Fascinating post over at Scobleizer on The new A list – some reflections by Robert on how he sees the the new breed of bloggers coming through treating his mate Dave Winer who recently announced he’s looking at stepping away from blogging. He describes this new ‘A-list’ of bloggers as a lynch mob.
“No one kept their head – the knives and guns just came out in this street fight. No one called both sides and did some real reporting. No one added any value. Built anyone up. No, all I read was “Dave’s an a++hole” kind of comments…. Ever notice that the new A list only tears down people and ideas but never puts new ideas, new products, new tools, out there to attack?”
My reaction to Robert’s post is mixed:
On the one hand I disagree that the new A-list never puts new ideas, products, tools out there. I see a lot of new bloggers developing interesting ideas and products. This is one of the things that excites me about the space we’re in at present – a new wave of fresh and creative sorts pushing into new space (not just in blogging but in it’s surrounding space also).
On the other hand I connect with the main thrust of Robert’s post.
I’ve noticed a change in the ‘vibe’ of the blogosphere over the last 12 months.
While there has always been arguments, fights, flame wars and snarkyness in the wider blogging community I wonder if it’s gone to new levels in the last year. Perhaps it is just me or the types of bloggers that I’ve been reading lately (and it could well be) – but I’ve noticed a significant increase in the mob mentality among some bloggers of late. Link baiting with ‘attack’ and/or ‘shock’ tactics has been used quite successfully by some bloggers to build their own profile with little (if no) regard for the impact that these strategies have upon those around them.
Some of this happened in the blog network space late last year but by no means is it contained in those circles.
We could probably spend a lot of time asking why this is happening (I’m not going to – although here’s a few possibilities):
- is it a generational thing?
- has it always been this way?
- is it just about a new group attempting to establish themselves and/or an older group attempting to hold onto a space they’ve been in for a while?
- do ‘new’ bloggers tend to be a bit more aggressive than more experienced ones? (an untested theory that I have from my own experience)
- is this a symptom of a more crowded and competitive blogosphere?
I’m not completely sure on the answer but think it’s something worth exploring because it has the potential to impact us all in a number of ways:
- Blogging’s Reputation – one of the regular things I hear from non bloggers about blogging is that it’s just something for angry, egotistical and opinionated people. I personally don’t feel that this is the case as I know a lot of bloggers who are anything but this – however there is an element within blogging that do fit this description to some extent. While I’ve got nothing against different styles of blogging – I do worry that if viciousness and pointless personal attack does creep into the blogging styles of many high profiled bloggers that this just buys into the public perception. This does nothing to grow the numbers or quality of the blogosphere.
- Damaged People – I just don’t see the point of bringing others down for no good reason. I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life caring for and helping damaged people and don’t have much patience for those that inflict pain on others. Of course I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be allowed to critique each other (this is important in life – its how we grow) but the way we critique each other impacts not only the other person but those who witness it and ourselves. I’m speaking out of the consequences of critique upon myself here. We need to take responsibility for this.
- Culture of Attack – while I do not agree with Robert that the new bloggers coming through never put anything forward in the way of new ideas, products etc I do think that some bloggers get so sucked into the buzz of attacking others that they begin to lose perspective and buy into blogging that adds nothing of real worth. It’s all very well to critique someone or an idea – but it takes skill and insight to be able to give a positive alternative. I want to be a part of a blogosphere that moves beyond a culture of just tearing things down and that breaks new ground.
- individual’s rep - bloggers wanting to build a reputation on the back of attack need to be ready for the consequences of their own actions. For starters – ‘what comes around goes around’ and an attacking blogger can expect those they target (and their friends) to fight back and for their own blogging to come under intense scrutiny. Secondly blogs tend to attract readers that are like their bloggers and an attack blog can become a pretty negative and cynical place. Lastly – the web has a very long memory. Your written word becomes a permanent part of the web and can (and will) be used against you at a later time if you are not careful.
I don’t believe that we’ll ever take cynicism, negativity or critique out of the blogosphere (and nor would we want to) but I do hope that we find a more healthy way forward.