The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Blogosphere

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."
-- Jane Wagner/Lily Tomlin

Well, this period of unbridled ugliness in the blogosphere continues with no relief in sight. I have now seen behavior I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams; repeated attacks on Maryscott O'Connor for her reaction to BeagleandTabby's publicly posted suicide note. Never mind that her quick action and community outreach resulted in his rescue by police. Never mind that she was in shock and grief upon learning from his delayed posting that her friend was probably already gone. Nope. Whatever she did... not good enough.

So the armchair quarterbacks at Daily Kos, where she posted his, thankfully premature, memoriam, attacked her for being too quick to assume him dead, for making his private life public, on and on and on... Don't bother to look for that diary. It was removed so the vicious comments would not be an assault on BeagleandTabby's senses when he returns. The sniping has been significant enough that Steven D. felt it necessary to publicly defend her here and here.

Worse still, someone ironically nicknamed cronesense, had the audacity to accuse Maryscott of inventing this incident of whole cloth to get attention, based on nothing but some fucked up time stamps. Time stamps. Work on a computer much? Jesus Christ.

You know when I first started reading liberal blogs and message boards, I was admittedly stunned at some of the behavior; the censorship of ideas, autocratic management styles, abusiveness, aggressive thought policing, etc., etc., etc. Several times I showed my husband threads that had left me feeling gobsmacked for one reason or another. He would blink a few times in astonishment and say, "These are liberal sites?" But ultimately I came to the conclusion that, well, people are people wherever you go. A good bit of the drama in the left wing blogosphere owes to the foibles of human nature and is as good an argument for our complex system of checks and balances as anything. We are a nation of laws, not men, for good reason.

Readers of this site are, by now, aware that I write almost as much about the internal dynamics of the blogosphere as the political arena. The metaphors are there. I have to use them. Sure Ann Coulter's narcissism and inability to admit her flawed logic is fascinating, but so is Armando's. Sure Bush's tyrannical style and simple-mindedness is disturbing, but so is Kos's. I could go on, but I already have at length.

But what I've seen over the last several days -- and my reading has necessarily only skimmed the surface -- defies any categorization I can think of. Mind-blowingly nasty stuff.

And finally I must publicly apologize -- and I am doing this through gritted teeth -- to the Blogging Curmudgeon. He is a free agent and he is entitled to go off half-cocked if he wants. It has nothing to do with me. Or shouldn't. I was wrong to blame him, even in part, for the dust up with Marisacat. The fault was hers and hers alone. Not because she conflated the two of us -- such confusion is inevitable -- but because when she was apprised of the truth she continued her vain assault on my character. I find it rather telling that she continues to disparage me for not paying her proper homage by linking to pages in her blog I did not have enough interest in to read, in the first place. (I trust my readers to follow further links and use the google according to their own interest level.) Yet she did not see fit to READ the blog she was defaming. A quick glance at the prominently placed bio would have informed her that the Blogging Curmudgeon had left the building. Pot calling the kettle what now? Blog etiquette, indeed.

6 comments:

DavidByron said...

I was thinking about cynicism from the last time you posted that quote. One of the things interesting about Marisacat's place is the superabundance of cynicism. And then I thought, well, maybe you can have too much.

Cynicism and conspiracy theory, or defending the underdog, asking "Is that so?". Questioning things for it's own sake -- just to take it apart like a clock -- and especially questioning authority and the status quo --- these are attractive to me.

But you have to be skeptical about even that. There are real conspiracies and I'm sure there are *some* "paid agents" out there. The history in America of repression does include agent provocateurs, does include bought media, secret wars and so on.... but that doesn't mean everyone who tolerates Armando is on some pseudo-government payroll, or a secret network of blogs all taking orders from Kos and through him to the DLC. Sure there are agents out there but do you really think they are spending all their time on some tiny blog gossiping?

On most blogs they don't have enough cynicism. They don't have even 1% of enough. There is incredible naivety. People saying, "Gosh I was surprised that the Democrats didn't stop the war". People saying "This is the first the US has gone to war preventively". People who talk about media bias as if the corporate media is an honest referee who is just a little incompetent.

There's an issue of trust out there. For me, it was never an issue because agreement and getting on with someone, or being accepted as part of an in-group, never coincided anyway.

But there's a tendency out there to separate out on the basis of an assumed political identity. Take this recent wave of crowing over the allegeded loss of popularity of the dKos site. If it is true -- and I am skeptical -- how is that good for progressives? Kos is rightwing but the site is useful.

