Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Whither my activism, wither my blogging

Some days a dreadful inertia mires all action.
Causes and excitements lose their attraction.
I have no heart, I have no faction.

Or perhaps I just have too many.

I admit, I am developing a resentment, in spite of the pleasures of self expression, to the time it takes me to blog. I could be doing something about all the broken things I end up merely writing about. I could be face to face with others rather than at the distilled isolation of an anonymously authored web page. The satisfaction of going overtime in 40 minutes of intense conversation with 22 perfect strangers who have shown up at Casa Greensmile to hear what the candidates have to say in answer to questions about global warming, that satisfaction is much more engaging than the faint hope that three or four people might read the occasional post, often hours in the writing, that is not utterly repetitive of what they can read elsewhere. Today, the only reason I can make myself write is the vain hope that someone knows a few words to dispel these doubts:
  1. The public whose mind I wish I could change or awaken is not reading this blog.
  2. The case for amateurs writing about political issues is weak at best: we start with borrowed facts and come to similar conclusions to what readers have seen better written in a dozen places already.
  3. Looking beyond the liberal blogosphere, we have become a jelly dough nut of a nation, fat, insubstantial in our interests, addicted to pleasures and entertainments, tolerant only of the very shortest appeals to our conscience and the very nearest and personally painless horizons in considering the common good. And many are now content to take the pseudo-sectarian shortcuts to feeling right about skipping all the old questions about our fellow humans. We have in short, become a very poor stock, getting Bushwhacked as we deserve for dropping the yoke of democracy.
  4. The infrastructure on which we communicate is frayed, frail and under attack. A few disgustingly rich people want to own the roads and the Internet as soon as a few rule changes make it profitable to do so. Even where private enterprise raised money to lay wire, they did so as sanctioned monopoly, employing technology developed with heavy public subsidy. It has been a gift to publish pages for no cost at all save leaving my words as fodder for some one's advertising scheme. When "publish post" has the same effect as hitting "call" on my cell phone, will I still write? would you pay one cent to read my drivel?
  5. Since the FCC and Reagan effectively obliterated the idea that broadcasters are permitted to use the electromagnetic commons as a trustee licensed to make responsible and beneficial use of a public resource and since the supreme court 1976 Buckley vs Valeo decision, "free speech" means* "how much can you afford to publish or broadcast". As long as the rich-get-richer, poor-get-poorer trend continues its march to an obscene lopsidedness, nothing we little people can put in words cannot be completely drowned out.
  6. The "Paris-Britney-OJ is all that you are interested in ... we are telling you that" journalism will be the Wal-Mart of information as long as "informing people" and "making money" are essentially tied together. The mightiest liberal blogs are, in the scope of national politics, just the little independent bookstore or cafe that has such loyal customers, Wal-Mart couldn't put them out of business and the smart conversations are still going on there...what we needed to do was put the Wal-Medias out of business or at least stop them from packaging whole demographics the way huge chain stores package Chinese dog food. To get the attention of an addled consumer nation, a lot of people carrying signs in the street may be necessary.

In contrast to such misgivings, I have the very positive impressions from discovering that right in my own neighborhood there are a crowd of people who care as much as I do about global warming. I only signed up to host 15 people. Turned out they were people like me: not kids and not too bad off and able to imagine, and care, about the world as it will be when they are gone...people with other ideas and more complete knowledge that I only learn of when I start talking with them. They will put aside their own interests and pleasures occasionally to help make an impression on our leaders that we need to change direction. I don't know if any of those people who showed up at my party for the planet read this blog. So, even if I am not reckoning only from the negatives, I find it reasonable to question why I blog.

MoveOn queried its members today as to which of several current political causes they should focus on. I am not telling you the choices. Join MoveOn and get yer own damn ballot. They apologized for giving a list, all of which you would like to support for some positive change in public policy, and making us pick one. But they are right...the American public, its mind reduced by TV journalists to equating Paris Hilton's celebrity incarceration with Scooter Libby's cannot be schooled or moved on more than one issue at a time. We have a long row to hoe.

