The title of this blog was partly an oblique reference to the fact that HMV had just bought the bookshop chain I worked for and my future, which had once seemed promising, now looked pretty bleak.
I had no intention of keeping a proper blog, but when Ms Baroque posted a very generous response to my first post - a rather fatuous piece about the Middle East - I was hooked.
During the last few years, I have been continually impressed by the intelligence and generosity of spirit displayed by the people who have posted comments on this blog. Thanks to the kindness of strangers, I have discovered new authors, visited exhibitions I would have otherwise missed and had some really interesting email exchanges with people (plus some very enjoyable drinks in Lewes with Laura and Oliver).
So, getting to the point, I have found blogging to be a very positive, uplifting experience that has exposed me to the best of humanity, both in cyberspace and the real world.
Sadly, blogging seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Visit any number of discussion boards and social networking sites and the comments range from the depressingly banal to the downright abusive.
Take this example from YouTube, which was written in response to a negative comment about the Turkish national anthem:
"disabled grik!!!...we never did not give the griks and armenian girl, I always have girls...you carry the dna of turks, bastard griks!!!...idiot you nation turks,mongolian,arab,italian,slavic,makedonian,gypsy break-mix and the bastard nation...f*ck you homo!!!..."
Or this response to a comment about Germany's winning song in this year's Eurovision Song Contest:
"All the Eastern European dancing prostitute bands are just pissed they were beaten by someone singing a proper song. It's called Eurovision Song Contest not European Lap Dancing Contest you scumbags."
Even the positive comments on YouTube are pretty dispiriting. For example, here is Ivetella's response to a video of "Silly Love Songs" by Paul McCartney and Wings:
"I love the meaning of this Song, What is wrong with that He ask? "LOVE" Nothing is wrong at all,, Bacause Love is power!!!"
It's depressing to realise that a technology that brings millions of people together from all over the world, just ends up being used to vent ancient grievances between different nations and religions. But perhaps, in the impersonal environment of a global village, people feel a greater need to assert their local identity.
Or maybe they just enjoy being able to be rude without getting beaten up.