Buddhist Mal

Buddhist Mal flying his prayer flags and toting his travois.

Around town I'm known as Steve Ford. In the blogosphere I’m known as MalamuteMan. I took this handle in 2008 when I joined the news blog, Newsvine. Initially, the Vine was a great experience for me… It provides opportunities to post comments and engage in discussions with other bloggers. It also provides a place for me to post my own articles. Sometimes, in my commentary, I assume the persona of Mal, an anthropomorphic Malamute. Mal fancies himself as a philosopher, photographer, and modern-day Luddite. He carries all his worldly possessions around in a saddle bag strapped to his travois. The saddle bag seems to be quite magical, as it appears to have far more room inside than it looks like it has from the outside.

Expressing my views on political and social issues and interacting with people on the Vine has been very rewarding for me as I have learned a great deal about people… including myself. The blogosphere can be a rather caustic place. Many people find courage for vitriolic expression in the anonymity of the blogosphere. I did a bit of that when I first started, but I soon learned it was much more interesting and personally rewarding for me to interact with respect and genuine curiosity… especially with people who have different views than I have. One of the experiences I hoped to have on the Vine was to be “seen.” After adopting a more respectful approach I discovered I was seen... and much of the feedback I received was very positive. Here is a wonderful example of the visibility I found…

“You seem to inspire me to respond from the heart.”

That opening line was followed by a lengthy comment… and then closed with this paragraph…

“Anyway, my point is, please keep writing, because you can make a difference. I apologize for writing a book, and probably giving you more info than you ever wanted to know, but like I said, your articles and comments inspire people to think.”

More than I ever wanted to know??? Hardly!!!

Those unsolicited and unmistakably sincere words are one of the greatest gifts I have ever received! If I didn't know I was seen before I read that comment, I surely did after I read it!

I have received many similar comments from people who said something like, (paraphrase) “While I may have a very different ideology than you, I respect you and I'm more open to considering your ideas because of the way you express yourself. Unlike many people on the Vine, you are respectful of those who are different and demonstrate sincere curiosity of differing views.” I find it very rewarding to get this sort of feedback… and it moves my often pessimistic outlook to a more optimistic place.

In recent years, the Vine has change. This is due in part to the ubiquitous and ever increasing toxic nature of political and social dialog in America today. This has had such a negative impact on the Vine that I fear it will just disappear someday. I am quite proud of some of my Newsvine articles, and so I am moving them to this MalamuteMan website to preserve them. You can find these articles (and perhaps a few new articles) in the menu at the top of this page.