Thursday, September 20, 2007

Barbie's Weird Idea

Okay, here goes. Barbie's idea: It's like, that people... well, that everybody has a secret world inside of them. I mean everybody. All of the people in the whole world - no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside.
Inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds...
Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe.
Isn't that a weird thought.
(From: A Game of You Episode 6: "I Woke Up and One of Us Was Crying", Sandman #37, by Neil Gamain)

One of the things I like most about Neil Gaiman is his fundamental humanity (which extends not only to all of humankind, regardless of gender, orientation, or skin-tone, but also to decidedly un-human characters such as goblins, gods and anthropomrophic principles). As Gaiman said himself in response to Samuel Delany's foreword to "A Game of You", it is not that everybody is equal, but that everybody has the right to decide for him-, her- or itself. Fate, or God, or any God, really, may have it in for you, and they may judge and may even have the power to damn you, but in the big picture their opinion, entitled to it as they may be, weighs no heavier than that of any other individual in this or any other world. It is the most cosmically democratic view I have ever heard, and I love it.

Blogs are the absolute low bar of publishing. Well, blog-comments may actually be even lower. You need no special skills, be they technical or literary, no standing, no credibility, there is no quality-control other than the often barely enforced ethical standarts of the blog host, and - which makes this even less inhibiting than the proverbial soap-box on the street corner - you get to remain (or at least feel) anonymous.

Which leads to many evil, stupid, racist, insulting, misinforming and mostly very dull publications. But it also leads to an explosion of expression. Because, as Barbie (and Neil Gaiman) quite rightly pointed out, everybody has something to say. Everybody has unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds in them, and suddenly through the wonder of blogging, we can all share them.

To those who moan about the often incredibly stupid and occasional outright vile blogs, I say: Don't read them. Nobody is forcing you to. To those who warn of the proliferation of hatred and insanity, I say: Better to know what's out there, even if it's bad news, than to have it fester in hiding.

Wikipedia (which is to say, in the words of blogger and Dilbert-Author Scott Adams, some stranger with no credibility) tells me that there are about 100 million regularely maintained blogs out there. Think about this number for a second.

And tell me that it isn't great to live in a world where that is possible.

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