Blog thisWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
Of all the cultural advancements attributable to the
Internet, blogging is the most revolutionary. The democratization of media that blogging represents confused and irritated traditional media thinking at first, but as the long-term impact of media power decentralization became understood, even the oldest of the old-school thinkers were forced to adapt to the new cultural landscape.
The initial arguments that bloggers were less reliable and less accountable than “real” media melted under the glare of such flame-outs as Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair, Dan Rather, dead miners being reported as alive and the increasing politicalization of the country’s major dailies.
The lines are blurred. It’s akin to the late-1970s punk-music movement, when bands found a way to reach an audience without major label support. The Sex Pistols never pushed Wings from the charts, but as the decades pass, it’s clear which group effected lasting change.
This publication has tapped into the local blog scene from the beginning, hiring columnists who offer observations and analysis on independent blogs, from Lisa Reneé Ward’s “Glass City Jungle” reporting to Matt Sussman’s humorous sports meta-filter for ultra-hip youngsters, The Futon Report. Such local blogs or posting sites as Toledo Talk, BladeVent, SwampBubbles, History Mike and Hooda Thunkit form a stream of ideas and buzz that add dimension and challenging takes on life in Toledo.
But there remains an element of blogging and Web commentary that drags down the quality of conversation like a rotted corpse clinging to the heroine’s ankles in a Stephen King story. Too many anonymous posters are electronic piss ants, crawling through the virtual dregs of more honorable people’s thoughts and efforts.
When I have something to say, on this page or while posting on a blog site, I use my name. Whether I am criticizing the mayor, applauding someone’s effort or working through the aftermath of a personal life change, I stand in the open, for whatever roses or rotten tomatoes are tossed my way.
That’s accountability. That’s why newspapers generally eschew unnamed sources, and why no newspaper with an understanding of ethics and responsibility publishes anonymous commentary. Show me one that does, and I’ll show you a reckless publication you should fear like you’d fear a loose cannon on deck during a hurricane.
On many local sites, people with no purpose other than to spit and spew at others dart in with their anonymous toxins, then hide behind their no-name shields like the impotent toilet scrubbers they are.
I am not referring to the people who pick fun nicknames and engage in conversations about life in Toledo and beyond. I understand the appeal of being SoccerMom09 or FactoryDad77 when joining a post and offering commentary and critical thoughts. I understand why the young Iraqi mother who blogs as Baghdad Burning needs to protect her identity. I am speaking directly to the attack-eunichs who use a keyboard because they have no other functional tool to play with.
If you want to criticize, why hide behind a handle? I’m not aware of any recent great whistle-blowing conversations that merited a false name. You’re out there bitching about things you don’t take the time to change, you’re carping and finger-pointing and stating falsehoods you would never say to someone’s face. What are you afraid of? Why are you so scared to put your name on your snide, limp-as-a-three-week-old-banana comments? Hell, even the racist neo-Nazis showed their faces in Toledo to have their ignorant say. You’re braver than a brownshirt-wearing neo-Nazi, aren’t you?
Maybe not; your tactics aren’t brave. You create multiple accounts at one site, then post from the same computer to agree with yourself, as if the site operator is blind to three concurrent posters using the same IP address. You earn no respect, no credibility and achieve nothing by your cowardice, malice and crazy train rhetoric.
The Internet has been compared to the unregulated Wild West, and that’s apt. There are gunslingers out in the open, waiting for an honest confrontation. There are Stephen Flaggs and Chris Myers and Maggie Thurbers and legions who, agree with them or not, stick their chins out in their efforts to make a point or make a difference. Then, there are the simpering bandits hiding in brothel windows, taking spineless shots at others’ backs and ducking behind the skirts of like-minded whores who spread diseases with no cure, the hypocritical, malignant vultures who lack distinction yet circle the intellectual landscape of legitimate commentary.
A challenge, then, paraphrased from Samuel Johnson, to the blogger whom cowardice drives behind a shield of anonymity, and who does nothing when he is there but sit and growl: Stand up as I do, and bark, scratch or bite.
Or join the rest of the fleas in silence.