Tuesday 12 October 2010

Andrew Marr on Blogging

This isn't really to do with any of the usual fare of TBTTF, but since it regards the very nature of blogging, I feel it worth discussing.

A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting. They are very angry people. 

What young men has Andy been hanging around with, if he categorizes them as "bald" and "cauliflower-nosed"?  What does social competence, complexion, relationship status and housing have to do with their arguments anyway?  Hell, what does baldness have to do with it?  Doesn't seem to cause Andy any problems.

As per usual, it's just easier to undermine your opponent with ad hominem attacks rather than actually dealing with their arguments.

OK – the country is full of very angry people. Many of us are angry people at times. Some of us are angry and drunk. But the so-called citizen journalism is the spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night. 

It ain't just citizen journalists who get angry, of course: I'm reminded of John Sweeney going berserk on a very memorable episode of Panorama.

Most of the blogging is too angry and too abusive. It is vituperative.
Terrible things are said on line because they are anonymous. People say things on line that they wouldn't dream of saying in person.

As has no doubt been said elsewhere, it seems somewhat hypocritical of Marr to accuse bloggers of saying terrible things they'd never say in person when he isn't exactly shy of such things himself. I wonder if, for instance, he would call someone identifying themself as a blogger "socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, and cauliflower-nosed" to their face.

Something tells me he might, actually.  Frankly, I don't think we should be lectured on being rude and inconsiderate from a chap who got in deep trouble when he asked then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown whether he was prescribed medication.

I don't really see what painkillers have to do with running a country, myself.  And where did Andy get that information from in the first place?  From a blog.  Methinks there's a little more to Marr's attack on blogging than simple disdain for their living situation.

You might wonder why I'm discussing this on a blog I've declared a politics-free zone.  Well, I'm not going to talk about Gordon Brown's turn as PM, Labour, or the new Alliance No One Saw Coming (seriously, it's like Plaid Cymru and the Monster Raving Loony party forming an alliance), but Marr's thoughts - and I use that term loosely - are food for thought.

I like to think that I'm fairly easygoing as a blogger.  I comment on things with a certain level of firmness if I disagree profoundly, but I certainly don't wish harm on anyone.  I can remember a few occassions where I got rather angry when someone said something particularly stupid, but I hope they were simply anomalies brought about by inexperience and a bad mood.  Thus, hopefully I'm one of the few bloggers that doesn't come under Marr's fire as the blaspheming gibbers of a basement dweller: Crom knows they are legion on the Internet.

Generally, I think being calm and rational is simply more productive.  People are less likely to listen to the rantings and ravings of a lunatic, and they're less likely to be convinced by vituperative (thanks Andy!) arguments.  On the contrary, a flat, forthright rebuttal does wonders.  In my experience, anyway.

I'm going to use an analogy here: it's like the difference between battering a door down with an axe, and using a blowtorch to cut a nice clean hole.  With the axe you make a lot of noise, and get a lot of attention, not to mention it's quite fun seeing a door getting smashed to bits - on the other hand, you could end up injuring yourself (i.e. hurt your own arguments with strong language or ad hominem), a lot of energy is expended, and points are addressed piece by piece.  With the blowtorch, you can calmly and cleanly remove the door as an obstacle with concise and directed energy, reducing the entire argument in one drawn-out action as opposed to many smaller ones - unfortunately, it just isn't as bombastic as smashing it to bits, and it takes more time to do so.  As you can see, I favour the blowtorch approach - though I'm not averse to kicking the door open with gusto, of course.

Now, I shall leave before anyone realises that the analogy necessitates that axes and blowtorches are used against similar doors as opposed to wooden for one and metal for the other...


  1. It's always fun watching journalists attempt to take the high road regarding intellect and integrity. It's like having Ted Kennedy as one's AA sponsor.

  2. Oh Ho, Scott, was that an off-colour political comment? *raises eyebrow*

    But yes, point well taken.

  3. Zombie AA sponsor.. hurm.. if you don't stay on the wagon he eats your brain eh? Interesting idea..

    I'll admit to being an angry person. But by golly, if me screaming into cyberspace allows me to function as a relatively normal human being the rest of the time.. then aren't I doing the right thing? After all.. no one is twisting anyone's arm to read my posts..

  4. I'll cop to the bald (balding) but as for the rest... sorry. Not me. I'm a professional 40-something running my own business, fairly adept socially and I never blog when I am angry (or drunk). I suspect most bloggers fall into the same category.

    As for Mr. Marr, I propose that he now be known as Mister Pot, having maligned the kettle for being black.

  5. I'm a 37 year old married father of two. I have the same hairline that I had in middle school. And no, my nosed doesn't look like "cauliflower?" I live in my own town-house and have a job. I do occasionally get angry as well as happy, sad, aloof..etc...

    I think this guy needs to broaden the base of his friends.

  6. Lagomorph: I don't doubt that anger in blogging is a perfectly decent way to let off steam. After all, they're only words. My main problem was that Andy has a cheek to call bloggers on anything when he invaded a man's privacy based on nothing more than rumour. Journalists...

    M.D., I do have to say it's weird for Andy to bring hair pattern into this. Rather daft.

    Atom, agreed. Perhaps he thinks 40-year-olds are "young men" or some such.