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Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Why I Blog. And They Don't.

I'm giving a talk tonight here in Boulder. As the subject of the talk is blogging, I thought -- duh! -- that I'd blog it. So this is my blog entry on my talk about blogging, which I plan to read as my talk about blogging. Recursive enough for you? Good. Let's proceed then.

For those of you from other countries, Boulder is in Colorado, which is one of those big square states slightly to the left-of-center on the U.S. map. There is no political significance to this remark. Except as it applies to Boulder. However, Boulder isn't really "left" in the political sense. It's more like "Left Behind," as in that series of popular books about The Rapture. So, rather than left-of-center, perhaps it's more accurate to say that Boulder is basically off-center, in the sense of being "skewed," "out of kilter," or what we would technically term "totally fucking whacked."

Be that as it may, I'll be speaking to the Rocky Mountain Internet User Group, a wonderfully eclectic band of technoid whackos in their own right, though skewed in a critically different direction than the targets... uh, that is to say, the subject matter of my presentation. At least I hope that's the case, or I'll be run out of town on a rail even before the book I'm working on is published. "And which book is that?" you may ask. I'm glad you asked that! It's tentatively titled Marketing the Sacred: How New Age "Spirituality" and Band-Aid "Therapies" Play to Pathological Narcissism. The title is still tentative because of that subtitle, which is almost long enough to be the first chapter. I may put the book outline online sometime soon so you can get some idea of what it's about. I think I know. At this point I think I can say I'm almost pretty sure.

One thing it's about is Boulder. More specifically, Boulder provides so many fine examples of the book's focus, pathological narcissism, which actually is a technical term from psychoanalysis. The reason the "pathological" qualifier is necessary is that this shrink named Heinz Kohut came up with the pernicious idea of "healthy narcissism." In the book, I point out that this is like, you know, that dry heat.

But never mind all that. For our purposes, narcissism simply refers to those passive-aggressive individuals you are all unfortunately familiar with, who think they're better than you for reasons impossible to determine from a close examination of the facts, and who, moreover, believe that this unqualified and highly mysterious "betterness" entitles them to your full and undivided attention.

[No talking in the back there!!!]

At any rate, Boulder is crawling with these loathsome asswipes, and this has inspired the outline of Chapter Two, which I have titled: "Boulder, Colorado - Down the Rabbit Hole." Here are some of the subsections:

  • Your author: through the looking glass and then some
  • Naropa "University": the white knight is talking backwards
  • JonBenet Ramsey: the red queen lost her head
  • Rocky Flats: atomics vs. organics
  • Celestial Seasonings makes a mint
  • Free Tibet through aromatherapy!
  • Trance & Dental Medication
  • "Why don't you move to Russia?"

Now the reason I'm describing all this -- aside from free advance advertising -- is that it occurred to me over my morning coffee how diametrically opposed are the interests and inclinations of narcissists and bloggers. And I realized that these differences would make for a highly relevant and possibly amusing HTML table, which are always lots of fun to hack up. Before presenting my [ahem] critical research data, I should hasten to say that narcissists and bloggers do not constitute mutually exclusive categories. There are plenty of narcissistic bloggers -- I could name names, but being an essentially Nice Person, and in the interests of time, I will forego (for the present) this little indulgence. Curiously, however, there are very few genuine narcissists who blog. Or if they do, they give up on it pretty quickly when they realize that their every post will not go to Number 1 on Daypop, Technorati and Blogdex. Enraged by this cruel lack of empathy on the part of the human race at large, they go off to sulk, resolving to henceforth engage in something, you know, "more artistic."

I should also say that the bloggers I describe here are not neceesarily typical. There may be others who diverge from my characterization. Therefore, further research may be warranted.

OK then, enough preamble. Here's my table comparing these two strange species.

