April 15, 2004

They have created a new world order

So says Whitney Pastorek in an article in the Village Voice. She feels that "while a lot has been made of the cultural implications of the Blogosphere, I am not convinced that anyone has taken the time to talk openly and honestly about the effects it is having on the day-to-day existence of the world's adult non-bloggers, or what I like to call The Way Blogs Are Ruining My Life."

She lists the problems under five headings:

1. No one shows up for anything anymore.
2. No one tells me anything anymore.
2a. No one has fights anymore.
3. No one invites me to anything anymore.
4. They have created a new world order.
5. Did I mention that blogs are ruining my life?

Read the whole thing. It reminds me a bit of how my mother used to complain -- twenty years before email became popular -- that because of cheap phone calls, no one wrote letters anymore. Though my mother never ended her complaints in such a dramatic way:

Listen. My name is Whitney Pastorek, and I do not have a blog. I am not on Friendster, I do not live in Williamsburg, and I do not think Death Cab for Cutie is a particularly great band.

But I exist. I am a good person, a good friend, and my thoughts and opinions have weight and merit. The bloggers do not control me -- they only control each other and massive amounts of bandwidth, which isn't even a real thing, just something made up by web-hosting companies to charge more! People! If you find yourself on the lower levels of the B.C.S., join with me in saying NO! NO to letting them diminish our self-worth! NO to letting them drag us out to flash mobs! Turn your faces to the sun! Stand and fight!

My mother, while complaining about the Demise of the Letter, nevertheless participated in the new long-distance telephone culture of the 1960's. She was reluctant at first -- through the 1950s, not only were long-distance calls prohibitively expensive, but we also had a party line, so that tying up the phone even for local calls was avoided as anti-social. But before long she was the center of an active network of telephone-mediated communication. Likewise, I'm inclined to feel that Ms. Pastorek, who seems overly sensitive to status indicators, should Get Over It and start to participate in the culture that she feels excluded from. There are no barriers, last I looked -- anybody can go to typepad or wherever and start a blog, if they want to.

But the fact that I feel obscurely bad about not having noticed Pastorek's article for a full six weeks is troubling, I'll admit, even though I've long since made my peace with the fact that the world is full of loops that I'm out of.

Posted by Mark Liberman at April 15, 2004 10:43 AM