The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


There's a song by this woman called Jill Sobule, titled "Bitter."

I originally heard it when Channel Z was very first launched in Auckland and was ad free (I also discovered Fiona Apple at the same time, two excellent finds I feel). Anyway, "Bitter" became something of a private anthem for me, in particular the chorus which goes:

I don't want to get bitter
I don't want to turn cruel
I don't want to get old before I have to.

And I don't want to get jaded
Petrified and weighted
I don't want to get bitter like you.

At the time when I was heavily involved in student politics, I decided that this would be my yardstick for when I would pull out - when I started to feel bitter about things, when I started to get twisted and cynical, that would be the time to move on. I made that decision, back then, but external circumstances changed and I felt I had to continue - it was a mistake, although not one I overly regret now, it was really only a mistake for me (and my health).

But now I find those lyrics running through my head again - I'm getting bitter, and oh so jaded, about this blog and the kiwi political blogosphere in general. So, by my rules, that's time to leave, or at least to take a significant break.

Since I wrote my hiatus post I've actually sat down to post, on a couple of occasions, but each time it has been to be reactionary - as I commented over on MVT's own musings about whether (and how) she should continue, I felt like I only wanted to write to tell right wing arseholes how very very wrong they were about something or other. Sounds like a descent into bitterness to me.

And there are a lot of right wing arseholes out there. Of course I'm highly biased, and I've had this debate before, but as a left wing Pakeha woman I feel a lot of the abuse hurled around is both unnecessary and unhelpful. I believe there are many individuals blogging who deliberately craft their posts and comments to hurt and to enrage - and far too often these posts are dignified, and indeed encouraged, by links from bigger players.

If I'm brutally honest I've been disappointed also by the attitude of some of those bigger players to other blogs - when I first started blogging there was a much more collegial atmosphere; hat tips and links left, right and centre (boom boom). But these days I feel as if, politically, many are retreating into their own bunkers, and there isn't the cross-discussion (through links and commenting around the traps) that there used to be. I've been depressed that often I've written something good and it's got bugger all in the way of links or comments, and then my throw away post about the wonders of Viggo Mortensen became a raging debate about imperialism and the like, for no apparent reason. I didn't mind the discussion, in fact I encouraged it, but it left me mystified about what is worth writing and what is not.

I just feel like about five people are reading (despite the hits being much higher than that) and that this blog isn't making a difference to anyone, except to make me bitter. Some of the comments to my hiatus post just reinforced that. My instinct is that many bloggers now are actually trying to be columnists instead - to write something, often sans links, to invite comment, sometimes to engage a little with that feedback, but not really interacting with the blogging community. That's fine, but it's not what I want to do.

There are of course some bloggers who are dear to my heart. Almost all of them I knew before I started blogging. For them I have a few parting gifts (and if I do return you have to give them back!)

For Mr Frank Stupid of Stupid Internet Name - I give you John O'Farrell. If by some chance I have already given you Mr O'Farrell (I have vague recollections that I may have) then you can exchange him for Tom Robbins. If you already have Mr Robbins then you read too much and need to get out more.

For Apathy Jack of Brain Stab - I give you the Social Nerve cartoon page, with which I intend you to inspire your cartoonist within, and also aid you as you continue with your nefarious plan to subvert the tender youths of Hoodrat High (long may they reign!)

For Maia of Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty - I don't really have some clever or witty link for you Maia. What I want to give you is my heartfelt thanks. Your writing has really opened my eyes to layers of my own feminism that I didn't know existed. You have been a true sister, in the few months you have been blogging (not to mention before!), and you have helped me to evolve.

For Maria Von Trapp of the blog of the same name - For you, comrade, a review of the Sing A Long A Sound of Music at the Hollywood Bowl with over 18,000 people (scroll down). I still can't believe Nickname Pending has never seen it. I can't sing like you can, but I know all the words.

For Tze Ming of Yellow Peril - This wasn't really what I wanted to give you, but I couldn't find what I was after, so this will have to do, as the nearest approximate. I know it's very 1998, but I was feeling kind of nostalgic, and I thought it might remind you of days gone by in the No. 4 Alfred St Women's Club (although perhaps not as much as a picture of that heart throb, Raymond Miller).

For Make Tea Not War of her eponymous blog - I wish you a Sky Tower sized Get Well Soon, and also a bucket full of Serenity action figurines. I hope we can meet up one day when I'm in your part of the world, although it doesn't look like happening anytime soon!

Thanks also to the many other blogs and bloggers I have enjoyed and/or found particularly interesting - Just Left, No Right Turn, Joe Hendren, Ranting on the ROK, First Against the Wall, Philosophically Made and Kiwiblog (in Days Gone By, not so much recently). There are others too, but I'm too lazy (and cynical right at this moment) to type and link them all. If you feel offended by your absence, you can just assume you're in that number and I probably won't disagree.