New Age Narcissists Old Aged Bloggers
Sincere: Narcissists always present themselves as serious, open to new ideas, and caring. This is extremely important to them, as they are none of the above. Thus, their apparent dedication to, and demand for, Total Honesty is a highly evolved form of lying through their teeth. They do tend to have beautiful teeth, however, and would therefore rather that you focus more on those than on whatever they have to say, which usually turns out to be not that much. Spoofing: Bloggers -- real bloggers, that is-- are always fucking around. They refuse to be serious. Or when they try to, they are mercilessly laughed at by other, less serious bloggers. Also, they are highly opinionated. On any given subject or point of debate, they deeply believe that they're right and you're wrong. And they don't give a crap what you think. It's not that they're particularly nasty people. Usually. It's more the principle of the thing.
Spiritual: Narcissists often seek to develop a deep relationship with God. This comes naturally, since God, once found, seems so familiar. For them, it's almost as if they're looking in a mirror. This feeling of unity with the Godhead gives these individuals a Special Glow, which can often be seen at night, even under fluorescent lighting. They are strongly attracted to the Teachings of the East. E.g., as the Dalai Lama said to the hotdog vendor: Make me one with everything. Irreverent: In contrast, bloggers tend to snicker a lot and make fun of people who are apparently inclined to believe in any old weirdass shit they happen to stumble across. For instance, blond "shaman goddesses" who look uncannily like Dolly Parton, or dweeby anorexic-looking guys with vaguely Nazi-sounding names who claim to have discovered The Secrets of the Universe. Bloggers tend to have a field day with sites that promote such looney-tunes grandiosity.
Passive-Aggressive: Narcissists are never mean. At least not to your face. Not so you'd notice right away. Or so they think. The reason for this is that they think you're stupid, as no one could be more intelligent or subtly perceptive than themselves. If you happen to have offended one -- which is easier than breathing -- you might get a face-full of shit that somehow smells like yellow roses. Do not be deceived. You've been dumped on. Active-Aggressive: Bloggers play no such head games. They will flame your ass without a moment's hesitation in language that would peel the paint off a rusty boat hull. For obvious reasons, asbestos underwear is popular among this crowd. While you won't usually be savaged for simply breathing, failure to validate your markup can lead to severe tongue lashings. As can incorrect use of the semicolon. When a blogger doesn't like you, you know it. Fast.
Peaceful: Narcissists place a high premium on "peacefulness," whatever this means to them, precisely. More often than not, it means you should shut the fuck up because you're annoying them. They would never tell you this, however, as it would be too negative -- negativity being one of the cardinal sins to the New Age narcissist. Oddly, or perhaps not so oddly, they tend to interpret anything other than praise and overt adoration as -- you guessed it -- negativity. As you might also have guessed, this makes for some terrific relationships! Irritated: Bloggers have little interest in maintaining the peace. Peace is boring. What bloggers love is a flat-out firefight. This may be the result, in some cases, of having watched Animal House too many times. Or my own personal favorite, From Dusk Till Dawn. There is nothing that satisfies quite so much as dismembering an overwhelming horde of bloodthirsty vampires. In fact, this predilection for driving wooden stakes through the hearts of the undead is possibly what scares narcissists most about bloggers.
Asexual: While narcissists often claim to be passionate about this and that, their "passion" rarely extends to other human beings, which are generally beneath their notice. While sex with a narcissist can be exciting, so can sex with a Dalmatian. Under the right conditions, that is. Say, with the entire fire department looking on. In contrast, when you are in bed with a narcissist, you are basically in bed alone. Necrophiliacs seem to enjoy the experience more than most. Horny: Bloggers on the other hand are some of the randiest people you will never meet. This is where the medium offers built in protection. If you did meet some of them, your hard-won virtue would be instantly up for grabs -- and I don't mean that metaphorically. Women bloggers who have received one-too-many penis enlargement spams are particularly dangerous in this regard. And the guys, forget it. They were already pervs or they wouldn't be blogging.
Well Dressed: Narcissists take special care of, and pride in, their appearance. They like "nice things," which, if you're smart, you will provide them with. Their taste in clothes is impeccable, with price tags to match. So don't scrimp if you're trying to make a good impression (see Horny, above). They tend to favor diaphanous earth tones and precious gems. The latter they believe to have magical powers. They never wear sapphires, rubies and diamonds merely to impress lesser mortals like yourself. That would be unforgivably tacky and unspiritual. Undressed: Bloggers often forget about clothes altogether. Right now, to be honest, I'm writing this naked at the keyboard. Who cares? It's not like I have a webcam. Or if I did, that anyone would pay to see me this way. I don't think. Though maybe I should check it out. Because the fact is, I've blogged so much in the last couple years that I can't afford clothes, diaphanous or otherwise. Are you kidding? I can't even afford soap! Bloggers want you to admire them not for their bejeweled fingers and earth-toned looks, but for their sterling words and earthy smell.
