Many years ago I received an email.
It was from someone who used to be a friend but then he started going off the rails a bit. I don’t know why I kept the mail, but I did. In it, he attacked this site for no apparent reason –
Then there are the blogs that are personal, a sort of BEBO, where you say here I am, please by my friend. And the more hits you get, the more friends you feel you have, but where the replies are almost always from fellow personal bloggers – all feeding off each others congratulations, and where disagreement is not on the agenda. Very nicely put recently in the Times as “an onanistic niche activity persued by self-regarding geeks, oddballs and social pariahs.”
I’m not quite sure of the point he was trying to make, but in effect I think he was trying to describe what has now become known as the Echo Chamber phenomenon.
The Echo Chamber thing is an interesting subject. I frequently deride the Nannies and Public Health for living in their own echo chambers, feeding off their own self congratulations and egging themselves on to greater heights of control, but can the same be said about this site? Am I living in my own echo chamber while I decry Public Healths version?
One of the things I have noticed here is the lack of debate. I write about some particularly nasty bit of Nanny Stateism and the comments all agree with me, which has led to quite a few accusations that I delete and ban any dissent or disagreement. In fact I have only barred two individuals completely and that was because they were inane trolls. I did delete comments once, a long time ago but that was because a rather nasty fight started between two readers which didn’t stop until I removed their comments.
So how come I seem to only have like-minded readers? Well, the answer is simple – I didn’t choose my readers; they choose me. I have no control whatsoever over who reads this site, nor would I want to. Likewise I tend to read sites whose point of view is similar to my own. Just look at it logically – would I seek out friendship with people I violently disagree with? No. Like most people, I hang around with people who tend have the same interests as myself. Would I subscribe to Golfing Weekly or Woman’s Own magazines? No, because I am not interested.
The Nanny Echo Chamber differs from mine in one vital aspect. While I place no restrictions on my readership and would be quite happy to debate any topic, the Nannies go so far as to refuse public access to their discussions. The only people who are allowed participate are those of like mind. They have a publicly stated policy of refusing to listen to Big Tobacco, Big Sugar or whatever the demon of the day is. They actively and publicly refuse to listen to any counter-argument that may be put.
To put it another way, my Echo Chamber is organic and flexible, while the Nanny version is fixed and rigid.
Not that I really care what is said about me or this site. I’m not trying to win friends or influence people.
I just do it for the craic.