I am sure that everyone who has been to their favorite blog is familiar with those people who seem to log on only for the purpose of insulting, belittling or running down those who take the initiative to express their thoughts — whether others agree with them or not.
I refer to these people as “blogophages.” The term refers to a blogosphere version of those viruses found in the human body called “phages” or, essentially, parasitic viruses.
“Blogophages” are also parasitic in that their sole purpose for logging on to the blog is to find some author or idea they can derisively feed upon. Admittedly, they could also be known by other more familiar names. They could, for instance, be referred to as “useful idiots.” But in truth, they are typically neither useful nor idiots (at least not usually). Alternately, they could be called fools; but even though they sometimes are foolish, this name also fails to consistently capture their essence.
Likewise, they might be referred to as ignorant, uninformed, illiterate or obtuse. Yet, these descriptors also fail to fully capture their behavior and attitudes in the blogosphere.
By comparison, “blogophage,” with its essentially parasitic emphasis, pretty consistently describes who these people are and how they function. Though granted their need to feed upon the ideas of others may be motivated by ignorance, illiteracy, bigotry, mean-spiritedness or a gigantic inferiority complex that leads them to feel better about themselves by running others down, ultimately, regardless of their motivation or symptomatology, the net effect is the same. Others put ideas out there on the blogosphere for discussion and open expression and these few almost always appear out of nowhere for the sole purpose of getting their jollies by heaping derision on others.
I am sure you know who these people are in your local community. You recognize their “handles” (aka user names) immediately and know as soon as you see them what they are up to. If you are like me, you probably also reflect upon the innate cowardice of these folks too, as they use their pseudonyms as a protective cloak to lend anonymity to their snide, mean and often crude comments.
Say what you will, but you have to extend a modicum of respect to those people who go on the blogosphere, or submit a letter to the editor or write a commentary for their local papers. Whether you agree with them or not, you have to admire them for having the courage of their convictions and being willing to present their names and their faces to the public. These people are willing to personally stand behind their ideas.
However, these blogophages lack either the integrity or courage to own their ideas or their criticisms. They are to the blogosphere what hyenas are to the jungle.
Personally, I would like to see every participant on the blogosphere be required to enter and participate utilizing their full and true identities and not use their “screen names” to shirk their responsibilities for their ideas and words. However, I realize that such will not be the case, and personally I still choose to participate despite their onerous presence on the Web.
Even so, I am in hopes that now that these vermin of the Internet have been identified and named, that serious readers of blogs will more readily respond to their inanity by insisting that they make some positive contributions to the ideas under discussion or do us all a favor and just get the hell offline.
But that isn’t going to happen, is it? Naw, there’s a meanness in these folks that draws them to a venue like the blog where they can act out their adolescent — if not infantile — need to castigate and insult.
You’re right! It really would take a total character remake to improve upon these folks. So just like you expect fleas wherever you find dogs, so can you expect to find blogophages wherever you find the blogosphere.
Guess we’ll just have to keep scratching ourselves, won’t we!
Wimberley teaches courses in philosophy and ethics and environmental public policy at FGCU. He holds a doctorate in public affairs from the University of Pittsburgh and served as the founding dean of FGCU’s College of Education and College of Professional Studies. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister and serves as a part-time chaplain at Moorings Park in Naples. His blog, Veritas Libertas, is available at naplesnews.com/blogs