Sunday, May 14, 2006

I Like Blogs Damn You! Here's Why...


So full of deeply personal and uneducated opinion that they are so easily dismissed by anyone with even a smidgen of cynicism, which in today’s modern age amounts to every living soul on the planet.

Still, as uneducated and self-centered as most Blogs are, they still reflect one delightful and often overlooked virtue: free speech.

It’s too bad (in my view) that Blogs became a branding agent for political mongers who make money by broadcasting one and only one side of the political spectrum.

It’s too bad that Blogs were usurped into the pedantic MySpace, a place where kid’s gather and pretend they are adults while adults gather to act like children. If the deafening sound of American pop-culture has left you with a headache, then MySpace is the last place you want to visit. Here, all that matters is the latest comedy skits on television, aptitude with the latest colloquialisms those skits have spawned and of course, discussion of any celebrity that is flogging their wares in mass-media.

If ever a fascist wanted to prove his case that the general public loves to be duped, usurped and lead astray, the vast majority of dialog on MySpace proves their case in spades.

None the less, it is still a medium of free speech, free thought and free interaction of human being across the whole globe. However elitist your reaction to Blogs might be, you can’t deny that Blogs are unaltered, unedited and deeply rooted in the simple notion that all ideas should be free to be broadcast themselves. Yeah sure, some of you would rather listen to even the driest of editorials on NPR or re-read that Salinger novel for the seventh time, rather than stoop to the bowels of the internet. None the less, so far, most governments and corporations haven’t been able to get their grubby, dirty paws on Blogging.

Not that they haven’t tried of course, nothing freaks out an autocrat more than people expressing themselves. Even the most intelligent and educated people can feel threatened by a 10 year old girl simply writing her thoughts in an open diary. The reasons they feel threatened are often shrouded in morale concern. Pedophilia is of course often at the top of the list of reasons why Blogs must be controlled, terrorism is another frightening word that governments delight in throwing around to pardon themselves from judging your loyalty to them and punishing you if you dare to express a dangerous idea.

Frankly, I am choking under the 21st Century’s movement towards censorship, media manipulation and privacy invasion. Now defending Blogs and defending privacy almost seem contradictory. What kind of a nerd can complain about having his privacy invaded, when he writes massive essays on every single salient thought that pops into his head and then publishes them in a forum that the entire world can access and read? Well point taken, but while I defend the freedom of Blogging, I also defend its anonymity.

If you love Blogs like I do you know the success stories of free and anonymous editorial, the emergence of frank discussion on China from Chinese residents, who have found ways to Blog themselves and not get caught from the prying eyes of the Chinese regime is my favorite example, but there are others. The Blog of an ordinary Iraqi resident during ‘Shock and Awe’ was fascinating and the discussion about the Blog’s validity was even more interesting. Seeing a puffy, pill-addicted Rush Limbaugh feeling threatened by the ideas of an adolescent kid in Baghdad, was for me, delightful.

Blogging might be hated by elitists who think uneducated commoners like me should just shut up and read Tolstoy, but like it or not it is here to stay. Thank goodness too, because as I read more and more about stealth marketing efforts by large corporations (where companies ‘plant’ company stooges inside free forums, town meetings and large clubs to broadcast company marketing efforts), as I read about corporations that sue, bully and cajole consumers who dare to complain about their products, or worse companies that shut up formal employees by threatening them with expensive lawsuits, when those employees dare to expose the criminal activity they witnessed in their employ. As I read about our own government tracking every single phone call made in the United States, in the name of ‘security’, but has failed to secure our waterways, chemical plants and nuclear facilities in any tangible way. As I read about databases of debit card purchases being sold to whoever wishes to pay for them and wireless ‘smart barcodes’ on product that communicate to central archives as to when, how and who purchased them, and as I read about a world utterly obsessed with knowing who we all are and what we all think and then passing laws to put us in prison when those thoughts or actions don’t match a particular profile, well quite frankly Blogs quickly become a very safe and very necessary haven.

Censorship is in ‘vogue’ my friends. It’s the latest new ‘thing’ and we have all passively accepted it. Your neighbor calls and complains about a raise in his utility bill that was not broadcast or communicated to him before hand and his power is cut off for three days. You call to complain about the fact the garbage collectors were seen driving dangerously in your neighborhood and your garbage stays in your alleyway for days. You broadcast in some forum that a product you purchased has failed to meet up with your expectations and the post is deleted, or worse edited to make it look like you are completely happy with your purchase. You post a bad review of a movie and suspiciously a person that has defended every single movie that a particular media company has produced vilifies you and then proceeds to deliver yet another glowing review, just like the last one for the movie the same company release two weeks ago.

CNET, Amazon, Windows Marketplace, CNN, Hasbro and others have all allowed people who are PAID to editorialize to infiltrate their forums and areas reserved for customer feed back and splatter the medium with infomercials that appear to be just free thought, from a paying customer, but are in fact ‘employees’ of the very brand being discussed. Meanwhile an extremely dissatisfied customer has his message altered to make it look like he was happy the whole time.

Welcome to the 21st Century, the century where compliance and patriotism have fused to become the same thing. This is the century where discordance and complaint is met with vilification and even criminal prosecution in some cases. This is the century of databases with billions of individual data points on everyone and the massive queries that troll those databases for trends, profiles and bell curves. When your political thought, your private discussion with your neighbor about the civic election, your payment to the company that mows your lawn are all cataloged into the same central repository and then disbursed to the government that focuses primarily on staying in power, well forgive me, but the quality of Blogs are the least of my concerns.

In fact, in many cases, an angry Blog, from an uneducated slob like me, can at times, seem like a breath of fresh air.

I know what some of you are thinking, how dare I whine about the conditions of the modern world? I should go back to my cubicle, just shut up and watch American Idol. At the very least if I am going to rant about something, couldn’t it be about something interesting like Tom Cruise’s baby?

(The above was unedited and just a capture of train of thought, my apologies if it was painful to follow or read as a result).

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