I couldn't name one thing different between Marisacat and Maryscott in political views but Marisacat seems to feel that MLW is fatally compromised somehow. MLWers don't all see the cynical world view as clearly therefore they are "paid agents"?

Listen. The only people we hate more than the Romans are the fucking Judean People's Front.

Is that all this is?

I only started reading there recently and there was a refreshing sense that you didn't have to keep rolling your eyes to heaven over some naive comment based on American exceptionalism and a lack of historical knowledge. There's also a sense of in-group in being someone who "get's it" when nobody else hardly does. But in seeking to protect that little comfortable zone from people who "don't get it"....
----------------------------

Hm. Not exactly the most tightly written comment ever!

I guess I can't just write these people off as "douchebags" as if that explained anything, you know? They are earnest even if they are missing the boat in applying the whole point of it all to their on-line relationships.

Still I am not sure I'll be dropping by there much now. Not sure exactly why.

Curmudgette said...

DavidByron said...

I was thinking about cynicism from the last time you posted that quote. One of the things interesting about Marisacat's place is the superabundance of cynicism. And then I thought, well, maybe you can have too much.


I don't think "cynicism" really covers what goes on over there. I don't even know what to call that. You know, DB, my bad. I never really read her site much and I should have been. I only discovered that she was defaming and misrepresenting me because the magical workings of statcounter. I saw several consecutive clicks from her diary to my site, and looked to see what was up. But, as I told you, a blogroll link is an endorsement. Maybe I should investigate a little more thoroughly before I link. And you know full well, I will link to people I disagree with, because disagreement and debate is healthy, but I should not have been linking to her... um... what even is that? I'm at a loss. Her vituperative musings? That's all the characterization I can come up with for now. I need coffee.

Cynicism and conspiracy theory, or defending the underdog, asking "Is that so?". Questioning things for it's own sake -- just to take it apart like a clock -- and especially questioning authority and the status quo --- these are attractive to me.

It called "critical thinking" and it's simply not taught enough in our wonderful educational system. If it were I don't think we'd be in the bind we are today. There is a thing called "healthy skepticism."

But there's a tendency out there to separate out on the basis of an assumed political identity. Take this recent wave of crowing over the allegeded loss of popularity of the dKos site. If it is true -- and I am skeptical -- how is that good for progressives? Kos is rightwing but the site is useful.

Not much about DKos is good for progressives, and that includes its decline in traffic and content. It's kind of tragic that the defacto central hub of the left wing blogosphere, was never really left wing and has lost its value as a hub. There is more irony in that situation than I could parse without several cups of coffee and a double espresso back.

Listen. The only people we hate more than the Romans are the fucking Judean People's Front.

Is that all this is?


It's called "tribal thinking." My tribe is better than your tribe... because... well... because it is my tribe. It's what makes for the difference between "patriotism" and "nationalism" -- "community" and "turf." Because human beings are just not as evolved as we think we are.

DavidByron said...

Not evolved, yes. People have a rose-tinted view of animals. "Nature". My wife and I run a dog and cat rescue. The dogs mostly form a big pack. I have to say that if the dogs could vote they would all be Republicans. It's tough to say it because I like them, but their view of getting on with other dogs is, "They are on out territory and we're bigger and more numerous -- let's kill them".

And I can see the enforcers working in the pack. A dog can get attacked just for being out of sorts. It's not the alphas doing the enforcing.

So yeah; we're working with defective software. Or let's say software designed for a different problem.

Curmudgette said...

Yup. Our animal brethren can be quite brutal. But fairly integral. We hairless apes on other hand...

The Blogging Curmudgeon said...

Thanks for the nice words, but you don't owe me an apology. Not at all. I didn't respond because I completely understand why you were angry at me. You had every right.

I'm the one who owes all kinds of apologies to you.

I do have a big, self-righteous mouth. And I am one of the last people on earth who should be "taking inventory" on other people. All true.

I'm only sorry that you got tarred by association with me, but given the attitude of Marisacat, probably for the best you're not linked to blogs under her direct influence. Call it a serendipitous silver lining to an otherwise dark cloud. You didn't deserve all this trouble.

I've always admired your writing, which is why I return to this blog--not "lurking" so much as wanting to see the work of someone who's one hell of a writer.

The Blogging Curmudgeon said...

p.s.--ungrit your teeth. It wears down the enamel. I'm surprised my own teeth have survived this far into the Bush-Cheney misadministration.