Monday, September 08, 2008

Blogging to the choir


For quite a while, I’ve been thinking about the difference between 2008 and the 1960s in terms of the effectiveness of dissent, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all about the blogging.

In the 1960s, there was a shared discourse, and people made their opinions known far and wide, while in contrast, we now blog amongst ourselves and spend all of our reasoning and argumentation in the nooks and crannies of the internet. For some time now, I’ve been dutifully following the larger blogs, noting the thousands upon thousands of comments that are made, pages and pages of comments that no one in their right mind could possibly read through to completion. Many of these comments are cogent and even brilliant, filled with effective stand-alone arguments, but they’re all tossed out into the aether, scattershot, and for the most part they remain unread, unnoticed. If an argument falls upon no ears, does that argument exist?

Lewis Lapham has suggested that the pretense of democracy in America exists as a pressure-relief valve, because it allows people to believe that they live in a land of self-rule, when in fact, the deck is stacked grotesquely against their favor. I have finally come to believe that blogging, too, functions as a pressure-relief valve, and that the internet is absorbing the vast bulk of public dissent and attention and thought, and that it may therefore be more functionally damaging to our democracy than opium would be.

What does it mean if we pour our best arguments into one of the billions of web pages and they are never read by more than a few people? How is this different from screaming into the wind?

I started blogging because I liked the exercise of crafting clean prose about topics that interest me, and I thought that perhaps others might share some of those interests, but I’ve gradually realized that I’m really just wasting my time, that this is no more than a personal diary that will never have any effect whatsoever. But more importantly, I’ve come to believe that this describes the vast majority of web communication as well.

Simply put: what is the point in adding to the uncountable verbiage out there that says all the right things but into what’s essentially a void? The internet gives the impression that we’re all connected, but in reality that connection is just a circle-jerk. The energy that we put into reading and writing posts and comments is energy that is squandered, energy that’s not directed toward a tangible goal: futility and nothing more.

And that’s the short version of why this blog has been pretty much abandoned. It’s really pretty pointless to continue it.

Best regards,
kathleen

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