Do we make a difference?

I'm betting that, by now, most of you have already heard of Maryscott O'Connor, the fulminating Left wing blogger profiled in the Washington Post a few days ago.  This is one seriously angry lady:

In the angry life of Maryscott O'Connor, the rage begins as soon as she opens her eyes and realizes that her president is still George W. Bush. The sun has yet to rise and her family is asleep, but no matter; as soon as the realization kicks in, O'Connor, 37, is out of bed and heading toward her computer.

Out there, awaiting her building fury: the Angry Left, where O'Connor's reputation is as one of the angriest of all. "One long, sustained scream" is how she describes the writing she does for various Web logs, as she wonders what she should scream about this day.

She smokes a cigarette. Should it be about Bush, whom she considers "malevolent," a "sociopath" and "the Antichrist"? She smokes another cigarette. Should it be about Vice President Cheney, whom she thinks of as "Satan," or about Karl Rove, "the devil"? Should it be about the "evil" Republican Party, or the "weaselly, capitulating, self-aggrandizing, self-serving" Democrats, or the Catholic Church, for which she says "I have a special place in my heart . . . a burning, sizzling, putrescent place where the guilty suffer the tortures of the damned"?

It's actually a very sad article, in that one can only feel pity for O'Connor, who has to live bathed in that anger.  I'm also seriously concerned for her six year old son.  What kind of life awaits a child whose mother is in perpetual explosion mode?  It's probably a very good thing that she can get that anger out on the blog, rather than take it out an her child.  O'Connor's personal brand of anger has made her very popular amongst the generally angry on the Left:   

Since its debut last July, My Left Wing has had some 450,000 visits and is now averaging about 3,000 visits and 14,000 page views a day. At any given moment, several dozen people are looking at the site, and user data shows that they are all over the world — mostly from the United States, occasionally from overseas and often from Washington, D.C., where the log-on addresses sometimes end in senate.gov or house.gov.

Frankly, I'm jealous.  I'd love numbers like that.   But I'd love them because they'd stroke my ego, not because I think they'd effect any real change in the world.  And it's this last point that I really want to talk about in this post.
I adore blogging.  I love the chance to develop thoughts that swirl about in my head and that I can't normally voice (a) because they'd be inappropriate in the context of neighborhood block parties, school meetings, and business meetings or (b) because people within a ten foot radius of my voice would be bored out of their minds if forced to act as an audience to my opinings.

The great thing about the blog is freedom:  I have the freedom to write; you have the freedom to read.  And if I'm boring, you have the freedom to walk out, something you couldn't do during ordinary, polite face-to-face interactions.  Likewise, if you disagree with me, you feel free to state so in comments or in posts at your own blog.  Again, no matter how polite you are (and you, my dear blogfriends, are always polite), it's unlikely that, in face-to-face conversations, you'd take such adversarial (albeit civilized) stands.  Instead, you'd probably waffle and shuffle, and sort of slough off the whole conversational point. 

So I believe blogs are a very important forum for those who care. What I wonder, though, is whether those of us who care enough to blog — and to read blogs — matter in the political process.  I have a core group of about 350 readers (bless you all) who show up regularly to read what I have to say.  O'Connor, angrier but luckier in the numbers, has a core group about ten times mine.  Her numbers sound marvelous until you start thinking about the bigger numbers.  We have approximately 142 million registered voters in the United States (or, to spell it out with all its impressive zeroes, 142,000,000).  This means that, even assuming O'Connor's readers are all registered voters, her readership is equal to only a minute percentage of American voters. 

Also, just as I move primarily in circles of people who agree with my neo-conservative thinking, I'd be willing to bet that the majority of O'Connor's readers are hardcore angry Leftists.  Indeed, the WaPo article certainly supports that supposition.  That means that O'Connor's anger doesn't inform the uninformed.  Nor does it convert those who originally differed with her.  It merely reinforces thinking amongst those already committed to her angry world view.

Lest you think I'm simply fantasizing here about the echo chamber in which O'Connor operates, or that I'm extrapolating from my own limited experience, it's worthwhile to look at the effect that Markos Moulitsas Zúniga's Daily Kos has had on elections.  (There are, actually, two Daily Koses — one a diary format and one its flagship State of the Nation site, to which I've linked). 

