This entry was posted on
Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 at
1:55 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.
[Note – This post is not about Iain’s ‘blog wars 3′ nonsense (which I will get to shortly), but is instead a reponse to a recent twitter by Justin.]
First of all, I would like to make it clear that I’m not perfect myself, and that little thing they call experience usually comes with learning from mistakes.
But I’m here to tell you that IMO you shouldn’t blog or twitter – or even send emails or texts – after a few drinks* any more than you should drink and drive.
(*You should also avoid it when drunk on power, but that’s a slightly different issue that applies mainly to Iain Dale, who does not drink alcohol, but fails to realise that he can still get tipsy at times.)
I know there are plenty of people who disagree with me on this point (hell, there’s even a ‘blogger’ who disagrees with me on drink-driving and thinks it’s all a big joke), but bear with me:
Your. Words. Can. Do. Great. Harm.
Some bloggers like to pretend that words are only harmless jumbles of letters when they’re laying into someone (even if they often freak out when someone publishes harmless jumbles of letters about them), but what I or anyone else sends as a private message or publishes to the web must have some form of impact, otherwise we wouldn’t be bothering at all, yes?
Let me give you an example:
A few months ago, Iain Dale and I had quite a cordial chat by phone, where many things were discussed and revealed. It was quite a frank conversation, with at least one positive outcome, but while the conversation and the outcome can be discussed quite openly in general terms, a sensible person would realise that there are aspects of that conversation that must remain forever private, regardless of what details may or may not be a big/important secret.
(Note – I am not making out that there are any big/important secrets to be shared. So calm down.)
However, the ‘sensible’ part of your brain usually goes wandering off for a little nap when you’ve had a few drinks.
Another quick example; Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes’) emerging from a long lunch thinking that he could shut me up with these pathetic legal threats
(On that note, here’s a not-very-good-lawyer doling out advice on libel action in the latest edition of Total Ashcroft. I’m sorry, but if Total Politics were a politically neutral magazine as they claim, they would get a quality lawyer to issue advice, not some hopeless far-right loser who does legal favours behind the bike shed for ciggies. It should also be noted that while Blaney and Staines were flailing about, it was Shane Greer, the upchucking and upcoming Executive Editor of Total Politics who decided to help his right-wing mates by declaring me to be “obviously unbalanced” and grouping me with a convicted stalker. Friends don’t let friends buy or read Total Politics. This article is proof, if you need it, that Iain Dale is just as ready to cheat his print readers as he is to cheat his ‘blog’ readers. A sincere and politically neutral editor would have insisted on an expert for that article, not a discredited far-right chum like Blaney.)
Anyway, getting away from useless lawyers and drink-driving hypocrites, and back to that conversation with Iain Dale:
Alcohol can fuel many things, including the heat of the moment. All of this can happen while the sensible part of your mind is patiently waiting for you to sober up and/or sleep it off.
It is in such a state that you are likely to completely blind to what is sensible an what is not. It is in such circumstances that you are far more likely to blurt out something that is private, and should have remained private.
You know; the kind of blurtage that can change your relationship with someone forever, even if you weren’t friends to begin with.
And once it’s out, it’s out… even if you’ve only shared it with one person (and not, say, published it all over the interwebs).
I’m using this example mainly to show (a) the universal nature of the risk with friends and enemies, and (b) the irreversible nature of the deed; scale, I’m sure you can appreciate all by your lonesome (especially because we all have our secrets).
There’s also the possibility of saying something in drunken anger (or even well-lubricated jest) that isn’t true, not what you really feel, or not what you have others think you feel (see: Mel Gibson).
When you’re out on the lash on a Saturday, the chances of any/all of it being remembered are greatly reduced, as almost everybody else will be pissed too… but you do risk an ‘oops mobile’ moment, which itself should be a enough to give you pause for thought.
Imagine yourself a few drinks in and blabbing about – well, just about anything, really – and ending up on YouTube the next morning… or perhaps calling an old flame or two in order to burn a few bridges (or propose that which is currently beyond you).
If you can see and appreciate the risks of that, why would you voluntarily transmit or publish anything with your computer or crackberry while in a similar state?
Further, why in heaven’s name would you risk getting into a war of words with anyone when in that state, when you put yourself at risk in much the same way that you would in a drunken fistfight?
Even if the other bloke is drunk, you’ll still take hits that wouldn’t normally get past your defences. Hell, there’s a good chance you could break a nose, arm or leg without their help.
And if you’re drunk and they’re sober…? I’m sorry, but you haven’t got a hope in hell; you may as well donate some blood and teeth now to save time.
Don’t blog drink, kids. Ever. You’ll wake up regretting it, even if you get away with it.