Perhaps the funniest thing about Margaret Wente’s bizarre commentary about a supposed (in reality non-existent) dearth of female bloggers, and its posited, hilarious (as in “laughable”), connection to testosterone levels, is the fact that it very much looks like a typical blog post.
And if it were just that, the vehement reaction that it has elicited, both on the electronic pages of the (supposedly) distinguished Canadian newspaper that hosted it, as well as throughout blogosphere (see Cath’s post, for instance), would not have taken place.
Very few of us start writing expecting our blog to become one of the venues to which large segments of the population regularly turn for well-reasoned, in-depth, informed commentary. Most of us write for fun, only reach a relatively limited circle of readers (essentially friends), and never achieve a role of influential opinion-makers. Blogging is a pastime that today’s technology puts at the disposal of anyone with internet access, with truly minimal prerequisites of education or intellect.
Conversely, no one expects the average blog post to be necessarily written in good English, much less to get its facts straight, or to be engaging or compelling. For the most part, we use our blog to vent, or maybe to start discussions with like-minded people on subjects that are of interest to us.
Whether it is really the exercise in “instant gratification” that Wente suggests (incidentally, am I the only one who sees in her commentary a subliminal comparison of blogging to masturbation ?), I shall defer that judgment to people more knowledgeable than me; however, that the fraction of blogs that aim to be, or that one could regard as, dependable sources of information or commentary is minuscule, is really no mystery.
It is occasionally possible to be offended or aggravated by a blog post, but most of the time the reader just chuckles at the self-righteous tone, the unsubstantiated claims, the puzzling non sequiturs, the preposterous, self-serving conclusions, and the inevitable wholesale indictment of entire categories. Hey, that is part of the fun.
But from a syndicated columnist expressing her views on the op-ed page of a newspaper that enjoys national prominence, and daily readership in the millions, one does expect more than that.
It is a sad reflection of the current state of journalism, that a bunch of half-assed assertions put together by someone who has obviously no interest in, much less knowledge of a specific subject (and makes no bones about it), who evidently was paid to write an editorial about something and simply could not come up with anything (kind of like, um, a blogger), was deemed suitable for publication not by a blog hosting site, but by a reputedly competent editorial board.
Trust me, Margaret, you are a blogger, you just don’t know it.