Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

viernes, marzo 04, 2011

Bloger@s: Play The Game Right

It's Friday. Some of my favorite blogs have been convulsed in conflagration. I spare you the facts, the details, the opinions, the analysis. The bottom line is that even though lots of us write under anonymous names, even though we get paid nothing for our labor, we're prone to defend our good names, even if they're not our names, fiercely and without restraint, and we'll fight with each to cyber-death and banning and recrimination and across several blogs all in response to real or perceived calumnies against our good character. In other words, what used to be called "ego trips" abound on the Internet. And they leave the expected carnage behind them. And the carnage travels from URL to URL. Until somebody steps in to stop it.

People who probably have a great deal in common with each other and probably agree with each other about a lot of things sometimes fight bitterly and rant and rave and flame and wag their metaphorical fingers in another's face because, well, they are frustrated or they got mad. They usually get angry because of perceived unfairness or inequality or judgments they dispute. And then, and this is the important part, they defend themselves. It doesn't matter whether or not the grievance is or is not justified. The essays and diaries in which this defense of one's self is taken up and in which the inevitable recrimination is unleashed will get hundreds and hundreds of comments. Far more comments than serious essays about serious topics ever get. Far more readers than serious pieces. People who haven't posted a word in months will suddenly start to comment. This kind of meta, the kind that wakes up most lurkers and makes those in the peanut gallery point and laugh and cover their eyes and hide under the nearest table, convulses blogs and those who read them. Sometimes the blogs never recover. Some participants are thrown overboard, others jump. Most people stand on the sidelines and shake their heads, happy to avoid the stray punch or broken bottle. Months later they will discuss what happened the same way survivors of Katrina talk about that. Except this was no Katrina. Not even close.

We're people after all. And writers. We're prone to exaggeration and umbrage. Only we're not in the same room. And our imagined friends, those whom we support and agree with, and our imagined enemies, those whom we decry and flame, are too often projections of our own insecurities, our hunger for fame, our search for appreciation and validation from external sources, our pride, our need for recognition, and most of all our thinking that we're somehow special. Sometimes we have delusions of adequacy. Other times we're simply grandiose. And ridiculous.

When Charlie Sheen this week repeatedly told reporters he was special, we guffawed. No matter. We then fought and accused and threatened and ranted in defense of how special, though unacknowledged, we really are. And how wrong those who disagreed were, even if they were our friends. We posited how those who argued were involved in evil conspiracies, how they were stooges for others, sockpuppets, paid provocateurs, on and on and on. And of course, we rehashed for the millionth time who gets to make the final decision on who can post on various blogs. And who cannot. And why. Enough. Basta ya.

I am tempted to speak of this as if I were the Prophet Isaiah. For verily, thou hast smitten thy nearest neighbor and have stood on the ashes of his home and have no regrets but your self righteousness abounds and causes others to weep. Or I could speak of this as if I were Polonius:

Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion'd thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar;
The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel

But I spare you (and me).

What has once again transgressed is the usual admonition, to be excellent to each other. That's one thing that we haven't done. We pay it lip service. But then we explode. We accuse. We fight. We defend. We should be excellent to each other, but sometimes we forget. We should remember it more. Here's Ziggy Marley:

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