*It was from one of my guests Saturday night that I learned of that terrible precedent, see what I am starting to think real people work better than HTML pages?


etbnc said...

All hail the long tail!

Seriously, though, you probably get visitors by way of web searches. Getting comment feedback quickly is fine for immediate gratification, but having our best thoughts waiting for later visitors has value, too, I think.

It's only when I happen to get on a roll and publish a couple of items in succession that I begin to feel some strange magnetic pull to write more and to write quickly. It's been a busy month since I last clicked 'Publish', and the longer I go without publishing, the easier it gets.

I knew when I started that I couldn't keep up any kind of regular or frequent schedule. I think that's helped me to resist feeling obligated.

If you feel burned out by politics and policy, how about writing more about your environmentally friendly lifestyle? I really enjoyed your descriptions of your solar system and your bike commuting. I've been meaning to do some sort of miniature carnival of the green with links to your solar project and to Greenpa's blog in the big woods.

As you described, real world conversations offer a different kind of feedback and satisfaction.
I hope you continue to contribute to the web world once in a while, too.


GreenSmile said...

You know, etbnc, it feels like at this point, I could do my career a favor if kicked the habbit.

I have 33 posts in draft and about a MB of notes, sketches and URLs all going stale on the hard drive.

I won't live forever so I need to tip away from instant gratification. I once had the hope I would get gratifying interactions with the world AND make it a better place all via the keyboard. Other vehicles, clearly, will work better for me.

But if I manage to stop obsessing over what I will write each day, I still cannot imagine a complete silence. A little quality improvement would be a good thing too.

And, come to think of it, I have a blog that is a year older than this one which I started because I wanted to describe a low consumption, very low fossil fuel usage life style. Maybe I oughta restart that.

Gerry said...

You express, in an exquisitely eloquent manner, thoughts and feelings about political blogging which plague me too. But I'm more miserable when I quit, than when I blog, so I need to blog.

I think if you try to measure your 'effectiveness' by how many people you 'educate' or convert', you will never feel you blogging is worthwhile. but perhaps there are other, more lateral, ways of evaluating your blogging.

GreenSmile said...

"more miserable when I quit..."

that is a big problem for me. If I so much as peek at the NY Times, I am soon angry enough to squawk about it.

Yesterday for instance, the times laid out just how little this rethuglican administration cares for the health of its subjects [we clearly can't afford the smugness of calling ourselves citizens any longer]...and I had to push away the keyboard to keep from posting about it.
But nobody needs greensmile to tell them what is in the New York Times.

I do have, as you suggest Gerry, one other "measure of effectiveness" that is a mere pebble to heave at the giants of fear stupidity and greed but it is something:Google is piling up the links as long as I keep making the posts. I have got so much stuff indexed now that it has begun to feed back. For instance, this old post gets a high rank hit [and an occasional reader] whenever someone does a google image search on the keyword "chimp"...If the completed merger/aquisition of government and corporations now pollutes all sources of information, then I am one of the little guerillas, polluting right back at them.

[thanks for the inspiraition, I think i have cheered myself up a bit...at least until the FBI knocks on google's door at 3 in the morning]

Gerry said...


Mama, take this keyboard off of me
I can't use it anymore.
It's gettin' dark,
too dark for me to see
I feel like I'm knockin' on Google's

Sorry, Bob... :-)

Davo said...

To blog, or not to blog .. that is the question (sorry Bill).

We luvs ya anyway, GS.

GreenSmile said...

Davo, Gerry: Thanks guys, you're making it easy to take it easy. I'll try not to overdo that but I won't try too hard.

Gerry said...

Trying to not try too hard...

Ahhh Glassdropper, but there is no "try"... Do or don't do... There is no "try", Glassdropper...