Please note I’m not talking about bloggers who blog about unintellectual things: it takes an enormous amount of skill to write engaging stuff about celebrities or video games consistently. I’m not getting on anyone’s case for post length, topics written about, number of posts per day, etc.
I’m only concerned with one thing: there is a preponderance of blogs that look and read like they were made by a 5th grader who enjoys eating paint chips and slamming his head against a wall daily. The jokes in these blogs are often lame or crude, and when these blogs attempt to inform, they are very adept at relating any given item of news to conspiracy theory past or present.
You can see where the term “dumb” is coming from – it isn’t that these bloggers actually are dumb. I could care less about that. What matters to me is that they’re actively working to be dumb, and make all of us dumber.
What riles me up to no good end are the comment threads. “Dumb” bloggers are perceived by all of us to be really good at starting conversation, somehow. And I think that particular irk might be the answer to the puzzle.
Despite all the mainstream media’s problems, the acceptance of certain forms and ways of saying things meant that public discourse once had a certain shape. The editor of the WSJ can’t just go “hey dumbasses, listen up, vote McCain, peace out,” although I would have very much liked to have read that.
But we all know that formality has been dying for some time. Forget the Internet – once you know that, say, The New York Times has an agenda and will promote it however it sees fit, it’s hard to take their way of communicating seriously. Mendacity more than hypocrisy destroys mores; hypocrisy at least shows you the customs are alive in some sense.
Filling that void, then, almost immediately was going to be our everyday speech. And our everyday speech is dumb: there aren’t many people I’ve met who’ve outgrown the way they spoke in high school. Our everyday speech is dumb because the purpose isn’t to speak well – it’s to speak to our friends, and feel like we’re accepted by them for saying whatever.
Well, guess what. Blogs are the first victim of this need for acceptance, because even the extremely prized skill of starting conversation – something upper classes in all societies depend on – is irrelevant. You don’t need to start a conversation: you need to project a persona people are accustomed to dealing with.
Hence, since most guys are accustomed to dealing with whiny, needy girls, projecting that persona, whether one is a girl or not, goes a long way in the blogosphere. The trick isn’t to sound like you know what you’re talking about: the trick is to sound like you’re going to hyperventilate any moment now, that your pointless life will come to an end if your forecast of doom plays out blah blah blah. Oh, and Joey loves Cheri.
Alright. Rant over. To what degree is this ludricrous theory of mine onto something? I think the “there’s a fundamental neediness in democratic life” part is the only thing I don’t want to jettison – everything else is up for grabs.