The Kos sites are amongst the best read blogs in America and they're very, very angry.  They're also deeply involved in Democratic politics — which turns out to be a blessing for Republicans, since the candidates Daily Kos supports routinely lose.  Indeed, the only successful candidate the Daily Kos has supported has been Matt Santos — the fictional candidate on the West Wing (a show that whispered Markos's name and blog with reverential and bated breath a few episodes ago).  It shows, therefore, that despite its cyberspace popularity, the Daily Kos is not having a real world effect — or, perhaps, it's having one that favors Republicans, as real world people recoil from cyberspace anger.

I'm going to continue blogging.  I do think bloggers chip away at the monolithic MSM, especially in terms of pointing out its biases and errors.  That change is going to be infinitely more important than any one blog affecting any one election.  This means, I guess, that the answer to my title question — Do we make a difference? — is yes, we do.  Conservative bloggers, by forcing changes on the American press, will end up being more influential than angry Left wing bloggers who change nothing at all.

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  • http://rodesmith.wordpress.com/ Rod E. Smith, MSMFT

    good writing — I’ll “blogroll” you and see if some of my small audience will increase your numbers…….. Be sure you don’t want to be known for being angry…… Rod

    RodESmith.wordpress.com

  • Kevin

    All I have to say is I hope she keeps smokin’ those cigarettes; there’s intelligence for ya!

  • Kevin

    And as an addition (since I took a moment to check out her blog), she start’s with a picture of herself? (I’m guessing here since the photo is captioned glam-sham). But if it is her, she would be considered attractive–that is until you read “A Radical Leftist Liberal Socialist Commie Feminist Pinko from Hell” where she uses language that would make a sailor (and I was one, once upon a time) blush. I am always amazed at how ugly (and less intelligent) people appear when they begin to swear profusely.

  • http://arosebyname.blogspot.com Anna

    If she speaks to people the way she writes, I can only imagine the language her 6-eyar-old son uses! Children learn by example and I certainly wouldn’t want to be that kind of example to my girls!

    For the most part, I avoid the far left blogs because of the language, not because I am a prude or easily offended, but consistent use of profanity simply shows a lack of thought, imagination and is just plain lazy. I shouldn’t say it’s exclusive of left blogs either. There are some right blogs that get out of hand with the language, but unlike the left, it isn’t their normal mode of communication. (At least not the ones that I read with any regularity.)

  • http://ruminationsroom.wordpress.com/ Don Quixote

    Trust me, folks, despite her modest self-assessment in the above entry, Bookworm is never boring! She is just as fascinating in person as she is in her blog.

    As to the content of the entry, blogs do make a difference, not because they reach masses of people (they don’t) but because they reach opinion leaders, who take whatever insight they get out of the blogs & pass it on to a much wider audience.

  • Publius

    I read the article, and I agree she’s a loon. Another one justifying her anger on the basis of her loss. But the one thing that I took exception with is the idea in the subheadline that Lefty bloggers are taking a page from the Right.

    Now I agree there are plenty who hated and continue to hate Bill Clinton and HRC. But I can’t believe that it ever reached the level that it does with the Left, which have seemingly adopted this hatred as a party platform. Some of the crazy stuff spouted by Carter, Kerry, Gore, etc. would practically get you excommunicated from the mainstream Right, and of course the press never calls them on this (their usual double-standard).

    Guess the WaPo author couldn’t live without a swipe in passing. Sort of reminds me when Clinton blamed Limbaugh and others for the Oklahoma City bombing.

  • http://ymarsakar.blogspot.com/ Ymarsakar

    It’s actually a very sad article, in that one can only feel pity for O’Connor, who has to live bathed in that anger.

    There’s two kinds of anger. The explosive hot form of anger, and the coldly calculated precision version of anger. (Aruba is good example, beth holloway)

    Many in the military and even more in command positions and SF slots have the cold version of anger. Anger and rage are very useful tools of motivation, as the army have found out in bootcamp. But an undisciplined form of anger, which clouds your judgement and destroys your ability to do the mission and not do your vengeance first, is also a great danger to military commanders who hold the lives of their men in their hands.

    Controlled anger, in all situations, beat explosive rage in terms of direct power to weight ratios.

