18 Dec 2005, Comments Off on Turn down an empty glass: actually, make that two

Turn down an empty glass: actually, make that two

Author: Helen


I discovered blogging sometime in late 2002, I think. Before that, my introduction to netizenship was via the 9MSN current affairs discussion boards, with occasional ventures into usenet. For a while, I hung out at a place called Hera’s Sea, an invitation-only discussion forum run by a Log Cabin Republican, an interesting person in her own right. There was an intriguing bunch of characters there from all over the world, and I enjoyed it, but somehow it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

I can’t really remember how I discovered WebDiary – I’m an inveterate googler and poker-around, but somehow I stumbled on it that year. There were writers on WebDiary like Tim Dunlop and Jozef Imrich who were doing something that looked pretty interesting. I soon discovered Virulent Memes (now sadly gone) and What’s New Pussycat?. Instead of the fast-moving, misspelled hurly-burly of the discussion boards, here was a medium where one could actually try to learn to write.

So, I owe my all consuming hobby largely to Margo Kingston and her contributors. Like our Log Cabin cyber-friend, her outstanding characteristic was graciousness. From the beginning, she’d get hostile and rude posts in the comments threads, which she replied to with civility. She seemed to make a point of allowing these posts to stand, even if they were trying to insult her or make her look foolish – unlike her major critic whose moderator deletes posts regularly if they don’t toe the line. It’s ironic then, that she has been hounded from the outset by a couple of hostile RWDBs (two in particular) who persist in trying to put it about that Margo is (a) insane and (b) ugly. Apparently, it was too much hard work to try and argue civilly with her on the basis of facts.

Yes, Margo was more optimistic than many of us and she’d get excited about the possibilities of online movements in the political sphere. Hardly the level of frothing at the mouth that we get from the right wing, and even our elected representatives. (“if I went down and…and grabbed him by the front of the head and stabbed the HB pencil into your eyeball and wiggled it around down to your brain area, do you think you’d be focusing?”… “If I shoot a woman and don’t kill her but kill the baby, I haven’t actually committed a crime?”)

If that’s what the RWDBs define as sanity, then I don’t trust their definition of madness.

More predictable is the focus on looks. It’s offensive not just to Margo but to all the rest of us who are ordinary, middle aged (or even younger) working stiffs who don’t conform to the Bec and Lleyton standard of buffed-ness — and why the hell should we? Margo is a normal, ordinary looking person just like 98% of journos of both sexes who have their photograph next to their byline. I’ve pointed out before that the old geezer who persists in making great sport of her supposed “ugliness” has never dared show his face. My challenge to him to post a photo of himself was never responded to, of course.

So I’ll raise a glass of bolly in farewell to you, Margo, and thanks for the introduction to the wonderful Ozblogosphere. It’s a pity the meanness and spite of a few people were so disproportionately aimed at you; you must have hit a nerve, somehow.

In a last WebDiary post, Jack Robertson tells the story.

Of course, after you discover a couple of blogs you start exploring the blogrolls, so it was just a matter of time before I came across Rob Corr and Kick and Scream. As well as being beautifully designed, this blog was a wealth of content, culminating in the IR legislation campaign updates (examples here and here) which Rob put out as a public service to the rest of us, confused by the twists and turns of rapidly accelerating events. Just before Rob pulled the plug, I’d sent it to my union rep as a resource for her to use. She was delighted with it.

Another glass of bolly, please waiter, to raise to Rob. (Hic!)

In the blogosphere there is constant natural attrition and renewal- we know that- but still, it’s sad to say goodbye to these two blogs, who were always on my must read list.

Comments (0)

  • Sylvia says:

    Thanks Helen: you’ve said it all so well. Margo showed grace and passion under fire.
    My own exploring of the blogosphere seemed to start from Webdiary.
    The preoccupation with Margo’s looks is so weird. I can only assume she was really ‘getting’ to those types. The ugliness of some of their comments meant I didn’t persist in reading them. The tone was so often that of the misogynist.
    So all the best to Margo and to you. Your writing is enjoyable as always. Happy Christmas/holidays!

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