Foreign Flicks: Let's face it, New Age Narcissists groove on subtitles. How else would you explain their going all orgasmic over grainy films from places you've never even heard of. Like, say, France. What gets them off most about these movies, though, is that they're so obscure. They aren't the kind of ART that ordinary people (that's you) can relate to. And it's not the watching or relating that really counts. It's all about sitting around in expensive cafes one-upping other narcissists. If you ask them, you'll realize they have no idea what these movies are about. In fact, tailored to the narcissist market to begin with, most aren't about anything anyway. Domestic Violence: Disney sucks. PG 13? Who needs it? Real bloggers (that is to say, bloggers like myself) want gratuitous car bombings, unprovoked gunfights with high-tech firearms, train wrecks, nuclear "accidents," bio-terror plagues, flaming death in all its myriad forms. For bloggers, "domestic violence" doesn't conjure up images of battered women. It means movies starring Bruce Willis, Steven Segal, Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Antonio Banderas. And of course, Angelina Jolie. To us, "battered women" are women dipped in Bisquick and deep-fryed like corn dogs. It's the way we are. Don't hate us just because we're beautiful.
Organics: New Age Narcissists are highly aware about what they eat. No pesticides for them. No way. No chemical fertilizers. They demand only the purest bullshit. Do you realize a carrot can kill you? That a wrongly raised rutabaga can give you Alzheimer's? Shopping at Whole Foods isn't a chore. It's a way of life. Atomics: Hold the Brie. We can eat when we're dead. What bloggers want are nukes. Tactical thermonuclear devices that will fit in a laptop, pass invisibly through airport scanners, take out entire cities with a single keystroke. Shopping third-world arms marts isn't a chore. It's like jumpin' Jack Flash.
Wine & Cheese: Mellowness is back in fashion. Or hadn't you noticed? The women are beautiful. The talk is refined. The money is in ample evidence, but so discreet. "Ah, Giselle! And tell us, how was the Riviera?" If you can't pronounce the vineyard's name, don't even think about accepting the invitation. But oh that's right. You didn't get one, did you? Poor dear. Now you'll have to eat your pate de fois gras all by yourself. Vegetarian, naturally. Espresso & Ding-Dongs: Bloggers don't eat no fuckin' cheese! And wine? A little Mad Dog 20-20 maybe, on a bad day. What we want is speed! 300 words a minute is nothing to these people. Mountain Dew, Jolt Cola, French Roast boiled down to tar and shot intravenously. Now that's living! And when the munchies set in, there's nothing like a pile of snack cakes and cheese doritos. Lots of sugar, lots of salt. What? You think you're gonna live forever?
Feng Shui: New Age Narcissists pick up on the subtle vibrations in their surroundings. Sort of like the Princess and the Pea. Balance and space. Space and balance. It's all in the arrangement. Which is not to imply any sort of manipulation. Oh no, they would never do that! Except maybe with you. "You know, you'd look so much better next to that potted palm over there. You don't mind, do you?" Pause. Breathe. Feel into the cosmic energies. Go with the flow. Dong Schwing: Bloggers have no sense of space that doesn't come pre-cyberized. They tend to throw shit everywhere. Make stacks and piles. Of books, of clothes, of half-eaten food and unopened bills. And yet, they have developed their own practice of environmental attunement. At present, Dong Schwing (see HORNY, above) is little known outside of a few esoteric blogging communities, but, like Bikram Yoga, its popularity is growing fast.
Art Exhibits: Narcissists love art. You can't keep them away from the stuff! And they love, even more, to congregate where other narcissists gather to appreciate the finer things in life -- namely, themselves. Because what's on display are not the paintings and sculptures and -- oooh! -- Native American pots. No, it's the narcissist's own personal ass. Figuratively speaking. "Now here's a fine piece, Roger. Don't you think?" Exhibitionism: Bloggers could care less about arts & crafts. They had plenty of that at the Institution. Now that they're free, or have graduated to out-patient status, what they really care about is shameless self-promotion. "You should see how many hits I got when Instapundit blogged me!" Or, "My referer logs overflowed when RageBoy posted that nude picture of my wife!" Maybe it ain't art, but I know what I like.
I Messages: New Age Narcissists like to pretend they're not dissing you when they really are. To pull this off, they use "I messages" that refer to their own feelings, thereby not blaming you for anything, and definitely not threatening you. For instance: "I feel uncertain about our relationship when you look at other women that way." Isn't that more mature than yelling? This way you can talk about it like adults -- who'll keep the house, who'll get the kids... Ad Hominem Attacks: When bloggers are upset with each other, or feel they haven't been given a fair hearing, they will often attempt to remedy the situation by saying something like "Fuck you, asshole! You're full of shit!" (See Active-Aggressive, Irritated, and Atomics, above.) While this often fails to accomplish their aim -- or anything, really -- it's lots of fun to watch. This may have originated with the famous Saturday Night Live line: "Jane, you ignorant slut!
