Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A "Reader" By Any Other Name ...

Glenn Reynolds weighs in on why bloggers really "smell" to some newspaper writers.

And makes the excellent point--one that should be obvious, to anyone with a sense of cultural history--that the excesses of discourse and loss of respect for time-and-place-based behavior far precede the advent of the internet, much less blogging, both of which are a mere corner of a much larger media and cultural universe.

When I first read Daniel Henninger's column the other day, I was baffled. (I'm a long-time regular reader of his work, by the way, and am generally an admirer, whether or not I agree with any particular premise or position he's espousing.) Did he live through a different '60s, '70s and so forth than I did?

I learned my potty-mouthed ways (I've long-since reformed, for the most part, as I've noted elsewhere) way back in the '70s, when I was in high school, from hearing such speech ... well, almost everywhere. I sharpened the ability to be gratuitously vituperative in the '80s, by listening to so many of the people with whom I was hanging at the time go ballistic over Reagan. And in the '90s--well, let's just say that if I hadn't started my personal reformation in the early part of that decade, I could have upgraded my entire rhetorical arsenel.

Then there's pop culture, as Reynolds notes.

I utterly agree that things are getting worse, and that there are parts of the blogosphere that are execrable. (No, I'm not going to bother to link to posts or comments where I've said that, but they're there.) I also agree that the climate of discourse is very destructive on many levels. But our entire culture has been on a degraded and degrading track for quite a while--something which Henninger, of all columnists, should know.

So why is he calling out bloggers in particular?

Henninger seems -- like a lot of newspaper people these days -- to be focusing on problems with the Internet not so much because the Internet is a problem, generally, as because it's a problem for, well, newspaper people. The newspaper industry is sinking financially, and the Internet is getting blamed not only for that, but for anything else that's handy. ...

As "they" say, read the whole thing.


Update: I should clarify that from 1971 until the later '90s, I was living on the East Coast, not in Iowa.