I'm not going to delete this blog - I'm too vain, and there's a possibility I may return. If I do it will in all likelihood be in July. I will probably continue to (read and) comment elsewhere, although that's getting full of bitterness for me too. I'm so sick of the senseless nastiness (the only thing worse is the senseful nastiness, and I will delete comments on this post from peddlers of it - I've only ever deleted spam before, but I feel very strongly about this).

I'll leave Jill Sobule to bring this on home:

So I'll smile with the rest
I'll wish everyone the best
And know the one who made it,
Made it cuz she was actually pretty good.

Well I don't wanna get bitter
I don't wanna get cruel
I don't wanna get old before I have to.


Maria von Trapp said...

thanks for that. *hugs*

how about About Town (in days gone by also - what a fun blog) and Kete Were?

will write a proper response over on my blog for you shortly. promise.

The Denizen said...

All is impermanemt, change is all.
... and don't wait for a plane before taking time to read some of those books recommended for a long flight.
Go well Spam.

sagenz said...

the blogosphere has got bigger and busier so there is definitely less hat tipping than a year ago. for most of us the balance is between engaging on an intellectual level and writing something, anything to keep the interest up. sorry about the viggo distraction, we did ask we we were overstaying the welcome.
whilst not sharing your political views I can respect your integrity which is why I kept reading your blog.

There is a very hard core of commenters who keep throwing up the same disingenuous rubbish that does nobody any credit.

I hope you come back to blogging after a holiday, you did have a valid point of view. Take it easy

span said...

Sage - no need to apologise about Viggo, I didn't have a problem with the conversation and discussion (far from it, I thought it was great!) but was rather bamboozled by the placement of it! How come that got so many comments when heart felt posts about other matters, which were much more work than the cut and paste involved with the Viggo post, got no response at all? Kind of depressing, when what you write yourself gets little response, but what you paste from others incites a comment riot.

Sagey, You certainly didn't wear out your welcome and I have appreciated your comments throughout the life of this blog.

Don't worry Denizen, I'll definitely be dipping into that list for other purposes also - probably for the next three years at the rate I read :-)

t selwyn said...

For the sake of overall balance on the blogosphere at the very least, Span, I will miss your angle. It's good to see some real, heartfelt, lefty feminist rage!

I concur about the popularity of seemingly irrelevant throw-away frip-frappery as evidenced by the volume and intensity of the associated comments section. But also I think that when you agree with a post you tend not to comment - indeed, the more complete, thoughtful and credible the post the less ability there is for someone intelligent to add anything at all.

You'll be back.

tze ming said...

Once again, I find myself in peculiar agreement with Mr Abaford above: you'll be back.

What a cute kitty-hoody! Yes, tres 1998... I still have that polar-fleece bear dress with the ears that I got from Top Moda.

I will come see you in Roskill soon enough - 'til then, take care.

Idiot/Savant said...

There's really not much I can say other than "Bugger".

Oh, and Tim is right about the comments. It's depressing to write a well-formed rant and have it seemingly disappear without a trace, but if you cover a topic well, there's nothing really left for commenters to say other than "me too!" - which is just demeaning for both parties.

OTOH, the lack of linking to good work is truly soul-destroying.

Heine said...

We need more female bloggers out there from all sides of the spectrum. So it is sad that you are on a hiatus.

I'm afraid I was more of a lurker than a commenter here but it is sad to see you are not into it at the moment. I agree though, some of the blogosphere has got nasty and it does feel bad when you work hard into a post for bugger all hits.

All the best!

Make Tea Not War said...

Hey there Span! Thanks for the good wishes- though I feel a bit of fraud about that because I'm ok-ish now just not in the mood to blog- and especially for the bucket of Serenity action figures. I am quite sure we are destined to meet at some point (if we haven't without realising it already). We have far too much in common not to!

I completely understand where you are coming from with this move. I've been staying away from the NZ political blogging scene (apart from you and NRT) for a while now .

Anyway, I've really enjoyed your blog and getting to know you at least in an on-line sense & I feel we have had some very interesting and thought provoking political conversations that I have learned a lot from. Perhaps after a break you will feel like getting back into it again. I hope so. In any case please don't disappear completely & keep in touch.


Mr Stupid said...

... I'll see your John O'Farrell and raise the stakes with a link to a page with a picture of Ray Miller ...

alright, it's only a small picture, but we all have to get our fixes somewhere.

I'm afraid I have little sensible to add. Except blogs are for fun, and if it ain't fun - then you're doing the right thing. But I would suggest reopening while you're in Europe (heck, it's cheaper than postcards). Writing travelog style might just reinvigorate your blog-buds for when you're back on terra nuevo zealander.

