Well, with much thanks to Glenn "Comments? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Comments!" Reynolds, I expreienced a little shitstorm over here. And if the Washington Post is interested in how an individual handles a shitstorm, the Editors and Omsbudspersons and Pundits and Image Spinners can come over and take a look and read the rest of this essay....
There was no moderation of comments. There was no deletion. There was no re-writing. Why? Because the majority of the comments were from anonymous, non-blogger sources. My interest in the blogosphere is in conversation with other bloggers and non-blogger individuals willing to be as transparent as myself--not with people who do not blog and do not identify themselves when they leave comments. Blogging is about peer-to-peer communication, not about anonymously screaming at the blogger. If ya think about it, anonymous comments are kind of like screaming at the TV. Anonymous comments are an Old Audience response to Old Media. If you are anonymous to me, I am only a one-dimensional, flat-screen celebrity to you. And there is no rule that says a celebrity blogger must respond to anonymous non-blogger comments. Celebrities don't respond to heckling, do they?
So, for the better part of the blogoshpere, Old Audience ways have not changed--they're anonymosly screaming at the TV. It's only in small pockets, among small groups out here in the Technorati Long Tail, where changes are taking place, where we are engaging one another. We don't get big comments because we're not as "smart" as pundits, nor that our blogs are not well written, nor that our blogs aren't creatively inflammatory enough. We're simply not celebrities nor personages. We're just people. We write to converse with one another. We converse with those who understand the medium, who are willing to truly and honestly engage and participate in the medium.
Most pundits don't really get blogging nor bloggers. Pundits don't really converse with people (with the minor exception of Jeff Jarvis, whose comments section isn't all that overrun and will respond to email and will speak to Average Jane bloggers at conferences) MSM likes pundits though. Pundits are just like MSM. Pundits are worried about spin and reputation and such. MSM is worried about spin and reputation and such. They can relate to one another. Neither can relate to the Long Tail because they are listening to The Audience, not Bloggers.
So, if there are some things I've learned from the shitstorm: That there really is a huge disconnect between the worlds of msm/pundit blogging and those of us who are bloggers. I learned there are a lot of fanboys and fangirls who feel the need to defend their Favorite to the death, including make personal attacks--and that most anonymous commenters are like folks who troll forums than they are like bloggers. I learned that anonymous commenting is an awful lot like yelling at the TV.
And another observation about my conclusions about Jane: We live in a soundbyte world. When I went to the Post's page to find out about the panel, I read an awful lot about the blogs and backgrounds of Jay, Jeff and Glenn. The Post made sure to inform me of the qualifications of these men beyond "blogger"--and anyone who knows anything about blogging is fully aware of who these three men, The Usual Suspects, happen to be. What did the Post tell me about Jane? That she blogs. That's it. I followed the obvious trail to her blog, the way I did when I first encountered Jay, Jeff and Glenn--because, for the same reason, I wanted to know what made her so special. By going to their blog bios, I found out a lot more about Jay, Jeff and Glenn, than I did about Jane. Modesty? But what, really, is so modest about saying one is *only* a Hollywood producer who wrote a book? Why not say one is or was a journalist or whatever one happened to be? Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing has no problem telling the world her credentials--and I can respect Xeni's opinions on media and on handling comments (and her comments on >The News Hour were spot on) because she is not suffereng some kind of false modesty--and she's been blogging a heck of a long time. So, it seems that, in the world of msm/punditblogging, a woman's credentials--as a blogger or as an intellectual/thinker-- really don't matter all that much. It's possible, for a woman, that a woman doesn't need the types and kinds of credentials equal to or better than the men. Maybe all she needs to be is photogenic--which neither three of the men happen to be (sorry guys, you're all geeks.) Think of it this way, too: if it were a man who did what Jane did to get on that panel--engage in the same kind of rhetoric--would we have read more about his background...and would he have even been considered for the panel in the first place? Maybe not. Only the Post can know for sure.
Oh, and today, comments will be moderated. One day's worth of unmoderated shitstorm/instalanche is enough for now.
**A Special Thank You To those in yesterday's comments who expressed their own dissatisfaction with Jane. My post ended up giving them a forum, too. and that was a good thing, in its own odd way. And to those special folks who, on and off blog, supported me. You guys are great!
media, Blogging, Blog, Blogs