The Good, The Blog and The Ugly

Been trying to understand the source of my general disdain for The Blog Thing.

I guess it comes down to a question: Will The Blogosphere set us free, or hold us back? Do a billion matchlights create a beacon to pierce the darkness, or a brushfire that makes fact and opinion impossible to discern? It strikes me that my ambivalence about blogging is perhaps the result of a larger crisis of confidence in my fellow man, particularly my fellow Americans.

We are a nation divided, and Red State Blue State is just a symptom. Our internal war of reason and religion mirrors that underway in the Muslim world.

For me, Esquire nailed the real essence of this debate:

The rise of Idiot America is essentially a war on expertise. It’s not so much antimodernism or the distrust of intellectual elites that Richard Hofstadter deftly teased out of the national DNA forty years ago. Both of those things are part of it. However, the rise of Idiot America today represents–for profit mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power–the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they’re talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a preacher, or a scientist, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert.

At the risk of being labeled an east-coast liberal elitist, I find this oddly terrifying. And I’m still trying to figure out for myself whether The Blog Thing, in the abstract, helps or hurts.

Until I figure it out, there would seem to be no harm in lending another voice to the forces of reason.

Maybe that’s what this is all about.


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