The Sunday Times doesn’t like us.
The attached article, especially its final sentence, strikes me as a gloat at the fact that blogging hasn’t wiped newspapers off the face of the earth.
The thing is, of course, that very few bloggers ever claimed that it would, and even fewer would want it to. The idea of there being no Irish Times, and no Fintan O’Toole, Tom Humphries, Mary Hannigan, Frank McNally, Kathy Sheridan, Lucy Kellaway, Fiona McCann, Roisin Ingle or Keith Duggan would horrify me. Even John Waters, who famously said in a radio interview that “all blogs are stupid, every single one of them”, writes a column that I read every week, since I find his posts that I disagree with just as entertaining as the ones where I don’t.
I got all this from Damien Mulley’s post. He lists the questions he was asked, and the replies he gave, and it’s fascinating to see how his essentially positive analysis of the state of blogging in Ireland is made to appear negative in the actual article.
It’s also interesting that the article quotes Rick O’Shea as saying “I don’t think the blogging community wants or needs mainstream respect or recognition. It only matters that people are reading your blog. The blogging community doesn’t need anyone but the blogging community.”
The next sentence in the article says: “They don’t mean that, though, not really”. Why bother asking him, then?
The ST cite the fact that we have annual blog awards as evidence that we “crave recognition”. And perhaps we do (vote for me, by the way, when they come along), but only from other bloggers. Architects have annual awards as well, where the important thing is having your work recognised by your peers. No-one claims that these awards are so architects will earn respect from the public at large.
On the subject of Twenty Major, they bemoan the fact that he has a larger readership for a post that says “John O’Donoghue is a fucking clown” than Gavin Sheridan has for his continually excellent posts about NAMA and similar issues (unfortunately for them, anyone clicking onto Gavin’s blog for the first time today after reading their article will come first upon a post dated Dec 11th that doesn’t really help their argument). But this is not comparing like with like. Twenty’s site is primarily about entertainment. As part of that entertainment he vents about issues in our country, striking a chord with many frustrated and enraged Irish citizens as he does so, but he is not the same type of writer as Gavin, nor would he claim to be. It’s like bemoaning the fact that South Park has more viewers than the South Bank Show.
(As a brief aside, the article says that the fact that many of Gavin’s posts attract no comments “indicates little interest”, though it does admit that his posting of all of John O’Donoghue’s expense claims were read by people who then helped escalate the whole matter. The fact that posts don’t attract comments doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t being read. Mulley’s own posts, for example, attract very few comments, but that certainly doesn’t mean we bloggers don’t read them. And Twenty himself often provides links to posts written by Gavin).
On Twenty being more popular than Gavin (sorry, Gavin, I’m going to stop saying stuff like that now) the article asks “Isn’t that typical, and disheartening for those who hoped the internet might be a forum for higher minds?” Oh, for God’s sake. Playboy massively outsells the Economist every month. Isn’t that typical, and disheartening for those who hoped that the periodical might be a forum for higher minds?
The Playboy/Economist comparison is probably at the heart of this issue. The magazine world has publications from Bass Angler’s Guide to Flying Saucer Review. No one would write an article suggesting these have a common aim, or are of comparable value. Yet article after article says that the blogging world wants this, or has failed at that. It’s meaningless.
My blog will not change the world, nor have I ever expected it to. I like writing, though, and I like writing stuff that I hope is funny. I also like to sometimes use my blog to articulate and therefore ease some of the health and mental problems which have dogged me over the last couple of years. I don’t have a large readership, but you are frequent and loyal readers who I’ve come to regard as friends. You wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t engaging and interesting, so the fact that you are makes me very, very proud. I don’t crave recognition, but I do crave the feeling that I’m doing something well, and I get it from all of you.
And there are many other blogs, some of which belong to all of you, some of which belong to people who’ve never heard of me, and many of which don’t even know I read them (I’m not a great commenter), which I go to every day.
And that’s the saddest part of this article. In the concluding paragraph, the author states: “While some are entertaining, not one continually demands our attention. No Irish blog is important enough to read every day.”
Ignore the arrogance behind the dismissal of others as unimportant. That sentence is written by a journalist who believes that all that matters is the cocoon-like world of politics and current affairs, whereas the blogs I read entertain me, share my concerns, make me laugh. Some have fabulous writing, most have real warmth. All of them have an overriding sense of humanity.
These bloggers make my life more enjoyable. I don’t think that’s unimportant.