Posted on | February 17, 2012 | 43 Comments
It is rather a painful thing to acknowledge that Joy McCann is onto something when she remarks about the advent of a two-tiered blogging hierarchy. And it is even more painful to see my friend Jerry Wilson’s expressions of resentment toward Ed Morrissey about this.
In all honesty, despite what anyone may suspect from certain previous writings here (ahem), I recognize Ed as one of the great selfless souls of conservative New Media.
The growth of blogging, including the ascent of certain sites and individuals to pre-eminence within the ecology of the blogosphere, has fundamentally transformed the online environment. People who were still in high school when Bill Quick named the blogosophere (more than a decade ago) now wield more influence and throw more traffic than does Bill Quick himself. Those who have toiled long years as bloggers obviously have reason to resent the upstarts, who may not recognize how they stand on the shoulders of giants. By the same token, newcomers to the ‘sphere understandably resent the difficulty of carving out a readership in an environment where a certain hierarchy has seemingly become already set in stone.
Is some sort of revolutionary movement necessary to unleash the strength and satisfy the ambitions of the New Media Proletariat? Is the existing online hierarchy an engine of systemic injustice?
I think not.
The world is not fair, nor is there ever likely to be any system in human experience that operates as a pure meritocracy. There will always be those whose hard work is ill-compensated and unrecognized, just as there will inevitably be others who benefit extravagantly from what appears to others as undeserved good fortune.
Sic semper hoc.
What is true in the rest of the world and throughout human history is, alas, true in the online world: Life is not fair.
Yet nobody’s participation in this field is compulsory. I could quit this blog tomorrow and go drive a forklift, and probably make more money doing that than I’ve earned in the past year. There is no one in the blogosphere holding a gun to my head, no one with the authority to issue me any commands that I am obliged to obey. My participation is entirely voluntary, as is true of everyone who decides to create a blog and try to make themselves heard above the incessant online din.
Do I have advantages others do not? Indeed I do, and I exploit every one of these advantages to the fullest extent I can.
Do others in online media have advantages over me? Of course, and they will certainly employ those advantages to obtain for themselves the greatest possible personal benefit. It would be foolish for anyone to expect them to do less.
Nevertheless, it remains true that no blog is an island. There is no site with such a decisive advantage of readership or resources that it can neglect the need to grow and expand, to keep pace with the evolution of the online information system. Even within the seemingly rock-solid “Establishment” hierarchy of the blogosphere, there are still opportunities for those who are willing to embrace the challenges, to think of themselves not as oppressed toilers, but as innovative entrepreneurs.
You are not being oppressed by the Blogospheric Bourgeoisie.
There is no “Man” holding you down, no Tsar or imperial bureaucracy impeding your advancement. If you are not being linked, if your e-mails go unanswered, if you are banned or attacked or excluded, let those setbacks inspire you to still greater efforts, to new ideas and new enterprises.
If you feel yourself chained to your laptop, the chains that enslave you are forged by your own mind. You can quit tomorrow, walk away for as long as it suits your fancy, and begin again anew whenever, wherever and however you decide.
You may never be “equal,” my comrades, but never doubt that you are always equally free. And perhaps, indeed, the lowly and neglected among us have far greater liberty than do those who, by merit or mere luck, have succeeded in obtaining an income on which they are dependent, so that they are compelled daily to strive for new successes, to crank out the content like so many factory workers manning an industrial assembly line.
Comrades! I beseech you: Consider for yourself what value you add to whatever cause it is you seek to advance, and ask whether the success of that cause is an end greater than your own personal benefit. Your labors and your sufferings — real or imagined — can only be justified by one or the other, and it doesn’t matter which it is.
If it is your goal to be a New Media professional, you should seek the maximum compensation for your skill. If it is your goal to be a volunteer activist online, you have no measure of your success other than the advancement of whatever cause you embrace. It is certainly true that the larger your readership, the greater your impact either way. Yet it is incumbent upon you to expand your own readership, rather than to think of others as obligated to share their readership with you.
A blogospheric Welfare State can no more be the goal of online friends of liberty than would we wish an Internet dictatorship that would allot online traffic according to some egalitarian formula. Blogospheric free enterprise may not produce “social justice” in the virtual environment, but whatever it produces — for good or for ill — a capitalistic New Media will triumph over any other online equivalent of a planned economy that “experts” could invent or imagine.
Comrades of the New Media Proletariat: YOU ARE FREE!
Go forth and prove yourselves worthy of your freedom.