Looking Fore and Aft
Here’s a sneak peek at my plans for 2006:
1. New political sections devoted to the 2006 mid-terms and 2008 elections, including revamping and revisiting areas devoted to individual candidates.
2. The possible replacement of the Weekly Jackass with an as-yet-to-named feature appearing more infrequently (but don’t miss the Jackass of the Year coming soon!). I’ll have more on this a little further down.
3. Much less probable, but still possible, a site redesign.
4. More of my own patented blend of witty, urbane commentary and asinine yokelism.
Here’s what I’ve learned in 2005, my first full year of blogging: the easy way out is the least satisfying. Kathleen Parker writes of a blogosphere built on personal destruction:
…[M]any bloggers seek the destruction of others for their own self-aggrandizement. When a mainstream journalist stumbles, they pile on like so many savages, hoisting his or her head on a bloody stick as Golding’s children did the fly-covered head of a butchered sow.
Schadenfreude – pleasure in others’ misfortunes – has become the new barbarity on an island called Blog. When someone trips, whether Dan Rather or Eason Jordan or Judith Miller, bloggers are the bloodthirsty masses slavering for a public flogging. Incivility is their weapon and humanity their victim.
I mean no disrespect to the many brilliant people out there – professors, lawyers, doctors, philosophers, scientists and other journalists who also happen to blog. Again, they know who they are. But we should beware and resist the rest of the ego-gratifying rabble who contribute only snark, sass and destruction.
We can’t silence them, but for civilization’s sake – and the integrity of information by which we all live or die – we can and should ignore them.
She overstates things by a good margin (blogs didn’t invent the cynical armchair critic – witness CNN’s Crossfire and its ilk – and Spy magazine surely owned the crown of snark way before the World Wide Web came to prominence), but her larger point is a correct one.
There is far too much ‘me, too’-ism, oneupmanship, and manufactured outrage out there, and many talentless, humorless, rabid partisans pervade both the left and right. I’ve been moving towards something different (I hope) for a while now in fits and starts, probably beginning with the Coalition of the Chillin’. It was the near-universal apocalyptic rhetoric that greeted the ‘Gang of 14′ compromise that first opened my eyes to the mob mentality that is so pervasive in the world of politics.
What I hope to achieve, and it’s a tough balancing act, is to be partisan and intelligent at the same time, to amuse and enlighten rather than engage in a massive circle j- er, group hug. I’ll still take my shots at the ‘progressives’, for example, but I’ll take pains to avoid condemning ‘liberals’ or Democrats as monolithic entities. I’ll continue to support the Iraq War and the War on Terror, but I’ll try to avoid sycophantic boosterism. No doubt I’ll often fail on both accounts, but the effort will be there.
Thus, my desire to at least modify the Weekly Jackass concept. No doubt there are true jackasses out there, and no doubt most if not all of my honorees have deserved the award; however, by taking the regularity out of the feature, and fine-tuning the concept a bit, I think I can make it more spontaneous, more fun, but most importantly, more intellectually honest. We’ll see…
Thanks for indulging me in this bit of reverie; I welcome any feedback you might have, and I truly appreciate your readership. It’s an evolving thing, this blog of mine, but I’ll do my best to keep it fun and interesting for you, because your comments and suggestions make it fun and interesting for me.
Here’s hoping we all have a prosperous, fulfilling, healthy and happy year ahead…
UPDATE 2:48 p.m.: Politechnical has a much more negative view of the Parker piece; I completely agree that the faults Parker outlines are not unique to blogs, and I also share the view that the constant references to ‘adult supervision’, etc., are misplaced; most blogs are opinion sites, and most blog readers are aware of and okay with that…so by way of clarification, let me say that the reason I quoted the Parker piece at length is that she is bothered by some of the same things that trouble me, and that echo the concerns that I have moving forward. As I stated above, though, Parker clearly overstated things considerably, thereby (oh, irony!) falling prey to the same shortcomings she would place on the blogosphere…