With an innumerable amount of flashy, take-forever-to-load mainstream websites teeming with must-read items about pseudo-people like Paris Hilton, Tom Cruise, Bill O'Reilly, and Michael Moore...why do so many bother maintaining a blog that's read by (maybe) 75 outcasts?
In some ways, blogsâ€¹an epigrammatic name that encompasses an ever-widening aggregation of personal websites dedicated to a fabulously broad range of subject matterâ€¹have replaced the dog-eared notebook into which we scribbled our deepest thoughts...shunning attention, fearing perhaps, we were alone.
Now, with a blog-inspired sense of community, many of us are baring our souls and finding that others share the same concernsâ€¹something we could never discover from traditional media outlets.
Our mainstream media is like watching Saturday morning cartoons-only with real blood; it is a wonderful distraction machine. Sports, politics, crime, entertainment, sex, culture, public relations, advertising, education, religion; everything becomes a show, a marketable commodity aiming for the lowest common denominator. Life itself is the grandest spectacle of all.
Buried under an avalanche of the latest consumer trends and other self-destructive illusions, the result is inevitably a creeping alienation and isolation. We all want something out of life, but the opinion-makers and spin doctors have effectively cut off any constructive avenues. Hence, we find other ways to belong; ways that are outside the public arena. The function of the mainstream media is to make sure we stay there.
Running parallel to the fads, trends, and crazes, the corporate media is an equally potent impetus for the proliferation of blogs. More specifically, it's the shrinking limits of debate within the corporate-dominated elite media that have inspired many a blogger.
I know, in a land where freedom of the press is considered sacred and the media is usually portrayed as a collection of closet Leninists yearning to sacrifice Christian Coalition virgins on the altar of Fidel Castro, this rationalization may at first seem odd. However, once you recognize how narrow the parameters of media debate have become, independent blogs suddenly appear downright seditious.
Whether you label them liberal or conservative, most major media outlets are large corporations owned by or aligned with even larger corporations, and like all good little capitalists they share a common goal: to make a profit by selling a product to a given market. What's the market? That's easy: advertisers. The product? Since any advertiser worth his graying ponytail lusts after an affluent audience, the product is obviously an elite clientele with an unencumbered cash flow. Therefore, we shouldn't find it shocking that the image of the world being presented by a corporate-owned press reflects the interests of the elite players in this sordid love triangle.
With blogs, writers with no chance of breaking into the mainstream media have an outlet. Political thinkers fed up with the system have a platform for much needed new ideas. Slackers have a place where they don't have to apologize for not renting themselves out eight hours a day. If you wanna run a blog about amputation, peak oil, dead musicians, anarcho-syndicalism, grade-B female prison flicks, or the bringing down of civilization as we know it, no one will ask why. They'll be too busy wondering if you'll exchange links.
Why blogs? If they can challenge our self-induced stupor and provoke some much-needed action, I ask: "Why not?" (But we better act fast before blogs are co-opted, re-packaged, and sold back to us as the latest "trend.")
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.