Okay, so here’s the answer to Mike Golby’s puzzlement (1, 2) over what I was on about last week (1, 2, 3), when I was wondering whether “community” and “friendship” and blogging don’t run afoul of problems relative to ingrown, exclusive self-congratulation club: I could tell that someone was about to launch a loud public outcry over whether blogs amount to little more than online mutual-appreciation societies. The author writes, “In fact the brown-nosing that goes on between bloggers singing each others’ praises makes the worst office kiss-ups look tame by comparison”; he intimates that (as I suggested in referring to Wallace Stegner) that we only like those who like us, we cozy up to people who flatter us.
I’ve already reflected more than enough about this, but I’ll add a flat-out contradiction to the author’s flaming rhetoric. In the neighborhoods I frequent, bloggers are constantly criticizing each other and arguing with one another. Unfortunately, they do so politely and appreciatively — perhaps to please the dubious wider public we ought to insult one another, offer superficial and uncharitable readings of others’ blogs, and try to gin up publicity for ourselves by casually attacking our interlocutors on inarticulate grounds. If we were all more like that, then perhaps John Dvorak would like blogging.