The Blogosphere Is Dead And Its Your Fault

Killing ouselves off!

Killing ourselves off!

Warning: ** If you’re easily offended I suggest you click off to another blog this instant because I will offend your delicate sensibilities. This post is about the blogosphere in its entirety and not about any one particular individual or their actions. **

I am sick to death of the blogsphere. It’s weak, it’s spineless and has about as much veracity as a neutered, toothless, three legged Chihuahua.

It’s dying.

I’d love to know what the root cause of the blogospheres apathetic decline into little more than a circle-jerk for various communities is, but I’m betting that from here on in we’re pretty much screwed.

We’ve descended into a mob of self serving, self centered sheeple that act with about as much individuality a a shoal of fish. One of us reacts and we all react, we all panic. We all cling to each other like sprat on the shores of community while the mackerel devour us.

We secretly despise each others success and revel in others failure, all the while acting like we’re all the best of buddies and that everything everybody writes is amazing and smells like roses.

Well it does smell like roses, until you realize it’s the smell of the bullshit you’ve thrown on the roses to fertilize them.

This weekend I’ve been deeply disturbed by the wishy washy, head stuck in the sand, lets avoid reality when it’s spitting down our throats,  nature of a fairly substantial number of my fellow bloggers.

The entire @MyBottlesUp story just sums it all up for me. Here you have a woman who blatantly fabricated a story that a goverment agency took her child from her. Tweeted about it wrote about it, tried to cash in on her “story” and then when faced with undeniable video evidence that it had never happened, accused the TSA of doctoring the video.

No remorse, no guilt, just more accusations.

So the TSA released more video. 9 videos in fact, showing her entire journey through airport security, sometimes from various angles.

The response of some of the people: “The TSA are faking it” or worse (because I can actually understand that there are a lot of wing-nut conspiracy freaks out there donning  their silver foil hats) the response of those who think we should let it be because she’s “not well”. She suffers from anxiety and substance abuse.

She was well enough to make this shit up. She was well enough to write about it. To tweet about lining up publishers. Well enough to try to pretend her site was down and to write a long response refuting the undeniable evidence.

Yet people want to protect her. They want to make excuses. They would much rather we all look like one big idiot community than do what is needed.

Take a stand. Say what she did was wrong and unfollow her. Unfollow her and unsubscribe from her everywhere. If she wants back make her earn it. Make her apologize.

A prime example of this spineless behavior is Blog with Integrity. You may have seen it, it’s a square blue badge which adorns some bloggers sites stating that they have basically signed a pledge to be goodie goodies… It’s noble. Naive, but noble.

@MyBottleUp proudly displays the “blog with integrity” badge on her sidebar. When the people behind the “I’m holier than thou emblem” were asked what their stance was on all the goings on, they responded by scurrying into the corner like mice afraid of their own shadow. They chose to stay out of it because you know, a blogger sporting their badge should never have to be talked to or asked to have it removed when they violate the principles it is supposed to represent.

Over the weekend, a blogger wrote a negative post about her experiences with the TSA during an airport security screening. The TSA refuted her claims in a post that included video of the incident. The inevitable blogstorm ensued.

The blogger displays the Blog with Integrity badge on her blog, and we have been asked in email, in posts and on Twitter about the matter. Some have called for us to ask her to remove the badge. Others merely wonder what we will do.

Here is our position:

Disputes and disagreements are between the parties involved. There are two sides to every story. It’s only fair to let a story play out before anyone makes up their mind.

Blog with Integrity is a voluntary community effort. Not a regulatory body. We don’t make decisions about your integrity. You do. Your readers do. The badge is a symbol of a blogger’s personal commitment to the principles of the pledge; only he or she can decide whether or not to display it.

In this case, we hope that everyone who has blogged, commented or tweeted about the incident will take the opportunity to re-examine his or her own words, and act accordingly.

Remember the final line of the pledge: “I own my words. Even if I occasionally have to eat them.”

Up Yours!

Up Yours!

Bullshit! Your badge either means something or it doesn’t. You are either serious about what it represents or you’re not.

If you’re going to shy away at the first point of contention then why even bother in the first place. Good intentions have never gotten anybody anywhere.

