I can’t close my mouth this morning, because I can’t believe what I just read in the NY Times magazine. I love the “Questions For” thing they do each week…a one pager with a full-length photo and some juicy questions for an interesting person. This week the title is Bye-Bye Blogger, and Lee Siegel is on the firing line. As a senior editor at The New Republic, Mr. Siegel had a blog for the magazine. But he didn’t just write the blog, he also posted comments full of praise on his own blog using a pseudonym, Sprezzatura. (Here’s the real Sprezzatura, an LA Blog worth checking out). When Mr. Siegel got found out, he lost the blog and got suspended from the magazine.
Mr. Siegel says some stuff that makes my head spin. “Anonymity is the universal convention of the blogosphere…” Not at this blog baby, and not at the blogs you’ll typically see on my blogroll. Sure, we all might have titles for our blogs, but just click on “about” and you’ll see something real and true about the blogger (however brief). Mr. Siegel goes on, “…and the wicked expedience is that you can speak without consequences” — funny he should say this since his own consequences were so severe.
Again on the topic of anonymity “…I think that is why the blogosphere is thriving. It allows people to develop a fantasy self.” Seems to me that writers have been developing fantasy selves since the first time a writer scratched words onto the wall of a cave. Those fantasy selves become characters in novels, voices in poems.
When asked about his false persona and his apparent immaturity, Mr. Siegel says, “I’m too childlike to be immature.” Barf. I’m too childlike–does that mean he’s too innocent to see that what he did was disingenuous? To be a child is to be immature. To grow up is to take responsibility for one’s actions.
He goes on, “…As Sprezzatura…I was indulging my temperament and abandoning my intellect. Look, putting a polemicist like myself in the blogosphere is like putting someone with an obesity problem in a chocolate factory.” All I can say to that is–Get a room, buddy. I mean, get your own blog. If you want to spend time in the blogosphere hiding behind your ‘fantasy self’ go ahead. Just don’t expect to get paid for it.
Mr. Siegel’s deeper psychological problems continue to be revealed when he says, “For example, there is such a madness to become famous. Obscurity is the new poverty. People don’t seem to bear being unknown. But obscurity and struggle are the artists’ Harvard and Yale.” This from a guy with a public persona. Is he feeling sorry for all of us little peons who blog in the deeper recesses of the blogosphere…blogs like this one with little traffic? Besides, if people want to be known, then why is the blogosphere full of anonymous bloggers? Or is it?
Mr. Siegel seems to believe that anonymous bloggers “vent out the pain of being unacknowledged” by practicing “incessant character assassination” under a pseudonym. This may be happening, I don’t know. But it doesn’t seem logical to me.
Gee, I’m glad I don’t work over at the New Republic. They seem to have some kind of hiring problem over there. They find brilliant writers who get ahead of themselves (a la Shattered Glass)–a “too big for their britches” syndrome. Here’s a little more background about Mr. Siegel, the magazine, and the diminishing fortunes of both.
Dear reader of this blog, you can be assured that this blogger is clear on her blogosphere persona. This is the blog of a 40-something woman writer trying to overcome her insecurities about writing through blogging (and other forms of writing too). I don’t get paid for blogging. I’m not famous. Does that mean I’m obscure? Is that bad? Am I supposed to want to be famous because I’m a writer? Hell, I just want to get paid!