(or Bring back the biff) writes Tony of South Yarra…
Part of the appeal of visiting blogs, particularly political ones that lean in a certain ideological direction, is the opportunity to crush another’s precious values and ideals under the weight of your own powerful arguments, proving your righteousness in the process.
Political discourse is by nature combative, and political blogs are the outlet to which many e-savvy citizens turn in order to robustly argue the issues of the day, leaving weaker opponents languishing in the trail of their debating brilliance.
As tense and adversarial as blog-debating may be, it can at the same time be a surprisingly pleasant experience – even dangerously so, if you’re not careful.
Occasionally, you will come across that most lethal of all blog residents: the nice-guy or -gal. This is someone who, if you drop your guard for just a moment, will unfailingly seek to impress you.
A deceptively respectful opponent, who sneakily refuses to resort to personal attacks, and frustratingly insists on articulating arguments in a logical and coherent manner, this is an opponent to be feared.
They are everything you wish your online identity pretended to be, but isn’t: smart, sensible, logical, funny, and disarmingly friendly.
It will take all of your wit and guile to resist being drawn in by them. In fact, in another place, at another time, you might even have been convinced they were your friend.
Regular online contact with this individual is perilous, because it continually reinforces the false feeling of friendship, until the friendship seems almost real. It is at this point when you are likely to exhibit behavioural changes.
You see, it is not natural to want to hurt your friends – even those of the imaginary online variety – and, contrary to your previous pattern, you won’t.
There have been countless documented instances already where once-fierce no-holds-barred online competitors have refrained from challenging – on even the most trivial point of contention – merely to avoid conflict with some new-found cyber-buddy.
A newly discovered phenomenon, thought to be a rare strain of Stockholm Syndrome known as Bloghomie, and described as ‘an unnatural geniality between blog antagonists, often at the expense of intellectual honesty and flame wars,’ could be responsible.
Already diagnosed at a multitude of sites across the internet, Bloghomie is being blamed for the silencing of dissent on many blogs.
Many lively websites – some once fondly referred to as bloodhouses – are sadly little more than chat-rooms now – places to exchange knitting patterns and film reviews. Nice to stop by and visit, to be sure, but completely devoid of the nastiness that was once their reason to exist.
It’s time to take a stand, citizens of cyber-space. Al Gore didn’t invent the internet so all this friendliness and pleasant behaviour could bring it crashing down around him. This has got to stop.
Bring back the biff, people, or prepare to watch as our once-mighty conflict-fuelled weblogs are fatally starved of oppositional oxygen and life-giving food-fights, all in the name of net-neutralising niceness.
Save our blogs. Let’s get ugly again.