Blogging is a terribly, terribly egotistical activity. It assumes that the world in general cares what I, personally, have to say about whatever topics catch my fleeting, Internet-era attention. It’s so egotistical, in fact, that some people (bloggers all) have carelessly described blogging as journalism, by which standard anyone who turns to anyone else and says, “so I read/heard/saw X in/on The New York Times/NPR/CNN and I think …” is a journalist. Even with the tiny taste of journalistic experience I have (three years on my university’s campus newspaper), I know that journalism takes far more than an opinion.
So if all I have to offer is an opinion, why should anyone care? My dad used to say that opinions are like assholes – everyone has one, but you don’t show them off in polite company. But I spend a lot of time online these days – both for work and to read the news – and it’s hard not to see that todays politics is increasingly driven by what’s said online, whether or not what’s said is worthwhile.
To the extent that I have something valuable to say, it’s because I think I can offer a perspective that isn’t represented anywhere else out there. My background crosses some of the major cultural divides of present-day politics: I’m a baptized member of the Mennonite Church who grew up in rural, conservative Lancaster County, PA, and I presently live in Idaho, in one of the few congressional districts in the nation to remain solidly Republican in the 2006 election. However, my parents raised me to view the Bible as an important, not infallible story; I voted for the Greens in 2000 (for every post except President); and I’m living in Idaho because I’m earning a doctorate in evolutionary biology in the excellent biology department at the University of Idaho. Does that make my perspective unique enough to rate a personal soapbox? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.