‘Blogspot’ from M&G Online when there were such great tools like WP and Blogger available to all. Same thing with video and photo-sharing sites. The point I’m trying to make here is that people love local community, and that is never a bad thing. What is less positive is when you never find people from those communities interacting in any meaningful way – when you find communities who isolate themselves totally from one another. That is when you find the roots of cultural intolerance as we’ve seen in so many places. It’s not about forcing people to blog, or forcing people to interact. I guarantee you that there are always people – from whatever community – who are interested in meeting new kinds of people. The majority of the population is often apathetic. But that’s not necessarily an indictment on people. Look at what Obama did to an absolutely apathetic youth in the USA. It’s clear that people just needed some leadership – they needed a platform where their views could be heard and understood.
I guess, in the end, we’ll just have to experiment with this in the new year. It’s difficult conducting this conversation in the ‘what if’ and talking about what ‘people are like’ when what we really need to do is to just experiment and give it a go.