Is Blogging Increasing Democracy? Is This A Good Thing?

Blogging is something that I am not unfamiliar with: I follow blogs, have favorite and least favorite blogs, and understand how blogs have recently changed the academic experience for both professors and students. But until today, I had never blogged. So, in preparation, I scoured the back of my mind in order to distill a topic that somehow seemed “worthy” of posting to a public forum. And that led me to an interesting realization: I do not have anxiety about putting my words, and by extension myself, out there for all to read and see. I do not fear being deemed unworthy. Actually, I discovered that most of my anxiety over blogging comes from putting my words, which may or may not be valuable, into obscurity. Blogging could be a waste of time and energy that could be spent elsewhere.

It seems to me that blogging, as is the case with many facets of the continuing Digital Revolution, has led to increased democratization of ideas and content. That is, everyone can have a blog, they can blog about anything, and their words are thus open for public consumption. In fact, there seems to be little that can’t be found or put on the internet; all that can be imagined can be released to a public forum and then extracted (perhaps a fee may be required for some things, but still, this is only a minor restriction—if one wants to consume it, they will consume it). So, my next thought was that this is undoubtedly positive: Hurray digitization—a voice has finally been given to the masses! But then another side of this democratization (a term that I still am not entirely sure defines what I am talking about here) began to reveal itself. If more and more people are regularly publishing blogs, about a seemingly limitless litany of topics, then will my blog (my words) be seen? How could someone possibly find my blog amid the chaos seeking the same recognition that I am? Recognition of one’s ideas is the point, right? And who is to say that those that are recognized merit being recognized? (At this point–I wish I had a footnote for this—do note that I am not using the term “recognized” as meaning famous. I am also referring to someone that has garnered at least a small, but significant following of friends and peers, and that does produce discourse that resonates with even a small fraction of a population. A class blog could count because it is still accessible to the larger population of the internet. But I digressed, so back to the topic at hand). I am absolutely sure that somewhere, someone has a blog full of insightful ruminations that is rarely seen and continues to go unrecognized. Perhaps, for whatever reason, that may be that person’s intention—or he/she wants to keep their audience small and inclusive—but I am sure that there are plenty of people who desire to be heard, and that may have something valuable to contribute to public discourse, but continue to be drowned out by the endless chatter and sensationalist headlines of the internet. I do not believe that this person is to blame for their un-recognition either. They may merely want to remain pure to their topics; to not deceive with blatantly false, but intriguing titles; or have not received a certain amount of circumstantial luck that led to being “discovered” by a fan-base. This, then, is the side of blogging that causes me the most angst. If I am going to blog—and yes, there is a side of me that sees value in blogging and desires to enter the fray—then I do want to be heard. I do not want to exist in a void of obscurity. And, perhaps, even if just one or two people read my blog, and it speaks to them in some way, or provokes a thought, then that will be enough to encourage me to continue blogging. But as more and more people begin to blog, and the internet continues to link us to an incomprehensible pile of information, we expect the most valuable and the most talented bloggers, intellectuals, and social commentators to rise above the nonsense, the incorrect, and the not-valuable. But this may not be the case in an age where everyone has an equal claim to a realm of discourse that requires little, if any, credentials. The internet (dare I say blogosphere; actually, I think I hate that word for some reason) may be getting too democratic and far too loud.

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