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Seeing the Other Side: Helpful in Life but Maybe Not in Blogging

Published in ChicagoNow, August 20, 2014

I have always been the type of person who could see the other side. That’s not at all the same as agreeing, but at least I could acknowledge that there was one. This trait allowed me to keep peace in my family, refrain from arguing with folks whose politics differed from mine, and be a better school administrator. But I’m not sure it’s an asset for a blogger.

When I hit the “publish” button for a blog post, I always worry that I have offended someone. I know my writing is no more than me on my soapbox sharing my opinion about something. After all, I named by blog “Still Advocating.” So why do I worry about critical comments? Any comments are good because they mean I have hit a nerve and folks are reading my stuff, right?

And yet, I always wonder if I am being fair when I post something. I know, “fair” doesn’t drive up the numbers in my Google Analytics. The idea is to present only my side and do it as strongly as possible. I truly wish I could put on blinders and forge ahead, but there is always that voice in my head wondering if the folks on the other side might not have a valid point or two.

I guess I’m pretty opinionated and passion about the things that matter to me – educational policy, special needs advocacy, developmentally appropriate early education, the right of children to play, the importance of community and kindness, parenting and grand-parenting issues, and my personal journey into retirement. But still, I hesitate a few seconds every time I put a post out there.

Looking at the news (so depressing) this morning, I have strong opinions about the police action in Ferguson, the Israeli-Palestinian clash in Gaza, and the US air strikes in Iraq. But in every case, if someone points out the other side, I have to reflect and might even reconsider my original position.

I guess this ability to see the other side is mostly a good thing. In my career as a preschool administrator, I spent a lot of time explaining parents’ and teachers’ positions to one another. In every case, there was no clear-cut right or wrong. Looking at all of the shades of gray was useful for maintaining respect and harmony.

In social media, however, this is not a valued trait. You are basically for it or against it. I can’t remember reading too many blog posts that urged me to view an issue from all angles. The message generally is a version of “my way or the highway.”

The same holds true for what passes for political discourse these days. The notion of “fair and balanced” has become a punch line. Most folks only read or listen to their own point of view being reinforced by the news outlet they choose. Not much hope of seeing the other side there.

I’m not sure how the ability to see the other side is an asset in my encore career as a blogger. I guess it could be helpful to make an even stronger one-sided argument. But would you read a blog post entitled “Common Core Standards are Both Good and Bad for Education”? Probably not.


by Laurie Levy
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