I s'pose it's the other side of the coin.
I was just watching a cool little vid over on MySpace (and no, I'm not posting the link-- if you can't find MySpace without me having to hand-code a damned convoluted link into HTML code, then what business do you have with a modem any damned way?) where Diablo Cody was interviewing John Cusack in an odd little 4 minute tete-a-tete shot over someone's rustic dining room harvest table, and Cody (it just sounds too strange to refer to a funny woman as "Diablo") was remarking on how cool it is that with the blog culture you can just sidestep "The Man" and say what you need to say.
And that all sounds great, and of course in my half-distracted state some portion of my brain is doing like Cusack was, just sorta absent-mindedly nodding passive agreement out of politeness, until a few minutes later when I poked my head into one of the (too) many discussion boards I lurk on and found a bewilderingly active series of arguments about... utter bullshit.
Now, I'm not going to describe which board I am referring to. Nor will I describe the debate itself, as that would only help to specify which circle of erstwhile "friends" (and that's the online kind, and not the real kind) has the strongest cause to feel insulted and slighted. Instead, I'll keep it vague enough that pretty much ALL of my discussion board "posses" (yes, I am phat with a P-H) will now glare at me, abso-damned sure that I was talking about THEM.
My point -- and, again, I do have one -- is that this ability to sidestep The Man (as Cody described it) is a double-edged sword. Yes, with the internet we ALL now get to express our opinion without first having to gain support and approval. But is that really so all-fired wonderful?
I'm not so sure.
I think a strong case could be made for the value of gatekeepers and doormen and judges of all stripe, those folks who stand as the intellectual equivalent to the amusement park clown painting telling us "you must be THIS TALL to ride this coaster!". In the old days, when dinosaurs walked the earth and journalists still worked on that quaint substance once known as "paper," the opinions which managed to make it into print for dissemination had all been first vetted by someone whose vocation it was to, ya know, write and shit.
Nowadays online we get flubbering blubbering 4 pound essays on foreign policy from people who in real life are not qualified to cut their own meat.
Don't call me a fascist (or, if you do, at least have some specific factual support or a solid claim on being understood as joking friend) -- I am not saying that people do not have a right to an opinion on any bit of philosophical tinfoil or intellectual twine which grabs their fancy for any span of seconds. Instead, I am saying that just because someone has an opinion does not mean that anyone else should have to suffer listening to it.
There is so much absolutely worthless drivel posted online these days -- almost always under the protective cover of "opinion" -- that it truly boggles the mind when you pause to consider it. Think about how self-absorbed and lazy we have become that we feel greater need to spend three days arguing about Lindsey Lohan's latest oddness than we do in helping people in our community affected by some natural disaster. More drive to slapfight over who is the best BATMAN than we can summon to actually improve our own lives or those of anyone we know or see. More fire in the belly to argue Coke vs Pepsi than we have to achieve some long-hidden dream.
There is so much we could do.
But instead of actually doing it, we blog about it.
Hell yes, irony noted.