February 11, 2007 12:24 PM

Nobody cares

Over the past few years, blogs have become the biggest fad on the internet since porn. And like its slutty older sister, blogging has hit the mainstream big-time and has wormed its way into the lives of people beyond the circle of sweaty, lonely social outcasts who sustained its humble youth.

At its core, blogging is merely a public diary. What makes it "au courant" (French for "fucking stupid") is that it is the latest and most expensive way yet invented to flap your piehole at millions of anonymous rubes. The barrier to entry, as they [1] say, has been lowered to the ground and the great yawping masses have at last embraced the webpage and all it represents. The full flower of individual opinion, stated loudly and ubiquitously, has bloomed in all its shrill and stupid majesty.

No longer must you eschew hobbies and relationships and stand on a street corner yelling at passers-by, leaflets flapping in the wind, in order to get your message across to the masses. Instead, you can now sit comfortably in the living room, eating ice-cream from a bucket and tell the world exactly how Apple's latest pricing structure has affected your sex-life.

The anal bleaching of hobbies, blogging is both life wreckingly narcissistic and breath-takingly painful to watch. Like their authors, blogs offer nothing new to the world. No observation is too trite, no angry denunciation too overwrought and empty to avoid being slathered across a livejournal page. Fitting its fatuous lineage of unicorn-sticker-covered diaries and spiral notebooks covered with crudely-drawn devil skulls, the average blog contains little more than a generic set of observations about whatever suburban "scene" the author haunts, mentions of the inevitable cat (perhaps dressed as a pirate for Halloween, or impishly photographed with a $700 digital camera in a hi-larious pose) and a few limp sentences about whatever band played last weekend.

If I sound like I'm generalizing and glossing over the varied and rich splendor of blogs, forgive me [2]. But in reality, blogs are have all the rich diversity and individuality of a crate of Jello pudding cups. The same dozen topics and links circle endlessly among the listless blog authors/audience like flecks of rot in a slowly draining sink.

You're a fat goth who was bad-touched by your uncle and you cut yourself? Congratulations: there are millions of slack-jawed butterwhales in whiteface just like you, galumphing around our benighted nation's stripmalls. Delete your xanga account and shut up.

Or perhaps you're a gamer with a sense of humor and a willingness to tell it like it is? Cram it, virgin. Any observation you make about the Xbox 360 has been well expressed already by the many thousands of game publications available anywhere porn, cigarettes and Taschen books are sold.

Worse yet are political blogs: the online equivalent of that irritating guy at the local bar who won't shut up about Clinton. Like those ranting, urine-scented wrecks, political bloggers appear to believe that shuffling around second- and third-hand opinions is a fine substitute for expertise. Excuse me, madam blogger, but you haven't changed out of your pajamas in three days. You are not a beltway insider, and don't have a fucking clue about how the real world operates. (Hint: people in power don't have 60th level Rouges in World of Warcraft).

If it's not the diversity of opinion that makes blogs "interesting" to the media, perhaps its the independent, DIY-aspect of blogging? Wrong. Bloggers proudly claim that they are "breakin' the rules" of so-called "dinosaur media". As if the pomposity and college-freshman-level arrogance of this claim wasn't awful enough, the truth of the matter is that they have it all backward. Far from breaking any hidebound rules, bloggers have merely adopted all the worst aspects of journalism and writing and simultaneously eschewed the traits that make these professions valuable. Personal anecdotes passed off as profound insights? Check. Ads? Check. Ads for porn? Check, check and CHECK. A degree from a journalism school? Uh, the Starbucks manager is kicking me out of the chair near the outlet, I'll have to get back to you.

Despite their lack of qualifications, original opinions or, indeed, even basic literacy [3] many bloggers like to pontificate about how blogs, and by extension themselves, pose some sort of threat to traditional media; newspapers, television studios and so forth. Bullshit. The only threat that blogs and blogging pose is the danger that they will actually convince someone in "old media" of their claims. This is a threat similar to the one that AOL posed to Time-Warner (or, more accurately, its stockholders) in 2000.

Journalists and authors, i.e. people who are trained and paid for writing, got where they are today not because of some secret handshake or exclusive club that only people in their 40s can join. No, wait! Actually, they DID. But that club is called "having skills and paying your dues", neither of which will happen while you sit in cafes behind your sticker-bedecked powerbook. Getting stoned and blowing a Java programmer at Burning Man is not the same as going to journalism school, and writing 1200 words about the latest "wacky" Japanese cultural trend is not the same as getting a real job.

Finally, and most recently, we have the resurgence of "social networking" sites; simulacra of real life for people who can't borrow the keys to mom's leased Escalade. First Friendster (whose pathetic, incompetent crashing and burning should be an object lesson to every Vox, Blurt, Jookster and Gazzag[4] out there), then Orkut, and now MySpace. I have nothing against people using new communication media for making friends and meeting like-minded souls. If only it stopped there. But no, the blank page of ones MySpace profile just begs to be filled with incoherent prose, like a clean field of snow beckons to the dog with a full bladder.

The blight of MySpace cannot be overstated, not only aesthetically (who decided that we missed embedded MIDI?) but also culturally. Endless browser-crashing pages of 20-something whores in training, white "thug" poseurs and horrible, horrible bands is what MySpace and its ilk offer and, sadly, corporations seem to be buying. My only consolation is that all the professed love to Insane Clown Posse, all the braggadocio about drug use and fumbling, unsatisfying sex, all the posing, posturing and humiliating self-aggrandizement of adolescence that we see is being cached and archived forever by the tireless robots of Google, and will come back to haunt the simpletons who offered to share it with the world in the first place. The last laugh will be a bitter one, but it will be ours.

So what's my point here? My "conclusion", if you can call it that, is the precise phrase that will be directed at me by the readers of this frothy rant: "shut the hell up." Sounds like good advice to me.


[1] Assholes.

[2] Fuck you.

[3] Real writers do not "lol" or "rofl."

[4] I am not making these up.

Posted by Jeff

Posted by Jeff Smith | Permalink | Categories: Rants