What exactly does the badge stand for if any unscrupulous twat can just slap it on the side of his or her blog and claim they’ve got integrity as if some mighty Monty Python finger descended from the heavens and shoved integrity up their backside?

I’m not one for regulating the blogosphere. But you know what? If it was my badge I would do some of the following in order to make it mean something:

  • Have a registry of sites that are displaying the badge.
  • Use some kind of script to track the distribution of the badge so it is tied to each website and if they violate the pledge turn off the badge.
  • Make community regulation an integral part of the system. After all it’s so much easier to stick to the rules when you have people supporting you and possibly snitching on you if you cheat…
  • Act like I give a shit when stuff like this goes down.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t really want to regulate the blogosphere, in fact I’ve lambasted Tim O’Reilly and others for suggesting such silliness in the past. But that said, if you’re going to try to do it, dear “Blog with Integrity” people, then for feck sake at least do it right!

I’m truly sick of todays blogosphere, where the ultra polite and light on brainwave activity have massive zombie hordes follower numbers while those who dare to express an actual opinion are ostracized to the edges of mediocrity. I honestly believe that John C Dovark is the only person to have crossed that divide, but that still plays out as a poor reflection on that esteemed section of the blogging community that act like everything is one great big group hug with Barney the purple pedophile.

Heaven forbid that someone be different. That someone suggest we don’t all have to brown nose each other all the time.

When the hell is the blogosphere going to finally grow up and stop moaning about what it doesn’t have, what bloggers believe (naively) they are entitled to and act like adults.

Adults can have opinions. We don’t have to go along with the crowd. We can do something different and be part of the community.We don’t have to think that every god damn post by every idiot we just happen to know is praiseworthy to the point of gushing…

We can call a spade a spade. We can call people out for what they’ve done wrong and praise them for what they’ve achieved. We can regulate ourselves without a laid out set of rules or crappy badges in our sidebars. I mean seriously who besides those that display them know what they’re for anyway?

All we have to do is accept that we are adults and that we have a community to protect and build if we ever want to get taken seriously.

Treat the community as a plant with each one of us acting as a gardener. I know that sounds daft but stick with me.

If a bit is rotten, does wrong, then don’t just ignore it. Cut it off. Each of us, one at a time. If that part heals, grows strong again, then let it back in for another chance.

If we all act like little gardeners and follow our own individual moral compass and just decide to unsubscribe, unfollow and not visit the blogs of people who we feel are not in the best interest of the community we will eventually find a natural middle ground where everyone is comfortable.

Yes the community will split. Probably into a number of parts. The marketers and spammers will find themselves marketing and spamming each other. The trolls will have nobody to play with etc… But the core will remain and just like cutting the dead branches off a tree in order to save it, the community will begin to grow and flourish again.

If we can just drop this, everybody be nice to everybody about everything no matter what attitude, the blogosphere will be a far better place and may actually start to earn some respect.

We need to drop the “He’s local so I’ll follow his blog or on twitter even though he’s a dick” bullshit. The same within communities such as mommybloggers. You can’t protect the idiots from themselves so let them go, let them die off.

Darwin called it natural selection. Survival of the fittest. The weak, infirm and just plain stupid die off so as not to pollute the gene pool and damage the entire species.

We’ve been protecting and making excuses for far too long. They’re like a cancer and our acceptance and encouragement is only weakening the entire body and eating us up from the inside while we trot around like idiots with our rose tinted glassed on pretending that everything is fine.

Very soon the only bloggers remaining will be barely capable of thought in more the 140 character bursts and only capable of that if they are participating in a community reach around scheme.

Culling the herd is a common practice to stop the spread of disease so that all the animals aren’t lost. If we don’t cull some of our herds, and soon, there won’t be any blogosphere left worth protecting.

Comments

  1. CharmingBitch says

    If you are going to link to me preceding a statement implying Nicole has substance abuse issues, it needs to be made clear those are your words, not mine. Anxiety doesn’t equal substance abuse, not in my reality.

    Also, my twitter account is protected as it has almost always been so I am not sure what linking to me in your post will accomplish.

    • Paul O'Flaherty says

      I linked to your comments twice. Once with the words “not well” because THAT is how you were defending here. I linked you with the term “They want to make excuses”, because that is what you were doing.

      I did not link you for the statement about her apparent substance abuse. If I had done the red underline of the link would have been on the sentence about her apparent substance abuse.

