This is a collection of articles about blogs, blogging, the mainstream media and all that. I'm not an expert, but...
...not all online commenters are complete bastards. You might disagree if you're ever foolish enough to venture below the line clearly marked 'here be dragons' underneath any Comment is Free post written by a woman, but... not all online commenters are there to wreck the discussion. I think a lot of what happens under CiF posts - particularly ones written by women or about women - is an attempt to snuff out the debate rather than get it going; it's interesting to wonder why that might be and I'm sure we've all got our theories. But in other places on the web, the catflaps through which we can sneak into the worldwide web can be a terrific source of humour, fun, creativity and insight. Not everywhere, I grant you, but I hope that the tide is turning a little.
...it sucks to be at the back of the human centipede. It's not a whole world of fun in the middle or at the front, I'll grant you, but this is a post about trying to work out why media consumers are being fed up about being told what to think and what's right and what isn't; the opportunity exists, more than ever, for people to find out for themselves, if they're pointed in the right direction, and to unspin the lines that have been sold to them. I think this is a good thing.
...there's room for an alternative view. Not just the flamebaitery of "I say let em crash", or views so wildly in opposition to received wisdom that you suspect that they've only been put up there to create a bit of a row; but there are chances, in the online world, for everyone to have a say and for all those points of view to be considered on their merits rather than the salon system of thinking that 'experts' always know better than plebs.
...anonymity isn't always a bad thing. For some in the mainstream, the existence of 'anonymous' online people means that we mustn't take them seriously; that what they write is somehow denigrated by the fact they're not 'brave' enough to 'stick their heads over the parapet'. I'm not entirely in agreement with that view. There are reasons, some important and some mundane, why people might not want to put a socking great photo byline next to everything they ever write; and sometimes it adds to the debate rather than takes away.
...this is why I don't buy newspapers any more. I used to love newspapers and would buy one almost all the time. But, like a lot of people, I haven't continued with that habit throughout my adult life. And it's not just about the expense, or cluttering up the living room with reams of paper about stuff I'm never going to be interested in; there are other reasons why I don't go out of my way to pick up the dead-tree press any more.
...I'm disappointed rather than angry. I said above that I don't buy newspapers any more, and one of the reasons why I am not entirely attracted to newspapers like the Daily Mail is the way in which there is a streak of malice and unpleasantness running through them; an attitude of being out to get certain groups of people. The odd bit of sensationalising a story is one thing; deliberately twisting the truth time and time again to demonise minorities is quite another. I find this more disappointing than angering; I wish they wouldn't do it, but they do.
...you don't have to be. An expert, that is. This is why I started blogging, this is how I got the confidence to be a blogger, and this is why I've continued doing it for nearly three years, at the time of writing this post. I have found it to be a marvellously liberating medium in which you have a real chance not just for self-expression but also to try and correct for the misrepresentations and distortions elsewhere. Even if it's just a tiny effort against a massive industry, it's something, and that fills me with hope.