In response to posts written by several weblogging women, including Jeanne of Body and Soul, about closing their weblogs or putting them on hiatus because of the re-election of George Bush, Culture Cat wrote:
I know it’s awfully melodramatic, but images of self-immolation on a pyre of virtual burning books keep coming to my mind. I might as well say it — suttee — because I can’t pretend not to notice that these are all bright, eloquent women. It should be obvious that I have nothing but respect for all of the bloggers I’ve mentioned, I certainly understand the desire to retreat and reflect for a while, and I’ll support any decisions they make about their blogs, but it’s precisely because I hold them in such high regard that I must object to the decision to stop blogging (in the case of Rana and Jeanne, that is).
I have found, though, that this reaction isn’t limited to just women, as I’ve read several male webloggers who have talked either about shutting down for a time or permanently, or drastically changing the nature of their weblogs. In some cases, like Jeneane’s, the reasons are fairly easy to understand: they started a weblog purely to write against George Bush during the election. Now that the election is over, and especially now that Bush has won, they don’t see a reason to keep it going.
Yet for those who have quit in anger, or even those who continue in anger, I have to wonder how much of the anger is due to the re-election of George Bush and how much to other aspects of their lives that they can’t write about?
The election of George Bush, or the loss of John Kerry, was not anyone’s personal responsibility– each person had a vote and a voice and was free to exercise both. But once the election was over, we can’t point a dart on a map and tell the people where it lands that it’s “all their fault”. Neither should we react as if those who didn’t vote the way we wanted, or didn’t write as angrily or work as passionately, have somehow personally betrayed us.
Yet I have seen this reaction in weblogging and I have to admit that I don’t understand it. The only thing we have control of is our immediate environment, if that; to push others away, to hit out at them, and to disdain them because they don’t share your grief or anger is to lose that one aspect of all of this that you can reach out and touch. To do so willingly, seems to me to say that there is more to the your anger than George Bush winning–because he’s not impacted by the actions, only the person hit, rejected, and dismissed.
Maybe closing down one’s weblog or taking a long break is the best course; to prevent destruction rather than embrace it.