Antagonism makes good Mormon news
Some have claimed that all the attention the LDS Church has been receiving lately is a PR fiasco. Nothing could be further from the truth. It has become a PR bonanza. As an LDS blogger, I can write just about anything that mentions Proposition 8 or same-sex marriage and can guarantee a doubling of my web traffic for that essay. That comes in real handy to get my message across.
Six months ago, my web traffic was flat. I have seen a huge increase in the last sixty days. A review of Google Analytics for Latter-Day Commentary reveals that the most popular pages are my essays on marriage and sexuality, which are listed on the sidebar. Most visitors stay to read more than the original essay that they searched on, so my blog is gaining exposure because of it.
The message I am trying to get across is that the LDS Church is not a cult, that we are followers of Jesus Christ and that we take a strong stand on moral and social issues that face the world today. Of course I get lots of readers who disagree and say so in their comments. That’s OK. If they can read a message from me or from an Army of Davids like me, then I am happy with that.
I am just one of thousands of new LDS Bloggers springing up in response to the leaders of our church who have asked us to get more involved in the electronic dialog going on all around us. If you are one of those new, small LDS Bloggers, you may not think that it makes a difference to write good essays about the church, our beliefs or practices, but I can assure you that it does.
Change in the New Media
I’m sure you are aware that the rules of public persuasion have changed over the last few years. The old media – newspapers and broadcast television news – are slowly dying. They know that they must transform themselves to be more like the successful online news outlets of today. Who would have thought ten years ago that Matt Drudge could change the way we get news?
When an apostle encourages us over and over to get involved in sharing our message online, there must be something he knows that, if we follow his counsel, will make a difference in the world. I am convinced that we are still at the beginning stages of this new media revolution. We have the tools and potential to take the gospel to all the world through member blogging.
Unto the ends of the earth
It is highly probable that the antagonism towards the LDS church and the members will only get worse over the next few years. Our golden days in the sunshine of favorable media coverage are probably over. They seemed to climax with the 2002 Winter Olympics and have been flat or going downhill ever since with the FLDS raid in Texas, the Romney campaign and now Prop 8.
The difficult issue for LDS member blogging, as I see it, is the fact that we are so provincial. Besides the obvious language barrier, we write about stuff that mainly seems to concern us here in the Western United States. That’s mainly because that’s where most LDS member bloggers are located. I wonder if our readers outside of the United States tire of our local bickering.
Join LDS member blogging
I have written previously about ldsblogs.com, but it deserves another mention. If you are not computer savvy or not comfortable with the idea of building and creating your own blog using Blogger or WordPress, then by all means, go see how easy it is to start your own blog on the tool created by the MoreGood Foundation. LDS.net and ldsblogs.com are great places to start.
If you get involved in online communities just to add a sane voice to the wild and crazy claims made by those who don’t know, I recommend that you create your own blog. The first thing I want to do when I read a comment on a blog or forum is to know more about the individual who wrote it. That’s why most forums allow you to link back to your own blog. It’s a good idea.
Antagonism better than apathy
I would much rather see the kind of traffic I have been getting over the last sixty days than what I was getting for most of the previous six months. I don’t feel the quality of my essays changed, but I did write more content that was geared towards the national dialog. In other words, when I saw an article that seemed misinformed, I wrote my own and linked to it. The traffic went up.
Sure, I got visits from people who completely disagreed with what I believe and presented, and they were not hesitant to let me know, sometimes in a manner that was meant to hurt. In fact, because of our blogging activities, Carol and I both received threats and attacks in an attempt to get us in trouble with our employers. So far, we have been able to deal with it successfully.
Summary and conclusion
Blogging for me is an attempt to share the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It has been a bit of an eye-opener lately as I have come to see the results. Even emphasizing the most basic and fundamental of our beliefs has now become a risky activity. I am grateful that Blogger so far does not seem to be subject to the kind of attacks that happened to Meridian Magazine.
I stand by my assertion that all this antagonism towards the church and the members has and will continue to result in good publicity for the work of the Lord. I would rather face a world of antagonistic readers than the apathy that so permeates our society when it comes to learning about the fruits of true religion. We have so much to offer the world if they only knew about it.