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Why I hate blogging, Part II

I’ll start in my now-customary hypocritical manner by sending you to a blog I like very much, written by Rebecca Blood. She observes a hostile exchange and calms the waters with a well-reasoned response that asks whether blogging is “in danger of being marginalized before it gains a foothold with mainstream Web users.”

The conversation starts with an e-mail from fire-breathing columnist Nick Coleman to PressThink blogger and respected academic Jay Rosen, last seen attempting to keep a straight face when interviewed about blogging by The Daily Show. Rosen posts Coleman’s e-mail and asks readers to interpret it and comment.

The gist of Coleman’s e-mail: “Hey, pointyhead ivory-tower guy. Thanks for ripping me when I stood up to right-wing blogging ****** (pick any word you like). Now that Powerline has been discredited and Republican stooges are still taking over journalism, where are you now? Huh, punk?”

(Re Powerline: He must be referring to the recent controversy over the Terri Schiavo memo, which is really too trivial to concern most people who aren’t bloggers. If you missed the whole thing and want to know what happened, there’s a good summary at Instapundit.)

Rosen has an unusual blogging style that purists may dislike, but I think it has some merit. He elevates good responses such as Rebecca Blood’s into the main text of his post.

As usual, his comments attract their share of self-important political warriors, but there are a handful of good ones. I hope mine is in the latter category, though it’s slightly meaner than my usual fare.

The upshot: Obnoxious as he was, Coleman has a point. People who spew red-vs.-blue invective at each other aren’t enlightening America, they aren’t providing a valuable service, and the general public will always have a good laugh in their direction.

Notice that I didn’t say they have no impact. They do. Why? The same reason the vast wasteland of cable news has impact — we journalists pay attention. And why do we pay attention? Because if P.T. Barnum said there’s a sucker — a quote that is disputed — he surely had journalists in mind.

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Why I hate blogging

OK, obviously, I don’t hate blogging. I wouldn’t waste my time with this if I did.

But there are a lot of things I hate about blogging, and “waste of time” is a common theme.

Here are a couple of recent examples:

Arguing for sake of arguing: I had a polite, well-reasoned exchange of views with a fellow blogger who seems genuinely nice. But someone else decided to jump into the conversation to challenge my assertion that Christians and Muslims could live together in semi-perfect harmony. And so I’ve been suckered into a theological argument that has led me to spend far too much time this evening reading a bunch of amateur historians trying to prove or disprove some … I’m sorry, I’m not even going into the details. Basically, all these people are talking past each other, so trying to make sense of it all is a bit like taking a set of bagpipes to a Ramones concert.

I get suckered into these arguments from time to time because I have this perverse inner need to correct things that aren’t true. It’s the philosophy major and journalist in me.

Of course, taking any sort of middle ground in these chest-puffing rituals that pass for intellectual discussion on the Web means that someone will try to push you one way or the other.

It wasn’t always that way. I remember offhand political discussion in the real world in the pre-Internet days, and I was pleasantly surprised at the underlying civility. (I say “surprised” because even back in the Stone Age, the media dealt in conflict.) But the Internet empowers people to say things they wouldn’t say in the real world. They can always find enablers to back up any extreme point of view, and there’s no compelling reason to get along with other people in a virtual space.

Enabled hostility: Expanding a bit on the last point — through a series of links I won’t describe to protect innocent intermediaries who may be reading, I came across LiveJournal’s “childfree” community.

I understand people who choose not to have kids or are in a situation that would make kids less than feasible. I understand if such people occasionally need to vent about societal pressure to have kids, though that pressure seems to be diminishing daily. I’ve often quoted the Harvey Danger line “Been around the world and found that only stupid people were breeding.”

I don’t understand this community. I don’t understand the insistence that anyone who would put herself through childbirth isn’t in her right mind. I don’t understand how people expect to be taken seriously with arguments about why dogs are preferable to kids. (If they were joking, it’d be one thing, but I don’t think they are.)

To be fair, when I checked in today, it was more civil than it was when I first saw it. Then, it was full of terms like “crotch nuggets” … well, they didn’t say “crotch.”

Our community believes it; therefore, it’s true: Ever wander into an unfamiliar blog and find that the blogger and his/her commenters (usually his, because let’s face it, men are meaner) have essentially created an alternate reality?

The myth of time: “Oh, blogging is so easy! You just go online, type in a couple of boxes and there you go! Before you know it, hundreds of people will be reading!”

You don’t want to know how much time I spent writing and researching (should I link to a definition of this word?) this blog and how few people will read it.

So this has been a waste of time. And that’s why I hate blogging.

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Arrested Development forever

Just saw the season finale of Arrested Development, and all I can say is that it better not be the series finale.

Most of the folks who’ve been telling you to watch AD take this approach: “What the hell is wrong with you? Are you an idiot?”

I’ll take … the same approach. Come on, folks — have we lost our sense of humor? Would it help if they called it CSI: Arrested Development? Do we only watch crime shows and reality shows? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

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Gina and Steve Buscemi

(Kind of old news, but I’m catching up …)

What happens when a Sesame Street actress takes a role on The Sopranos as the new bedpal of Steve Buscemi’s character? A lot of back-and-forth over what she can or can’t say or do.

Happy Skeptic Jr. has a bit of a crush on Gina, so this sort of thing would probably freak him out. OK … Happy Skeptic has a bit of a crush on her, too, though it seemed a little skeezy when we were at the doctor’s office and saw an old video from the days in which Gina was, well, a good bit younger.

(And today she has three kids? Wow.)