Last week, we introduced you to Max Gogarty, the son of freelance travel writer Paul Gogarty, who has written for the Guardian. Max has been granted a forum to travelblog his way through Asia for the Guardian. How marvelous! His rather clueless and privileged first post prompted such class rage from commenters that the Guardian chose to shut commenting down. And Max won't be blogging any more, adds his Dad (in the comments). Now the Guardian is bemoaning this saga of "backpackers, bullies, and internet myths." Hey, did you know? "The recent pillorying of 19-year-old Max Gogarty shows that, without tolerance, there is only mob rule online," reminiscent of "China's Cultural Revolution."
But as the case of Max Gogarty shows, there is no presumption of civility or community spirit online. His fate should be instructive to politicians. He was flamed because he was perceived to be bogus. Self-selecting judges ruled that he had no business writing for the Guardian. The message was transmitted swiftly, sometimes eloquently, sometimes wittily. His travel diary was extinguished. As an expression of mob will, it was very efficient. But that does not mean it was fair. [ Guardian]Cultural Revolution aside, we would venture that the "recent pillorying" of young Max happened to be because readers felt insulted that the Guardian tried to put one over on them. First of all, they hired the kid of a former travel writer write a lame travel blog about his gap year. Secondly! The kid's writing had an almost unparalleled skill at being annoying.
Or as one of the mobbish commenters put it:
Editor... when apologising for something, it is generally considered poor form to spew out excuses left, right, and centre. You could just have said "sorry, angry flaming guys, we c*cked up. Won't happen again." Instead you give us a list of Max's merits and tell us that, despite the lazy, write-by-numbers teenblog he inflicted on us yesterday, he still has a 'pretty impressive' track record.