The Problem With The Problem With Blogging

 I believe that when it comes to blogging opinions are split between 2 sides: those who think it is productive and those who think it is damaging. Those who see it as damaging are split further still – between those who believe what the conservative voices in the media say and those very conservative voices in fear of full democracy (by conservative I don’t just mean the actual Conservative party I mean the bulwark of the establishment which includes various figures, institutions which although may claim to be impartial, have very conservative tendencies).

The idea of blogging is very anti-conservative. Hence, since they cannot yet prevent it on the half-democratised internet, it’s advocates do their best to undermine and mock those who do blog. BBC news presenter Andrew Marr recently said “A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother’s basements and ranting” – this comes close to being an almost Thatcherite discrimination tactic. Well, Andrew Marr can shove it, I’m with the bloggers on this one, whatever it is they are ranting about.
There are millions upon millions who project their writings, art and music on to the world wide web. However, the creative arts, unlike bloggging, are on a whole a more abstract and less directed form of expression. Thus, for all the feelings of failure/non-achievement individuals may experience, they will never receive such demeaning rhetoric from conservative advocates as blogging does. All of them, however, create to the biggest wave of self expression possibly ever witnessed. But something is wrong.
At first, to anyone who values the arts, the world wide web seems so exciting. However, there is a sense of a big problem. Yet the problem itself is debatable. Many seek to undermine the efforts of the majority of these people. “What’s the point? you’ll never make a living out of it” etc. Others in the establishment may seek to undermine them with similar (but usually more mocking) reactions. Those who believe in the potency of the arts, however, see the concept of the masses being expressive as a positive – yet there is still a problem which is evident. I would describe this as the true problem.
The concept of ‘hear comes everybody’ (vast swathes of the population projecting their writings/paintings/songs/etc out on to the virtual sphere) is only a problem in so far as to what a creative/productive source is forced to aim for within this particular system. It is driven towards a career-bound elitist status – iconic or celebrity – under the illusion that we all could make it so we all must try. The problem is that the system cynically rears celebrity/iconic seeking individualism within it’s subjects whilst it simultaneously has started to slowly crush the progressive emancipatory politics which allowed greater possibility of these achievements within the masses (the saying “there will never be another band like The Beatles” has a political as well as historical meaning).
These are factors of Neoliberalism. The other important factor is the utter grip the market has over our lives. Thus, everything we make/do is pressured into becoming compressed for market orientation. That’s why all art students on telling people what they are studying will all at some point hear the reaction “yeah, but can you make a living out of it?” Neoliberalism is not only stifling the dreams of the majority whilst igniting them further, it is stifling the progression of culture within the creations before they are even made, as Neoliberalism’s only idea is to sell it straight on, instead of letting it grow/be cultivated (as the domination of reality pop star contestant shows clearly shows us). Thus, at a time of cultural frenzy is also seems to be massively stagnating.
The idea of the masses having the chance to be creative/expressive is very much desired: it is a realisation of true democracy. However, as John Berger, in in his book Ways Of Seeing, observed, industrialised society “has moved towards democracy then stopped halfway”. It then simply feeds on these incubating aspirations of the mass of the population. We need to be free to be expressive in what ways we wish without having to compete in a battle to be a capitalist success through it. And this ‘so near yet so far’ (a favorite capitalist saying if there was ever one) situation highlights capitalism inherent contradiction: its lie about what it gives its subjects. To take away this exploitation of expression would be to have a fully realised democracy. This is what the arts needs, not in in-house battle for market appeal – which will only get fiercer as the extreme-Neoliberal Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition begins to slash funding, especially to the visual arts.
I love getting my ideas and feelings down, whether in pen or paint. But my creative output is wrapped in an anxiety, when I am forced to feel like I should be more career minded; when I am pressured to feel that it needs to start ‘paying’ before my adulthood domestication takes up my time; when I feel like its a competition which I am loosing. This crushing feeling is what made me begin writing more than I used to: I wanted my opinion about what this system does to us to be heard, and I don’t need advocates of it telling me I shouldn’t be doing so!

About John Ledger

A visual Artist, eternal meanderer and obsessive self-reflector by nature, who can’t help but try to interpret everything from within the tide of society. His works predominantly take the form of large scale ballpoint pen landscape drawings and map-making as social/psychological note-making. They are slowly-accumulating responses to crises inflicted upon the self in the perplexing, fearful, empty, and often personality-erasing human world.

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