I have been writing this blog now for ten years. I started shortly after retiring, when I was in my middle seventies, and I am now, though it is hard to believe, in my middle eighties. For much of that time, my posts have received a steady but slender stream of comments, and while there are some readers who post comments frequently, rather like students in a class who can be relied on to have something to say almost every day, the range of comments has been wide, and I have regularly heard from first time commenters, often from overseas. I have found all of this enormously exhilarating.
Recently, things have taken an odd turn. The comments section of the blog has come to be dominated by a small number of men [they are all men, I am pretty sure], no more than half a dozen at most, who seem not so much to be responding to what I write as using the comments section as a sort of chat room. The comments are almost all intelligent and knowledgeable, but they have little to do with what I am posting.
This tendency reached a point this week that calls for some acknowledgement by me. On the 10th, I posted a brief 175 word comment, intended to be light-hearted or humorous, confessing that I had been wrong in predicting that Mueller would indict some more people last Friday. Because I have been flying up to New York to teach each Tuesday, I have been posting less often. What is more, I have been somewhat discouraged from posting by the apparent lack of connection between what I post and what appears as comment. In the five days since that brief post, there have been 55 comments by a handful of people totaling more than 9000 words!
I will be honest. I have stopped reading them all. I feel as though my little on-line class has been hi-jacked, and I do not know what to do. I even suggested to the most prolific of the usual suspects that he start his own blog, but to no avail.
I suspect, but of course I do not know, that there are many readers who are deterred from commenting by this development. It is certainly true that I have lost the sense that I am leading a discussion.
Now, it is open to me simply to ignore the comments section and go on posting, but I really do not want to do that. For me, one of the rewards of this blog has been the sense that I was conducting a grand international seminar. And although I routinely delete comments that are nothing more than advertisements for dissertation writing services, I do not want to start deleting serious, intelligent comments, even if they have little or nothing to do with what I have written.
If there actually are more than five or six readers of this blog, I would dearly love to hear from some of you, just to know you are there!