Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Showing skin

I would personally appreciate it if people wouldn't post pictures of hot guys on their blogs. Yes, yes, I've heard all the disclaimers to the effect, "My blog is for ME and if you don't like it, then you can just DIE!!!" On the other hand, there's an ongoing subtext in this part of the blog world of community, and of supporting others. And I'm left asking myself why people feel the need to post semi-erotic pictures in the first place.

In case you missed it, I have a little porn problem. I know, I've been so coy and indirect on that subject, that only the most astute have probably figured it out. My triggers are many, but among them are hot guys that ostensibly aren't pornographic. I convince myself it's not a problem to look at such things, but such looking always leads to more looking and more perseverating on what I want but can't have. This is never a good thing for me.

I also wonder how long it takes a guy to find just the right photo for a given post. You'll notice I've never really gone down that road--I keep my picture posting on my family blog and it's generally little cherub faces of my kids. And, really, I'd rather the dialog on this blog be the draw rather than the illustrations. If every time I wanted to post I started surfing for that perfect shot that captured everything homo and angsty about my life, I'd just end up looking at butts all afternoon. Anyone care to comment on how long it takes to find that perfect shot? Just curious. I know for me it would be longer.

I realize this might be ignored by many, and probably incite some anger and irritability in others. But, because I believe people want to be helpful rather than hurtful, and I believe people aren't too proud to admit that the gratuitous hotness and skin is unnecessary, I'm making the request all the same: please keep your pictures Sunday School appropriate (and then some).


playasinmar said...

"...I'd just end up looking at butts all afternoon."

Wait. What kind of Doctor are you?

Anonymous said...

i was just thinking this same thing. NL & its links should be a "safe" place. some of the blogs linked are far from safe.
thank you!

Brady said...

I hear you. And I totally understand what you're saying. On more than one occasion a picture on someone's blog has triggered a series of damaging thoughts that began with, 'wow, that's hot' and ended with, 'I can't deal with this anymore.' It's not always that bad, but it isn't ever good.

But I think pictures can be used in helpful ways to illustrate a person's feelings and angst. A picture says a thousand words, and oftentimes I'm appreciative that I've been spared reading those thousand extra unnecessary words. Usually when I want a picture to complement what I'm trying to say, I do a Google image search with safesearch enabled - so I usually find a meaningful image in 5 minutes or less and don't get sucked into looking at butts all afternoon.

Samantha said...

Okay. I'll stop. But just so you know, it only takes me a minute to find the pictures. I just do a search for "What makes -L- look twice".

-L- said...

Well, I don't know why I've never thought of doing that search before. But, I think it's probably not too accurate, because it brings up a mere 15.5 million results. Not even close.

Beck said...

Echoing Brady, a picture does say a thousand words. When I have a client struggling to communicate what they want me to design, I ask them to send me a photo of something that puts exact meaning into their feelings and words they are using. They may be saying one thing and meaning another. I may hear the words they are using and interpret them in another way. The photo typically solves the disconnect immediately.

You may be pointing fingers directly at me. Maybe I feel guilty as charged. I'm sorry for sometimes crossing the line - but it is done as my feelings and angst are being expressed.

Your point is well taken that we don't always know who is reading our posts out there, and we don't often think of what may or may not "trigger" feelings that weren't the intent of the post. I appreciate that point and will keep that in mind.

I know you don't want to hear it, but "yes, my blog is my blog" and I'm not sure it was ever intended to be a "safe harbor" or the example of Sunday School (or better) images (or scrubbed clean answers) to these issues. I will continue to post with images for I feel they help me portray what I'm feeling in ways better than words. I will, however, be thinking of you and others, and try to be sensitive to the unknown and unintended offense taken.

Kalvin said...

The strange thing is there is a lot of homoeroticism in "mormon art". If you just take a look at the pictures throughout the usual copy of the Book of Mormon it's full of shirtless guys. Searching for pictures in my estimation is rather personal. I very rarely attempt to post simply what I think is hot. I want the picture to convey some point of difference. Glossy nubile homos are everywhere, and pretty much vapid in my opinion. Then again, maybe that's why I have such an affinity for amateur porn.

drex said...

