Monday, May 8

Can't a blogger get a little respect around here?

rodneydangerfield


Blogenfreude and Shakespeare's Sister had a fascinating topic going last week. When will bloggers get a little respect?

We need to define our terms here. If "respect" means attention from the world at large, I think we're more than halfway there. We forget how new the blogosphere is. Heck, we forget how new the internet is in historical terms. That is the curse of modern society, that the new is so immediately taken for granted, but we bloggers, also being the techno-stocracy of our culture, are particularly guilty.

Crooks and Liars had their biggest day for hits ever last week. Over half a million f-ing hits.

Without the lefty blogs, MSM (and by the way, folks, nobody even SAID "MSM" before we came along, they were just the "M" and they got away with a lot more than they do now) would never have covered the Kaloogian fake photo of "Baghdad," Bush's fake "interview" with our troops, and, um, don't get me started about you-know-who. And you also know I'm just scratching the surface here. Needless to say Joe Lieberman wishes we would just go away.

We have a place at the table. It may not be the best seat, but we are there, and it is not just because we are talking to each other, though the power and immediacy of our community is one of our greatest strengths.

As I said over at Agitprop:

One thing we lefty bloggers do not have is patience. The blogosphere is so new. We've got so much still to work out. We'll get there, folks. Yeah, yeah, the polar ice caps are melting while I type this. There is a sense of urgency...

Yet everyday I see another blogger give up, delete the blog, stop posting. It takes a huge time commitment not only to keep up your own blog but MORE IMPORTANTLY (sorry for the caps) to visit other blogs regularly and comment, to continue to support the community that is so vital. We can have it all, the respect, the audience, a place at the table, if only find within ourselves the commitment and sorry to say, the maturity to keep going.

(No, I am not running for mayor of Blogospheria.)


But there is another connotation for "respect" and that we may never get. I hate to inform you, lefty blogospherians, but we are also the intellectuals of our society. That may sound snooty, but when Stephen Colbert says that "reality has as well-known liberal bias" and says that he "trusts his gut more than his head" he is talking back at us, directly and specifically. Critics stress that Colbert is pretending to be right-wing a la Bill O'Reilly, but more than knee-jerk conservativism, what Colbert is lambasting is O'Reilly's anti-intellectualism. Anti-intellectualism has a long and cherished history in American politics. Elections are won by being the guy everyone wants to have a beer with, rather than the one with the best ideas. Smart politicians since before Adlai Stevenson have paid the price for being eggheads. This from Wikipedia:

In the 2000 Presidential Election, the media (particularly late night comics) portrayed Candidate Al Gore as boring "brainiac" who spoke in a monotonous voice and jabbered on about numbers and figures that no one could understand... It was the classic stereotype of a pompous, out-of-touch intellectual, and this perception arguably hurt Gore in the election....The word "intellectual" itself has been used as an insult by many on the right.

Both O'Reilly and Limbaugh, as well as other conservative hosts such as Tucker Carlson and Joe Scarborough are frequently accused of having anti-intellectual atmospheres on their shows, evidenced by their frequent interruption of guests who try to put forward complex arguments. Scarborough once commented that, "If my guest is allowed to speak uninterrupted for more than 15 seconds, then I'm not doing my job."


The beauty of the internet is that all of us are allowed more than fifteen seconds (that is, if you're still reading this. Thanks.) The challenge of the internet, and particularly the blog, is that you are capable, and I would argue, therefore required, to name your sources and back up your bullshit. The tightness of our community is also its control mechanism. If you lie, if you plagiarize, you will be caught and you will be outed. The internet is no respecter of persons, it respects the truth (panties and snark are also appreciated).

We bloggers as intellectuals will never get any "respect" in that sense. Those who think their vote on American Idol is as valuable as their vote for President will never respect us.

Get over it.

Hopefully we are not mere Cassandras, the public will catch up, I think is catching up, more quickly than the Right can even manage. If you ask me, the race is already won on many levels. Keep fighting, keep blogging. Respect your own selves, and keep the faith.

22 comments:

  1. Maybe you should run for mayor ... we obviously need some discipline imposed ...

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  2. Well said, blue gal. I couldn't agree more.

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  3. Amen, Blue Gal. And I did read the whole thing. Bill Clinton was a rare combination: a truly brilliant guy who would also be fun to talk with over a cold one. We need more like him (as long as they can keep their pants on).

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  4. There's a mayorship of Blogosheria? Is there a Chief of word Policia?

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  5. That'd be "Blogospheria"! Drat...there goes my bid for the Word Chief of Policia! :>(

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  6. Thanks for the pep talk!

