R-E-S-P-E-C-T—Sock it to me

Intelligentsia Coffee shopfront

In case you’re wondering about that stamped badge on the sidebar, no I haven’t actually declined an invitation to the limelight (notwithstanding my current WordPress blog post count of three). Rather, it’s an open symbol of my dissent in some important respects from the likes of WordPress’s PR team and its fandom. In fact, my beef is really with a pandemic sociological trend that makes most blogs (and all the trappings of popular culture) look like, well, a piss-take.

Aretha Franklin got hot and bothered about respect for a reason (even if that wasn’t her only grievance in the song). But more than ever, people demand respect like it’s nothing more than a cheap fix for a hungry ego. The masses of over-indulgent lifestyle bloggers with all their ‘soccer mom’ banalities are an obvious example. Then there’s WordPress’s brand image: ‘beautiful’ is foremost. It appears that even ‘the best content on WordPress’ with its weighty subject matter, wouldn’t shine without a prominent (‘tasteful’) gloss of self-gratification. And that’s just blogging—the ‘me’ ethos is all the rage everywhere.

I could just walk on by but the vanity has created a monster: an unhealthy complaisance that masks moral disengagement. Businesses open their doors to all, for lattes, muffins and smiles, but the boardrooms are strictly off limits and fewer and fewer people seem to care what goes on in there. Those who like to ‘stay informed’ (usually white middle-class men) may set themselves apart in that regard, but they’re only confined to the bounds set by the media puppeteers. We graduate and then go back to nursery school in any case.

The result is indeed more dire than we’re led to believe. Things have come so far that the media isn’t even perceived as merely the means of mass communication any more—it has adopted a persona of its own which has supplanted that of the broadcaster. Unfortunately, this lends itself to dishing up more tripe because the impersonality is a con artist’s dream.

Most of the stuff on TV, the radio, in books/magazines and on the internet (not to mention every… single… advert… everywhere…) is taking liberties these days like no person ever could face-to-face. Accountability is now just another word for liability, which means it’s okay to get squeezed for an unwarranted emotional investment at every turn. We’re so busy dealing with this onslaught that real people and their values (and vices) get elbowed out of the picture. The bottom line then is that the Man never had it so good—he’s honed his invisibility trick, cranked up the volume on his mic, and worst of all, now has free rein over the public agenda. Isn’t Orwell’s 1984 still on the school curriculum?

So, please excuse me if I don’t take too warmly to the ‘Happiness Engineers’ and the preschool teachers editors over at WordPress HQ, and all the willing participants of their high-flown exercise in self grooming. And before I’m accused of hypocrisy, know that I’d rather have my posts featured on the wall of a grimy fast-food takeaway—at least that would cut out all the pretense. In fact, I hope this blog earns its stripes without any acclaim at all. You can hold me to that.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of things about this free service (not forgetting that it’s an integral part of a lucrative company). I’m also all for giving the benefit of the doubt and building trust and relationships (more than the diehards who left this article at the opener will ever know). It’s just that the way things stand makes for some pretty bad news if you ask me. Oh yeah, that’s right, I don’t write the headlines.

 

Edit—31/08/16

So the wonderful WordPress team keep on giving. I left a negative comment on this article over at the WordPress.com news site when the comments were still open. The part that niggled me was the dressing up:

Every WordPress.com site displays a footer credit — a line of text at the bottom of the page — which links to our homepage and to the theme you’re currently using. These links help your visitors set up a WordPress site of their own, and highlight the reach and scope of our community. It’s a way to show the world the pride we take in building WordPress.com, which so many of you have chosen as your home on the web.

My comment read:

Huh. Last time I checked, WordPress.com was part of a lucrative business. Yeah, real homey…

Big surprise, it was blocked. Not because it failed to meet their posting guidelines, but as they put it:

En.blog announcements like that are meant to be educational and informative posts about WordPress.com features or changes. They aren’t the place for debates or feedback.

Who are you kidding? Positive feedback is clearly welcome because the comment sections there serve as a nifty FALSE advertising platform. Educational, informative and a great business idea. A no-brainer, that is, if you’re happy to flush your ‘pride’ down the crapper.

 

Photo credit: Jay Mantri / retouched

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