I agree with you, -L-. While I typically gloss right over images embedded in text out of habit, I can see the effect it could have, and I'm sure I would fall prey to it myself if I had more time to read the blogs. :P

J said...

I am so confused right now. How does embedding homoerotic photos give us 1000 words that the post doesn't give? I can understand how an illustration or a diagram of something fits the 1000 words bill, but pictures of a half naked dude? I could say it in two words--you're gay. No need for the graphic. I'm just sayin'. . .

Jason Lockhart said...

Gotta chime in. I'm definitely with the "please stop arousing me pointlessly" crowd. I'll admit it: words mean far more to me than a photo. To me a photo is the essence of ambiguity, and could be interpreted in a multiplicity of ways. At most, in this kind of setting, it is a very mildly useful appendage to bad writing. Usually, especially if the writing is good, it's completely superfluous. In most cases I would understand a blog-post in exactly the same way with or without the gratuitous two-hot-guys-making-out shot, or the shirtless-emo-guy-holding-a-sign-that-says-something-extremely-deep-like-"conflicted"-in-bad-masculine-handwriting pose, or the bas- relief-of-some-naked-silhouette-looking-at-an-oh-so-compelling-sunset shot, or whatever. On a blog (ahem, abbreviation for web log), it's the words that actually drive home a point. This is why what you have is a blog, and not a scrapbook or photo album.

And, for the record, there are MANY blogs I haven't looked at in months and months because of the affect the posted photos have had on me. And some of those blogs I very much enjoyed, and have missed. So, if you post such things, and it matters to you (which it very well might not), know you are losing at least my readership. But, hey, you're likely gaining a different kind of "readership" (clearly the term must be used lightly) from other populations as well. So, whatever floats your boat, I guess.

SSA said...

I'm with you completely! I'm afraid of going to some blogs. I also worry that someone might walk into the room and see a screen or something that would give them the wrong idea. There are a billion reasons why I'd be happier if gay mormon bloggers would be better the images they use.

playasinmar said...

This conversation is about as funny as the one about porn-molests-the-viewer one a while back.

Abelard! Beck! Did you guys have any idea you were the most controversial blogs out there?

(Honestly, I thought it was someone else's.)

Maybe you two should lay off the images because, as Mr. Lockheart puts it, "At most... is a very mildly useful appendage to bad writing" After all, "This is why what you have is a blog, and not a scrapbook or photo album."

Wow. That's pretty acidic. You should probably take that advice seriously.

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. God.

You like, totally put something on your blog that like, made me do drugs.

Stop it plz.


iwonder said...

I have to agree with Playa and Beck here.

While I understand the issue, for me, my blog is about expressing my feelings in the way I feel best does so. Most of the time, it is through words, but I think it shamefully self-righteous, ludicrous and downright silly to claim that the written word is in any way inherently better than a picture.

it's the words that actually drive home a point. This is why what you have is a blog, and not a scrapbook or photo album.

And, for the record, there are MANY blogs I haven't looked at in months and months because of the affect the posted photos have had on me. And some of those blogs I very much enjoyed, and have missed. So, if you post such things, and it matters to you (which it very well might not), know you are losing at least my readership. But, hey, you're likely gaining a different kind of "readership" (clearly the term must be used lightly) from other populations as well. So, whatever floats your boat, I guess.

Now, I don't say this lightly, but you, sir, are being an ass. If you cannot control yourself when someone posts a picture of an attractive man then, yes, don't read their blog. But to insult such a person simply because they use a different medium is ridiculous. It seems to me that you are okay with someone describing something (whether it takes 1,000 words or not), but a picture that may well capture that description, or a certain feeling the author has is somehow magically immoral or wrong or low-brow, or who knows what...

Seriously, get over yourself. Just because a blogger uses a picture that may or may not incite an (un)wanted feeling, desire or thought, doesn't mean that that person is a bad writer, has a seedy "readership".

I'll admit it: words mean far more to me than a photo. To me a photo is the essence of ambiguity, and could be interpreted in a multiplicity of ways.

