The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

This May Be Nothing, Or It Might Be Worth an Instalanche

Posted on | March 10, 2011 | 10 Comments

OK, there were a million things I wanted to blog about today, but didn’t get around to yet, and now I’m once again sidetracked by a cryptic Twitter message from Sissy Willis:

@rsmccain Basic idea, the importance of being noticed (Darwinian status seeking)=huge=ur theme of my blog

Given the 140-character limit, perhaps there’s some missing context that would help me understand what Sissy’s trying to say. Yet I was intrigued that the link led to a Google search on the phrase “the importance of being noticed,” the top result of which was a post describing the “rush of dopamine” Sissy got from her first Instalanche.

Obviously, this is something very important blog-wise. And then there was an August 2009 post by Dr. Helen Smith that included this comment by Sissy:

Fascinating and timely topic.
Schopenhauer’s informational and reputational “cascades” of sheeplike belief formation among our fellow human beings come to mind: “There are very few who can think, but every man wants to have an opinion.” I blogged about it here:

Another important angle: “The importance of being noticed” — to dissent is to be relegated to the fringes of polite society:

Now I became totally obsessed, like Sherlock Holmes after he’s found his first clue: A meme not only related to the coveted Instalanche, but also connected to the InstaWife? The game is afoot, Dr. Watson!

Further sleuthing turned up this 2005 post by Sissy:

[E]ach one of us seeks, through our accomplishments, to earn a place of honor among our peers. The real issue is, whom do we select as our peers. Once again we recall Peter F. Rowbotham’s citation of the unorthodox bonding rituals of Hell’s Angels and British soccer fans as examples of a “system of honor that is an alternative to mainstream moral orders.”

Hmmm. I don’t know Rowbotham from Schopenauer, but perhaps what Sissy is trying to say is that bloggers are like Hell’s Angels, and Instapundit is Sonny Barger?

Or something like that. The blogosphere is what Hayek would call a spontaneous order, a system planned by no one and with no conscious design, responsive to thousands of inputs. And like the Hell’s Angels — or a college fraternity, for that matter — the blogosphere is also based on the principle of mutual selection: You volunteer for the group, and the group decides whether to accept you.

If I have correctly followed this Hansel-and-Gretel bread-crumb trail of inferences, then, what Sissy is saying is this: To the blogger, an Instalanche is a signal of acceptance by one’s peers, a signal that you are one of the gang, so that “Darwinian status-seeking” — doing whatever is necessary to get the ‘Lanche — affects the informational and reputational “cascades” of the blogosphere.

Alternate hypothesis: Too much caffeine and too little sleep have addled my brain into a Charlie Sheen-like acute manic state, so that I’m reading waaaay too much into this cryptic message from Sissy. In which case, the message may actually be as simple as . . .

“Hey, you should link me more often, stupid!”

Go read Sissy Willis’s blog immediately. Even if I’m as crazy as Charlie Sheen, there must be some deep significance to that Tweet, and I’m not taking any chances of screwing up my blog karma.


Oh, and here’s yet another job nobody bothered to offer me:

NEW JOB – Writer
Description: is seeking a third writer to join the current duo of Ed Morrissey and Allahpundit. HotAir is the largest conservative blog, has a readership of over two million readers a month and is cited daily by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Bill Bennett and pundits across the airwaves and online. Blogging at HotAir is the perfect opportunity for a writer with a quick wit and a nose for news. Competitive salary commensurate with experience plus full benefits. Please send inquiries to [email protected] or fax to 703-247-1257, Attention: Jonathan Garthwaite, General Manager.
Added 03/08/11.

Honestly, sometimes I feel like the ugliest girl on the cheerleading squad. I’ve spent the past three years doing cartwheels and somersaults online and still, nobody even wants to look up my skirt . . .


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