Tuesday, February 07, 2006

In and Against Blogging

Blogging is like mental illness.

An increasing number of people are depressed and anxious and it is ever more in vogue to treat these people with psychoactive medications, despite the obscure chemical functions of these drugs and their unnerving personal and social side effects. Likewise, another serious affliction of our time is the stranglehold exerted upon information by the powerful and the elite. As a supposed remedy to this, blogging ostensibly creates openings for marginalized perspectives to be heard. But a quick glance at a typical blog proves that it just makes you an idiot as much as any selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.

Blogging mostly contributes to the fractionalization of discussion, in forums ripe with the stench of “identity politics,” where people are more concerned with shouting loud enough to gain a mediocre level of celebrity rather than taking any time to compose a unified perspective. And anyway the organization of most internet information is still a top-down affair. Witness the proliferation of political blogs, which usually take their subject matter from national papers anyway. The same filtration mechanisms are still in place, just once removed, and with an even greater degradation of content.

However, I propose that all is not lost. New media is always going to be servicing power first and foremost, but it is also never a cut and dried affair. Blogs may be an insidious servant in the control and manipulation of information, but after all so is television, as was the cinema and print media before it – and even a half-century of infantilism has not yet completely dulled their progressive edges. They remain, hidden under layers of rust. It is the duty, of anyone who cares, to be diligent in their medium, continually pressing for incisive discourse and avoiding the trap of narcissism. That is if anyone cares.

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