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Sunday, 17 February 2008

Singeing Gogarty

The Observer today reports on the vicious cyber-bullying that has been dished out to the son, Max Gogarty, of a Guardian travel writer after he was given a prestigious blog space on that paper's world-famous site, accused of benefiting from nepotism, armed with middle class bona fides (the UK media world is often thought to be rife with such things). What strikes me, immediately, is how odd it is that this young man, and this rather common incident, suddenly receive such attention. Might it in fact be because, indeed, his father is well-connected? His father, after all, has written many travel articles for the paper in question, and the many bloggers who began to ask why they should be excited to follow his son's gap year hols had a point, surely, though some may have pushed it too far. His father is quoted as noting the quintessentially cruel nature of this bullying. Well, actually, no. The British can be cruel - but the online community, in general, is no stranger to snarling, vicious, sarcastic, attacks. Max got off rather lightly, I'd have thought. Eyewear has often received such backhanded compliments - and tends to be mocked over the coals by one Mr. Wheatley, Irish Poet-Critic-At-Large, on a regular basis (no bad thing, really - as Wilde would have assured me). I do think it rather sweet, and also self-reflexive, though, to report on this one incident. It reminds me of the chief reason why mainstream literary types are worried about dipping their toes into this roiling blog-water: the lack of deference - the human voices that swamp, and drown one - the lack of authority, of policing. This can be harmful to learned discourse, indeed - but it can also be creatively unsettling, too - a corrective lens to the worldview that sees only a small minority of lucky characters get to be allowed to have their say.
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