Also, without you I'll just be on a steady diet of DPF, The Whig, and (shudder) Brain Stab, so I'll be holding you responsible for the consquences.

STC said...

*Ahem* slightly late in getting to read this, but as I do, I certainly know what your thinking.

I guess there comes a point when you've already spoken about the issues you really care about, and the only thing left is to watch DPF and complain about him (I'm not going to go through my blog and find out exactly how many times a month it is)

I say enjoy your time away from the net in real life!

stef said...

No, no, please don't go! The assholes really are a handfull, and it's always good to get a different prospective on things.

Fi said...

Hey Span, I will miss your blog, although I really didn't comment, I will really miss your point of view and perceptiveness about what is going on. Keeping in touch with NZ without your voice is going to be a little tougher. That people are being driven out of the blogshere is really sad, no matter where you are placed on the political spectrum debate should be welcome.

Enjoy your trip. I hope that you come back refreshed and energised.

(excuse all the really bad spelling mistakes!)


Jordan said...

hey Span,

I understand the motivation. My posting has become patchy and I have not got time to read blogs - so the interlinking that I hoped to keep up among the left blogs has fallen right away.

And then I pop into my own and find that the comments thread is full of right wing talkback discussion, plus Millsy and the occasional post from thoughtful others.

I think this medium as it is now is very largely suited to Opposition mentalities and politics. It is a place to vent. The chances of constructive debate about where we go next as a country or as a broad Left movement seems tiny.

"All that is solid melts into the air..."

Pax to you and yours. I will try to keep going. And no doubt I'll see you when I am next in Akl after July. :)


span said...

Thanks for the comments folks, I really appreciate them. I think after a healthy break I will be back in July, although I may start something new rather than keep this going. I'm not sure yet.

One thought I would like to leave bloggers with: please link to more female bloggers. This will possibly start an unsavoury tone that will tick me right off, but I really feel that things are getting far too Old Boys Club.

Do you realise that this blog has been the top female political blog, according to Tumeke's rankings? And yet spanblather is hardly a big player at all. If you read DPF and Russell Brown look at how often they link to posts written by women. I don't think it's deliberate, but there is a definite bias, and now that I've noticed it it's driving me nuts (all YOUR FAULT MVT ;-) ). So I'd like to drive you a little nuts too.

Maria von Trapp said...

why my fault??!!!


span said...

Cos you mentioned it in a comment on a thread over at Kiwiblog a while back, I couldn't find it when I tried to just now, sorry. It's been really bugging me, and now I see the trend across other blogs too.

Sure it's partly because there are more male blogs, but there are also plenty of good female-authored posts to link to, they just seem to be ignored rather a lot. Unless they are about their sex lives of course.

t selwyn said...

Gender/blogging: Why more males than females?:
guys are geekier than girls, males are more active in politics, females engage in topics that males don't care for (and vice-versa), more males in jobs where they have autonomy and unfettered access to computer and low-work load to spend time blogging... many reasons. Men don't go on about their personal issues in detail (eg. their weight/diet, mental illnesses etc) as a rule (the stand out exception being The Whig) - that is a big turn off for male readers - we want to hear sassy Cactus Kate type capers.

Another reason is possible hostility and treatment. I have posted the odd item that paints females in a generalised and negative way. That might be off-putting for females if they don't realise the context and the criticism of males that I hope I can balance it with. That's the "thin skin" argument - and goes beyond gender esp. with right/left attacks and esp. in the comments sections.

My rankings haven't been updated for a while and the upper half of the list is based on inter-links (not traffic). So yes, Span, you are the top female... for now. I have noticed a drop off in general activity across most blogs since Christmas.

Pamziewamzie said...

Sorry to see ya leave. (waves) I hated Aboutown Maria, Tristan is a total dick!!

pink panda said...

i think you were my first link from people who dont know me... or maybe you do know me? i lose track. i often have my music turned up so loud that it starts killing of the weak brain cells...

hopefully you will be back, but if not, i'll see you in another life time when we're both cats. (fuck that movie sucked!)

Marian said...

I love Jill Sobule!

But apart from "I kissed a Girl" and "Supermodel" her songs are pretty obscure.

I can play "Bitter" on the guitar.


...aaand I'm going to let you be now, because I know your post really wasn't about Jill at all.

Mellie said...

I think I know what you were talking about there, Span.

I'm more or less decided that I have to change the way I want to carry my messages.

Rants never really carried very far and meaningful debate was slow and far between.

I hope you will come back to active duty. It is a fight that often seems to stall, but perhaps it is simply the vehicle???

See you soon.