“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Sunday, September 30, 2007

the blogosphere and its discontents

There are all kinds of truism about Utopian movements; some of them are even true. One that certainly seems to be is that they always break down and fall apart due to infighting.

The liberal blogosphere-- whatever the fevered imaginings of the wingnuts may be-- has never been the sort of Utopia that would be filmed in soft focus with "Everybody Get Together" playing over the scene. But we had are common dreams and our common language and we worked together, in our way, toward common goals.

All of that seems increasingly far away and long away.

One of the central tenets of Orthodox Blogism is that we're all judged by what we write, nothing more, nothing less. It's the positive side of the old joke about the Internet and dogs. At PTS, we've taken that notion seriously; in a sense, it's why we exist. The Amarillo Globe-News presents such a one-side, right-wing, corporatist viewpoint to the world that we found it incumbent upon ourselves to throw out a different view. To let those who looked for it know that our town is not necessarily--not entirely, anyway-- a wingnut compound filed with guns, Bibles, George Bush bumper stickers, and Wrangler jeans.

Since we've all been threatened for what we write, we developed thick skins. Since we were free speech absolutists, we opened our comments to the trolls. We left them open because the trolls showed their worst side, in effect proving our point.

But the record will show that the only comments we have removed have been those that we believed were deliberately hurtful. We didn't want anyone to get hurt and we didn't mean anything personally.

I know the people who believe that I'm being truthful with the preceding paragraph are in a decide minority. Hell, maybe I'm the only one who believes it. But I do think that we've always based our criticism and our satire on what people write, not who they are. Or: we always assumed that people showed who they were by what they write.

When I wrote the recent post about TXSharon, I adopted the same satirical tone I always have. And I based what I wrote on what she wrote, because what else was there? I don't know her, so how could it be personal?

I certainly didn't expect the post to be well-received at \exas Kaos, but I didn't expect to be accused of a personal attack, or of a "call-out diary". I'm not sure I even know what a call-out diary is. I certainly can't imagine how that term could possibly be defined that wouldn't make the entire liberal blogosphere one big "call-out" along with 99% of politics itself.

But this is the state of the blogosphere in late 2007. It has been for some time, perhaps since the first wave of Daily Kossacks became disenchanted with the orange place. But it grows worse and worse, this infighting, these thin skins. To the point that now, when you write something critical based on someone's writing, it's assumed to be personal, it gets taken personally.

I don't know where I go from here. Short of the adoption of the hardest-line outcome of net neutrality, the blogs will always exist; the technology is out there and many people want this voice. But the liberal blogosphere as a cohesive movement has been dead for awhile and I'm losing interest in everything but the writing.