Self Checks on the Blogosphere Court

Back in the day, I played a lot of basketball.  In fact I remember this one reverse move I put on my lifelong buddy Tommy (who, unlike me, played basketball in college) at some court in Ocean Drive circa 1980.  He called it a “made miss,” but it was sweet. If I had a video of that shot, I’d move back to SC just to taunt him with it.  The fact that he owned me on the court for the rest of my life would conveniently be omitted.

There is a hoops phrase called a self-check.  It means that a player is so bad that you don’t need to guard him.  He keeps himself in check by dribbling the ball off his knees or throwing up bricks against the bottom of the rim. 

There are a lot of self-checks running around the blogosphere too.  Unlike in basketball, however, there is no rim to block their pitiful attempt at a layup, and there is no referee to call traveling as they stumble into a face plant.  It’s up to the collective refereeism of the blogosphere to call a foul.

One textbook example of a self-check in the blogosphere is Andrew Keen.  Here’s a guy whose tired act is telling his readers until he is blue in the blood that they need journalistic lamas to help them understand the world around them.  It’s not that blogs are different than traditional media.  It’s not even that blogs are not as reliable as traditional media.  It’s that our entire culture is about to be swept away by the horrifying egalitarianism represented by such evil forces as blogs, wikis, social networks and digital media.

The horror.

What makes Andrew an obvious self-check is not merely the fact that he is one of the people who, under his world view, should play the lama part.  After all, he’s written a book– on paper.  And he’s really smart- just read anything he’s written and he’ll tell you.  The rest of us, well let’s just say that we are silly little dunces doing our little equality dance while the world crumbles before our folly.

It’s not merely the blatancy of his position talking and the sweet irony that is his blog that get lost in the flood of big words, dire proclamations and extreme statements.

It’s mainly the fact that he actually makes some good points along the way- points that are completely lost on his audience thanks to unbridled arrogance and condescension.  Part of being smart is knowing how to communicate your message to people who don’t agree with you.  To persuade, you must first connect.

Andrew makes no effort to connect.  Which tells me that he is writing for himself and, perhaps, a few self-important eggheads who already share his views on how stupid everyone else is.  When someone is talking solely for themselves or their devotees, there is neither the intent nor the desire to enlighten or persuade.  There is only the desire to be heard.

That is a textbook definition of a self-check on any court in which communication is the goal.

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