One of the controversies making the rounds in the Philippine blogging community lately is the whole issue around high-profile bloggers supposedly being in bed with "evil" public relations (PR) firms. It started with an anecdotal exposé of the uncool practice of some bloggers pimping themselves to PR firms or allowing a gravy train of vested interests to determine their content...
The (PR) Firm approached [Filipino restaurateur] Georgia, telling her that she could increase her sales by three if she hired them. Georgia gently declined, saying that she had been lucky in receiving good reviews from the press. “But we can also help you through social media,” The Firm’s representative said. “We call this service ‘buzz creation’ or word-of-mouth generation,” the rep explained.
The Firm said that if hired for this service, they would invite bloggers to eat at Georgia’s restaurant and blog rave reviews. They would also create a restaurant Facebook page and make sure that a significant number would “Like” the resto’s page. When the resto would be featured in a blog, they would make sure that there are positive comments on that post.
The reality of a blogger (or for that matter any person who publishes content for public consumption) living in the real world and blogging at the same time and mashing together one's identity as a blogger with real-life interaction is that said blogger loses objectivity; specifically:
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(1) With every new real-life personal relationship formed, a new no-go-zone of ideas is added to a blogger's imagination.
When we make friends or exchange favours or "goodwill", say, with a Catholic zealot, we lose some ability to write about stuff that die-hard Catholics may take offense to -- like Reproductive Health, for instance. Make friends and form "alliances" with politicians who, of course, have their respective agendas, and we start to routinely think twice about whether what we are about to write might slight one over-inflated ego or another.
(2) Bloggers get enmeshed in a time-consuming Web of personal relationships and "alliances" interwoven intricately with their blogging work.
Relationships require time and effort to maintain and nurture. Consider then that coming out with insightful and original material invokes a certain skill set while remaining married to one's spouse and friends with one's friends requires another. Bloggers who mash together blogging and real-life friendships run the risk of potentially convoluting their work. We become trapped in massaging egos and managing relationships that might be impacted by the content we publish rather than focusing on the validity and quality of the content itself and taking on-board feedback coming from disembodied digital voices.
(3) One loses his or her outsider's perspective.
This is something I expounded upon in my seminal article about Establishment Bloggers.
For real bloggers, reward is inherent to the actual work itself...
Blogging is rewarding because of the prospect of one’s emergent prevalence and endurance in what is essentially a massive free-for-all for memetic dominance. It’s essentially not the sort of environment crybabies survive in.
You can see it in the difference between, say, the artistry of independent cinema and the crass commercialism of the blockbuster feature -- or, say, how the original Star Wars film (Episode IV) single handedly added far more to humanity's cultural capital than the contributions of all three latter-day sequels (Episodes I through III) combined despite the latters' box office successes.
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According to the twit of the eminent Dean Jorge Bocobo presumably twittering as "SagadaSun":
Commercial Journalists and Entertainers are PAID to do a job. Bloggers generally are not. THAT's the basic difference.
... which, as I recall, was what bloggers originally tended to see as their selling point in the on-going competition for eyeballs between Mainstream Media and our lot. Sadly, this line originally drawn between (a) real blogging and (b) real-life relationships and real-world money is being blurred as many bloggers become too caught up with being well-liked and popular -- a quality they seem to be confusing with relevance and insight.
This is where Get Real Philippines (GRP) and its network of bloggers categorically differentiates itself from the rest of the on-line commodity rabble. After ten years of publishing cutting edge on-line content, GRP remains unmatched in thought leadership, unmatched in originality and UNMATCHED in the depth and breadth of real insight. That is because our relationship with the real world is limited, our focus on ideas is paramount, and, therefore, our interests rarely conflict with the people and events we observe at an arm's length.
Rely on the GRP Network, keep your eye on the ball, and don't lose the plot! Real rockers focus on being objectionable rather than well-liked.