      And no anxiety in itself doesn’t equal substance abuse, I suffer from it myself. I’ve been dealing with depression for over a decade and have recently been diagnosed with Anxiety Depression. I’ve never said being ill equals substance abuse and I never will. I’ve left that assumption and statement to the 400+ comments from her friends and detractors that I read when I commented on her rebuttle post.

      I have more to say but I shan’t because that only makes it about you, me and Nic.

      This post was about the entire blogosphere using the recent events with Nic as a focal point. As a catalyst for conversation.

  2. April says

    Here’s what you couldn’t see because, ya know, I’m here on my couch in Omaha and you’re way over the big pond somewhere…me nodding my head the whole time I was reading your post.

    I gave up on the blogging community a long time ago. Its too much like high school and I hated high school.

    There are the popular kids, the outcasts who hate the popular kids, the dorks who really want to be popular, the kids who will try desperately to befriend the popular kids hoping that some of the popularity will rub off on them… see where this is going? Its all a popularity contest.

    Yeah, I think its dying a very quick but dramatic death. I think its time to start packing up our gear, loading out and heading to Web 3.0.

  3. Margo says

    Amen. I would guess TSA didn’t treat her particularly well and that it may have had something to do with her being a “mommy” traveling with a child. The airline/airport industry always has treated women with the pesky little younguns as second class citizens compared to the guys with crackberries and amex. I could write a book about the different way my husband was treated traveling with our teenager when she was an infant when compared to me. This blogger wasn’t a skilled enough writer to express what it was that was rubbing her – it’s a grey area. As a result, everyone misses out on the real story that probably was there and it screws everything up for the authentic, non-histrionic voices out there – which are there – but God you have to look for them :)

      • Margo says

        definitely, she lied. It bothers me, but something clearly was bothering her as a result of her experience that she didn’t even try to express. She intentionally over sentimentalized, trying to evoke a certain response. She may be a capable writer, but either chose or didn’t bother to tell the truth. Since we’re talking about the entire blogosphere – many bloggers seem to intentionally avoid subtleties because these stories don’t get tweeted, increase your page rank or noticed by publishers.

        • Paul O'Flaherty says

          Which bring us to the basis of my post, that in this case she deliberately fabricated 90%+ of the story in order to get attention.

          The why’s of what she did are not really important, that’s for her and her therapist to figure out.

          The question here is the blogospheres response and how do we go about ensuring that future events like this don’t destroy what little credibility we have and is there a way that we can perhaps increase our credibility as a community by our handling of this and other events :)

  4. liv says

    yup. what you said. it’s unfortunate, but after a trip to blogher in 2008, i knew i was out. now, when i write, it’s just because i want to. i feel no compulsion to check google reader to see if “i’m behind!!” or any other such nuttery. i don’t know what the next thing is, but blogging is slowing down.

    this girl, nic? i don’t know her. i do know that the first thing i did after reading about the drama was to check the TSA blog. i watched the footage, and this is what i do know: if you make hand gestures (arm flapping) emphatically as if to prove your point, roll your eyes or look in the least bit put out with the TSA in Atlanta (my hometown) your journey will quickly grow complicated. i’ve flown all over the country, and i can truly say that the ATL TSA experience is pretty unique. they have you by the balls there, and they know it. if you don’t smile and “yes ma’am” or “no, sir” them, you’re screwed. i would bet that nic’s attitude didn’t help her here. i would bet also that the threat of being late for her flight while being detained pissed her off. how that translated into such a fantastical fabrication is beyond me, but shame on her.

    • Paul O'Flaherty says

      I don’t know what the next thing will be either. All I do know is that for those who are still “in” it won’t be any better if we don’t learn from the current situation :)

      Still I await the next thing eagerly :)

  5. Dooooche says

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m so tired of mediocre crap being proclaimed as “brilliant” just because of a large following. I’d like more truth and ballsy writing, like what you are doing here. Why is it that when someone points out that the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes they get hushed? It’s not about trying to gain hits off of someone elses’s following, it’s about wanting true integrity in writing to return. Thank you for this post. What is the point of the Blogging with Integrity Badge anyhow? It’s as easily procured and used as the crap swag that everyone chomps at the bit for at blogging conventions.

