The blogosphere’s very existence is defined by the gajillion people around the world who blog. Unlike other obligatory responsibilities in people’s lives, I think it would be safe to say that with rare exception bloggers love what they do, otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it. For most of us, we enjoy the connection we have with the people who read our blog and it’s not about conquering the world and becoming one of the most frequented blogs on the planet. Mooohahaha (as said in the voice of Austin Powers). It’s about enjoying the experience and having some fun.
I had an epiphany recently about the existence of what I will call the Blog Mafia. Sicilian ethnographer, Guiseppe Pitre defines the term Mafia as ”…the consciousness of one’s own worth, the exaggerated concept of individual force as the sole arbiter of every conflict, of every clash of interests or ideas.” Yup. I can think of quite a few top bloggers who fit that bill — who actually believe their word to be gospel – as if they are clairvoyant enough to know all. At the end of the day, all a blogger can offer is opinion or perspective.
To most of us the term Mafia makes us think of a group of influential people who try to control situations and people by intimidation, bullying and enforced bribery. When it’s the Blog Mafia the same definition holds true and their potential victims cower in fear of being blackballed in the blogosphere. In response to this intimidation, these people address and respond to this blogger with a tone of a subservient being. You can almost see them holding their hats and bowing their heads as they communicate with the Blog Mafia. Ick! There is nothing more pathetic than someone being afraid of someone else.
My Blog Mafia epiphany was ignited as I witnessed many PR people comment in response to Michael Arrington’s recent TechCrunch post on The PR Roadblock On The Road To Blissful Blogging, in which Arrington basically stereotypes all PR people as a bunch of useless losers who wouldn’t know a blog from a frog. I know a lot of the PR peeps who responded to this post. Many are feisty SOBs who I respect immensely for their business and industry savvy. Yet as I read their responses, I could tell they didn’t want to upset Arrington for fear that he may flame them and ruin their reputation. Their tone was overly respectful and their content peppered with flowery words of slight disagreement but rarely firm. And they were always sure to leave the door open in case they were wrong and, if so, they hoped Arrington would forgive them. Ick again!
The intimidation continued as Arrington came back and bitch-slapped many respondents for even daring to disagree with his premise. I was on the receiving end of one of those bitch-slaps when Arrington responded to my response. The funny thing was his comment was inaccurate because he wasn’t paying attention. Thanks to Jonathan Trenn for covering my back and for having the balls to call out Arrington’s mistake.
Like the Sicilian businessman who benefits from paying the Mafia, it was clearly evident as Arrington blew smoke up the ass of one agency who paid him for a TechCrunch sponsorship. (I won’t provide a link to that example because I respect the other agency and they did nothing wrong by sponsoring his event). In the traditional media world we would call this “pay for play.” Whatever happened to Church & State Mike? Coincidence? I think not.
The good news is there are still people who refuse to be intimidated by the Blog Mafia. Like Russell Crowe’s character, Detective Richie Roberts, in American Gangster, there was a shortlist of PR respondents who firmly stood up to Arrington like Crowe stood up to the Gangster in the “The Right Thing To Do” scene in the movie. One of my favorite responses was Abbie Kendall’s of Kendall Inc. You couldn’t help but hear comedian Artie Lange’s voice whining “Waaaahhhhhh” as she delivered her own bitch slap.
Do you think people are afraid of the Blog Mafia?