    The first time you experience cold anger, you will find it very interesting. Because you are thinking with a clarity of thought unknown to any enraged beast. Not only does it give you clarity of thought, but it also gives you laser point concentration. If you fail in an endeavour, you automatically are thinking of the next thing to try. In addition to the intellectual benefits, the enraged benefits of anger still apply. Increased strength and stamina, increased ability to withstand pain, and the removal of societal inhibitions on violence and civil conduct.

    A lot of martial arts instructors seem to tell you that anger is useful, but it also clouds the mind and therefore should be avoided as it interferes with learning the form of martial arts. Obviously, martial arts instructors aren’t teaching you how to survive in war or how to accomplish assassination missions. The concentration of mind and will, is many orders greater than is required for simple self-defense. And not many have the fortitude or the determination to achieve such limits.

    We feel pity for Mary Queen of Scots, because it is obvious who controls who in this scenario. She no longer uses or controls her anger, the anger controls her and makes her do its bidding. Such a person would not last 5 seconds in mortal combat. For such a chink in their armor spells instantaneous fatality.

    Her numbers sound marvelous until you start thinking about the bigger numbers.

    Her numbers also sound marvelous until you understand that face to face, she is vulnerable to 10 times what you would be vulnerable to, Book. Then it doesn’t seem so advantageous.

    Bloggers and we make a difference. Simply because a lot of people realized that the world wasn’t a bake fest place to be in, after 9/11. But they need information and the best information they can get is from blogs like, Book. Without that information, they will not know what to do, with their disorientation, and thus might be prey to enemy subversive tactics. The democracy of America has always relied upon the principle that a well informed public will make the right decisions independent of political corruption.

    The media with their fake but accurate stories, the judges with their Rule of Judges IED called stealing people’s property, are all those that people should and will fight against. But without a Thomas Paine, they will not know how, they will not know to what they fight for nor what they fight against. thus, adrift in a sea of nothingness, they fall, one by one, in the struggle for a contemptible cause. (Palestinian cause)

    I don’t put much paid in opinion leaders, contrary to Don. I’m far more of a grass roots Jacksonian for that.

  • http://ymarsakar.blogspot.com/ Ymarsakar

    P.S. Just found out. See, the Left doesn’t do blogs to have a conversation. The Left does blogs to ‘feel better about themselves’. So they don’t really like it if you start a conversation or make a point that disagrees with them. It’s not that they disagree and don’t like, it is rather that emotionally they don’t like it. And that’s different from simple intellectual dislike.

    I received an email from Van, after I replied to one of his comments at Neo’s site. Since it was an old comment, I posted the comment on his blog, just so he has the convenience, you know.

    Are you some sort of an idiot?

    I would appreciate it you would stop leave comments on my blog that have absolutely nothing to do with the thread.

    Go back to the hole that you came out of and stay there – moron!

    – by van

    He wrote that as a comment on my blog, and I received it in email form. So let me get this straight, a Lefty fan of Roosevelt, says he would appreciate that I did not leave comments on his blog that had absolutely nothing to do with the thread. And he feels that leaving a comment on my blog in reply, somehow justifies his position… Oookay.

    I don’t mind people who want to communicate directly with me leaving a comment on my blog, it is after all what it is there for… right?

    Van, like all fake liberal lefty Democrats, don’t seem like to have conversation. This is true of some on the Right as well, so it is not an ideological difference but an emotional, intellectual, and maturity issue. But even so, statistically there are a lot of people on the Left that don’t like to have conversations as a way of challenging their internal beliefs.

  • jg

    I think we need (our conservative) blogs to enable us to remain sane. That’s not easy. (Well, my favorite ‘can you believe what the Left did now’ righteous voice is titled Dr. Sanity.)

    Americans exist in a manipulated media world, much of which doesn’t connect to the ‘real world.’ Bookworm’s readers know the real world is there, and are determined to unveil it. The Left/MSM have decided it is a myth and a victim to their latest power politics. Why allow concerns about terrorism or the future?

    The Left’s anger, born in the Vietnam war era, has been shown to be shallow, selfish, miscontrued, at its heart, completely immoral. The Iraq mission has said again that Americans are a good people capable of righting great wrongs. The Left will never forgive the President for leading us to the truth.

    America is a good country, one that can–with the grace of God– grow to be even better.

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