Lovink (Reader, page 219) argues that bloggers are creative nihilists “who celebrate the death of centralized meaning structures and ignore the accusation that they would only produce noise”.
David Michael Kleinberg-Levin argues that the modern epoch has ushered in a world in which nihilism is spreading (1988; pp. 5) He defines nihilism in its traditional sense as a “rage against Being… [concerning] the destruction of all Being, the Being of all beings, including that way of being which we call ‘human’ and consider to be our own” (Kleinberg-Levit, 1988; pp. 5). Kleinberg-Levin’s perception of nihilism is fundamental in analysing Lovink’s belief of the emergence of a creative nihilist born from a common distrust in the system which produces and circulates mass media. While not nihilists in the traditional sense of the word, creative nihilists exploit the globalised capacity of the internet and embrace the futility of their posts to produce an alternate point of view for a global audience (Lovink,2007). Bloggers are deemed to revel in the decentralisation of media conglomerates, generally acknowledged for their contribution to the decline of its influence within the now global news market, yet despite the attribution of their existence to a manifested cynicism in the output of mass media structures, how integral they have been to its deterioration as a “counter voice to the dominant news industry” (Lovink, 2007; pp. 21) is debatable.
The blogosphere is “rife with contradictions [of Habermas’ public sphere]: between what is being perceived to be public and private, between alternative and mainstream media identities and structures, between the citizen/activist and the media professional, and between alternative and dominant discourses and ideologies” (Cammaerts, 2009). Its diversity has both succeeded and failed in providing an alternative to mass media, for they have “zero[ed] out centralized meaning structures [via] a focus on personal experiences – not, primarily, news media” (Lovink, 2007; pp.21). While not to demean the importance of a participatory media culture through citizen journalism, the majority of blogs serving the purpose of self-management through expression have discredited the validity of the blogosphere as an alternative source of opinionated debate (see video below of a purely opinionated video blog serving no purpose besides personal ratification).
That being said, examples of true citizen journalism are evident in Bart Cammaerts’ analysis of the role the internet played in covering the 2003 Iraq war. He quotes the writings of pseudonymous blogger, Iraqi citizen Salman Pax, who writes;
“War sucks big time. Don’t let yourself ever be talked into having one waged in the name of your freedom. Somehow when the bombs start dropping or you hear the sound of machine guns at the end of your street you don’t think about your ‘imminent liberation’ anymore” (May 9, 2003; referenced in Cammaerts, 2009)
In reading his words more than eight years later, they still have a great impact. Why? Because the sense of realism and personality which could only be embodied within the blogging medium reflects his genuine personal involvement in the war, and carries the weight of the relatable fear and despair war brings. The effectiveness of his message can be directly attributed to the medium it was presented in, for no other avenue of publication could provide as significant a personal tone with which his plight could transcend borders, language and culture. If this does not exemplify the value of a decentralised, participatory media system in stimulating opinionated though and debate, I don’t know what will.
Unfortunately, the blogosphere is cluttered with bloggers who believe that just because they have the right to speak freely, they have a right to be heard. Consequently, no one in particular is listened to, sparking the belief that blogging wallows excessive triviality. Lovink’s argument that bloggers only produce “noise” is flawed, as it assumes all bloggers adhere to the belief that their opinion is equally as important as those of the media. While majority of blogs do exist to serve as a creative or emotional outlet for individuals pining to be heard (see above video), there are many just like the Iraq example which are able to stimulate opinion globally through their circumstantial or situational validity and knowledge based expertise. The term creative nihilists may refer to those who those who seek to destroy media conglomerates through productive means, however the hand they have had in providing a viable, alternative news source has been extremely limited. Globalisation and mass media’s logical adaption to survive in a digital environment should be rightly attributed to the decentralisation of media conglomerates; creative nihilists have merely discredited the blogosphere and hindered the progression of citizen journalism and a participatory media scape.
Cammaerts, B. (2009) ‘Challenging the Ideological Model of War and Mainstream Journalism?’ http://obs.obercom.pt/index.php/obs/article/view/276/266, (Retrieved on 20/5/2011)
Kleinberg-Levin, D. M. (1988) ‘The opening of vision: nihilism and the postmodern situation’, New York, Routledge, Taylor and Francis
Lovink, G. (2007) ‘Zero Comments: Kernels of Critical Internet Culture’, New York, Routledge