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  7. Right on, Gal -- the generalized climate of anti-intellectualism plays into Bush's hands perfectly.

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  8. Wow, that was incredibly well written BG. One of the best entries you (or anyone else) has penned in a long time within our community. I have a lot to comment on, so in keeping with the “we’re more intellectual than right-wingers” theme, I’ll separate out my thoughts numerically lest we may have some conservatives reading this.

    1. Over 500,000 page loads in one day? Holy fucking shit. Good for C&L. They work incredibly hard to get all of that bandwidth and video editing. They’re probably my favorite site to visit of all the pimp-daddy liberal sites, from which we all draw some of our information.

    2. Lefty blogs have impacted the media, and more importantly, have really established our own competing medium in that I find myself reading CNN.com less and less over the years as liberal blogs really expose so much of the important stories we’re not getting in the CMSM (the C would be corporate…we need to start getting better at language to compete with those across the isle).

    3. It has always bothered me that many Americans can’t tell you the significance of Valerie Plame or the Downing Street Memos, but they’ll rattle off the name of whomever got voted off Survivor last Thursday without blinking twice, so I’m glad you made the American Idol point.

    4. This is my favorite point of all. I’ve been thinking it for a long time now but I think you articulated it well. We are in fact the intellectuals of the American public. We are the college graduates and professors, we are the artists, the ones with sophisticated outlooks, the humorous, the coffee shop, newspaper reading types. We are the ones who fight for change, who march, who read 3-times as much as the other guys. We are the politically educated, the group who understands sociology, history, injustice and prejudices. We are the backers of science, of the Constitution, of real family values, of truth, and of individuality. We tend to be healthier, eat better, and take care of our bodies and families (go to a health food store parking lot and tell me the political bumper stickers you find).

    As I read conservative blogs, listen to emotion-based, brainless arguments on Sean Hannity’s show, and look at the people with Bush/Cheney stickers on their vehicles, I actually smile. I say to myself, “those people fit in perfectly with that side, and wouldn’t survive a single day with my crowd.”

    So, to take it one step further, and again, I’ll have to utter the obligatory, “this sounds arrogant, but…” I believe we are not only more intellectual – we are better Americans, and we are better people. I guess for some people, that truth hurts.

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  9. You know what...I liked this so much I just whipped up my own post about your post...go say hi when you get a chance :-)

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  10. When will bloggers get a little respect? From whom? The MSM? The politicians? Business? The public?

    Remember Matt Drudge? He was quoted early and often, used as either a source or an echo not so very long ago. When was the last time anyone in the MSM "reefered" him? In "blogtime" it was a century ago. Why? Becuase other bloggers could challenge and refute the crap he wrote in minutes. Though an early adopter he still didn't understand the tool he was using.

    Blogging on the internet decentralizes power over information and communication and the order of things , long the purview of the financially and politically privileged.

    Sure, any asshole can say any damn thing and will have their followers, but they will also be hounded by their critics too. It levels the playing field, it;'s a two-way street. Everyone who blogs has to back up their arguments and assertions. Citizens can not only participate in important dialogs on a daily basis, they can actually drive the dialog on issues that they, and not those in power, deem important. And responsible bloggers, understnading their visibility to other bloggers understand that they will be held accountable for their statements and positions.

    Most of the traditional arbiters of information still don't understand the dynamics of the blogosphere, but they at least recognize its existence and potential importance. So that's encouraging. Trouble is, those in power are seeking to co-opt the internet and thus control blogging. That's worrying.

    Those who can react most quickly and effectively to a rapidly changing situation have an advantage. There is nothing to fear except fear itself, and a bunch of fearless, determined citizen bloggers. That has the traditional elite afraid, and if you think about it, fear is a more honest form of respect than a speech and a lucite doo-dad with your name etched on it.

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  11. Jeremy, that is great. Exactly what I'd hoped for: a dialogue among several blogs...

    5th Estate, feel free to cut and paste your most excellent comment into your own blog, too.

    Linkys back to me always appreciated, of course. We bloggers are a vain insecure bunch, after all. ;)

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  12. When I was a little boy, I was tormented for being smart. Every grade I passed and moved up I was teased a little bit less. By the time college came along, being intelligent was an asset, not a liability.

    So, I agree even among us big people there's still some sort of underlying anti-intellectual bias. It may just stem from resentment and envy.

    But the roots are much more insidious. For some reason, we equate intelligence with weakness. In a hypermasculine culture such as ours, men are ranked and valued according to their athletic prowess first and foremost. Intelligence comes second to manliness. And manliness has a sort of pecking order--from professional athlete all the way down to pickup basketball player.