That's lovely. Not all are like that, my good man. And the written word, in many cases, can be equally ambiguous and designed for a large range of interpretation. That's one of the most amazing things about art - it's ability to allow the viewer/reader/listener/experiencer to derive their own meaning therefrom, and to make it personal to them, not just to the creator.

So, I guess my advice is: if you cannot handle some of the art used to depict feeling and emotion, then by all means, avoid them like the plague. I don't think less of anyone who feels the desire to do so. That's your decision for you. It is not universal, it's not for everyone, it's not inherently better or more righteous or what have you. People, just get off your pedestal and live your own lives.

I fully expect many to me angered or offended or whatever. And that's fine. I just simply don't understand the penchant so many posses to drag someone down because of something they don't understand or agree with. Why must we demean others in order to give support to our already dubious argument? To call someone who uses picture of whatever nature it may be, a bad writer simply because of the usage of a picture is indescribably preposterous and immature.

I really just don't understand it. I just don't see why we can't all just live and let live.

Argh! It just doesn't make sense to me. Why are we so worried about what someone else might think or perceive?

Seriously, this really makes me mad. And -L-, this isn't really directed at you. I recognise that you are attempting to address this issue with some tact, which is more than I can say for some others...

-L- said...

A few comments:
1. This post is not directed at Abelard and Beck in particular.
2. Beck, I think what you write is interesting and insightful (and, in my view, does not need the extra 1000 words) and I appreciate it
3. I realize I have no right to expect someone to accommodate my request. But, I ask all the same in an appeal for undeserved help. If anyone can't achieve the purpose of your blog in any other way, I understand.
4. We can have the discussion without insulting one another, and cranky words shouldn't make us feel responding in kind is appropriate.
5. Have a nice day. :-)

Beck said...

Wow, Playa, you're right... I had no idea I was being so controversial. I new my writin wasnt that good and so us illigitimate folks with no learnin must use these pitures to make our point!

Jason: I didn't know you read my blog in the first place - you never comment. But that's okay. I blog, like I said, for me to express what I can't express otherwise... I'm still coming to terms with issues that you've obviously surpassed me in understanding. Thanks for your help and example.

L: I appreciate the kind attempt to deflect the arrow from hitting directly at me or Abe, but it still hit home just the same. OUCH!

I think we communicate in different ways. As I noted, I live in a very visual world. I work in a visual environment. I create visual living environments. Not everyone lives within a philosophical wordy world as some do. I still say there is a place for individuality in blogs and individual means of expressing dialogue. To somehow lay down a bylaw in this "community" that all blogs must look the same, behave the same, have the same sensitivities, have the same answers to the same questions is absolutely wrong! How dare anyone do such a thing. I love this community because there is a variety of ideas and a variety of ways of expressing those ideas. We don't need to put each other down, belittle each other within this "community of saints" because of our differences, because of our ways of communicating those differences - For goodness sake - we get enough of that already in the "community at large". I thought there would be a bit more tolerance and love from within - not the same tearing down that happens from without.

Again, I am sorry for any offenses my blog may have triggered. I hope you see my sincerity in being part of this community. I don't mean to exclude any readership and will try to be sensitive to the "unknown reader" that may be out there - but I'm still going to be me. If there isn't freedom to be me even in here, in my blog, then where can I be me???

Samantha said...

And I just have to say, because I always think I should talk, that what you experience when you look at picturesque blogs, is what I experience when I do mundane things like, say, watch television, see highway billboards, get my yahoo mail, or any other thing many people take for granted. So--now you know why I rarely watch TV (can't really avoid the billboards or online ads, though...sigh...)

Kengo Biddles said...

Isn't our patriarchal misogynistic culture great, Samantha?

-L- said...

Beck, I'm not laying out bylaws, I'm not attacking self-expression, and I'm not belittling anyone. I'm asking for a personal favor from everyone who is interested in supporting a brother in need. And it's me that's asking for myself, not an "unknown reader."

