the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Hate, Love, Interviews

Writer/Blogger Jane Devin had a good idea for today:  One Day, No Hate (#1Day0Hate hashtag on Twitter).  This is from her post —

I was speaking with a new friend on the phone today, and the discussion briefly turned to Twitter and politics. I don’t know whether she’s a Republican, a Democrat, or something else, but it doesn’t matter. The thing that was bothering both of us equally was how divisive and hostile political speech has become.

The social media that draws us together to converse and share has become something of a battleground for left/right politics. Sometimes, these arguments are intriguing. Sometimes — okay, a lot of the time — they are not arguments at all, but angry rants that leave little room for real discussion.

Later in the day, I made the comment on Twitter that I wish we could have a one-day moratorium on angry, hostile speech. I know that probably means little or nothing to those who engage in such language as a habit, but it seemed to strike a chord among those who would like to see people come together as people first, political party members second.

I liked the idea, but since I’m not as political as Jane, I asked her how I could participate as a writer on my blog.

Badge by Down to Earth Mama

“I’d like to see people begin to speak with people they normally wouldn’t, even to say hello,” she wrote back.

The first thing that came to my mind was an idea I had in January 2008 called The Great Interview Experiment.   Many of you participated.   The gimmick seemed simple at the time, requiring (at least I thought!) very little work on my part.    People would comment on my post, and the first commenter would interview the second commenter, who would interview the third commenter.   The RANDOM nature of the selection process was key, because you couldn’t choose your partners.    That was the fun part, and since we are one big happy blogging community, it shouldn’t matter, right?


Liberals didn’t want to be interviewed by Conservatives.   A-listers didn’t want to be interviewed by C-listers.   Serious bloggers didn’t want to be interviewed by crazy bloggers.  Others just blew off their partners for one reason or another.   While the experiment was immensely successful in many ways, with hundreds participating, the most surprising result of the experiment was the effect it had on me –  it turned ME cynical!   At a certain point, I pushed the whole idea aside, not because of a lack of interest on your part, but because I stopped believing in my own central concept:  everyone is somebody.   “Clearly this is not true,” I thought.  “And no one really believes it, even those who say it.”

What does this have to do with politics?  I think hate grows out of seeing the other as The Other, and forgetting that the other is basically the same as you and me.

We all talk about community, but what community are we usually discussing?  The ones in our group?  The ones who agree with our ideas?  The ones who look and act just like us?  I think what Jane is talking about on HER blog is for Americans of disparate views to set aside their differences, just for a little while, and focus on what they have in common.   People don’t have to love each other, but they should respect each other.  Every American lives in the same country.  Every American is part of the human family.

In my search to try to do something useful online, I turn again to this interview experiment.   Should I start it up again, from scratch?   My interest is less in the interviews, than the matching of unlikely individuals together, and seeing what happens.

Is there truly any strands that connect  the great writer, the crappy writer, the blogger who is friends with a popular blogger, and the blogger with no friends?   Does asking questions help our tiny community of personal bloggers in better seeing the humanity of an adversary, for the traditional Christian mommyblogger to better understand the gay male dating blogger?  Does anyone really believe that we are all in the same boat floating on the waves of the blogosphere?

I’m just thinking about what Jane said.

“I’d like to see people begin to speak with people they normally wouldn’t, even to say hello,” Jane said.

I’m trying to inspire myself to get it going again, unless I hear otherwise from you.   Like they said on Curb Your Enthusiasm last night when Larry David tried to get the Seinfeld gang together again — no one likes those reunion shows.

Give me a few days.   Try not to hate anyone today.


  1. Corina

    You are right. It extends so far beyond the political realm. It may have started there for me, but it does not end there. As I have said before on my blog, the ties that bind us are greater than those that divide us.

    WHY, WHY, WHY must people take the holier than thou attitude?

    WHY, WHY, WHY do we chose to shut each other out rather than understand each other?

    WHY, WHY, WHY do we think ourselves bigger or smaller than our counterparts?

    Nothing good can come of it. Does it mean that we should all agree? No. Does it mean that we all need to like each other? Hell no. What it does mean is that we actually give it a shot. We talk to each other. We have compassion.

    To say this might make me an idealist, but why the hell not? Honestly, as a recovering cynic, where does that get you. More disappointment, more of the same, and more alone. You miss so many amazing thoughts and people by just sticking to you and your own. Let loose those in your life that are toxic, certainly. But at least give knowing someone a chance.

    People deserve grace and respect until they prove otherwise. Let’s give it to them.

  2. Kirsten

    Sounds a lot like the speech I gave my 2nd grader just today about branching out from her little set of friends on the playground. I love reading blogs written by people who are nothing like me at all. Of course, I am still comforted by the “just like me” blogs. Variety.

    I had a good/bad experience with the Great Interview Experiment. I am still a big believer that everyone has a story to tell. I interviewed someone not like me that I probably would not have read otherwise. I enjoyed getting to know her.

    However, the person who was to interview me totally blew me off. Not a big deal, but I would have liked to know why.

