Saturday, December 31, 2005

Lawlessness on Blog Island?

A sobering indictment of the blogosphere by Kathleen Parker of the Orlando Sentinel:

Each time I wander into blogdom, I'm reminded of the savage children stranded on an island in William Golding's Lord of the Flies. Without adult supervision, they organize themselves into rival tribes, learn to hunt and kill, and eventually become murderous barbarians in the absence of a civilizing structure.

What Golding demonstrated -- and what we're witnessing as the blogosphere's offspring multiply -- is that people tend to abuse power when it is unearned and will bring down others to enhance themselves. Likewise, many bloggers seek the destruction of others for their own self-aggrandizement. When a mainstream journalist stumbles, they pile on like so many savages, hoisting his or her head on a bloody stick as Golding's children did the fly-covered head of a butchered sow.

Schadenfreude -- pleasure in others' misfortunes -- has become the new barbarity on an island called Blog. When someone trips, whether Dan Rather or Eason Jordan or Judith Miller, bloggers are the bloodthirsty masses slavering for a public flogging. Incivility is their weapon and humanity their victim.

I mean no disrespect to the many brilliant people out there -- professors, lawyers, doctors, philosophers, scientists and other journalists who also happen to blog. Again, they know who they are. But we should beware and resist the rest of the ego-gratifying rabble who contribute only snark, sass and destruction.

We can't silence them, but for civilization's sake -- and the integrity of information by which we all live or die -- we can and should ignore them.

But here in the Christian and Catholic Christian blogosphere we're different, right?

Can people reasonably expect that we would be, or is that asking too much?

Hat tip to Penni.

Read the whole story.


Blogger Matthew Lickona said...

Oh, pooh. Parker makes blanket assumptions about people's motives - bloggers seek the destruction of others for their own self-aggrandizement? Um, how do you know that that's why they seek the destruction of others - if that's even what they're seeking? And I'm sick to death of this great divide between "the masses" and "the rabble" (terms Parker uses for bloggers) and the professsionals - "professors, lawyers, doctors," etc. As if this kind of nastiness doesn't go on in the mainstream media? As if The Nation and National Review don't engage in mockery of their opponents? As if the New York Times hasn't poked fun at Intelligent Design? As if the New York Post (and the whole rest of the tabloid world) doesn't engage in over-the-top shenanigans - to say nothing of Fox News, Air America, Rush Limbaugh, Maureen Dowd (and she has a Pulitzer!). The pros do all kinds of dirt - has Parker ever read the New York Observer? Good grief - did anybody pick up a whiff of Schadenfreude when the NCR took down Deal Hudson? They had the goods to back up their glee, but they still savored every drop of his blood. My point - there's plenty of wretchedness, but it's there in the pros as well as the ranks of the amateur bloggers. The distinction is a false one. And terms like "murderous barbarians" amount to the same kind of nastiness of which she accuses the bloggers.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Claire Joy said...

yeah, me too.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Maureen Martin said...

Actually, I am not sure which column I enjoyed more this week -- Parker's or the one where Clarence Page zinged the president for wiretapping without a warrant. Juicy stuff.

God bless, Maureen

10:59 PM  
Blogger Peter Nixon said...

I'm by no means blind to the problems of "blog culture." But saying the "integrity of information" would be better if bloggers hadn't gone after Dan Rather, Judith Miller, etc. is just nuts. If you get your facts wrong in as an egregious manner as those two did, then you deserve to be taken down a peg, even if you work for the NYT or CBS.

But it does get ugly out there and there is a sense in which the large media outlets are more accountable and governed by professional norms and values than bloggers are. We expect more from the NYT and CBS, and we should.

I don't know what the solution is, but for Christian bloggers at least, a certain baseline level of charity with respect to our interactions with others would seem to be required. We may be the only Gospel that somebody reads today.

3:43 PM  

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