I don't think anyone has suggested that everyone must be the same. And I don't have a problem with using graphics on your blog. But erotic images are unkind and unnecessary. I fully expect there to be blogs that express themselves in all manner of ways that are contrary to the gospel, but knowing that you and other bloggers are much more sensitive and compassionate toward folks like me (and, indeed, have made and should honor covenants that are applicable here), I've offered my request, and I'm very glad you've kindly offered to think of me going forward.

Beck said...

Since when did this become an issue of blogging "contrary to the gospel?" You've lost me completely now! I didn't say or do anything "contrary to the gospel". And what does this have to do with "honoring covenants that are applicable here"? You've lost me again.

If a picture of a guy looking in a mirror without his shirt on is "erotic" and against gospel principles or honoring ones covenants I'd like to really know... because I don't get it!

Maybe I'm delusional here thinking all is well in Beck's Zion, but if there is a temple recommend worthiness question here... um... I don't see it and I'd love you to point out the errors of my ways.

As I stated, I thought the point was on being more sensitive to others and I thought I explained that I got it and would try to do so in the future - but somehow I feel like I'm being stabbed in the back and now being judged by you or others when words such as gospel and covenants are used in this context.

-L- said...

I wasn't talking about your blog when I said "contrary to the gospel." If you didn't realize such blogs existed, I'm sorry to be the one to break the bad news. I contrasted you to such blogs and thanked you for your expressed willingness to be mindful of my request.

The covenant I was referring to was the baptismal covenant, with all it entails in bearing the burdens of others. If you can't see the connection, I'll be happy to discuss it with you offline. As I mentioned before, this post wasn't directed at you in particular, and because the comments here seem to instigate misunderstanding after misunderstanding (regardless of the fact I've repeatedly tried to clarify to no avail) I'll go ahead and make any additional discussion of your specific blog or your specific pictures private.

Anonymous said...

I, too, sometimes have inappropriate thoughts caused by reading the MoHoSphere blogs. But, I am much more a verbal person than a visual person. I have no problems with any of the pictures posted. I have more of a problem with reading verbal descriptions of attraction and lust. Those are what cause my mind to go into inappropriate places. My temptation is to read porn stories, not to look at porn photos. But that is my problem, and I wouldn't want to tell people not to put their real feelings and emotions and experiences into their blogs.

Isn't the reason that we all post and lurk here is because (for the most part) we cannot publicly acknowledge who we are? Are we to censor our private selves also with the people who should most understand us?

Beck said...

L: Enough said... I really feel better. I come from a long line of overreactors and I beg your forgiveness of my overreacting to your comments and misinterpreting them.

I apologize and look forward to sparring with you again on a less personal nature.

Jason Lockhart said...

Whoa. I certainly caused some hard feelings and misunderstanding. Sorry my writing was so acerbic.


If I might use a bit of a quote from your tirade against my comment--

Why must we demean others in order to give support to our already dubious argument?

I think this is a very good question, and one you might want to ask yourself--and I mean that sincerely and not in some biting "in yo face" way. Now, I'm cutting your very personally offensive comment to me some slack because I recognize what has happened here, and given what you seem to think I was saying, I can understand your desire to censure and the basic sentiment of your comment. Hopefully some clarification will be helpful.

When I said "At most, in this kind of setting [meaning blogging], it [meaning adding photos] is a very mildly useful appendage to bad writing. Usually, especially if the writing is good, it's completely superfluous..." I was not speaking negatively about anybody's writing. At all. That was a very, very general statement, and was meant to be. It was commentary on the vague concept of blogging--me being conceptual and general, not at all specific and actual. And it equally addressed poor writers as well as good writers--so I'm missing how anyone could even extract an insult from it. Not only that, but the implication of that quote is that, in fact, I think many of the bloggers in question are good writers. I'm saying racy pictures aren't necessary for people who write well, and I'm saying that in a comment all about how unnecessary I think such things are in our particular blogging community. Furthermore, I spoke of how I missed some of the blogs I frequented. I'm very sorry you didn't read carefully, or that I misrepresented myself. I don't know you, you don't know me, and there's no reason to be rude to each other--I offer you my white flag.

