Universalis

Wranglers vs Stranglers

Wranglers vs Stranglers

by Ted Engstrom

Years ago there was a group of brilliant young men at a midwestern university, who seemed to have amazing, creative literary talent. They were would-be poets, novelists, and essayists. They were extraordinary in their ability to put the English language to its best use. These promising young men met regularly to read and critique each other's work. And critique it they did!

These men were merciless with one another. They dissected the smallest literary expression into a hundred pieces. They were heartless, touch, even mean in their criticism, but they thought they were bringing out each other's best work. Their sessions became such arenas of literary criticism that the members of this exclusive support group nicknamed themselves "The Stranglers".

Not to be outdone, the university's women of literary talent were determined to start a support group of their own, one comparable to "The Stranglers". They called themselves "The Wranglers". They, too, read their works to one another, but there was one significant difference between the two groups. The criticism of "The Wranglers" was much softer, more positive, more encouraging. In fact sometimes there was almost no criticism at all. Every effort, even the most feeble attempt, was gleaned for some bit to be praised and encouraged.

Twenty years later, the university's alumni office was doing an exhaustive study on the careers of its alumni, when it was noticed that there was a great difference in the literary accomplishments of "The Stranglers" as opposed to "The Wranglers". Of all the bright and talented young men in "The Stranglers", not one had made a significant literary accomplishment of any kind. From "The Wranglers" had come six or more successful writers, some attaining national reputation.

Talent between the two? Probably the same. Level of education? Not much difference. But "The Stranglers" strangled, while "The Wranglers" were determined to give each other a boost. "The Stranglers" created an atmosphere of contention and self-doubt. "The Wranglers" highlighted the best, not the worst.

******
The reason I am sharing this story with you is that I noticed that this blog attracts only men. When was the last time a woman visited the blog and made a comment or posted an article?

As men, we like to argue with one another on the finest details. We look at a good post and pick out only the bad points and criticise them. Instead, we should be highlighting the good points and helped to boost one another.

I believe that this is a way that this blog can grow and to be more open to the admission of women as well. It's not that this blog discriminates against women, but clearly we do not attract any female readers to share with us.

I believe that this is something worth looking into, and that we can all try to focus on one another's good points raised in each post, rather than to "strangle" each other, for in doing so, we are also strangling each other's self-esteem and the progress of this blog.

What do you think?

4 comments:

Antonia said...

Well, I am female, though I don't frequently read this blog.

I must admit I have a little problem with the general style of a group blog. It tends to be impersonal; somehow it's easier to relate to a blogger that's sharing about his/her personal struggle in his/her journeys of faith.

Looking at the content, I don't personally think there's much that could generate a difference in responses between male-dominated and female-dominated audiences. I don't see much "strangling" happening either :)

What about friends? Are you keeping track of who are the visitors to this blog? Any friends/any groups you recognize?

Nick Teo said...

Hey Daniel,

That was a good story and a good conclusion. I was just sharing the same fact with Chris that we are not getting any female readership that openly comments other than Loretta and Miss Antonia.

Let's continue to support each other's comment instead of shooting them down immediately without clarifying if we share any similar thoughts. Sure we have a different view, but it would be a less-hostile act if we first identify our similar thinking then counter with an alternative view. Not necessarily shooting the original premise but just an alternative view.

I find that the comments that follows the main post is often met with absolute shooting down. It definitely prohibits all form of learning from one another.

ChrisYeo said...

I'm surprised that anyone, male or female, reads this blog at all! ;P

Welcome Antonia, and feel free to journey with us as well. You are right to say that the posts tend to sound a little impersonal, but in truth, each of us are talking about our own little journeys in faith as well. Of course, I join you in encouraging and welcoming more sharings with a personal perspective.

Thank you also for saying that not much "strangling" goes on here. In fact, this blog should be all about supporting and help one another; it should not matter whether we are males or females. As long as we share a common vision of understanding and living our faith in Singapore, I believe that we can refrain from "shooting" each other but support each other in this journey.

Daniel said...

Here's an interesting post of a guide to leaving comments on a blog: http://www.therebelution.com/blog/2005/08/you-read-it-right-complete-blog-commenting-guidelines

It could help in the process of deciding the direction this blog is to take, and laying down rules for the future of this blog.

Briefly, it tells:
- the purpose of argumentation and how to improve one's skills of argumentation;
- 8 principles for logical and respectful discussion:

1. Understand the "classical" view of tolerance.
2. No "ad hominem" attacks, you moron!"
3. Eschew obscenity and prohibit profanity.
4. He who asserts must prove.
5. Respond to the argument, not to the spelling.
6. Debating when Less is More.
7. Do your own research.
8. The fallacy of the majority.

I especially like #7, which says: DO feel free to support your arguments with outside resource. Just make sure you summarize what the resource says. Otherwise your opponents will consider your argument unsupported until they go read/see the support, which they most likely never will.