Last night, a wee faction of Brooklyn Skeptic attended the Third Annual Brooklyn Blogfest – an event which featured our three favorite things: free beer, free vegan cupcakes and Brooklyn blogging. The event was held at the Brooklyn Lyceum, which is a building on Fourth Avenue, seemingly crafted out of the ruins of the Berlin Wall.
Ten or so minutes into the presentations, Oneiroi correctly pointed out that this had a real lot in common with masturbation – metaphorically of course. One by one, local bloggers stood up to congratulate themselves on the totally mind-blowing awesomeness that is blogging. Brooklyn Skeptic, itself, went up on stage, shook its hand and declared a blogging beef with its new nemesis, Brooklyn Optimist.
Self love aside, a little part of me died when some new-media-style frat boys behind me actually boo-ed the lone representative of print media – Gersh Kuntzman from the relentlessly populist Brooklyn Paper. And, as all bloggers know, Gersh had a pretty rough week.
Now, what I like about this Gersh fellow, is that he stood up in front of a crowd of post-hip bloggers, openly questioned the value of commenters on blogs and asked what was up with all the “hate.” This is an important question, but I think equally important here is the distinction between hate and “snark” or skepticism, if you will. There is a powerful distiction between being a hater (as for sure, a huge number of commenters are) and being skeptical and offering subtle critique of things that suck. I think Oneiroi put it best:
Recklesley: I’m a little worried about saying something bad about the Blogfest.
Oneiroi: We’re the front line of the new media. We have to be honest. We can’t be plagued by the same patronage system that infects the media we live with today. Without our brooklynesque voices, who will stand up and say, “That sucked”? Tell me Recklesley, who? We’re not just people, we’re the voice of the people. The people of Brooklyn. America itself.
Recklesley: Okay. You win.
Oneiroi: Really? Because as I was typing that all I could think of was…”I’m such a dick”. But that’s usually running through my head anyways.
This Blogfest got me thinking about the rights and privledges of bloggers and the revered position we hold in our society/own minds. I am a huge proponent of open commenting (within the confines of acceptible human speech – as opposed to hate speech), even if the commenters are dumb, wrong, or annoying. Conversations are essential and they are the most valuable aspect of this kind of media. So yes, I welcome your comments about how bad you want to hit it with MK Olsen.
In conclusion, I think what we all learned from this night, was that, collectively, Brooklyn bloggers are self absorbed, but violently protective of free speech and free media. That seems pretty dead-on to me.