Beck: you're so kind and sincere, and I appreciate you not taking offense at my comment. It truly wasn't directed at you--especially the part about bad writing that others seemed to think was. I was talking very generally about a problem that is very personal and close-to-home to anyone who at any point and in any way has ever questioned, or has ever been questioned in, his or her own choice of photographic representation, and for that I apologize. I appreciate your attention to the matter—it shows where your heart lies. Sincerely, I wasn't attempting to single you out in any way (or Abelard, who I don't know well).

My comment was me, uncensored, talking about something I feel emotional about in a general way, in a way that I don't let myself when I comment about SSA and religion--both topics I think are too personal to get all fiery in debate about. I had let down my inhibitions and just let it all out because I thought the subject-matter was truly kind of inherently impersonal and perfect for philosophical warfare, and I see now why that was a dumb idea. When I was referring to "the big bad blogs out there that post naughty pictures" I didn't have specific blogs in mind, but of course it appeared as thought I did. I really I just had a general feeling of "yeah, people do that sometimes and I don't like it, and even stopped reading a couple of blogs about a year ago because of it! Here's what I think on the subject!" Anyway, truly, no offense intended.

All that being said, I do feel passionately that in this community we should be especially sensitive to potential porn-addictions. As a former addict myself, I find it heart-sickening that I and others have to fight that temptation while looking for uplifting materials in the blog-ring (and the most recent anonymous commenter brings up a good point—this isn’t only a problem in pictures). Freedom of speech notwithstanding, I would hope we as a group would be more sensitive about that particular challenge, and not less so (again, that comment not being directed at anybody in particular--truly). People talk about fielding the blog world without getting aroused in a "have more control over yourself, laddy! Stop being so weak!" type of way, but anyone that has been there knows that it doesn't take much to trigger a relapse. That men who are fighting this fight get triggered by others in "the ring" is a real shame in my estimation.

Also, incidentally, playsinmar: my pseudonym is Jason Lockhart, not Lockheart. That name was chosen for personal significance, yes, but just for the record (not to say you think this at all--just that this is what that spelling implies) that significance has nothing to do with the locking of hearts in marriage or anything cheesy like that ;-)

And one final note-- because the nature of my comment was one of taking the side of a debate, I must concede that I don't in every way hate the combination of art and blogging. There are people that do it very aptly, and the aesthetic can be very nice. Where one draws the line between "aesthetically enhancing" and "arousing" can be difficult, but I think -L- (whose post this originally was, I remind myself) was saying that he just wishes more people would not risk the "arousing" component in order to achieve the best "aesthetically enhancing" effect.

Overall, sorry for causing part of the ruckus. I know my prose can be biting--sometimes perhaps more so than I realize.

All right, novel finished.

Jason Lockhart said...

Beck--now I'm just being OCD (which I don't even have, but this whole thing has me wanting to me extra careful ;-) ) I just want you to know that I think your writing is not only not bad, but is good. Rereading my novella, it may have seemed that I might have been implying otherwise.

Mr. Fob said...

Well, I guess the lines are drawn. I was totally on Playa's side until he insulted the porn-reaches-out-of-the-screen-and-molests-you theory I hold so dear and near to my heart. The jerk.

Anonymous said...

i have a sweet tooth. my wife likes to make traditional christmas desserts. for several years i asked her not to make them; i just couldn't resist eating. it became a real subject of marital discord. she's stubborn and i have no will power.

after several years we found a compromise. she still makes them, but almost the minute they're out of the oven, they're all wrapped up and given to neighbors and friends.

now i know somehow i can find a practical application of this to the current discussion; i just haven't figured out how yet.

-L- said...

santorio, that's a really good analogy, actually. Ultimately, it's not a huge deal, but people are prone to make it into one. I was thinking of this as like a recovering alcoholic who would like to watch Monday night football with his buddies asking everyone to drink soda instead of getting smashed. Nothing really wrong with getting smashed or posting erotic pics on your blog--it's your thing. But I suppose saying there's nothing wrong with making candy makes that analogy a bit better--less charged. ;-)

I expected a little dialog after writing this post, but I didn't expect things to become so personal. A simple, "sure," or "sorry I can't help you, go somewhere else" is all I was looking for, not a referendum on anyone's blog appropriateness or personal insults. If I set up the divisiveness with my light-hearted tone in the original post, I apologize. Believe me, my rhetoric could have been much stronger, and I thought I had been pretty fair and even in my approach. Which I suppose underlines the whole issue of creating content intending to convey one particular thing, and then finding readers who interpret what you've creatively produced all across the map.

