Thursday, July 27, 2006

Blogging is stupid

I'm sick of Bloggers.

They're narrowminded, either arrogant, temperamental, or both, self-aggrandizing ego maniacs with self-esteem issues. If they aren't putting on a transparent-thin shell of openmindedness to 'welcome dialogue from opposing sides,' they're nitpicking endlessly at language choices and erecting straw men composed of two straws and a narrow reed.

Listing their sins is tedious. The insistence on scanning endlessly for 'bias' in newspapers, or worse, fellow bloggers, as if anyone still cares about the myth of impartiality. The dependence on smug, short items with an unfunny, snarky comment. Especially arguing, endlessly, over definitions like 'Liberalism', as if the political future of America depends on what goes into Webster's. I have no idea why media types persist in treating them as important, original thinkers. Invariably they are clearinghouses of herd-like opinion, spearheads of the likeminded with all the autonomy of an actual weapon. After all, originalism is not rewarded with hits.

That being said, I do think that, in the aggregate, they have a positive effect. Back out from the dross and vapid opinion of the individual blogger, or even the group. What bloggers have achieved as an aggregate is worth saving.

First, they've removed all elements of pretension from the wider world. Pretension is too expensive, these days. It's rigorously mocked and derided by whatever side is the enemy of the speaker. Public figures, and especially the broader media, may be able to escape to some extent behind a bland wall of verbal buck-passing. But overall they are highly conscious of a higher level of scrutiny for intellectual consistency, honesty, and lack of arrogance.

It's like a honing process, a survival of the fittest. The arguments have to be topnotch, the presentation and message superb, to survive the relentless internecine blood war of bloggers. Hence the cram-like work by Liberals to achieve the intellectual coherency and on-message focus that Conservatives achieved some time before. Whereas Conservatives once owned the blogging wars, and hence the media, smart Liberals survived, and fought back.

You can see it also in the dramatic reduction of easy Liberal targets. You don't get many Ward Churchills, these days, or dumb Leftist Professors make soft comparisons to Hitler. The spotlight is on, and everyone is feeling the heat.

Second, there is some level of an asymptotic arrival at the truth. It's like the iteration of a wikipedia page. Certainly there is no hope of either side backing down an inch from their prepared positions. But outside observers can glean the essential truths and unrebutted arguments from the pages of text. It's like the position of the jury after two teams of attorneys have attacked the evidence. What is left, in a way, represents the unvarnished truth, simply because varnished truth would be swiftly attacked.

Finally, for now, it does a good job of being democratic, small d. Within each of the camps, conservative and liberal, there is the big tent. They have arrived at similar viewpoints, usually nearly identical, but they come from all walks of life, and that comes out in how they arrive at similar conclusions. And while the two camps hate each other, it is impossible to be totally unaware of the other. They depend on each other for material and arguments. While someone watching Fox News could be blissfully unaware of the other side, reading Conservative blogs will lead you to Daily Kos, if only through a link to 'morons strike again.'

It's terrible what blogging does to an individual person. They become caricatures of themselves, unable to grow, creatures of reflex. But at least there are positive effects on the big scale.


Tommaso Sciortino said...

I know exactly what you mean with the carictature thing. What's really insidious is how the positions of other's effects your own. The only solution as far as I'm concerned is to choose with care who you blog with. I don't ever touch the comment sections on "grown up" blogs.

Paul said...

Can this be our manifesto?

Rebecca C. Brown said...

I've deliberately ignored the "big" blogs for exactly this reason. They simply aren't substantive, or they immediately devolve into, "You're a [libearal/conservative], so you must believe [blank]!" Furthermore, democratic media aren't usually the best media; they're plagued by bad grammar and poor spelling, for starters, and the public comments are repetitive and unproductive. The biggest problem is that neither the blog writers nor the blog audience is comprised of fence-straddling, open-minded thinkers in search of evidence to help them make a decision. People come to the forum with their minds made up, ready for a fight. Blogoshperites aren't an apathetic lot.

Tommaso Sciortino said...

I agree that "neither blog writers nor the blog audience is comprised of fence-straddling, open-minded thinkers" but I'll add that neither is the public. In my experience fence-straddling is more a symptom of not caring to get involved than anything else. That's not really something to admire.

Jack Ryan said...
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Jack Ryan said...
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Jack Ryan said...

Your post is great. Every once in a while, in moment of introspection while blogging, I find myself thinking--why am I always trying to find fault with EVERYTHING I read on the web. I try to do a reality check every now and then and try to post about something that's actually good or right on my blog.

Go Bears! (1997, and hopefully 2008) apologies for the 2 deleted entries--entered my blog incorrectly. It's way too late...