And né’er the twain shall meet

The controversy over past rantings of two bloggers hired by the Edwards campaign has been interesting to watch. I won’t argue the merits of either side of the matter; I simply wish to make an observation.

Is there a better illustration of the differences between the IRL (In Real Life, for the uneducated) and URL worlds than this? The inflammatory statements written by these bloggers weren’t questioned in the least when they were first written. Why? Well, that’s just the way of the blogosphere. Anything goes here.

Sacred cows (especially those political) are mercilessly assaulted — and often in language that would embarrass a sailor — every minute of every day in the blogosphere, and nobody thinks anything about it. Caveat emptor. I find it refreshing, for I’d much rather know everything about the person I’m reading than to have it hidden by “cultural norms” or an institutional byline.

Not so “in real life,” where political correctness — with its rules of propriety and rightness — governs speech (it stopped being free a long time ago, BTW). In the real world, biases are withheld and hidden, as if they don’t exist or at least aren’t allowed to exist. Unfortunately, they do, and the best we have is that we don’t talk about them.

Human nature doesn’t stop being human nature just because the guy across from you wants to see a smile. Who’s the bigger threat to culture, the one who speaks what’s on her mind or the one who hides what she really thinks?

So writers who work in a space where they’re free to speak their minds are dragged into the world where speaking your mind is punished, and we’re surprised by this?

I’ve written a thousand times that the core disruption we’re all facing is cultural, not technological, and this event is just another chapter in that story.

To me, it’s not so much a case of “be careful what you say online” as it is a case of matter coming into contact with anti-matter. And anybody who’s ever watched Star Trek knows where that leads.

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