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Monday, July 26, 2010

Guest Blog - Calling All Democratic Bloggers: Why Try?

This is a guest blog by Stuart Heady, a freelance writer and political activist who lives in Albuquerque.

A lot of people read blogs a bit and conclude it is like that party we have all been to. Someone is holding forth on an interesting topic, and a few people decide to join the conversation. Then, the louder and more brainless and clueless monopolize the oxygen. This causes the more knowledgeable people to fade away.

But consider the words, "citizen" and "audience."

Consider the ways in which we are all disappointed by the "mainstream media."

Never in the history of mankind or the First Amendment has there ever been such an open door just standing there. The prospect of a truly empowered "Enlightened Citizenry" that gives each of us access to the marketplace of ideas is literally at our fingertips. Had someone gone back in time to explain the internet to Franklin, he would have wept to hear of it, for sheer joy.

How come so few eagerly and passionately take the option and go through that door?

It can be frustrating to engage in the work it takes to become good enough at writing to have any impact anywhere, as anyone who has made serious efforts to get published in conventional print periodicals will attest. Trying to be better never ends.

Yes, it takes some discipline. We all, at least at times, become cynical, tempted to think that becoming good at this, partly because the cost is so little, must not have much value. Isn't expert capability a sign of having sold out?

For various reasons, a great potential has yet to be fully realized.

A Vicious Cycle
There is a vicious cycle that we need to break. First, a few attempt to put something out there. The audience does not seem very responsive. The few who are given to being verbose seem to just be talking to the same few. The people really in the know withhold participation. When comment seems to be coming in, it seems somewhat dedicated to the notion that this is a video game. The thing to do is to shoot anyone or anything down, not respond with a sense of responsibility for encouraging the development of better quality participation.

That syndrome is an artifact of the pervasive consumer culture we live in. We are all subject to conditioning that leads to thinking as consumers, and de-emphasizing our identity as citizens. We believe that our best role is to decide if we like or don't like and either criticize or buy. Our highest and best function is to decide -- which channel to watch.

Conditioning as citizens would lead to furthering discussion, not cutting its tires.

Critical Thinking
Most of us are probably not used to critiquing cultural conditioning and media, the way we would if we were anthropologists studying our own context. We don't practice critique of our own complicity in furthering the way the mental environment is perpetually an extension of Madison Avenue everywhere we go.

You don't see billboards or TV commercials that say, "Escape the Matrix," because there wouldn't be any money in it.

Does this have anything to do with anything that really has consequence?

Voting Angry
Look at the way Susana Martinez is trying to surf a wave of existential anger into the Governor's office.

There is a disparity between the way reality feels and the way it looks in the media. People who are more likely to question things are more likely to have a sense of what is happening without being told what to think. People who are less likely to critically analyze are more likely to vote angry.

If people who are just uncomfortable and irritated vote angry, whilepeople who feel that their intelligence is being insulted stay home, Martinez will win.

That could be an increasingly likely scenario, over and over again, and increasingly so in coming years.

This is why it is really important to throw off consumer culture conditioning and use blogs as an exercise gym for getting those citizen muscles toned and hardened.

We need to become a more muscular culture of citizens if we are to avoid becoming a regressive culture.

This is a guest blog by Stuart Heady. If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.

July 26, 2010 at 02:48 PM in Guest Blogger, Media, Weblogs | Permalink

Comments

true and sad. I like blogs but wish this content was available on Television so that it would reach the larger citizenry.

Posted by: LG | Jul 27, 2010 6:24:27 AM