Blog Valley High - Go Wildcats!
By Danielle Henderson on June 25, 2006
"..from an anthropologic standpoint, it fascinates me that the blogging world has become something of a microcosm of society, complete with the "popular" kids, the sycophants, the not-so-populars and so on."
When I read this blog comment, it was so powerful, so truthful, that I stopped writing for two months. I needed to reevaluate the space in my heart, the space in my head, and my space online. I've found that the internet is not a friendly place to live.
Much like a high school cafeteria, bloggers have unconciously segregated themselves into cliques. The people you know and consider friends online can be as powerful and influential as the people you know in your day to day life. Blog celebrities, ambitious wannabes, and fringe writers have become the new preps, jocks, and nerds. Movable Type, WordPress, or Diaryland? To advertise or not to advertise? Flickr or Kodak Photo Gallery? The criteria for dictating your online cool is wide and varied. The mere existence of terms like "blog celebrity" denotes an awareness of an "us vs. them" mentality. The internet, the great unifier and ultimate level playing field, has taken to putting people on pedestals. And like the elephant in the room, few bloggers have acknowledged this shift.
Let me give you an example:
I don't like Dooce.com.
See? I've probably just lost half of you.
I have watched people across the net villified for stating a dislike for Dooce. Fans of her writing can be ruthless in their defense. Granted, the venues and terminology used to slight Heather are generally less than respectful; the internet provides a veil of anonymity that allows people to make cruel, damaging statements with no repurcussion. But is the simple fact that you don't like a popular blogger grounds for dismissal by the blogging community at large, or an uprising of that blogger's army of readers? I don't like cauliflower, either - are broccoli and asparagus going to meet me at the jungle gym after school for a face-rearranging beat down? When people rally 'round the blogger, is it an instinctual need to protect the people we care about, or an over zealous reaction to defend words you didn't write by someone you never met?
My personal reason for no longer reading Dooce is the lack of connection for me in her content. Does this make me a self-loathing woman hater? Does it mean I hate babies and mothers? Am I voicing my dislike for Heather Armstrong as a human being? Or am I just a person, expressing an opinion about a blog, the dumping ground for ideas that don't jive with me? If blogs are indeed conversations, why are so many people afraid to voice certain opinions? Why are those conversations marred with an "us vs. them" mindset?
The majority of my friends either don't know about or don't care about my blog, and those that read my blog regularly disagree with me often. I flip off elderly people in traffic, and I once stole a ring from someone that owed me money and pawned it. I'm not without enemies in this world, nor am I the patron saint of kindness, but I do believe you can effectively discuss your disagreements without spiraling into the pettiness, rudeness or petulance of a high school pep rally.
I will continue to conduct myself online as I do in my day to day life. I wouldn't say anything behind your back if I wouldn't say it to your face; there's nothing we can't solve over a glass of bourbon; and if we disagree, let's talk about it so that I can better understand your point of view (and hopefully learn something in the process). I'll continue populating my corner of the inter-nerd with people who enjoy a good discussion (or anyone looking for a chance to help me make fun of myself). BlogHer is a great venue for finding and promoting female writers, for closing the gap we can unconciously create.
When you're eating tater tots and Steak-ums for lunch everyday, there's always room for one more at the table to share the misery.
Contributing Editor Danielle Henderson writes blogs and rolls logs at Knotty Yarn.
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