Empty Days

Saturday, April 10, 2004



The mob-mentality in blogosphere ::

One thing that never ceases to disgust me is the way so many people are only too happy to join the chorus and form a mob of mindless cronies. Apparently this is called "militant spirit" and "popular movement". Usually this starts with folks flocking around some sort of messiah and then do pretty much whatever to feed his line - I call it "sucking up to" but there are likely other terms for that.

In the blogosphere the most visible examples of this are Instapundit and Atrios. Though my views are probably closer to the latter, I find both these phenomena equally distasteful. These sites are neither truly critical nor truly informative - their main preoccupation is cheer-leading. Mindless, slanted, careless pushing of a certain line, mainly directed at disparaging and very often slandering opponents in the interest of imposing a rather limited point of view on greatest number of people.

I guess this is the epitome of party-politics: the kind of politics that relinquish reason for ideology. Cliques, mobs, cronies. None of this is very good for any sort of independent judgment. On the other hand, it is a marvellous machine for distorting facts and fabricating outrage. I think this is called "spinning" - out of proportion, I would add.

***

If the blogosphere is in any way reflective of the state of things in the greater world then it's a very sick world indeed - especially at the moment. Examples abound. When the Clarke affair came up it was quickly turned into yet another contest of idiotic name-calling from both sides - as a result nothing came out of it. It's still going on but the point has long been lost amidst all the easy outrage at multiple "liars" of whatever denomination (against Rice no less than Clarke). The spectacular fact is that Atrios and his camp contributed to this no less than those who wanted to dismiss Clarke from the go. It's the agenda that matters - never the truth, especially when truth is not as clear-cut as the agenda needs it to be.

Sure enough there are voices of reason in the blogworld too. Except that in this heavy atmosphere of mobs and cliques few are those who are willing to listen to reason - it's just not as much fun as mass cheering and mass bashing, and in terms of sheer social impact it really doesn't pay to see too clearly. Consequently those blogs don't have much leverage. Either join in with the mob or stand aside - no middle ground.

It is fairly easy to distinguish a reasonable voice from a party-pusher: just look at whether dissent is tolerated or not in comments or how feedback is parsed by the blogger. Ideology-driven blogs attract unanimous mobs. People who go there want a kick from all the influx of unanimity - not thinking, least of all debate. Perhaps it's a very human thing to do. Nevertheless it's also somewhat ugly - as many human things are indeed.

***

Recently we've seen yet another example of fabricated outrage - against DailyKos and his misplaced remark. As a result I would offer a new word with a double-meaning: "kossers" for people who drive a tank against a fly with cries of victory, and "kossing" for those who go to all sorts of lengths to make it look as if they never said whatever they said. Both sides managed to act pretty pathetic - and it's kinda telling of the whole phenomenon.

***

I've been meaning to bitch about this for a while now, but it all took form today when I saw yet another budding example of the same crap in the making. Meanwhile, when you think how this type of "rutting for home team" mind-set reflects on things like Iraq - well, that's when it gets truly scary. Whenever mobs drive policy - people die, a lot of people of whatever denomination.





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