On Nuanced Blogging
August 23, 2008
Megan McArdle has a heads up to a post over at Easily Distracted, lamenting the sad nature of political discourse online. Combatants stroll through the web looking for their “Two-Minute Hate” and invariably wear down those sifting through the rubble for any kind of rationality. Megan agrees and quips that she’s “profoundly tired of being unable to say anything about the candidates without it turning into a shouting match.”
First, I need to say that I’m guilty of this as well. I strive to be as truthful as possible, while striking a balance between smart-ass and only slightly sardonic. I want to be humorous, and have people enjoy what I write, but I also want to remain sensible when it seems like few around me are. It’s hard, though, when you read something which is blatantly false. Sometimes you just can’t let it go.
I think this is the nature of discourse in general. Most people would rather sacrifice honor and civility for a chance to proclaim, “I’m right. Now go back to whatever hole you crawled out of.” Even if nothing was truly accomplished. Which it rarely is in a place where nuance and comlexity are as challenging as the written word. Most of the internet browsing section of humanity doesn’t have a degree from Swarthmore and, truth be told, probably wouldn’t want one anyway. I’m sure that contributes to the breakdown in communication.
People also have a need to fall deeply in love with their politicians, not only as an extension of “I’m right”, but also for the same reason “Get rich quick” schemes and magic weight loss pills are so popular. We have a primal desire to cut through pain, complexity, and grey areas. I suppose that’s why rhetoric is so effective.
Personally, I want to be able to challenge both Obama and McCain without it resorting to some kind of personal slugfest. But, maybe that’s just me.