I like the ideal of the coffeehouse setting, or what David Dark calls the Waffle House - an idyllic uniquely American locale where people of various opinion can opine, argue, inform and eventually - but not always - agree to disagree.
It occurs to me that, more than nearly any other sort of electric medium, the blogosphere (Or what I care to call the blogocosmos. Yes, you may borrow it. It'll satisfy my ego to no end to see that phrase everywhere in lights. And then I'll sue.) is such a place. It seems to fight against logic that blogs offer a respite for democratic civility, for 1) blogs revolve around the individual, rather than the communal and those that are set up for a sort of communal output - at least as far as the posts are concerned - do not tend to last long or be well-involved (cf. FurtherUP.blogspot.com) and 2) there are so many pages on the internet that those who carry a certain taste for a certain rhetorical polemical politicos can feasible feast solely on a staple of ideological ditto-heads.
Yet I see - and am involved in - several threads where maybe one person dissents to the small majority of faithful readers' opinion, holds up his or her own and is constantly rebutted by members of that online community in various opinions that belie as many differed opinions as shared. And in an atmosphere where the writer/replier can offer their opinion in the frame of several paragraphs while still holding interest of the reader/replier, the odds that intelligent dialogue is happening is greatly increased.
Contrast that to the endless gluttony of Rush Limbaugh or Al Franken fact- agreeants, whose diet is stable and malnourishing, at best. As a consequence, truth suffers for lack of vision. Although I am new to the blogging world, I have witnessed witnesses to democratic speech, people aware that others may not share their views and offer to share their own, usually in civility, with hopes of teaching and learning.
Maybe that sounds a bit myopic and severely naive. I've also seen environs of ridicule and meanness - the internet has long been infamous, for instance, as a place where violent and closet racists and child molesters can fester. But these are, by and large, places of anonymity, where one can enter and leave various chat rooms with a new identity intact and attached for each one, an electronic village of Sybils.
In order for bloggers to suffer our massive egos, on the other hand, anonymity must be kept at bay. We search other blogs not necessarily to find others that we may only agree with, but in search of friends - in the blogosphere and elsewhere, in search of people who can add to our blog as we do to theirs, usually out of joy, although sometimes out of boredom or sense of duty. Our identities, to a greater extent, certainly, stay intact with our personhood - or at the least, there is only one of each of us.
Add to that the newness of blogging itself. Although there are several veterans (veterans also being a relative term), an unscientific perusal finds that a good amount of bloggers are, like myself, neophytes, having done this for under a year. So, the blogocosmos is young, having just been spoken into existence. What we find, then, is a larger sense of community, a grouping of divergents coming together in defence of each other.
That thread of unity, however, may more quicky tear than we would desire. For disunity always starts somewhere, then feeds off itself until there is enough asexual reproduction to make any amoeba ashamed at its slowness. The cause, I believe, is not argumentation nor liberals nor conservatives. The cause, presumably, will not be over religious issues, but perhaps, over a false and pervasive religion that is spreading like a viral infection throughout at least the US - celebrity. (Who, after having seen Access Hollywood, E! Entertainment, or US Magazine can doubt the power of this strange cult of demigods?) Celebrities are now joining the tide and all reviews are heaving the thumbs down. Megalomania at its fiercist. What can Pamela Anderson offer the print and dialogical world? What possibly interesting tidbits of his life - that are not in his scripts - can Kevin Smith toss to his salivating fandom?
Real writers and journal-ists will not suffer more, will we? In order to take full advantage of our 15 minutes promised us by Andy Warhol, we will gladly rip the celeb-bloggers a new one. And in the process, the tearing of the fabric will begin and will not end.
Da- da -duhn!