Freddie deBoer is guest posting at the Dish and he’s trying to make some point or other about opportunity on the Internet:
I do think, though, that this is a good opportunity to finally let some of our old myths about the internet die. It’s still common to hear people talk about the internet as this open space where only talent matters and where everyone has a chance to impact the discussion. And it’s time we put those myths to bed. […]
I don’t know if there was ever a time when the internet in general, and the world of blogging and online journalism specifically, were these open cultures where anyone truly had a chance to get ahead. And there’s a simple rejoinder to all of this: commenters never were some sort of principled check on bloggers and writers. They brought the rape gifs and the misogyny and the racism and none of the checks and balances. […]
As with what a lot of Freddie writes, I’m not sure exactly what he’s getting at. If his point is that there never was opportunity on the Internet, what’s his explanation for a graduate student at a midwestern university having his words read by millions on one of the most highly trafficked blogs on the Internet? In other words, does Freddie think he’d have anything like the audience he does without the Internet? If his point is that there once was opportunity but now it’s gone, what’s his explanation for people who are launching their careers via Twitter, YouTube and many other forms of social media?
Freddie’s right when he points out that there’s less job security and opportunity, in general, than there was years ago. But there’s never been much security in the kinds of creative pursuits that are enabled by the Internet. And, in pre-Internet days, writers, artists and musicians were constantly being ripped off by agents, managers and promoters who tricked them into signing shitty contracts or simply stole their money. So I find it hard to accept that things aren’t at least a little better for creative types now that the Internet exists.
That all said, I think I know a place where commenters were a check on bloggers, because when Freddie posted here, he had a difficult time dealing with the criticism that was dished out by commenters, at least some of whom made what I would consider “principled” arguments.