Sunday, January 13, 2013

Let's use our imaginations...

Pretend that one morning a reality tv star wakes up and decides she no longer wants her personal life discussed, debated and mocked by internet users. Instead of withdrawing from the public eye by choosing a less visible career, our reality tv star decides to silence her critics by attacking the websites hosting the offending comments. The websites' owners, contributors and readers aren't breaking any laws in America (where the reality tv star and the websites are based) so she has no legal recourse.

Rather she bands together with other equally testy reality tv stars and contacts the company that supplies ads to websites. She cajoles, threatens or negotiates with the company to withdraw their services in order to cut off the websites' revenue sources, forcing them to shutdown thereby silencing her critics.

She's a WINNER! She can continue to whore out the private details of her life for huge financial gains and not worry about people negatively judging, no matter how egregious her behaviour.


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This scenario seems far-fetched, right? No. A similar scenario has played out this week with Get Off My Internets, a website dedicated to discussing,mocking and analyzing blogs. Federated Media, an agency supplying advertisements to websites, sent them a letter stating that
 "…a number of our advertising partners have requested that we no longer source demand (i.e., digital advertising) to the site, getoffmyinternets.net. In transparent response, I wanted to let you know that we’re going to have to cease serving ads to this site in direct response to these requests from our demand partners." 

Now kindly go back and reread the start of this post but substitute "high-profile, monetized-to-the-eyeballs blogger who has cast herself and her family in the internet version of reality television show" for the term "reality tv star."

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I would be pissed off to learn that Kim Kardashian, the Duggars, Honey Boo Boo, Kody Brown's hostages Sister Wives, Kendra Wilkinson, or the Real Botoxed Housewives of Miami attempted to shutdown Television Without Pity, Oh No They Didn't, Free Jinger, Reddit, Pink is the New Blog, Celebitchy, Go Fug Yourself, the Daily Mail, Jezebel, or any other celebrity gossip website because their feelings were hurt. This is no different.  High-profile bloggers who make money from their sites are celebrities.

But unlike celebrities in other media, many bloggers are unwilling to accept that not everyone is going to be a fan. I average 60 readers a day but even I accept that some of those people consider me a "hate-read." That's what I signed on for by having a public blog.

If bloggers (especially those who make money by revealing intimate details about their family) don't want to be discussed they need to change their blogging style, or get off eveyone's internets.

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It appears that GOMI users donated money to cover the immediate costs of maintaining and upgrading the website's hardware and software. The owner is exploring alternative funding options.

Sorry, paranoid, thin-skinned bloggers who don't have the courage to publicly own up to this gambit: you lose at muzzling the internet.  

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I'm not defending everything that happens on GOMI. The posts and the forum can be brutal and offensive. But censorship is more brutal and that offends me more.


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These are a few of my favourite GOMI posts:

(This was my introduction to GOMI and it still pisses me off)




Some lucky polygamous family can now buy Dooce's house! It has 9 bedrooms! 9 bathrooms! Two laundry rooms! It's only 1.5 million dollars.  QUICK! Call Kody Brown and his hostages sister wives.
(Also: Wow. That's a whole lot of photos of her dog sitting with stuff balanced on his nose.)


17 comments:

  1. I think the reality show idea is a good analogy. I get uncomfortable when people keep comparing bloggers to celebrities, only because I feel that how much more do we need to feed this idea that bloggers are celebrities? lol

    But reality tv, now that's a better comparison I can totally get on board with.

    Also, censoring this site wouldn't stop people snarking about blogs, tv, celebrities, books, movies, any of it. It's human nature to discuss things critically

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    1. I should create a sliding scale of celebrity. At the top: people who have fame and influence as a side product of excellency in their field (ie Neil deGrasse Tyson). At the bottom: a blogger who overshares the details about her dysfunctional personal life and mistakes notoriety for fame.

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  2. Annnnd...just fell down a black hole reading GOMI archives. So snarky, yet...so fascinating. So many things I never thought to question before.

    Also: Dooce's house is LOVELY. WOW.

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    1. I love Dooce's house. If I lived closer, I'd be waiting with baited breath for her pre-move garage sale.

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  3. I love it when you get all activisty and angry, because you always help me to see things more clearly. I don't read GOMI much because I do find the forums pretty over-the-top sometimes, but I was completely pissed to read about Federated Media's stance - cowards - and your analogy is the clearest explanation as to why.

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    1. Yes, Federated Media are cowards, but they're not nearly as cowardly as the advertising partner (FM lingo for blogger whose site is part of their ad network) who set this in motion.

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  4. I'm so confused because I have no idea what's going on. I can't get into that GOMI site, which I have actually never seen before. What blogger is shutting it down? What is happening? I can't access that website! DM me if you don't feel comfortable giving the deets here. But I'm dying of curiosity!

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    1. It's often hard to get onto GOMI. They're a victim of their own popularity (so many snark worthy blogs!) but t are having trouble maintaining the servers. They could use those ad revenues.

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    2. Sorry about that random -t in the middle of the second sentence.

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  5. Like Nicole I am totally in the dark about what is going on and where with this debate.

    Am commenting only to say that I'd be delighted if the above listed reality "stars" went nuts, insisted everyone stop covering their shenanigans, and everyone complied. We would be free from the vast bulk of crappy crappy reality TV. Of course I realize this will never happen because exhibitionism is their life's blood and without it they would perhaps simply just stop existing. I also realize it would be the worst kind of economic censorship, but there is a part of me that would enjoy the silence...

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    1. I would prefer if reality tv stars and bloggers censored their own behaviour and did not act as self-appointed gatekeepers of the internet.

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  6. I haven't been able to see the email you keep referencing, but the question I didn't ask you the other day but kind of still have is: how is what the bloggers did different from the post where you advised people not to patronize the advertisers of that radio station that was running the mail-order bride contest? I do see many of your points, but what I don't understand is how this is censorship (actual suppression of content) and not just voting with your money, which people do all the time.

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    1. I'm not sure I understand your point. Sorry.

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  7. I just recently discovered this website. There are definitely some inappropriate things that go on there, but I agree with you-they shouldn't get to censor stuff just because it makes them look bad.

    And yes, give more details!!

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    1. Yes -- GOMI can be awful, but it's actually less harsh than some threads on Fark or reddit. I'm not sure if that's a compliment or not. Hmmm...

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  8. It's definitely really crappy and makes me upset that this is happening as a result of blogger pressure. Especially whoever tried to get the paypal account shut down? Ugh. Between that and reading through the thread on the official announcement my vote has definitely shifted from neutral to pro-GOMI. The community there actually seems quite positive and supportive overall. It's too bad the ugliness overshadows the good to so many.

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    1. I'm sorry to be replying so late, Skymommy! I'm glad they've rallied around the site owner and won't be disappearing.

      Yes, the paypal complaints were also really underhanded.

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