Thursday, January 6, 2011

To Blog or not to blog. . . . .

I enjoy the blogosphere, and I enjoy blogging. However, we should admit that for the most part we all blog for ourselves. It gives us an outlet for our feelings and frustrations. Some blogs do, of course, provide the occasional tidbit of useful information, and there is even the occasional revelation that might have an impact, however small, on the political culture. But most of the blogs are just us ranting a bit and talking among ourselves. And most of the blogs are fairly respectful, though there is an inordinate degree of down-right hate-speech on the Conservative Bloggers, but then most of them don't believe that the category of hate-speech should exist anyway so it probably doesn't matter to many of them.

The problem is, of course, that there is very little in the way of real political debate in this country so it is natural that blogging would be reduced to a series of partisan rants. I don't know if the reduction of political debate is simply a temporary swing of the pendulum or an unfortunate and permanent effect of the ability of modern politicians to obfuscate the truth and spin their partisan hype in a milieu of unprecedented technological speed. Perhaps it is a combination of both.  I think that the most unfortunate political development in the past couple of decades (at least in Canada) is the gradual, and almost universally unacknowledged, deterioration of democracy. As many of the gains made in the West during the long post-war boom are slowly slipping away and the gaps between rich and poor begins to widen dramatically, democracy is suffering badly. Not only are fewer and fewer people informed about and involved in their most basic democratic institutions, but money plays a bigger and bigger part in elections and legislative agendas.

And many of us do blog about these issues and the impacts that they have on us as individuals and on society in general. However, when the majority of the population refuses to even acknowledge most of our basic democratic deficits, or has simply given up caring because they think that the problem is unsolvable, staying motivated is difficult. Here in Canada we have a government that has radically undermined the democratic institutions of the country but many are so ignorant of how our institutions really work (or are meant to work) that they just don't understand what is going on. Others are so blinded by partisanship that their leaders could do almost anything and they would continue to support them. One of the saddest and most blatant examples of partisanship in recent years has to be the tendency of Conservatives to face any and all charges of corruption and lack of accountability with the universal, school-yard jibe that "the Liberals did the same thing!" Really!? Is this what debate has been reduced to? Meanwhile the media and the people go crazy if some single mother is caught cheating 50 bucks from welfare but the governments can handout literally billions in corporate grants and subsidies and executives can make seven figure salaries and barely anyone bats an eyelid.

But we keep blogging. However, as I said, it is mostly in an effort to achieve cathartic satisfaction rather than an effort to save Western Capitalist democracy from its own rather dramatic failure. The sad truth is that if new technologies began to make a real political difference, the internet would be shut down so quickly it would make your head spin.


Lorne said...

Thanks for the intelligent and articulate post. I have often thought many of the same things that you write about, but I have come to realize that in a busy day, many things that I would not normally have read about are made known to me through the Progressive Bloggers' website.

While it may be true that in many ways we are 'preaching to the converted' when we post an entry, there is something to be said in knowing that one is not an individual 'crying in the wilderness.' In other words, while we may not convince other partisans to either read our posts or be convinced by them, there is something positive in knowing that many others share our philosophies and sentiments.

Artem said...

I wouldn't agree that the blogging mostly stays with the closed group of bloggers. For my part, I use the most interesting blog posts I come across as additional bits of information for our weekly radio show here in Edmonton-Leduc. I think blogs are a very useful source of information offering an unusual perspective.

kirbycairo said...

Thanks for the comment Artem. Maybe I underestimate the impact. Take care.

kirbycairo said...

Thanks also to Lorne. I agree that at the very least there is something comforting in knowing that there are others out there who share some of our basic beliefs.

900ft Jesus said...

I agree with Lorne and Artem overall. There are blogs out there which are almost entirely self-serving, self-promoting, or pure venting. However, many are active in setting up and maintaining an online community for activists who then find ways to get their efforts and ideas out to the general public.

The protests against prorogation, while initiated on facebook, were heavily promoted by bloggers, for example.

The unmasking of agents provocateurs at the three amigos summit in QC was the work of bloggers.

With media often only giving superficial coverage or going for the snappy angle, several very good bloggers take the time to do some digging and give us a context and details.

Personally, I learn so much from the blogs. Makes me re-examine my own ideas and stay open to those of others, gets me to learn about issues I might not otherwise have an opportunity to take note of.

And the people behind the blogs! I get to benefit from the experience of so many others.

Anonymous said...

Not to add too much of a "me too" to this, but I personally find a lot of the blogs I check out now very enlightening.

I started renewing my knowledge of Canadian politics in the past year or so as Harper became more and more repulsive to me (he was never a favorite to begin with). I've found a lot of useful commentary, some amusement, and a ton of links to useful information since I started checking out various blogs.
The latter is especially important as I don't have a lot of free time and the corporate media don't cover or give very limited coverage to a lot of very important things. I am also then able to share this with friends and family so there is a follow-on effect.

So, thanks for doing what you're doing.

- Gulogulo

kirbycairo said...

Well, it seems that maybe I underestimated the power of the blog. I hope so.

Kim said...

I think bloggers do contribute greatly to the discourse. The links help focus attention. We certainly help stories go viral, when we feel they're important. As much as they won't (for the most part) admit it, the MSM are reading us too. Occasionally, they even credit the source! Even when no-one reads it, it does feel good to put your thoughts out there too, there's nothing wrong with that! Blog away!