Thursday, September 22, 2011

Shot Through The Heart, And You're To Blame: You Give Blogs A Bad Name

.:Whoah, Like A Loaded Gun!:.

You can call it shamelessness. Or kapal ng mukha. Or a weird sense of entitlement. You can even call them Patay-Gutom Bloggers, or the Blogger's Quolorum. You can react to them in disgust and shake your heads at how they sleep at night, doing what they do.

"No freebies?!? How dare youuuuuuu!!!"

Ultimately, this is a monster we created for ourselves.

Now, maybe some of you feel you played no part in this disturbing trend in the blogosphere. If you honestly felt that, then fine, I won't argue with you. But if, on the other hand, you feel the slightest tinge of guilt over having somehow enabled the worst of the blogosphere to be the way they are today, then this post is you. Don't worry. I'll be nice about it. I'm one of those guilty people who let it happen, too, after all.

When I read Animetric's article yesterday, I shook my head and reacted like I normally do to news about smug, entitled bloggers: what else is new, right? It's a free country, and we could only resort to gossiping about them or maybe hinting at their identities, because clearly, they bristle and bring out the pitchforks when we call them out on their behavior.

But see, I was blogging since 2002, and I was there when the first ever iBlog happened. I was also there during the event that started it all: Blog Parteeh '07. Since then, events became more and more commonplace for bloggers, and in the early days, we proudly showed off the swag we got, or the freebies that came with going to the event.

As more events went by, we even started finding the courage to tell off the people who mistreated us. Our blogs became a battleground where we showed these nefarious people the errors of their ways. Whether it was Malu Fernandez or Jayce Perlas, bloggers stuck by each other, and it seemed like nobody could stop the juggernaut that was the community.

And then, at the height of our pompousness and our self-importance, Bambi Dela Paz happened.

At this point, some of us took notice that maybe, just mayyyybe, we were a little too drunk with power, and we were shooting first, asking questions later. I know I did.

The problem was, because we have gone over the line ourselves, it felt wrong of us, perhaps even hypocritical, if we would call out other people who went over the line themselves. People in glass houses and throwing the first stone and all that jazz, right? So when slowly but surely, people invaded the blogosphere and they behaved in a way that felt questionable, we didn't want to sound like killjoys and tell them to stop being "too greedy" about freebies, or "too atat" to attend events, or "too impulsive" to do proper research before using their blog to personally malign someone.

Obviously, it's hard to posit yourself as an authority of sorts. I mean, by what measure do we say someone is "too" greedy? Or "too atat"? Where do we even draw the line? Was this just a generation gap between the old and the new guard of bloggers, and so we should just limit ourselves to smiling at each other during events but never calling each other out when something seems to be out of line? Do we want to sound classist about this? Or maybe clique-ish? Are we setting a dangerous precedent by taking newbie bloggers to task for things we may have been blindly guilty of in the past?

Our greatest fear.

In not lifting a finger to stop them, we created this monster we now have to deal with. Because we were too cowed when they gave us empty threats and non sequiturs each time we tried to call them out, our apparent silence was taken by these people as tacit approval that there's nothing wrong with what they do.

In keeping our mouths shut and not establishing a standard, the people we'd least expect to ever be an authority on ethical behavior attempted to set the standard themselves while all of us could only look aghast at what we thought was some sick April Fool's joke or something. And because few bothered to challenge them, they grew bolder and bolder, wrapping themselves in the cloak of self-importance, rendering themselves immune to any criticism.

In not doing a thing about these abuses happening right under our noses, we now share the shame of the other bloggers who actively committed these egregious displays of shamelessness. Now, we have extortionists, scam artists, even outright thieves who would do anything to get a gift pack.

It's all about the al-f**kin-mighty gift pack.

But don't get me wrong, I'm not washing my hands of this travesty: I'm every bit as guilty of inaction as anyone who feels guilty about this happens to be. Perhaps not because I did something wrong, but because I just smiled and let it happen. Kitty Genovese would've probably hated my guts.

I'm certainly not saying we should establish a standard by which people should conduct themselves. Good luck ever establishing one. However, what I wish we could do is that we could find a way to discuss these issues more openly rather than in hushed whispers with snide snickers thrown in the way of the Patay-Gutom Bloggers of our community. Clearly, the more we ignore them, the more brazen they have gotten. And if they truly feel that their actions are justified, then surely they can drop their defensive attitudes and discuss this in the open without pointless threats that they clearly have no power to carry out?

But really, that's just me thinking out loud. While I do love blogging and I've been doing it for as long as I remember, sometimes, I can't help but look in the mirror first thing in the morning, point to my reflection and say: you give blogs a bad name. Not because of what you have done, but because of what you have not done.

True, nobody's obliged to do anything. True, it's nigh-impossible for anyone to take such a duty upon themselves without someone protesting it as an act of self-righteousness. True, we aren't the worst the blogosphere has to offer.

But sometimes, you just have to wonder if we could have avoided all of this if Blog Parteeh '07 never happened. Or if we told Mike Abundo to sit down the third time he was going to ask a question in iBlog 1 just so he could plug his blog. Or if we named names during the whole PGB brouhaha in '09 when we were merely content talking behind their backs, making us hardly better than them, anyways.

And after wondering about the things we could've done back in the day, you then ask yourself what you, as an individual blogger who actually gives a damn where things are headed, should actually do. RIGHT NOW.

The preceding post is the opinion of the author and does not reflect the opinion of his employers whatsoever.


Animetric said...

The thing is... gift packs ain't all that but some have been known to trade in their dignity for a few bottles of shampoo... a few bars of soap... a shirt... or even a free meal.

Unsolicited advice to the heathen: Get a job. :p

arpee lazaro said...

I remember that one. I still think it was an April fool's day joke.

Kel Fabie said...

@Animetric: But, but, but... writing about events in a blog is soooo much easier! Pamasahe lang ang katapat!

@arpee: Welp, it was a joke at our expense, so it seems.