I watched with interest as a string unfolded on the blog I write for the Payson Roundup, which is called "I'm Listening."
A blog, or web log, if you haven't run across the term yet, is a place on the Web where people have their say on a current "string" of comments being made on some subject. It's an open discussion, with opinions flying back and forth.
The string that fascinated me revolved around a recent Roundup article about police overtime. I won't go into details, but it is suffice to say the comments on the blog got hot and heavy after a time with people beginning to cite examples of what was right about specific Payson city departments they dearly loved, and, mainly by implication, what was wrong with the ones they didn't.
As it happened, I didn't start that string. It just popped up in the middle of the Ray Pugel column I wrote, and then got moved off to its own string.
In fact, I had no intention of putting in my two cent's worth until a policeman who was fielding negative comments from others suggested I do so.
My comment pointed out, among other things (actually there were two comments), that questioning police overtime implied a criticism of the police officers who were collecting it. And it did, of course. People do not vehemently take sides on a non-issue. If the overtime was not viewed negatively, there was no need for two council members to contact the Roundup about it, nor for there to be a heated online debate.
What amazed me, and also brought a happy grin to my face, was the speed with which people responded, making it clear that they did not intend to criticize our police officers. I believe it was an honest response, and I was glad to see it.
Sometimes, we get to flapping our jaws (me, too, of course) without realizing how our comments may sound to someone else, and I suspect that's doubly true when we put something in writing.
As of this moment, there are a dozen or so strings running on the blog. They run the gamut from local issues, like the latest attempt to get folks in Pine and Strawberry to buy the Pine Water Company, to national issues, such as "What is "victory" in Iraq?"
If you have an Internet connection, I invite you to go to payson.com and click on the icon for "I'm Listening." You don't have to log on. You can just read what's being said, and I guarantee it will interest you.
If you wish, you can log onto the blog and make a comment, but the first time you do, the Roundup will ask you, for obvious reasons, to provide a verifiable e-mail address. And don't worry -- they will not post your e-mail address.
Privacy is respected.
Anyway, come join us.
You'll love it. It's your chance to say all those things you've been wanting to say. No paper needed. No envelopes. No stamps. Just the time it takes to speak your piece.
And you might even make a difference.