    Regarding women, I do remember how female friends of mine would dumb themselves down to get a boyfriend--starting around the time puberty hit. The theory, I suppose, was that a woman with a brain would be somehow threatening to the male ego.

    But back to the topic at hand. I hate how we, in this society, have almost made intelligence a necessary evil, and certainly secondary to all of those other things that supposedly define "a man" or "a woman".

    Is this just a symptom of American society? Or are other cultures this way too?

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  13. whew, i don't know what i can add to that! i am new to blogging and i absolutely agree with everything here. i haven't found a way to wrap my mind around why people in the 21st century in the richest nation in the world wants to remain ignorant and mired in the past. i personally don't care if clinton kept his pants on or not but apparently there is a contingent in this country that is obsessed with other people's sex lives, other people's skin color, or religion and on and on. i think that the thing that stuck with me most was the call to committment- because we as a country and as a movement- have not stuck together against the onslaught on our civil liberties. if the blogosphere can make that difference- it will be well worth the effort.

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  14. Blue Gal for Mayor of Blogospheria!

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  15. It may interest you to know that I briefly wrote for Dangerfield back in the late 70's. Some day, I have to tell you all about the timne I went to his nightclub to talk to him. Priceless memory.

    I'm linking to this tomorrow, btw.

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  16. Serious post, Blue Gal.

    Rabbi Michael Lerner created a movement a few years back called The Politics of Meaning, which evolved into the Tikkun Foundation. The basic premise is that the Right has co-opted the language of the Left and Liberals, twisted it to a shadow and we need to take it back. Reclaim our language.

    The Right Wing twists concepts like "Family Values" with accusations of immorality for anything that is "Other" than mainstream. Who isn't for family values? We all are, but we who are liberal, or Left Wing, have a broader understanding of what Family Values are: as I understand them, it is to teach love, tolerance, compassion, and understanding.

    The Hebrew words Tikkun Olam mean to heal the world. That's our job. The blogosphere connects like minded people who otherwise would never have met. NEVER.

    I'm relatively new to blogging. I don't know how to link a post back to my blog. I don't know how to create a hyper-link within a post -- still, my own experience is this:

    I moved to Los Angeles five years ago from Chicago. In Chicago, I was a left-winger among liberals, I had a voice, I had a community of friends who thought, who read, who were the artists, intellectuals, the teachers, the activists.

    Los Angeles has been something of a desert for me -- the people who embraced me, while lovely people, are very shallow and, sadly, right of center. Not fascists, mind you, but we just can't talk about much other than who will be voted off American Idol.

    And then I got an email from Alicia about her session on the Living With War CD -- and suddenly, there's a huge world of left wing bloggers. People who are activists, who give their heart and soul to healing the world. In the blink of an eye, I've made connection with like-minded people.

    Still, I'm fairly intimidated by many blogs, and bloggers. I'm older (close to 60), and oddly shy. But I will keep posting, I will be active in my own attempts to change the minds of my Republican friends, I will do what I can to heal the world.

    Feel free to stop by my blog for a visit and say howdy.

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  17. Blue Gal...

    Thanks for the very kind words and inclusion in your blogroll. I myself am very lazy in general about updating mine ( though I added yours immediately) --I'll often skip through via other's more complete rolls---hmm is that bad netiquette do you think?

    Anyway, I do have a couple more things to say about blogging that hopefully are worth saying--I'll heed your advice and write a bit on my own blog and cross-link back to this discussion ( and some others) becasue, well, doing so perfectly fits the subject, doesn't it?

    I'll be back around of course. Hope to see you in the next Koufax's.

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  18. Great stuff.

    I agree with Jeremy:
    "...we need to start getting better at language to compete with those across the isle..."

    I've got a start on this here:
    http://www.factormyth.com/ling_home.htm

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  19. Isn't this a wonderful conversation we're having! 5th Estate I need email for you to bluegalsblog AT gmail DOT com, please. Identities will not be revealed, I assure you, even if you ARE Al Gore (smooches to you and Tipper btw.) The rest of you thanks so much, I'll visit your places if I haven't already asap.

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  20. I'm kinda pissed off, Bluegal, that your linked post got 20 comments (21, now) while mine's only gotten 13, two of which being mine.

    This is war...

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  21. Jurassic, you will win any war against Blue Gal. I absolutely can't compete. In my heart, you're in the Don't Sugarcoat It hall o' fame.

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I really look forward to hearing what you have to say. I do moderate comments, but non-spam comments will take less than 24 hours to appear... Thanks!