In my last post I suggested the blogosphere take a chill pill. Too much heat, not enough light right now. Does this mean I'm disillusioned with the blogosphere? Not a bit.
Blogs are a naturally "hot" medium, although each blog has its own signature temperature. Mine tends to be a bit cooler than most, by design; I try to reflect before I write, and not shoot from the hip. But for some bloggers and pundits, shooting from the hip is their stock in trade, their raison d-etre, and a good part of their considerable appeal.
One thing I never realized before I became a blogger was the extent to which the medium itself encourages outrageousness. How does one get attention in all the blooming buzzing confusion? One way is by being louder and tougher and more clever and hard-hitting than the rest. As one blogs more and more, there's also a tendency to become more confident about what one says--and a lot of bloggers don't start out too timid about their opinions to begin with, else why would they blog? So there's a sort of ever-escalating feedback loop that encourages more and more hyperventilation in the blogosphere.
When I think about it, the absence of editors--formal or informal--is a large part of the phenomenon. Please don't think that, by pointing this out, I'm calling for blog editors; I'm not. But the blogger is ordinarily alone with his/her thoughts--sometimes even in the wee hours of the morning, and usually in a hurry to get something finished and get on with "real life"--but almost always alone. Nothing between the blogger, the computer screen, and that "publish" button. And once the moving finger writes, it can't be undone--not without someone noticing and raising a stink, anyway.
For the other writing I do in my life, I ordinarily will take far longer to compose something, edit it, mull it over, edit it again, and finally decide it's more or less finished. Somewhere along the way I usually show it to at least one friend or family member. For years I've belonged to a wonderful writing group, at which I meet regularly with fellow-writers to offer and receive comments, criticisms, and suggestions on works-in-progress. Needless to say, I never bring my blog writing to those meetings--and not only because they are heartily sick of anything political, and mostly disagree with me on that score rather intensely--but because there's simply no time. The medium doesn't allow it.
"Taking a chill pill" requires standing back, reflecting, taking time. And taking time is something the blogosphere definitely does not encourage. But the blogosphere's strength lies in the aggregate: even without much time, corrections tend to happen, because some other blogger will object. In a way, other bloggers--and commenters--act as ex-post-facto editors.
You might say we're all members of a very large writing group.