Friday, February 03, 2006

Damned if You Do...Damned if You Don't....

Over at Buzzmachine, Jeff wrote a piece dissing an article that didn't sing the praises of Craigslist.

So I wrote a comment or two--and, apperently what I said wasn't all that well-liked. Still, I'm surprised to now see a Craigslist for Western Mass and wonder how long it's been rolling around over there (it's kind of tough to pinpoint when a new category appears on Craigslist unless you troll it often.) Going thru some of W. Mass's categories, though, it still seems under-utilized--so I do wonder its effect on newspapers out here.

Yet, there was an odd expreience in the comments section. I had, on another post here, made a snarky little comment about this place being a 'backwater'. (the comment was removed because it appears to have misled some people in a way I did not intend.)

Still--the blog is Snarkaholic. It means I sometimes say cutting things to test the waters, to push the envelope, to even see what the public's reaction will be. And a lot of the times I may not literally mean what I say.

So, I'm sure you're thinking "then why say it at all?"

Because I'm trying to learn about communication styles out here. Because I'm trying to see where the boundaries of civility are, how far a woman can push them, what will happen...if a woman can be as ascerbic as a man on some issues, or whether or not she must always be conciliatory and take the majority opinion...if the blogosphere is really very masculine and combative as some figure out what the "jones" is that some people get from incivility.

And I'm learning a lot more than I thought I would--not just about incivility. There's a lot to be learned about class and caste, about whether or not there can be true peer-to-peer communication between individuals who, outside of the blogosphere, might not be peers at all. I'm learning a great deal about the masculine nature of the blogosphere and who the real men are. I'm learning that a woman's survival out here could very well be contingent on how nice and smart she is rather than how quick and barbed her opinions might get (unless, for some, you are on a certain side of the political fence.)

I've learned that self-censoring because of what appears to be the majority opinion is just not the right thing to do--that there is no way to know all the varieties of opinion that course thru all those wires and all those other screens.

And that emoticons just might be, to a greater or lesser degree, most important when all you have are words on a screen.

I'm tired. I'm going to take a nap.

no, it's not a backwater out here...but it ain't Silicon Valley either. It is what it is.



zenyenta said...

Not ever having used Craiglist, I really can't comment on a lot of it, but one comment on your comment stood out for me. It was one that seemed to be expressing disbelief that there are people on the other side of the digital divide. He or she points out that it's difficult to give away an old computer.

Even if you know where to go to get hold of an old computer, it's access that costs too much for some people and it's getting more expensive all the time. I talk to unwired people every day. They tend to be, just as you said, single mothers or other low income people. Some of them have cellphones, sure, but that's as likely as not to be their only phone. It's probably a better option when your housing is only as stable as a landlord's whim. And a few have no phone at all. There are working people out there who are poor. That's something that we don't like to believe.

It's a fact of life right now that in our society we seem to need to believe that if people lack something they need to get along it's always a willful decision on their part.

I think in the end, the Craiglists and other new media are probably an inevitability for good or not, but what is so wrong about thinking about all the consequences? Business models do change with the times, but maybe if we kicked around the problems a little earlier in the game, some pain could be avoided.

Tish Grier said...

zy--thank you for your comment, and for noticing exactly what I, too, have noticed: where the poverty lies in this country and the ignorance of those who think there's equal access to technology for all.

I am often stunned at the perceptions of poor people--and how wrong they are. I live among poor people--and drug addicts and dealers and prostitutes as well as hard-working, low income families trying to raise kids in some of the worst conditions I've ever lived in.

I dare anyone who believes that being poor is all that great to come out here, live in my neighborhood for about a year, go on food stamps, use the free clinic, and mass transit, and all the things that they believe are freebies or priviledges of being poor. And talk to people. You, zy, know what I'm talking about. Make friends with them, see their homes, get an understanding--don't just shoot your mouth off like you know what's going on when all you're going on is bad rhetoric.

And, yes, the changes that are going on in the digital world might eventually be good. A revolution in old business models might be what we need to turn the economy around for the better. It's too early to be so sanguine, though...and there is, as per usual, not enough planning out there to help all of The People to be part of the changes. The elitism, on both the Left and the Right (it's not exclusive) is stun-worthy.

Jen said...

Don't let comments like that bother you. Most of it is just right-wing knee-jerk responses to anything that criticizes the free market (because the free market WILL solve every problem FAIRLY and NOBODY is getting left behind unless they brought it on themselves, right?).

As for the backwater comment, well let her take offense. I live here too and love it and recognize that we have lots of culture, diversity, etc. BUT we also smell cow dung on our way into Wal-mart and the movie theaters and that pretty much says middle of nowhere (aka backwater) to me.