Exactly like the young child on Christmas morning who unwraps her gift, squeals with delight, pulls the gift out of the box, sets the gift aside then climbs into the box laughing and clapping her hands, a local blogger yesterday revealed her entire purpose for blogging centers on what many of us would consider the trappings of the medium. In the process she also disclosed the source of much of the disharmony in the local conservative blogosphere.
In a series of comments left here yesterday afternoon (start with this one and scroll down), the blogger stated that the only possible motivations for blogging are: to increase one’s blog traffic, to engage in partisan support or attacks on candidates, or in demonstration of loyalty to one’s “friends.” Here is the key portion:
Surely your motivations can’t simply be to alienate your friends, or to make it ”big” in the LC blogosphere!!! If it’s not to support David’s opponent, what is your motivation? The public has a right to know about bad grammar and misspellings? The public can’t read see those things on their own? Or is it really to bring down a good man, a hard working republican? Why? There’s only one obvious answer. Duh.
And for those who do not know, “friends” in this context is defined as: A). A small circle of Loudoun County Republicans, who pledge tribal fealty to B). the principals of a leviathan-wannabe local political consulting firm, and C). whomever happen to be the client/candidates and employees of that firm at any given point in time.
So as possible reasons to blog, there are traffic whoring, political hackery, or blind boosterism.
What might come as a surprise to this neophyte blogger is that for many of us, NONE OF THE ABOVE motivations have to do with why we write and report the vast majority of the time. (Although, when practiced correctly and transparently, traffic whoring as in art form earns a modicum of respect). Some of us want to state our opinions, whether popular or not; or uncover what we consider the truth, whether popular or not; or convey information from our own areas of interest – which often is hardly popular at all. When the traffic builds it is an organic phenomenon, because more viewers take an interest and because we happen to provide data that lots of people eventually seek out. And I will go one step further and say that when traffic, hackery and boosterism are your motivations, ironically you are never going to garner much attention.
As one who has spent most of the last eight years doing this, I will reiterate my Rule #1 for Bloggers – Budzinski’s Sisyphean Axiom – which is: The more exclusively you are focused on hackery and building traffic, the more your blog will suck. You can try and try for more and more hours, but you’d just as well stand outside and flap your arms because some laws simply do not bend.
To get off the ground, a blog needs to have a unique proposition that inspires other people periodically to spend a portion of their time to see what you have to say. You, as a human being, are uniquely qualified to say something original about a relatively limited number of topics, such as what you have spent time on during your life, or what you saw that day. For instance, if all you really know is how to make pies, you would be far better off writing a baking blog and gradually drawing in the pastry demographic, than parroting some politician’s talking points, pretending to be a reporter or jumping up and down yelling “come read my blog, come read my blog!”
If one’s entire raison d’etre revolves around boosterism and self-promotion, people will tire of it quickly. This blogger’s parochial approach shines through in her commenting persona, which usually consists of leaving nasty messages regarding a violation of the “friends” rule and then feigning outrage if anyone pushes back – oh the humanity, you are no longer my friend, you are bullying women around here, etc. It also shone through a recent, surprisingly fierce, critique of Republican sheriff candidate Ron Speakman, called Where DOES Ron Speakman live?.
The blogger, who is a supporter of candidate Verne Dickerson, wrote what purports to be an “investigative” piece but curiously left off what would normally be considered the starting point for such an investigation: the subject’s answer to the question. Amidst the digging for information and data mining, why neglect the rather important rule of investigation, e.g. taking the step of picking up the phone and TALKING to Ron Speakman, instead of trying to tie disparate pieces of data together in purely suppositional fashion? Well, according to the blogger’s philosophy, that the only reason to criticize a candidate is for partisan purposes, this was not an “investigation” at all but rather a political hit piece to help Verne Dickerson. And as everyone knows, in politics there are no rules. Duh.
I don’t know whether or not the hit piece will serve any of the potential goals for this blogger, in terms of getting hits or putting her candidate over the top, but in its failure to provide a full attempt at investigation it shows the downside of blogging for the wrong reasons.
While this post undoubtedly will earn me few “friends,” I hope it illuminates some of the dynamics of the Loudoun blogosphere and the varied perspectives that make what is clear to some so cloudy to others, and inspires a blogger one day to climb out of her box.