smoke

I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

Loss of innocence

Of course everyone has the right to blog. I don’t think anyone ever said otherwise. But the question is: what are they blogging for?

My beef with this rush to blog is simple: the blogosphere is being turned – slowly but surely – into yet another way of manipulating public opinion for blatantly political ends.

Before the big guns realized the reach – potential or actual – of blogs, the blogosphere was the domain of independent spirits. The use of blogs for big-time marketing or for artificially manufacturing buzz (whether for commercial or for political ends) was considered cynicism, and in poor form. But those were the salad days. Now, instead of being able to wade through blogs – political blogs specifically – reading unique opinions and fresh perspectives on things, we are inevitably sucked into the orbits of this politician or that soap-box preacher. In some blogs, and in some comment threads, the blogosphere now bears an uncanny resemblance to the legal profession where entire treatises are composed of artfully arranged quotes and paraphrases.

The argument can be made that this outcome was inevitable. Even though the blog was originally just an online diary – a way of broadcasting your thoughts out into the world – it was really only a matter of time before it got co-opted by politicians; weaponized, if you will, into a sword with which to attack an opponent or an idea. Worse, there are blogs now whose sole purpose is to proselytize.

Nothing against politicians who blog, of course, but – and you may well call me a purist or naive – that just isn’t the way blogs should be. Blogs are not soap-boxes but streams-of-consciousness made readable; blogs are not platforms as they are arenas for debate; blogs are not public relations tools, blogs are the public made audible.

Look at it this way:

Blogs are conversations between people. We talk about things that interest us or disgust us in equal measure. Political blogs, to be more specific, gave us a place to vent our disappointment with the status quo. We talked about what we didn’t like in our leaders, and posited opinions about how things ought to be.

Within that community, we had giants. People – like the noted blogger or ellen – whose opinions helped shape our own. But these giants we gravitated to, they were exactly like us; the difference in stature was attributable only to their broader experience and their insider knowledge of how things worked. They were staunch advocates for their world views, but they never sought to impose those opinions on us. They built up our political awareness by making us talk about politics.

They became the templates for the upsurge of political blogs, and now, we have new giants emerging every day. But something has changed. Now, the community of bloggers has been joined by people whose purpose is not so much to share knowledge and facilitate discussion but to convince us that they have the key to our political salvation: proselytizers. In the process, we (bloggers and non-blogging readers alike) have metamorphosed from participants in a conversation to targets for conversion. We are now bullet points on someone’s power agenda.

More than anything else, this transformation of the blog into a  tool for proselytizing is, to me, nothing short of a lamentable death of innocence. No matter how inevitable the transformation was.

~

Fortunately, the blogosphere is large enough that you can easily ignore the blaring political messages of people on – as Nick put it – advocacies of “ME.” Unless, of course, you’re really interested in politics. In which case, it’s getting so that you can’t read a political blog without being subjected to the cant of one politician or another.

Nevertheless, the solution is really simple. If you don’t like the drivel the politicians turned bloggers spout, just don’t visit their pages. Steer clear.

Stick to the news feeds and if you must, be discerning in choosing commentators to read. My rule of thumb is to read people who opine without being part of someone’s movement or crusade, ergo, people who can criticize their own heroes and who do not automatically dismiss contrary opinions as emanating from the ‘other’ side.

And don’t ever lose the ability to think for yourself.

In truth, the loss of innocence isn’t all bad. It’s saddening, but all good things must come to an end, eh?

What matters is …

is …

wait, let me check what Jun Lozada tells me should matter. LOL!!!

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Filed under: blogging, musings, politics, ,

3 Responses

  1. cvj says:

    Isn’t there some incongruence between your thesis in your Get A Grip entry and this one?

  2. rom says:

    cvj:i confess, uncle, that I am not sure what you mean. Unless you mean that in ‘get a grip’ i was saying that lozada type blogs won’t hardly cause a ripple of concern in government; and here i’m saying that their advent also brings about a sea change in the blogosphere.

    I see no contradiction. In Get a Grip, I was commenting on one blogger’s belief that it was possible for Lozada’s blog to shake the admin. I think that’s not possible.

    Here, I’m saying that I just don’t like politician blogs (as opposed to political blogs), not because they’re dangerous (they’re not), but because they’re crass marketing tools.

    It’s kinda like loving Avon products, but not wanting to live with the Avon lady.

  3. [...] by Nick in FilipinoVoices.com and The Marocharim Experiment as well as a wistful post by smoke and incidentally and unrelatedly, a reflection on bloggers and product-peddling on the part of [...]

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