[This is the continuation of my long multi-part post on the "Open Source/PJ" media launch at Solomonia last November. I have divided them up differently this time and made slight changes.]
Who’s in Which Century/Millennium?
At first I didn’t quite get it. Everyone I talked to who blogged was uniformly interesting, no matter how much we might not agree on some matters. Independent thinkers all, combining nicely two difficult traits — assertiveness and modesty. What a delight. It really was a convention of the people who, at the emperorís parade, would have been unashamed to ask the embarrassing questions. And as I contrasted the quality of conversation in the halls with the panel discussions, I realized that I was walking through liminal terrain, between the two-dimensional, colorblind paradigms of the 20th century, and the emerging stereoscopic color-rich vision that begins to emerge from the blogs.
Want to know whatís going on in France? Check out Belmont Club, Brussels Journal, or Jihad Watch. They leave MSM coverage in the dust. Red pill or blue pill? How do you want to reality test? Read them both, all, by all means. What’s really happening? We won’t know until later, in the meantime, without the blogs, we would have very little idea that there’s more to this than what the MSM report.
A discussion later that evening on about one of the more colorful of the bloggers having been “on the bus” with Ken Kesey, reminded me of a story Tom Wolfe tells in Electric Koolaid Acid Test about when Kesey first took acid as part of hospital experiments conducted in the 1950s, shortly after its discovery. Some were given the drug, some a placebo. Within a short while, it was obvious who got the acid and who got the placebo.
Similarly, within a short while in any given conversation, it was clear who was in the 21st century, and who in the 20th. How stimulating to talk with OSM bloggers. How familiar the holding actions and resistances of those who, weighed down with the baggage of political correctness, still have a reflexive confidence in the MSM.
All this became clear in a random conversation with a photographer who came to see one of his friends attending the launch. We were at the bar later that evening, talking about the MSM and the blogosphere, and I remarked that the difference in coverage of the French Intifada was stark, with the blogosphere on it from night one, and the MSM waiting till the end of week 1 before mentioning it in the back pages.
“Not true,” he insisted. “The pictures were up at a newswire services the first day.”
“Maybe, I don’t know,” I replied, “but what you say makes it worse. The media had these pictures from the start, and didn’t use them or mention the story for days?”
“Look, the MSM have to make decisions about whatís important to their readerships’ lives, so if they didn’t cover it for a couple of days, that makes perfect sense. It just wasn’t that important.”
“First of all, it was five days, not two. Secondly, that very attitude is part of the problem. The blogosphere understood immediately how significant these riots were, partly because they have been paying attention to the RoP and Eurabia whereas the MSM have been systematically ignoring these issues. And so, when the MSM finally wake up to the riots they didn’t deign to be worthy of attention until day five, on day six they already know what they’re about, explaining to us that it has nothing to do with Islam, but it’s “really all about poverty and discrimination.” (As if the two are mutually exclusive.. as if eliminating Islam from the picture will make things clearer…)
I spare the reader the blow-by-blow, although if you want the other guy’s version (with me as a gung-ho supporter of OSM, and demonizer of the MSM), it’s here, with me as “Boston Guy.” My suspicion that I was speaking with a PCPer is there confirmed.
“It sounded like classic rioting with all the classic reasons for rioting. It was horrible but wasn’t directly affecting my life, as I was working very hard to get a guy elected governor of New Jersey. People riot for a reason, things burn and then change comes for better or worse.” Probably worse, as long as people continue to think in terms of “classical” rather than religious terms. Of course that would mean overcoming cognitive egocentrism.
Finally, when he had repeated his comment about, “so what if they didn’t cover it for the first two days, it wasn’t important…,” Pedro stepped into the conversation and quietly asked, “Do you blog?”
“What’s that got to do with it?”
[It turns out he has his own blog, with occasional postings and no mechanism for comments.]
“Let me tell you about a French expression,” I cut in with what was surely an excessively triumphalist and dismissive tone that lacked the modesty I normally praise, c’est très deuxième millénaire,” that’s very second millennium, or, to be a bit more immediate, you have a very 20th century attitude. You might want to get up to speed in the 21st century.” [I shudder as I reread this -- not very nice of me.]
“You don’t know anything about me, and I find that presumptuous and insulting,” he said with considerable justification as he grabbed his stuff and left, apparently thinking that I thought of the NYT and the MSM as part of an “evil conspiracy.”
I’d prefer “persistently incompetent MSM.” I guess we all hear what we want to hear. I’m actually quite critical of thinking conspiratorially or projecting it onto people who do not explicitly embrace it. But I had been abrasive and probably deserved it.
There’s a wonderful passage in C.S.Lewis’ The Great Divorce, his answer to Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, where he describes how people first respond to heaven. They are overwhelmed by the intensity, they are unprepared for it, they are fragile, the very grass cuts their thin skins, they need time to adjust. Of course that takes the ability to acknowledge that there’s something to adjust to.
Next: What Were They Thinking?