Given that you know I

Given that you know I am in a bad mood from the post below, I’m now going to go off on one. Be warned.
There is something unpleasant about UKbloggers at the moment. As with the schoolyard politics of any large group of people that are only tenuously linked (we have blogs – what else do we have in common?), there is a tendency for subgroups and cliques to form. This is not unusual, and in many ways should be expected. Nor is it necessarily a bad thing.
One or two members of the group (meaning, in particular, users of the UKbloggers mailing list) have been keen proponents of the warm and fluffy idea of “community”. Now, whilst I feel that this is a noble ideal, it strikes me as thoroughly impractical, given that people naturally form alliances with others who are either geographically, intellectually, professionally or emotionally local to them. Combine this with the universal desires to belong to a group and be identified with it, the desire to have power, and a need for strong identity, then it is only inevitable that some sort of struggle for dominance or assertion will arise, leading to an inevitable conflict within groups and between them.
Besides, with little in common aside from blogging, what is there to bind a such a large and heterogeneous community together? Geography? – no. Background? – definitely no. Social class or status? – no. Age? Politics? Religion? Beliefs? Sexuality? Aspirations? – absolutely not. We can’t even agree on where and when is a good place/time to meet for a beer!
It strikes me that this is what is happening in UKblogging at the moment. Some groups have formed. Each group thinks it is better than the others. Some people do not belong to any of the groups and feel excluded. They then berate and deride the groups for being “cliquey” or “A-list”. Some groups set themselves up as “rebellious” or “better than thou” – somehow more cool than other groups. Some of these groups are quite large, others may only consist of two or three people.
This conflict has become spiteful and divisive (if there is anything that can be divided). UKbloggers are now almost expected to take sides. The young/naive are rejected and ostracized. If you don’t belong to a group, then you don’t belong here.
And what is the result of all this? Animosity, anger, exclusion, discouragement, dismay. I know of some people who feel that they do not want to go to “blogmeets” (for want of a better term) because they don’t want to handle the politics. Others are so dismayed with the whole atmosphere that they have considered giving up blogging, giving up trying to be part of this group of people.
The solution? I’m not sure I know. Disbanding the UKbloggers list is probably not the answer, although I’m sure it has been/will be considered. Setting up smaller groups to serve just the individual “tribes” is a process that is already beginning, but I’m not sure that it helps with the exclusion problem. The only real answer is a spot of behaviour and attitude modification, but the cynic/realist in me knows that that is simply not going to happen.
I used the phrase “schoolyard politics” at the beginning of this rant. That’s exactly it – schoolyard. Some members of the UKbloggers cabal are behaving like spoilt schoolchildren. My respect for them diminishes daily.