  3. Sarcastic Mom

    I love this post so much I want to hump it.

  4. Jack

    I hate this post. Just kidding. 😉 Someone had to do it. It is a good idea.

    One of my favorite parts of blogging is engaging with people I normally wouldn’t speak with or meet.

  5. sassy

    Can I hate the person who blew me off for your Great Interview Experiment, at least.

    ((smiles sheepishly))

  6. TRO

    I’m up for it and surely there is one brave sole that will interview a conservative.

  7. TRO

    I mean soul of course. Or not. Maybe I was just thinking of feet.

  8. TRO

    Or fish.

  9. Otir

    For a very long time you resisted my appeal to go onto Seesmic when it was still a video conversation platform (which is not the case anymore even though the video platform is still there, but it’s not their segment anymore).

    At the time, it turned out to be the best place ever for exactly what you have been describing here: people from totally different venues, points of views, political opinions, places in life, met and bonded, and to this day are still a close community.

    Blogging accomplished some of it for me, but unless I have actually met the bloggers (which for some I have when I traveled to Paris in 2008), it has never yielded the same level of really liking others as the video conversations did. I like bloggers’ writings and stories, but I know that beyond the stories there are so much more to discover.

    Oh and by the way, I hate noone. Ever.

  10. Otir

    Oh and I forgot to say that I had had the best of times with the Great Interview Experiment, both with my interviewee Cookiebitch whom I have read for months afterwards with gusto, and my interviewer Elisabeth whom I am a fan of anyway.

  11. maggie, dammit

    One of the best things for me about the Violence UnSilenced experience has been interacting with all of these people from all of these different circles.

    I think it’s true (and understandable) that there are circles–we can only have so much conversation in a day, only genuinely keep up with so many different lives, and we gravitate toward others who share our interests. So I get it, but I’m also rarely sorry when I go outside my comfort zone, you know? There’s a whole world out there and I love that I get to see pieces of it every day.

    I had no idea some people felt the way you described about the Great Interview Experiment.

  12. Finn

    “A-listers didn’t want to be interviewed by C-listers.”

    Really? And just WHO made that determination? That someone was a C-lister and they were an A-lister?

    Some people really need a little air let out their egos.

  13. churlita

    I don’t have a lot of time, so I pretty much just read blogs where I have an interest or those who read mine.

  14. Catheroo

    I don’t usually hate, but I scorn and judge. On this day I will refrain from those acts. Or try to anyway. You’re making me a better person, Neil!

  15. Headless Mom

    My experience with the interview experiment was just like Kirsten’s. I would LOVE for you to do it again. I loved reading the q&a’s and finding new bloggers-some I still follow and subscribe to-all because of you.

    Personally I try to stay away from the divisiveness of politics in the blogosphere. I find that I cannont/don’t express my views well enough and saying nothing is easier than getting into an argument that I didn’t want in the first place.

  16. JanePoet ~ JP/deb

    Love the message – the world needs more lovers, not haters.

    Go for it on the interview experiment … my match didn’t work out last time, but I’d try it again!!


  17. better safe than sorry

    i don’t seem to recall seeing anyone interview you? could i have missed it?
    either way, i adore you:)

  18. Jane

    I want redneckmommy to interview Neil. Yes, I’d like to rig your experiment. 🙂

  19. AnnieH(the other Annie)

    Quite honestly, I’m impressed, Neilochka, that you want to do something useful online and I don’t have a witty comeback. Many people don’t come to the realization that we’re more alike than dissimiliar until a crisis or a tragedy occurs that forces their mind to open. Typing on a computer from the safe confines of home makes it easy to maintain the perspective of US vs THEM. But, you know the quote by RFK about small ripples and great floods… If it’s meaningful for you and you have an interest in reviving the interviews, do it. If not, throw it out to the universe–you’ll get another brainstorm that works better for you.
    Sometimes the best way to lower the volume of hateful speech is not to join the discussion–don’t be the water to let those ripples spread upon.
    PS. When my CollegeGrrrl came home from her first day of kindergarden she had a bag full of candy. Teacher gave each child one if they didn’t hit anyone that day…can we pass out chocolate online??

  20. mamie

    i like the idea of the interviewing….sounds like it would be another great experiment.

    funny, i love talking to all folks of all ilk, but it is usually the case that they look at me as if i am crazed for starting a conversation. i am reasonably attractive and a little too loud, but mainly i am just interested.

    i wonder sometimes about our inability to see each other, see past the divides and divisive behavior. it exhausts me to even think of hating on someone, there are just so many other good things to do with my time.

    do the interviews again…maybe things have changed. we will just have to see if it is for better or worse.

  21. Quadelle

    I think it would be great fun to participate in your interview idea! The world can always use a lot more tolerance and significantly less hate.

  22. Heather

    I LOVE the idea. Totally love it. That is all for now.

  23. Jaime

    please, please, please bring it back! i only just learned about it today and think it’s such a fabulous idea! good on you for such a lovely idea!

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