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November 04, 2007

Blog Wars

My blogging has been very sparse over the last two months due to a commitment to other projects. In that time I've had the opportunity (when I wasn't overwhelmed with work) to revisit what drew me to blogging in the first place, and why getting out of the habit can feed on itself, like a kind of intertia.

There's an interesting article in today's Seattle Times that parallels exactly what's been on my mind lately: The Blog Wars. Why we blog and what happens when disagreements transform sparks into flames.

It's not just happening on political blogs although a lot of them, naturally, set the stage for fireworks. It's happening on tech blogs and mommy blogs too. (Apparently, the debate over breastfeeding vs. formula has reached epic new lows.) And even on Craigslist, which isn't a blog, one can be hit with some of the worst flaming on the internet. While looking for a dog to adopt, I've been amazed at the hostility and dirty insults that get thrown around regarding "re-homing fees". It is utterly ridiculous.

One of the Northwest's best bloggers explains what he thinks makes blogging so appealing:

Seattle journalist David Niewert, who writes a blog called Orcinus, says the blogosphere is what you get when you mix an information-deprived public, an irresponsible mainstream media and the common-man power of the Internet.

But that common-man power is also what can make it so combusitible. Everybody is power-hungry to a certain degree. We like to think we have something important to tell the world and hey, it's great to have a platform. Since I've recently curtailed my own blogging I've been visiting a lot of other sites -- mostly national sites -- and more than anything else I've been watching the big, fat, insecure egos bouncing off the walls. It's not pretty. I've also seen a hefty dose of dishonesty, especially when it comes to the presidential campaigns. Oy, and then there were the threats. On one site, in particular, I witnessed a whole series of attacks on one candidate by an unhinged commenter whose anger eventually escalated into advocating that we destroy the candidate's life and use his family as "collateral damage".

It's gotten to the point where the bloggy anger is so uncontrollable that almost anyone who veers from the party line -- whichever party it may be -- gets demolished.

So, as the craziness of the presidential campaign heats up, the truly disgusting campaigning in the local Seattle races comes to a conclusion, and the state legislative session peeks its head around the corner, I'm seriously considering if this kind of blogging appeals to me at all. Because in between the food fights over which U.S. senator has the market cornered on moral bankruptcy, I'm probably going to be listening to Cassandra Wilson or Dexter Gordon or Wes Montgomery playing in the background and realizing that some things are more enduring, and ultimately, much more satisfying than others. Life is short. It may be time for a bit of prioritizing.

Posted by shoephone on November 4, 2007 at 02:51 AM in Miscellany | Permalink

Comments

Right on, shoephone. I dropped out of the scene altogether because of this really nasty business of haters posting personal information online. That kind of thing is extremely dangerous, and I want nothing to do with it. From now on I'm using my blog only to publicize information about my activism. No personal information, no blog wars, none of that crap. The last thing I need is for some f'ed up right wing tool to put a bomb in my wife's car because he thinks I deserve some revenge. F that.

Posted by: Tahoma Activist | Nov 4, 2007 6:23:10 PM

It does seem as though things are getting angrier, and I think Dave Niewert has his finger on some of the reasons. Another is the immediacy of the medium - you post a comment and it's out there, good or bad. I've also noticed that there's very little interest in understanding the other person's point of view, but that's certainly not limited to the Internet. Maybe it just exaggerates that problem.

Some arguments seem to result because people who are used to being able to bully people find they can't do it in this medium, and they find that difference unsettling. All of a sudden their words have to make sense - they can't just shout someone down or get in his face. That's what I like about this medium. It's the ideas that are important, not the personalities.

Posted by: Cujo359 | Nov 4, 2007 9:16:40 PM

I can only nod in agreement to what you've both said.

Tahoma, I noticed months ago that you weren't blogging as much and thought maybe it was just "down time" since the end of the 2006 elections.

But honestly, the vitriol is so pervasive -- all across the political spectrum -- that it feels like a chore to participate in certain comment threads.

It really disgusts me that some on the left are adopting behavior reminiscent of the worst offenders on the right. (The wingers are still MUCH more vile, but why does any liberal have to play those dirty games?) It's not that I'm so naive I can't figure out that the Ever Starved Ego recognizes no political party. But I already know I can't do anything about the wingers. When people that supposedly share my values start popping off with personal attacks or trying to humiliate others (all the while pretending they're not, but making sure to bully and say "oh you're just being sensitive"), and then go so wacko they start making threats against political candidates and their families, it leaves an awfully sour taste. (Cujo, you probably know who I'm referring to.) That last example only happened with one person but sometimes there are others jumping on the bandwagon and doing the "me too!" tag along. I abandoned a big blog last year for that very reason.


If you can't have a conversation and share ideas, what's the point?

Posted by: shoephone | Nov 5, 2007 1:54:21 AM

my comments are analysis, your comments are inflammatory and acerbic!

1. yeah, there are nutjobs. yawn. ignore them. the can't-we-all-get-along places die cuz only a few who agree with each other a lot post, and the nut zones die as people piss each other off and people take their trucky to a new sandbox.

2. people aren't good at disagreement. I couldn't count the commentors and comments I've seen which were quite pointed, and 2 mins. or 2 months later that same commentor is dissing someone else's pointed comments as too abrasive, rude, blah blah

3. I've worked in big and small restuarants, hotels, software places, campaigns, fishing boats

and CONSISTENTLY

those who complain about the politics of somewhere else have created some small world where they are in charge of all the politics, hence, it ain't politics and it is good.

i've enjoyed many of your diaries / comments

grow a thicker skin !!!

;)

rmm.

Posted by: seabos84 | Nov 6, 2007 1:37:04 AM

Seabos, I can handle criticism and some profanity (as you probably know, I've been known to use some myself.) But thick skin only accounts for just so much when a certain commenter on a Democratic blog is actively -- and continually -- advocating "destroy[ing]ing John Edwards' life" and using his family as "collateral damage."

We don't have to tolerate every single thing that's thrown at us, especially when it indicates that someone is mentally unstable.

Posted by: shoephone | Nov 6, 2007 9:19:54 AM

As always, Seabos - thanks for reading and commenting!

Posted by: shoephone | Nov 6, 2007 9:22:04 AM

shoephone! Good ol' bustednuckles just showed up at my place and said you're blogging again, so of course I hadda skip right over. But I sure hope this post doesn't mean you're about to take an even longer sabbatical.

You KNOW what I think of inter- and intra-blog flamewars (and ranters in general, of whatever hue). Since I avoid their hangouts, I can't really commiserate with you on specific venues, but I do hope you figure out how to preserve your equanimity while continuing to blog. We need MORE, not fewer, like you.

Posted by: lotus | Nov 7, 2007 11:55:32 AM

Hey shoephone. Tahoma hit the nail on the head, I think. It's quite easy to ignore anonymous crazed ranters, but it's another thing altogether when they start stalking you and inciting or enabling others to do likewise. I hope you stay in the game one way or another.

Posted by: op99 | Nov 8, 2007 4:28:13 PM

Thanks Op99. For the present, I'm here and blogging. It's just gets tiring at times dealing with the over-the-top stuff. Luckily, we don't get too much of that here at EP. But there are other blogs I used to visit regularly that are now off my list.

Hey Lotus - As you know, I love BustedKnuckles! Someday I may have him fix my car... and yeah, I read the standards over at your place and they are right on target. It's always good to make those things clear at the outset, otherwise commenters have no idea if or when they going over the line.

Posted by: shoephone | Nov 8, 2007 10:36:14 PM

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