Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bloggers' bad manners and other myths

Here's one or two critical comments in response to Andrew Marr's denigrating generalisations about bloggers and blogging.

But the question I was left with was not why does Marr think it's such a bad thing to be single, as Chris Dillow asks - but why does he seem to think bloggers represent a distinct sociological type at all? For he doesn't provide much in the way of evidence, if you think about it. Bloggers have pimples, stay with their mothers and they're bald? You were left wondering if he's met any at all. For where would he meet them? The socially-inadequate by definition tend not to attend social functions.

I suppose it depends what blogs you read but there doesn't seem to be any particular type to me. Academics and students are pretty well-presented - as are journalists, let's not forget. And then there's political activists and a few MPs. The sort of people who are interested in politics, in other words. I'd have to add that while I haven't met many bloggers and would have no way of knowing whether the ones I have are at all representative, none of them have been particularly young and all of them, without exception, have been a damn sight better-looking than Andrew Marr.

I'm trying to get at the notion that bloggers are a different species and I think something that illustrates the point I'm reaching for is this issue about manners and the tone in which conversation is conducted online. Marr says:
" Most of the blogging is too angry and too abusive. It is vituperative.

"Terrible things are said on line because they are anonymous. People say things on line that they wouldn't dream of saying in person."
Sure but so what? This isn't evidence that bloggers are either psychologically or sociologically different from anyone else. I'm afraid this is how people behave when they feel insulated - just like they do when they're in their cars. Two people get in each other's way in the street and they're the model of politeness - but in a traffic jam? How much more when people feel even more insulated and are talking about those things - politics and religion - that are most likely to stir strong emotion?

Andrew Marr: If I was meeting him in person, I would be the epitome of charm. But since I'm sitting in my flat in Glasgow, instead I'll say, "Hey fuck-face, where do you get off making remarks about the appearance of people you've never met? Do you actually own a mirror? If you do, I'd be surprised - it certainly makes your comments about baldness rather difficult to explain."

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