Nature: New Age narcissists are refreshed and rejuvenated by "being in nature," as they like to say. They find themselves there. (Of course, they find themselves everywhere, since, cosmically speaking, they are all that exists.) Unsullied by the works of man, nature is healing. Healing is a big word for New Age narcissists, possibly because they do so much damage to other people, which they are then forced to pretend is their own. A virgin forest is a good place to pretend this. Or a nice white-sand beach in Tahiti. "Oh, waiter!" The Unnatural: Bloggers don't hold with nature. "That dog won't hunt," many say. For one thing, nature is generally outside, and unless you've got one hell of a Wi-Fi channel running, this means nature had better not be too far from the bunkhouse. Also, nature is not much to blog about. What? Like: "I saw some nice trees today, and a bird." Oh wow. Sure it's soothing. But it won't exactly set your hit-counter spinning. In addition, there are very few vending machines and no Starbucks in nature. Last time I checked, anyway.
Solitude: The company you keep says a lot about you. Narcissists like to be alone, as they're their own best friends. Without external distractions, they can contemplate their perfection without being interrupted by crass reality. Also, solitude builds character and character bespeaks integrity. These are also big words for narcissists. Through constant positive affirmation, they have deluded themselves into believing they possess these admirable qualities. Emphasis on admirable. Linking: Bloggers don't go in for solitude much. They like to hook up with their pals. Or their enemies. They like to mix it up a bit. They like distractions. After all, when you're by yourself, look who you've chosen to hang with! Not very encouraging, is it? I mean, sure, maybe it's validating as hell for The Perfected. But not for known losers like us. We need a little stimulation, you know what I mean? A little action! -- however the religion-of-your-choice inclines you to interpret that.
Meditation: The wellsprings of the spirit are fed by meditation. The answers to all questions lie within. In the Great Light of Unlimited Being narcissists bask and revel in their own reflected glory. Candles help. Perhaps a little shrine, or a simple circle of stones. Maybe some organic grapes, or a watermelon. Who knows. All God's creation sings to them of how cool they are. How sensitive. How unique. Medication: We've found that there is, indeed, an easier, softer way. That's right: drugs! The same old "reality" every goddam day is enough to drive anyone crazy, so what's different with us? And what's your excuse? In my own experience, deeply believing that telepathic orange lobsters from Mars have just landed in the adjoining cubicle makes the workday go so much faster. Now that's unique.
Aromatherapy: Lilac, lavender, juniper, jasmine, so many pretty smells to choose from! New Age narcissists avail themselves of nature's sweet bounty, not forgetting the crucial role of the nose in affirming their personal wonderfulness. Beautiful fragrances are healing to the beleaguered spirit , faced as we all are today with things we can't fathom. Like those "T-Mobile" signs at Starbucks. "Huh?" Aromatherapy: This is one point on which narcissists and bloggers appear to agree. But don't be deceived by appearances. To bloggers, "aromatherapy" connotes the all-important monthly bath, without which, life support systems would fail catastrophically. As I have often noted -- not exempting myself from the charge -- bloggers are a bunch of dirty bastards!
Self: By definition, narcissists love themselves. Exclusively. Discounting that dry-heat "healthy narcissism" hogwash -- and I warmly invite you to -- they give not the proverbial shit about anyone else. Therefore, with all due respect and with boundless compassion, they are, in my considered, unbiased estimation, the lowest form of life. Microsoft is more "caring." Pond scum is infinitely more interesting. Others: Bloggers are social animals. Emphasis on animals. They basically like each other -- except for the ones we all hate. And even them sometimes. Benefit of the doubt. Bloggers don't focus on their own navels. Or if they do, they write about it. "I have been keeping a close eye on my navel all day, and I have just one question. Why do people do this? So far, nothing has happened worth reporting."
And who knows if all this has been worth reporting. But I'm sure you'll let me know.

That's blogging, folks!

5:53 PM | link |

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"RageBoy: Giving being fucking nuts a good name since 1985."
~D. Weinberger
28 October 2004

Chris Locke's photos More of Chris Locke's photos

Until a minute ago, I had no photos. I still have no photos to speak of. I don't even have a camera. But all these people were linking to "my photos." It was embarassing. It's still embarassing. But I'm used to that.

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