  6. Loralee says

    I hope that you are not confusing “playing nice” with “remaining civil”.

    If you aren’t then yup…I hear ya.

    Totally.

    (Although…people have been saying blogging is dead for ages. If anything kills it, which I don’t see happening for awhile, it will be social media expansion, not the niceitude or not of the blogosphere. Just my 2-cents)

  7. Loralee says

    And in followup after giving your “blogging with integrity” policy thought, I wonder more if BlogHer will take a position on the debacle. She has had huge amounts of traffic on her site. Huge. And BlogHer has a definite policy about it. I’m just not sure if it’s ever been tested. So, I’m curious if they consider the video definitive proof or not.

    • Paul O'Flaherty says

      I guess it would certainly violate the BlogHer Editorial Guidelines. I can’t find a more comprehensive list beyond actually signing up…

      Wonder if they will take a stance on it. I mean, 9 videos some from different angles is about as definitive as you will get…

  8. Miss Britt says

    Wait. Is this not already happening??

    Whenever I see people get all riled up and rant and rave about what blogging “should be” or “shouldn’t be” – what you should and should not write, tweet, comment, blah blah blah – I am always surprised. Don’t we just stop reading things we are no longer interested in, thereby showing what “shouldn’t” be done?

    Is there really a part of the Internet where people are afraid to say “you’re a dick”??

    Man. I have been hanging out in the WRONG corner of the Internet.

    Could I please get a map to this lovely ass kissing community you’ve described? Maybe I have time to get a tummy rub before it disappears forever.

    • Paul O'Flaherty says

      I just checked and it does appear to be gone as do the BlogHer ads. I also checked the Blog with Integrity group on FB and they have not updated to say they asked for it to be removed.

      I can only assume she removed it herself as some of the comments made to her pointed out the irony of it being there.

      I’d link to some but many of the comments have been removed from the site. When I commented on her rebuttal post there were over 400+ (on that post alone) at the time and today there are 133 but we can’t see them.

  9. Swistle says

    A lot of this is really good and makes me want to kneel at your feet. Other parts seem just as naive as the Blog With Integrity thing. What you’re describing in the blogosphere is a reflection of humankind: it’s just particularly easy to see it when it’s in writing and we have such easy access to it. What you’re suggesting as a solution would involve a complete revamping not of blogging practices but of human nature. I think some of us can put these ideas into action for our own benefit (like by removing from our reader the blogs we think are stupid) but that hoping for it to be widespread—let alone universal—is useless.

    • Paul O'Flaherty says

      Yeah, it’s useless. Because change can never happen!

      You know, just like black emancipation, the end of apartheid, women getting the vote, the legalizing of same sex marriages…

      All it takes is conversation, education and an attitude change. We’re not even looking to change anything as large as the attitudes above, just the behavior of the blogosphere.

      So don’t tell me it’s useless. Anybody who says even attempting or encouraging change is a futile cause has admitted defeat before even thinking about the challenge.

  10. Ri O'Laughlin says

    Too bad you can’t see the effusive applause and standing ovation I’m giving you right now. Agreed on ALL counts. (And not just because both of our surnames begin with the same vowel and apostrophe…)

    I’m relatively new in the blogging community – three months or so (not counting my family blog), and while I would love for it to become a vehicle for me to hone my writing again and perhaps eventually make enough $ to keep my kiddo in Capri Sun Juice Pouches…I’m having a really hard time swallowing much of what you’ve so accurately called out. Gardening, indeed. I’m pulling on my weeding gloves, dude.

    I’ll keep at it. For now, I’m not making a dime (nor have I actively tried) and writing for me. I’ll be interested to see how the crops come in…and how thick the weeds become.

    • Paul O'Flaherty says

      Ri, it’s a slow and arduous task before your blog will start to flourish (to continue the gardening metaphor) but it is one that is well worth it when it flowers.

      Wish you the best of luck with your blogging :)

  11. Saje Williams says

    I blog because I have things to say about whatever, from my writing to other books, television, movies, politics, or society in general. I don’t misrepresent who I am, or what I believe, nor do I expect it to come down to some internet popularity contest. I don’t know if it’s dying or not, but it seems social media has taken some of its initial thunder. Which, if you ask me, sucks… It’s hard to give any given subject the exposition it might deserve in 140 characters.

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