It used to be that beyond major newspapers and television, the main exchange of opinions happened with people you knew personally, who in turn mostly used the same newspapers and tv to form their opinions. People who travelled a lot and met a lot of people were in the best position to encounter whatever was excluded in the local discourse. Like everything you don’t know the alternative to, this seemed perfectly normal. But with the advent of the Internet, all that has changed: now you can actually learn about different people for real and in their own words, not just the filtered caricatures you get via mainstream media.
Strengthening this trend, I find the blog/opinion -type stuff I read on the web has become more and more “far out” lately. Now that I can read what all kinds of people have to say, it’s less interesting to hear things I more or less already know / agree with already.
Btw, I would like to take this opportunity to say that when I link to a site, in a post or in the sidebar, that should not be taken to indicate my endorsement or support of whatever the link points to. I link to things that interest me for whatever reason, and often they’re “far out” to me as well.
One of my guilty pleasures (although far from the guiltiest) is Feministing, where people’s thought processes are so different from my own that I am starting to wonder whether the postmodernists might actually be right and people really do live in their own reality. In fact, my inspiration for mentioning the whole thing was this post about Wikipedia’s gender gap:
This week’s Time magazine shed more light on the fact that women make up only 13 percent of Wikipedia contributors. Sue Gardener, Wikimedia Foundation’s E.D. noted:
The average Wikipedian is a young man in a wealthy country who is probably a graduate student — somebody who’s smart, literate, engaged in the world of ideas, thinking, learning and writing all the time.
It should go without saying that if women make up 51 percent of the population, 13 percent representation at Wikipedia is a DISGRACE!
I probably sound stupid for saying this, but at this point I was thinking “gosh, are they really blaming women collectively for failing to contribute to Wikipedia?” No, the point of course is that this disparity is prima facie evidence of sexism. No other possibility is entertained. The author specifically mentions that Wikipedia, being a large and complicated organisation, takes a lot of “wikilegalese” to grok. She continues:
When I think of the demands of graduate school, plus the unique challenges that I face as a woman of color, becoming fluent in Wiki-speak so that I can post something up at Wikipedia is low on the priority list.
Shame on Wikipedia for not even attempting to address these issues.
As someone who doesn’t have the time/energy to contribute to Wikipedia, this person could either
a) feel grateful that so many others have been able to create such a wonderful thing, or
b) feel angry and offended that others haven’t somehow engineered her participation in it
The people who go for b) every time make me sad. They’re doomed to feel angry and cheated about everything, and we don’t even get anything productive in exchange for their mental anguish.