Lately it seems I'm hearing more and more complaining and whining about bloggers. We're called attack bloggers, blog-critics, people with no credibility who write about things that have no basis in fact simply to stir up debate. We're rebellious and nasty barbarians who like to gang up on the helpless. We represent all that's wrong with the world. Allegedly according to Nick Coleman of the Star-Tribune, "Bloggers are hobby hacks, the Internet version of the sad loners who used to listen to police radios in their bachelor apartments and think they were involved in the world."
To use one of my favorite words: Whatever! When bloggers write about subjects that end up appearing on the broadcasts and broadsheets of the world's most respected news organizations -- such as the stories about anchor Dan Rather, CNN's Eason Jordan and the very wierd White House reporter Jeff Gannon -- those stories end up being reported for ONE reason only: there was enough data in them for the "legitimate" news organizations to believe what the bloggers were writing was true, or at least worth investigating further. And if those people end up losing their jobs, I don't believe it's because of the bloggers. I believe it's because the much larger and more influential news organizations take these posts and snowball them into something even larger. Do we honestly think silly blog posts that are poorly written and have no basis in fact and no legitimate points of debate would end up being discussed on the evening news?
Methinks these people doth protest too much. Are they scared that power is actually getting to the people?
I think blogs give people a voice -- ALL people. And one of the key things I've learned from blogging is this: most people never use their voice. Most people allow fear of abandonment and fear of failure and low self-esteem and lots of other things to prevent them from saying what they believe and doing what they truly want in life. This means more people are unfulfilled, and we have less diversity in public discourse.
Those who actually do speak up realize it's not so bad. As a matter of fact, it's great. We feel free. We feel unburdened. We learn more, because we end up having more dialogue with others. Our brains are less crowded by the cobwebs of thoughts most are never able to share. We find a better sense of our true selves. We feel rewarded by the communities of which we are now able to become part, or the ones we create ourselves. We learn that it's OK not to please everyone all the time. It's alright if someone disagrees. Sure, the freedom of blogging is messy. Sometimes we write with less graciousness than we should. Sometimes we miss a fact that would change the outcome of the story. Some of us are just plain bad writers. But isn't that the case with some of the media as well? At the birth of a new form of communication (and considering how many people still don't know what a blog is, I think we're still at birth or in early childhood), things aren't perfect. But they're still wonderful.
I write Decent Marketing because I don't like some of the marketing behavior I see. I don't like the way consumers are treated some of the time. I don't like the way companies fool themselves with marketing speak about creating relationships with people when the truth is most of the time they really don't care as much as they say they do. I call it like I see it and it's just my opinion. Some people agree and some people don't and that's fine because that's the way the world works. As my husband likes to say, bloggers are bullshit detectors. I feel called to point out the silly stuff in marketing, and the good stuff as well, when I observe it.
I also write about a subject that is extremely personal to me on another blog, called Postpartum Progress. I created the blog as the result of my horrible experience with a postpartum mood disorder. I don't expect most people to understand it or agree with it, because most people have no idea what it is like to experience a mental illness. I know that certain people will change their opinion of me for the worse because of their ignorance. But for the women who go through the horror I went through, I want to be there to support them, regardless of the ramifications. The blog allows me to do that, and it means the world to me.
Most bloggers blog because they have passion -- they want to share with others about something that they feel strongly about. They write from a very honest place. It may be about politics or art or religion or business or movies or music or anything else under the sun. It may be politically incorrect, or too forceful for some tastes. But I have yet to come across a blogger who claims to be the sole source of truth on a topic. We're simply adding our ideas to the discussion.
For people to complain that blogs are polarizing is silly. Life is polarizing. It's how we deal with such circumstances that matters. I, for one, am glad blogs allow us to leave the sidelines and join the fray.
P.S. Thanks to Johnnie Moore for pointing out this piece on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart about blogging. It's what led me to write this post. Link: Johnnie Moore's Weblog: Daily Show on blogging. FYI, it's a little racy, so be prepared.