1.26.2006

are we 'fisking' yet?

I want to respond to something I read... on a blog.

Fuck! I still hate that word. But 'scrawlie' didn't catch on, especially with me.

This is coming from friend linebreaks, who got it from Shawn Ewald.
I never bought into the whole blog-as-grassroots-democratic medium hype and that notion never played a factor in the creation of this blog. I’m still amazed that people take that shit seriously. I’ve been using the internet since 1994 and I’m pretty sure they said the same thing about, well…the internet and e-mail and the web and so on and so on. The “blogosphere”, both its readers and its “content producers”, are a small segment of the American public who generally come from a larger small segement of the American public which constitutes what’s left of the American middle class. Sure, the occassonal poor person will get themselves a blog and maybe complain about the man if they’re the thoughtful type, but generally speaking the political “blogosphere” is mostly white, mostly middle class, mostly professional, mostly under 40–same old stuff, same old intensive internet user demographics that have been consistent since the internet boom. What’s perverse about the blogging phenomenon is that now, the media can pluck some middle class white suburban shmoe with too much time his hands who has managed to build a following of other privileged nerds and throw him in front of a camera and present him as the voice of the people. I mean who needs democracy when you’ve got the “blogosphere”, right? It’s just too easy. Take a minute to flatter the bland, timid soul of the middle class suburbanite or the self-absorbed urban hipster (the same creature really only at different stages of development over time) and you can go right back to the important business of ruling the world with no muss or fuss. It’s the political equivalent of shutting up a child by giving him a few bucks and sending him to the candy store. If you really think that any kind of truly serious change is going to come from blogging, you must be a Daily Kos reader.


Can I compress the argument, as I see it? The most generous thing you can say about blogging is that it is not mass media. The harshest criticism you can direct at it is that it is not real life. To a certain extent, this is all a zero-sum equation. There are only twenty-four hours a day, and precious little time left in life. Blogging is revolutionary inasmuch as it erodes the hegemony of television, and it is a negative force inasmuch as it complements the traditional media and keeps people from interacting with the outside world. Shawn, as I see it, is opposing blogs when they parrot the entrenched middle class perspective, and when they lend and receive legitimacy from the established mass outlets of 'news.' I question whether the demographics of blogging will always be so static and uninteresting as they are now: surely we'll run out of boring white people eventually, right?
right?
Any discourse, including the old stalwarts like talking and flipping the bird, are only useful when they expand the realms of possibility and create human connections. Talking, for example, is widely abused as a means of reproducing televised catchphrases and sitcom plotlines. That blogs tend to reflect current media hegemony is a sad sign of the times, but not of the limitations of blogging itself. The internet has been successful in rupturing mass media mythologies in the past, and it also functions as an obscene waste of time.
The (small-'r') revolutionary potential of blogging is entirely subjective. If we all abandon electronic discourse, then we revert back to Mass Media vs. Reality. Of course, it doesn't help to be inspired by something you read on the internet if you don't go and do something with that inspiration. It doesn't help to read about bad news if you don't prepare a response to that stimuli. If you abandon televised atomization in favour of 'virtual community', that's a positive development but it doesn't surpass 'real' community in terms of potential agency or personal satisfaction.
Personally, I get a kick from doing these posts because it gets me writing and thinking. I really like reading the stuff that my friends produce. I like going on Anarchoblogs and finding out what people are excited about, or railing against. I get surprised by new viewpoints. In this way, my conception of what is possible is expanded. At the same time, I am aware of the fact that the whole 'community' is just a bunch of people punching keys at each other. We can't be living if we're doing this. I will be the first to admit that my internet usage is excessive. On that note,

4 Comments:

At 8:30 PM, Blogger Robert said...

we must be doing something subversive, though:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11691.htm

 
At 9:00 PM, Blogger eric said...

whoa!

'fight the net.'
reminds me of when they were gonna 'fight insurgents' in New Orleans.
These fuckers are real paranoid.

 
At 2:48 PM, Blogger Apostasia Gloriana, Keeper of the Weee said...

"it doesn't help to be inspired by something you read on the internet if you don't go and do something with that inspiration."

I think the above statement might just be the key to it all. Sure we're all middle class schmoes, with access to computers and too much time on our hands, but if we take the time to look for information on the net that can change things for those who don't have the means to mass broadcast their voice AND if we do something with this information that actually puts change into motion, I can't see a downside.

It is after all the responsibility of the haves to not sit around idly as the rest of the world gets pillaged by us or homegrown villains into further misery.

T.

 
At 12:21 PM, Blogger Ricia said...

alive with...

I'm not as pleased as perhaps I should be in this case, to state that I am not from nor living within the middle class structure. I've had access to the net since early years through ngo's, and had to do a fair bit of work exchange to finally own a computer at home. This is relevant perhaps, because my observations of the blogosphere have mirrored yours in this regard.. There is a level of participation online that is rather homogenous...

I'm am constantly amazed by the time consumption maintaining a blog requires too - and by the abundance of content other bloggers provide! And how alike, a lot of that content is. And how abstract that can appear to me.

I am an activist, an artist, a person who loves putting thought and observations to the 'pen' in order to file it and keep track of it. In this way I find the 'blog' a tidy means of fullfilling these personal impulses. And, I do enjoy what can be found on other blogs. But it takes a lot of 'weeding' through the thickets...

There is something really gratifying about discovering diversity in perspectives and insights that are not attached to geography and occupation. The freeing up of access to these insights and to information on the net.. These are the benefits of weeding through the thickets.

But, yes. How do we mobilize participation in the 'real world'? Or is there room for every effort, however it manifests? Maybe not everyone has to do everything so long as most are doing 'something'?

thanx for this post...

 

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