Monday, December 10, 2012

Argue-mental?


What is the point of engaging with social media? Why blog, why tweet? I cannot think of anything duller than repeatedly standing up and preaching to the converted. Love you all as I do, obviously, and my giant ego always appreciates being flattered, such an exchange becomes blunted by familiarity over time.

The underlying essence of the blog was always to inform, provoke and entertain. Over the past years I hope that, in some measure, I have at least occasionally delivered on this ambition. It was, in a real sense, never intended to be about me – but I was the peg on which issues could be hung and debated. If your postman wrote a prison blog I suspect you’d not be reading it; the author is important, but never intending to be central.

By intruding into the public space I knew that there was some chance that I would be a lightening-rod for people's views on crime and justice. And in a way I hoped for that and write the occasional piece that is deliberately provocative.

The only way to change opinions is to engage with people, and that means the people whose views are most divergent from what I hold to be positive and useful. Hangers and floggers, in the broadest terms, are the people to engage with if change is to be provoked. Or even just to prompt a pause while they think.

And this is why I tend to go against advice that says to “ignore the trolls”. Well, maybe they are not trolls. Maybe they hold genuine, if barmy, ideas. And like anyone else, if you don’t engage then it is impossible to make them think. It doesn’t for a minute imply that engaging leads to thinking, but one is a necessary condition for the other.

There are limits to this, obviously. Time. Interest. And those who slyly try to dig away at me or the blog without actually considering the issues, they really don’t catch my interest. But as a general proposition, I will talk to anyone.

Ideas are formed and altered through the clash of differing constructs. Hurling abuse may be entertaining but actually grows weary very quickly. It can be a fine line, which is why I often engage.

Daft though it may be, only by talking to an idiot can he be informed.

13 comments:

  1. I agree. There is little point in preaching to the converted. And it's all too easy to become blinkered or to miss any holes in your own position. I would see myself - in terms of my reading this blog - as either devotee or troll. I like to be informed. I like to read blogs. So I pick topics of general interest to me and find well-written/interesting/provocative blogs on those topics. So, in terms of criminal justice, I read you, Inspector Gadget, Mental Health Cop, The Magistrate's Blog and one or two others. Across the spectrum, well-followed with lively comment sections. For me, this is ideal. Interestingly, and a propos to your blog, I've never found an anonymous blog by a prison officer that was worth reading.

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  2. "neither devotee nor troll" Sigh @ me.

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  3. I try to engage with some of these people to but it is quite important I have discovered recently to know who and what you are dealing with. There are some truly evil people, who enjoy being evil and they should be avoided where possible: from a post I saw earlier on facebook, don't expect the world to be fair with you because you are fair with it. that is like expecting a lion not to eat you because you do not eat LION!
    But I applaud what you are doing and respect you for the courage that others are clearly jealous of!

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  4. Someone convinced against their will, is of the same opinion still. In fact i can't put my finger on why i read you blog, or even can i remember how i found it. I am an ex-con, and if i had writen a blog it would have been very different to yours, but it is what it is, one persons view of prison. Mine was qutie different, different crime, different lengh of sentence etc. Some of the things you say, i agree with, some i don't, it's all food for thought, so keep blogging.

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  5. This blog is going the way of the dodo and the steam train...
    I know!!! Why don't you post a piece about the Inspectorate report into HMP Lincoln?
    Just think about how much fun you could have and how much vitriol and bile you could spout about dog screws!!!
    Oh; the report actually praises staff.. Better stay shtum then; that'd be the last thing you'd want to comment on,
    Wouldn't it??
    Innervision

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  6. @Anon, thanks for bringing Lincoln to my attention. Todays news- "

    The details emerged in a damning report about HMP Lincoln which also found that drugs and alcohol are freely available and inmates unwilling to go to a new rehabilitation centre.
    Inspectors from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) arrived unannounced at HMP Lincoln in August this year and say they found serious failings at the category B jail, in the report released today.
    The report's authors said staff morale was poor and prisoners' welfare was being placed at risk at the Victorian jail, but did acknowledge speculation over the prison's future meant some of its problems were outside its direct control.
    Among the report's findings was the fact the jail was holding 50 per cent more prisoners than it was certified to hold and, in one shocking case, it was discovered a foreign national prisoner had been incarcerated for nine years after the date his sentence originally ended.
    Prisoners also told inspectors it was easy to get drugs and alcohol in the jail and there was clear evidence of inmates developing a drug addiction, while the instance of fighting and assaults was also high."

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9736369/Drugs-alcohol-and-violence-all-rife-at-Lincoln-Prison.html

    Wonderful job that the staff are doing, so pleased you highlighted this for me :)

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    1. Hardwick said Lincoln's strengths, such as good staff and prisoner relationships, were undermined by a serious lack of professionalism in many areas that compromised safety and the smooth running of the prison. He noted that the jail was 50% overcrowded and had 20% fewer staff than at the time of the last inspection.
      No doubt the report is damning - and rightly so - but what I said in my post was why dont you post a blog about it so you can get the chance to unleash some vitriol onto officers again in a last ditch attempt to breathe some life into the sorry relic that this blog has become? Go on, you know you want to.... It's what your devotees would want you to do, and what your trolls expect you to do...
      As for me - even though your massive ego ' your words' - wont allow you to see it I am like Jill from 9th December neither a devotee nor a troll, merely a bemused observer .....
      Innervision

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    2. Readership doubled and rising! Keep coming back :)

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  7. @anon 11 dec. 2,23 What is your beef re screws? i am the ex=con who posted above, I am sure Ben would agree that there are good and bad staff. The cons do all the work, ie cooking, cleaning, laundry etc. Lets face it, the screws job is as easy or hard as they want it to be. If they are lazy, and want an easy life, all they have to be skilled at is turning a key to lock and unlock a door. There are some that do give their all to the job tho, they take the time to listen, do that extra thing above the call of duty. (one unlocked me later, after bang up, for an extra 10 mins, because i needed to speak to my mum, and she was on answephone when i tried on normal association time.) I dare say it is not an easy job for the ones that do care, after all, many cons can't even blow their own nose, metaphoricly speaking. It, i imagine, is like being a childminder to a load of adults. good and bad, as in any job.

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    1. No, you're wrong... Ben won't agree that there are good staff, just as he won't agree that there are bad cons.... Neither exist in Bens world.....

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    2. Then clearly you haven't read around the blog much. Pity; an opinion based on information is so much more interesting than an empty assertion.

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  9. Spam will be ruthlessly destroyed.

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