Mr. Fob said...

For what it's worth, L, my serious two cents:

It's entirely reasonable of you to tell your friends, "Hey, when you do X, I feel Y," so long as you acknowledge that your saying so doesn't require them to stop doing X and that they are in no way responsible for Y. Your telling them is merely a process of giving feedback for the purpose of mutual communication. I think that is what you were doing with this post.

Where I think you verge from that model is in your third paragraph where you place an implied value judgment on your friends' behavior, implying that in order to put non-pornographic photos on their blogs they must be spending a lot of time indulging in something that is dangerously close to pornography. Furthermore, you refer in your fourth paragraph to "gratuitous hotness and skin," which definitely has a value judgment attached to it, changing your post from friendly feedback into what can easily be construed as an attack.

And then everyone, pretty much, took that and ran with it in the comments section, turning your friendly feedback-bordering-on-attack and into an all out war.

-L- said...

Yeah, that's pretty much what FRM said, and she's usually right. Not that you aren't usually right too. Not that I have anything at all to say about whether anybody is every right or wrong about anything.

I've played it as if I only said it was about helping me, but that's not really accurate. I do think there is gratuitous, unnecessary, and harmful use of erotic images altogether separate from me and what I do. And the responsibility for that is all on those who choose to use them.

I wrote the post in a light-hearted way despite that it's a serious topic too, and realize that fueled the fire. I deliberately made the appeal to nobody in particular so people could think about their own blogs and not feel like finger-pointing was going on. That didn't work. But I would like it noted (again) that any individuals who have been singled out in relation to this post have been singled out by themselves, not me. If I used inflammatory language like "gratuitous," others took it the extra step to choose where it applied (but then held me responsible for it).

Maybe I'll post some of the dialog I had with Beck privately too to show that I'm not completely holding myself blameless for this silly spectacle.

-L- said...

Correction: Playasinmar singled out the individuals and then made himself a hero for defending his friends. :-)

Mr. Fob said...

I think there's a scripture somewhere that says something to the effect of "By the mouth of FRM and Mr. Fob the truth shall be established."

Anonymous said...

blogging rule #3:
if you want lots of visitors you play to their tastes (i.e., dumb it down, or up, as the case may be), if you don't mind a lower count, then you say what you think.

on my exit interview, my mission prez told about someone in his past ward whose home teachers had a hard time connecting with a ward member because he had "painted his front room purple." so if i want home teachers to keep coming i need to have my wife take down cranach's eve.

Original Mohomie said...

Interesting discussion. As usual in such a discussion, I would find it hard to be concise in my comment, so maybe I'll just post about it instead, since I already was thinking of doing so before I found this blog entry. :-)

In short, I find both sides correct in ways: It's not my job to "babysit", but if I want to be supportive, I probably should try to be sensitive to my audience. If my blog isn't about being supportive, then I can disregard the audience looking for support and realize I'm gaining a different audience.

I think those points have been made; just adding an 'amen' to them.

Hm...I feel like I'm supposed to insult someone in the process, though. I'll try to think of something biting to say and come back when I have it.

iwonder said...

You JERK O.Mohomie. I am so offended. How dare you be so reasonable?

Garrett said...

I used to wish I could say this exact thing to BYU about their Fitness for Life textbook, which they created. Why did they have to use hot, shirtless models for it?

Later, I discovered BYU does care about prurient interests. While working for the athletic department visual communications office, it became my job to photoshop out the bulges of the entire wrestling team for an athletic brochure. I'm sure quite at least a few of the athletes were wondering why the camera deleted 10 pounds rather than adding them when they saw the final product.

Anonymous said...

Um, you do know that you can turn off graphics in IE anytime you'd like, right?

It's wiser to put on slippers than try to carpet the world.