Its a shame the Sunday Independent is one of the last in the O’Reilly stable to step gaily into the age of the connected internet. Apart from its third world navigation, you can never be sure a stroy you’ve spotted in the paper is actually going to show online. The stuff in the Magazine is some of the best of their output and almost never shows up online. This piece is a case in point. Eamonn Sweeney reckons that the Green Ink merchants have all but disappeared from newspapers and shown up online, as bloggers!
He hasn’t gone away, you know. He’s merely migrated to a new and more congenial habitat. He has become Cyberspace Crank. The internet is a vast reservation for people too incoherent even for Liveline. The crank has discovered the blog.
The blog is, when you think about it, a heart rending expression of impotence. Largley written by people who can’t find even one listener in real life, they are an amalgam of tedious opinions, self important attitudinising and, yes, dodgy spelling and the promiscuous use of capital letters and exclamation marks.
Individual blogs are bad enough but even worse are the sites where communities of the abjectly friendless gather to share out the misery. Spending a couple of minutes wading through the dialogues in these sadness fellowships is one of the most dispiriting experiences imaginable. It’s like bugging a trainspotter’s convention.
And that is only the opening gambit. A bit later:
The aura of nastiness whcih pervades these sites is also remarkable. You’d imagine that the nerd would be happy to hav located others of his ilk. Not a bit of it. The discussion, such as it is, regularly tips over into the kind of row familiar to anyone who’s ever seen a couple of two year olds.
And what is it like to be a victim of ‘the bloggers’? All irony to one side, quite disturbing it would seem:
Convinced of their own genius, the assorted nobodies of web world wallow in a sea of bitterness. To be the subject of their attention is to have an inkling of what it must feel like to be stalked by a sociopath.
Some people try to claim that blogs and their ilk democratise the media, that they open it up to “ordinary people”. But, to paraphrase Eamon Dunphy’s observation about the Liveline audience, there’s nothing ordinary about people who use the web as a compensation for the life they never had. Trainspotters, nerds, call them what you will, they are sublimely unrepresentative of the population at large. Glued to the screen, convinced that the world is hanging on their every world, they are in fact participating in a huge Care in the Community experiment.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty