Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The day I finally wrote about blogging and resistance, or why (despite how bleak things seem) all hope is not lost.

So I promised in my last post that I would talk about blogging and resistance. And I will. Right now. This is a terrible introduction and I'm not sure how to transition to my point now. I'm just going to do it.

This term, the mandatory cultural studies and critical theory course is focused on the theme of resistance. And, consequently, I've been thinking a lot about the practicalities of resistance--how can we productively resist? Are there forms of productive resistance that do not involve putting my life and body in danger? If I'm not putting my life as I know it in danger, then am I using my privilege as a crutch? Am I not resisting my own privilege...and if not, how can I productively resist anything? And then, of course, there's the other side of that--if I am in a place where I do not have the privilege to put my life on the line (and by life I mean literal life, as in beating heart and breathing and all that, but also my lifestyle and the realities of my day-to-day life), am I denied the privilege to resist? And should I then be focusing on resisting a system that does not allow equal access to resistance? But what does "resistance" even mean? Is all resistance created equal? Is resistance to gay marriage equal to the resistance to capitalism and neoliberalism demonstrated by the Occupy Wall Street protesters? And how useful is it for me to be sitting here contemplating resistance and the different forms of resistance when I could be out there (wherever there is...I have a feeling it's in that pesky "real world" that I keep having trouble locating...) resisting something? But why should I resist something just for the sake of resisting something?

"Resist" doesn't look like a word anymore.

There's this idea that the Internet represents this open, democratic space--perfect for resistance of all kinds! (No, I'm not going to cite my sources on that one. This is a blog, not an academic paper, and I'm going to milk that for all it's worth. So no citations! HA! You're just going to have to trust me that this idea exists.) And while to some extent I agree with this, because, as this blog proves, anyone can pretty much publish anything they want for free on the Internet, there's still a problem of access. And I don't just mean that there are people who don't have computers or wi-fi or whatever (while that is true). I mean that not all web pages can be found. I mean that powerful companies can purchase "space" on the Internet--not literal space, but highly visible spots on Google's search results and things like that. You can buy visibility online--with money and/or time. I say time because I know there are a lot of really popular blogs and personal sites out there that barely cost any money, but they require a ton of dedication, and most people (myself included) do not have that kind of time.

Sure, with my little blog I have a bit of influence--the 100 or so people who read it are subjected to my opinions and maybe take something from them. But that's an incredibly small portion of the population, and I won't really be able to raise that number unless I dedicate my time to increasing my online visibility. And even then, only certain people, people who are "predisposed" to my kind of thinking, will be the ones that read it. Last week in class, a fellow student showed the following video as part of a presentation. It's a TED talk by Eli Pariser about how Google and Facebook and others are tailoring what you see online--and while they're giving you what you supposedly want, they're also filtering out the other side of the story.

Thanks for this, Shaun!

So things are looking pretty bleak. Maybe blogging is not the be-all end-all of resistance it was once thought to be. (Again, I'm not citing that. I've just decided that's what it was once thought to be. Deal with it.) But then I start thinking about three of the blogs I read for fun, which are incredibly popular and widely read. These are blogs that aren't political by any means--they're funny and entertaining, focused mostly on the ridiculousness of everyday life. And yet, there is a resistant element to all of these blogs. At one time or another, the women who write these three blogs that I'm talking about have spoken out about, and resisted the stigma against, mental illness.

via Hyperbole and a Half

On Hyperbole and a Half, Allie openly discusses her adventures with depression. On The Bloggess, Jenny writes about her personal battle with depression and self-harm. (And Jenny started the silver ribbon campaign to raise awareness about self-harm that took over Twitter a few weeks ago!) On Nicole is Better, Nicole Antoinette talks about depression and her time "in the hole" eating candy canes in the dark--and her support system that pulled her back out. And I think this is incredibly powerful. The visibility that these women have in the blogosphere is incredible, and, I would argue, widespread--they're not stuck with a particular political audience, because these are personal blogs. They're resisting the idea that real, personal lives aren't affected by mental illness and ableism. And the fact that they are willing to speak out, to resist, is mindblowing. Kudos, ladies! You help me keep believing :)

1 comment:

  1. I agree totally. There's incredible power in that resistance and the capacity, online, to put it out there. When the Bloggess tells it like it is, the message echoes.