Saturday, October 15, 2016

Blogging, Territory, and Power

This one started this blog to pursue ideas. My first posts weren't actually "posts" in the sense that we now consider that term--the finest of the mean being polished essays expressing a clear argument, the mode being a vindicated linkerpretation--but postulates, suggestions, responses, encouragements, that this one had posted elsewhere. Someone would seem to want to discuss philosophy, and this one, like a foolish child in public school, thought that the point was to discuss philosophy, and therefore did so, only to discover that wasn't actually the point; the point was to reaffirm perceived internet group coherence, and the ideas were mere window dressing. If you didn't care about establishing perceived internet group coherence, or if you cared about it only secondarily relative to learning or truth (e.g., you were as insufferable as this one), you were like the guy who wears his underwater watch to the Game of Thrones royal ticketed costume dinner at the comic-con: mood spoiled, fun over. The difference being, the ticketed costume dinner at the comic book convention actually has stated policies about underwater watches and other such mood-ruining technology (with exceptions made for the television they watch old episodes on), whereas many of the blogs are theoretically about "exploring ideas," or somesuch nonsense. And unlike a university, many blogs were supposed to be honest about that.

It never really worked out. Relatively rarely, people had weird personal real-life problems and abruptly stopped blogging forever with one of those emotional posts about how it was all over now, or sometimes they suddenly deleted their blog on their pastor's advice, or changed religions, or got really into hiking, and all the posts started including pictures of them at some trailhead and reviews for Zone bars--but, for the most part, the pure pursuit of ideas proved itself anathema. Racists didn't want to talk sociology, and sociologists didn't want to talk races. What people call "the alt right" now wasn't able to spread until certain mediators took it upon themselves to help. Quite recently, approaching race issues with, "Well, what about...?" would result in almost a 100% chance of being called a faggot (by nationalists) or a repressed faggot (by Republicrats), whereas now in late 2016 you can at least get the average blog-dweller on either side to respond with something about crime statistics (nationalists) or institutional racism (Republicrats).

This one has previously discussed blogging as homily. Even that comparison does blogging too much credit, since "homily" often connotes an element of the sacred, whereas blogging, even of the religious type, retains a garish snootiness less churchy and more akin to the regulars at the local bar snickering at the couple whose car broke down and needs to know if there's a bathroom while they wait for the tow truck. (Obviously, this post was written before everybody had cell bathrooms. I mean, talk about dated.)

I didn't want a blog. Everyone else having a blog seemed so great. This one could read things whenever, talk about all the ideas people thought were different ideas, and so much could be learned and shared. But like I said, it didn't seem to work that way. People were weirdly territorial about their free internet blogs. They deleted things they didn't like, and then people would e-mail this one asking why she hadn't responded, or I'd think of something I forgot to mention and be unable to edit or add to it because it would be gone. So I started posting notes and responses on a blog, and swiftly learned that people don't like you to link things on their blogs, since they don't want other people to stop reading their blog and read your blog instead. They'd say, "You people telling lies about Congress being full of corrupt murderers need to take it elsewhere" and then they'd delete any references that allowed other people to find where that elsewhere was. I always forget how this place is--how sickly and covetous people are about things like that--and it was initially a sort of surprise all over again, wondering why someone wouldn't want to test their ideas to help them grow. Ah, the internet infancy, like the infancy of unified spoken language in multi-family communities, so seemingly hopeful, yet felled again by Big Man inner affirmation! What would Jean-Baptiste say?

In theory, no one wants to be accused of being a censor, except everyone actually wants to be accused of being a censor--just a good censor. An effective censor. Under the guise of stopping spam, fostering community, or some other University of California-esque policy, everyone deletes what the majority disagrees with, and more importantly, deletes almost any links elsewhere. Even agreeable links had to go, if they went to someone else's blog. This revolting little amateur competition for time occurs, where people want to have more readers, so they try to brand themselves as an ideal place to go to discuss Topic Of Interest, and they try to get comments on their site, but not comments that consist of links to somewhere else. People only have so many minutes a day to read blogs, and if you want to be among their first stops for Views X, you don't want them to notice that someone else had the link first, or pointed out the obvious inconsistency in the video first, or reacted more appropriately than you to the poll. We make fun of video games, then rush to see who can get more thousands of followers by virtue of being the first one to retweet a funny picture next to the latest Times. Except for those parasites who actually are making money by filtering the news to the untermensch, it's like an unpaid reality TV show about MMORPGs.

Some degree of linking was inevitable, and people who wanted/want to retain and/or grow readers formed informal networks where they would prop each other up, share readers/comments, and use the resulting synergy to create higher walls to outsiders. Two "moderators" saying that someone sucks, or that it was proper to delete whatever, is more plausible than one. I'm not talking about the financial pyramid schemes here--they're getting a certain kind of reward for what they're doing--but about the actual private citizens, ad-less or with minimal ads that don't make them much money, who just want attention because it's pleasing to have someone pay attention.

Jealousy--in the older, less-Orwellian sense of "jealousy," not the current perversion synonymous with "envy"--worry, and avarice play strange parts here. Problems attend censorship, kin to those spawned by the needy sort of selfishness, and the bloggers anxious to retain the veritable microphone learned to self-censor. Their audience sought the comfort and community of assured ideology and lack of turbulence, therefore whatever traces of an investigative nature remained in the censorious landlord had to be stifled. New and upsetting ideas had to be kept to a minimum, lest readers miss out on their dose of community and go elsewhere. In the pursuit of attention, like the pursuit of profit, "successful" bloggers have become successful in the Hollywood fashion, repeating themselves ad nauseam to a putrescent sort of acclaim. Most blogs repeat their primary message with slight adjustments for the topic of the time: any identifiable sub-group of belief-holders can take a news website and find something that proves why they were right, then share it with their audience, who is gratified to (1) not have to read the news website themselves, and (2) not feel alone in their scornful interpretation of the news. The blog-leader's responsibility is to skim the news each day, and post links which prove that cops are excessively violent, or banks are excessively corrupt, or certain politicians are indeed liars, and so forth. However correct each new "post" might be, the "author" has become a self-censoring brand, and with each new affirmation of faith in the prior idea, the impetus against change grows larger, for the betrayal of one's followers would be that much more profound.

You can't actually teach people how to avoid all pyramid schemes; they need the emotional strength, not just the analytical ability, or they'll only avoid the ones for which they don't feel a need. It's like true art versus commercial art. Battling for readers, viewers, attention-providers. Being nameless in conjunction with fame is ultimately unsatisfying to those trapped by themselves, and popularity, even of the supposedly organic internet kind, brings temptations of celebritizing the now-popular self, focusing increasing amounts of attention on the person that is the brand that is the person. Pseudonyms drop like bras in the new starlet's first nude scene; man replaces message. Yet this is itself not the greater tragedy, for the earlier tragedy, that of message replacing exploration, is the greater. Along that course, exploration never existing at all, but only pursuit of messaging a man to a point where he is noticed, is still worse, though we can give some of them the benefit of the doubt and assume that, once, they might have possessed a spark of interest in learning rather than affirming.

The irrelevancy of me, the irrelevancy of where--the dead satyr inside the golden bell. Loosed weathervanes orbiting silent moons in the blackness between barren stars while grass grows downward from a dripping galaxy of sea urchins wrapped in glitter tape.

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