The OF Blog: "Elitism" is such an ironic title

Saturday, May 12, 2007

"Elitism" is such an ironic title

Ever and anon such accusations are cast about, with some interesting rebuttals, such as this one by John C. Wright. But I cannot help but think there is a better word to describe the various sides/facets presented: insularism.

Go wherever you may go, on the web, around town, at work/school, and you're going to find this rather aggressive strain of provincialism. People not only unwilling to explore other vistas or to consider other viewpoints, but they are harsh and sometimes eager to stop up any discussion that does not center around them.

On the web, fansites in particular can be quite clannish, often displaying this insular attitude that I suspect is near the heart of this seemingly-interminable debate over "elitism." I post regularly at wotmania and have come across quite a few individuals who do not want to consider reading other fiction, much less that of a speculative strain, than that of Robert Jordan's. To a lesser degree, I have encountered similar attitudes at Westeros and Malazan Empire. It seems to be pandemic, only changing its outward forms.

Related to this is an interesting complaint that I have received lately from a few of the regulars at wotmania's Other Fantasy section. On occasion, I will see interesting discussions on other sites/blogs and I will post links to them, in part because it is a matter of common courtesy to the original posters to provide links to their contributions without appearing to have taken a substantial portion of their writings without attribution. Furthermore, when said links tend to be multi-page format with many commentaries (as in the case of blog entries), it becomes quite cumbersome, one would imagine, to provide this for readers who can just as easily click a link and read what they are inclined to read as to make their way through thousands of words to a rather incomplete, unrebutted end.

But yet there are those who refuse to follow links to other sites. It must be "ours," is what they seem to be implying when demanding that most anything of a discussion-oriented (or even sometimes news-focused) fashion be strictly copy/pasted or left unposted. Perhaps I am doing these people a disservice by thinking of them so, but part of me cannot help but wonder if this is but another manifestation of that insularism that I mentioned above. If it be not mine/ours, it is no good to me/us - is that what is happening on the web when it comes to the discussion of ideas? That intellectual theft is better than following a link to see what others are thinking/arguing elsewhere? That the boundaries of discussion stretch only as far as a single URL address and no further?

Perhaps not, but sometimes I begin to wonder if this might be the case. If so, perhaps there's no place like no single home for the wanderers seeking to know and to discuss more than what lies in any single locale.

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