Blogging violence

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João Lopes is a renowned Portuguese film critic. He also writes regularly on the blog Sound + Vision (only available in Portuguese). Lately, he’s been developing some of his ideas on the issue of blogging violence. More precisely, on how the blogging arena seems to emulate an appearance of pluralism and intellectual debate that, looked upon closely, often reveals a profound absence of rationalist and critical thinking.
João Lopes refers to it as a virtual plague: the unremitting depiction of opposite points of view through ironic misrepresentation. In his own words, blogging is contributing to a misguided sense of democratization, frequently conducive to a “devastating triumph of ignorance”.
His ideas seem to resonate with Pacheco Pereira’s reflections on the specificity of Portuguese blogging culture. This trend, as both authors agree, is not exclusive to the realm of blogs. It is in fact part of a wider tendency: the rise of demagogic speech over rationalist discourse –the very foundation of democratic thinking. On our way to Idiocracy, maybe?

As far as blogging goes, that may just be the case. The truth is that most bloggers have no clue as to the origins of blogging, not only as a phenomenon but as a culture in itself as well – something that first generation bloggers were already debating back in 2002. A passage from Rebecca Blood’s popular book comes to mind: that there’s a big difference between saying “The facts don’t corroborate that interpretation of this event” and saying “this is stupid” – or even worse: “I had no idea you where this stupid”.
Second generation bloggers should probably come aware that there is such a thing as weblog ethics and become advocates for it. But should we really expect blogging to become a beacon of ethics when the world around it - from politics to journalism - seems to be wounded by the same kind of intellectual corrosion? Afflicted by the same logics of over-simplification, parodic distortion and blatant aggressiveness on the face of contradictory points of view?

The blogosphere is a place where these forms of behavior may appear more evident as it lacks the social codes of conduct required by direct human contact that make sense in the “outside world”. But the ills that João Lopes correctly identifies within the blogosphere are widespread and extensive to most forms of cultural expression today. That dialogue, sustained on collaborative thinking, is a seemingly dead art.
Many second generation bloggers are seduced by the idea that blogs are an open window to the world. That blogs are a stand where your ideas will be heard. And so, opinion-based blogging is all about the exposition of opinion, and not about interchanging arguments on a rational, civilized basis. Most of these bloggers, I’m afraid, although seduced by the allure of blogs, are not in love with blogging as a practice – either for filtering references, reflect on particular subjects or even for personal expression. And, most of all, they reveal no interest in understanding the significance of blogs as the cartographers of the online world and its importance in the context of a knowledge based economy. The declining importance of the “quote” and even the “link” as an institution is a relevant symptom of this undergoing process. Blogging is becoming an exercise on opacity.