Saturday, December 30, 2006

You Can't Fake Good Character

Ezzie has an excellent roundup of the latest controversy in the JBlogosphere, about plagiarism. He links to many good posts, and has his own take on the situation.

I agree with Ezzie completely. There is no place for this kind of behavior - it is just plain wrong.

Many people who want to defend DovBear have made the claim that "he just plagiarized a little" or "people are taking blogging way too seriously", perhaps rationalizing his actions because they personally enjoy his blog or agree with many things he has said in the past.

They ignore a very important fact, though. Your character (you can also use the Hebrew term "middot") is judged not only by the big actions but by the small ones too.

Yesterday, the lady at the makolet, perhaps because of the Friday morning rush, forgot to ring up a can of pineapple that I had bought. I noticed that she had forgotten while still at the register, and pointed it out to her. She quickly put it in, and I paid. The can cost all of eight shekels (less than two dollars), but for me it didn't make a difference. Stealing eight shekels from the grocery store is the same as stealing a greater amount.

Your character is shown by other actions too. How do you treat the people who work for you - even if just for a short time? Do you say thank you to the waitress in a restaurant, or to the cleaning woman in your office building, or do you treat them as if they are part of the furniture? Do you say "good Shabbos" to people on the street, or at least answer them back when they greet you, or do you just walk by? (This is one of westbankpapa'a pet peeves when in a certain Charedi neighborhood in Jerusalem - only rarely do people answer his Shabbat Shalom with a similar greeting).

In terms of the blogging world, your character can be judged here too. Do you answer your commenters? Do you respond civilly to the ones that disagree with you, even if they themselves are less than polite? (This does not mean the trolls - the people who are obviously just trying to "make a scene" and are not interested in a rational discussion should be ignored). Do you steal others' words or not?

You really can't fake good character, at least not in the long run. A slick salesperson may be able to do so to get a quick sale, but this only works for a short encounter. In any other situation, where people interract for a longer period of time, the real you comes out.

Yes, blogging is just a hobby (at least for most people). We don't need to take it too seriously. But if you think of it as another place in which your character is on display, then you should take it seriously indeed.

14 Comments:

Blogger Ezzie said...

Excellent post, and thanks for the compliments.

On a somewhat related note, we enjoy keeping track of whether people respond "Good Shabbos" when you say it to them or not. In KGH, we're proud to say that this week, every single person we passed did so (and we weren't always first, either). Not bad, especially for NY. :)

12:41 AM, December 31, 2006  
Blogger Mother of Israel said...

Good thoughts, I agree 100%. On an aside we are now back from our 3 weeks in Israel and are now saving to come back. I have fallen in love with Israel! Thanks for your ideas on travelling with the children there.

4:32 AM, December 31, 2006  
Blogger kahaneloyalist said...

While I never enjoyed Dovbear's blog, I am curious what exactly did he plagiarize?

4:47 AM, December 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post! mother of israel, I hope no one confuses us!

10:52 AM, December 31, 2006  
Blogger RR said...

Great post, WBM. And all of it true. Hey, I even yell "Todah!" to the guard who checks the trunk of my car when I enter a parking garage (I think some of them are shocked by this!)- I also thank the guard who checks my bag. I hate when people treat these guys like furniture.

7:52 PM, December 31, 2006  
Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Bloggers who don't answer their commenters shouldn't bother to accept comments.

Obviously there is a point where you cannot answer everyone, but you should try.

The more I think about the DB controversy the more I realize a few things about it.

1) Something about this stinks. It is not just the plagiarism, that is abhorrent. But why did it have to be conducted in the public eye. I don't condone plagiarism, but was there a need to try and humiliate him.

Furthermore, something about the Weasel doesn't ring true to me.

2) I should have come out more forcefully about how reprehensible plagiarism is. I was wrong not to, but I think that I was so irritated by the public forum that I missed it.

8:56 PM, December 31, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

ezzie - thank you

mother of israel - I am so happy that you had a good trip

kahana - check out Ezzie's links

mother in israel - I confused you guys at first!

rr - I try to say thank you also

jack - I think that DovBear would have been given more "slack" if he wasn't so nasty himself to others. What goes around, comes around

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