Memo to the blogoshere: Drop the separatist lingo!

Memo to the blogoshere: Drop the separatist lingo!
Human beings have long used language to identify with a group and separate themselves from others. There’s a special smirk that accompanies the polysyllabic, sesquipedalianism of intellectuals. Teenagers have long sought their own adjectives to separate their group from their parents. In my day, it was “groovy,” and I haven’t a clue when it comes to some of today’s hip-hop jargon. Seinfeld had its language. Rush Limbaugh has his. Conservative Christians have their own lexicon.

You’re an outsider if you don’t “get it,” and nothing’s worse than being an outsider.

But just as language can be used to separate, it can also be used to unite, and that’s why I’m growing increasingly weary of the cute, special words that I read daily among the wonderful discussions and arguments in the Internet world of blogs and blogging. For example, you’ll never find the word “meme” in this Weblog. While I’ll admit its definition is deeper, meme is synonymous with “idea,” and it’s a favorite of bloggers. Is this really necessary? Why can’t we simply use the word for which it is most often substituted? If a blogger uses this word, does it mean they’re on the A‑list?

Language of this type is used to claim special insight, like a club’s unique handshake. Do we really want to be a club? I thought the meme here was to engage in discussion. (See how stupid that looks?) How can we have discussions with anybody outside the echo chamber if we insist on off-putting them with our cute lingo?

Is it any wonder the mainstream press views us as one giant cult, a self-selected group of chosen ones?

And who came up with the word “blogoshere?” Do we really need a special word to describe this space? Isn’t that really a mass marketing game?

I think this is especially important in the wake of what’s happened to the Presidential campaign of Howard Dean. Well intentioned folks are missing the point of the Internet’s role in the new politics and view the blogging community as circling the wagons. This false notion is fueled by our separatist language. Not that “winning” them over is the mission, I suppose, but what’s an evangelist such as myself to do when I lead newbie clients to the portal and they’re greeted with such crap as, “That guy’s meme is full of shit!”

It’s enough to turn good people off and prove our critics right. We are an echo chamber, and we all know the fruit of inbreeding.


  1. Not to nitpick … well okay, I guess it IS to nitpick.
    “Meme” and “idea” are not synonyms. “Meme” is a subset of “idea,” that is, not all ideas are memes. A meme is a particularly virulent and active idea, the kind of thing that shapes culture.
    I’m just saying.

  2. Thanks, John. I don’t disagree with that, but my point still stands. It’s a part of the jargon of blogging, and I don’t think it’s useful in trying to communicate to those outsiders who may be looking in.

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