Friday, August 7, 2009

"Bloggernacle Illuminati"

What follows is something I have been wanting to write for some time now.

First, let’s answer this question: What is the “Bloggernacle?” The Bloggernacle is “a name that has been adopted by some in the LDS blogging community to describe the Mormon portion of the blogosphere.”

Second, let’s look at the definition of “Illuminati”:

1. People claiming to be unusually enlightened with regard to a subject.
2. Any of various groups claiming special religious enlightenment.

Here is a list of some blogs I consider to be part of the “Bloggernacle Illuminati”:

* By Common Consent
* The Exponent
* Feminist Mormon Housewives
* Times & Seasons
* Mormon Matters
* Jeff Lindsay
* John Dehlin
* Hieing To Kolob
* Mormon Mentality
* Segullah
* The Faithful Dissident
* He Said, She Said

I have visited these blogs and have noticed there is a tendency for the individuals or “permabloggers” to display an air of being exceptionally “enlightened” on all things Mormon. I have noticed that several of the individual bloggers also write “guest” posts on certain group blogs. You’ll often see the same names over and over. Hence I have come up with the term “Bloggernacle Illuminati.”

There is a definite cliquishness. I have also observed how some individuals are ignored or criticized when their opinions differ from the mindset of the “Bloggernacle Illuminati.” I have seen the permabloggers band together to defend each other and rip into the person who dares have a dissenting opinion.

It appears as if one has to receive a special invitation to join the "Bloggernacle Illuminati." I am attempting to understand this phenomena.

If anyone is reading this post and can explain the phenomena, I welcome your comments.


Papa D said...

I'm not sure if you see me as a part of the Illuminati, since I used to post voluminously and still am an author and moderator on Mormon Matters (although very inactive lately with my new job and other focus), but if you want an invitation I am happy to use my pseudo-authority to offer one to you in this comment. *GRIN*

Unfortunately, what you describe is a strong natural (wo)man tendency that is brutally hard to root out of individuals, much less groups of like-minded intellectuals.

Anonymous said...

I think PaPa D is right. But if it is silent treatment, criticism, and group attacks, do you really want to be a part of that?

Illuminati or not, if you notice you are not being enlightened by something, leave it alone.

Andrew S said...

I agree that the Bloggernacle can have some of these traits (some sites moreso than others, but I'm not naming names, and I too am biased).

But I don't really think of it as an "illuminati." I don't think it's "intentional." Rather, I think of it as a country club. There is a certain way of dealing at each of the sites -- a certain culture -- and people don't know hot to deal with those who interrupt that affable environment. They would rather just go back to the times of peace.

I do think that some of the "enlightenment" comes from more study. For many of the people in the Bloggernacle, they've had to experience (whether accidentally or on purpose) the rough edges of the church and of Mormonism in general...and so they've become acquainted with those edges and forged a belief through the experience...because of this, the "standard answers" given seem woefully inadequate. Milk seems inadequate. They feel ready for substantive meat.

But I think you're definitely on to something, so each blogger needs to evaluate and watch for these issues.

Stephanie said...

I also think you are onto something, and it is interesting that a lot of those on the bloggernaccle turn to the bloggernaccle because they feel that the people at church are a clique. Whether or not that is true in their case, interesting that their solution would be to form a new clique.

Andrew S said...

I think I agree with Papa D's a strong natural tendency to form cliques...we have to overcome it to make the distinction between a clique and a community, and sometimes the line is blurred.

Kalola said...

I appreciate each of you sharing your thoughts with me.

I have noticed over the years my inability to be accepted by on-line cliques/communities (LDS or non-LDS). For some reason, I seem to irritate the heck out of people which results in my comments being ignored. I've witnessed a back and forth exchange between people on message boards ("Hey, dude, thanks for being on this board." "Wow, sis, this board sure needs your insight."). I wonder why people do not want to converse with me. I mean, honestly, am I that offensive? Are my opinions that dumb? Is what I post

This is one of the mysteries of life for me on-line.

It's taking some time, but I'm beginning to come to terms with the fact I am an odd egg. I'm so glad I'm married to another odd egg. :-)

Papa D said...

Odd eggs make unique omelettes - but they are delicious. I'm glad you married another odd egg.

Btw, I hope you don't feel that way in the forum where I spend most of my time now. I, for one, love your contributions - but I always have wherever I have read them. That's probably because I'm an odd duck, myself.

Kalola said...

Papa D ~ Thank you for appreciating this odd egg.

Stephanie said...

Kalola, perhaps you are taking it too personally when people don't respond right away to your comments? It takes a while to develop relationships - even online.

Kalola said...

Stephanie ~ I'm learning not to take things personally online. I think I've turned a corner.

JonW said...


I have found some peace in knowing I can say what I like on these sites and not really care if they have an interest in what I say.

While I agree to some degree there is a belief that others in the above group are somehow slightly more knowledgeable because of these sites being around longer.

Realizing this I have simply tried to build relationships with some sites, more posting on them than the others. This frequency has led to me building friendships with some of them. So I do not need an over all recognition.

I suggest picking a favourite site and comment there often. You get the link up soon enough.

Some sites I just do not bother with at all because I know I will not offer much constructive because our religious ideology is just too different.

mfranti said...


what do you think is the solution to the "clique" problem?

i know i go out of my way to include people but i/we can't reply to everyone's comment. some comments are good and add to the discussion in a way that deserves a reply, some aren't. some people only show to pick a fight or to complain (both directions, I might add) and haven't made an effort to become a part of the bloggernacle community.

think of it like this, if you go to a party and sit in the corner with a sour face, don't be surprised if other party goers don't come over and introduce themselves to you. this sort of behavior happens all the time on the blogs.

so, kaloa, stephanie (btw, i'm surprised you seem to be put out by the cliquishness since you are very much a part of the community) what do you suggest the "Illuminati" do?

Stephanie said...

Good points, mfranti. I don't know that I necessarily have a solution because I don't know that it necessarily is a "problem". Blogs exist so that like-minded people can come together. There is a natural element of "cliquishness" that comes with that (like what Andrew S said). If you want to play on the blog, you need to learn the "social rules" of the blog and adapt - pretty much like any other social organization. I'm not sure it is the responsibility of the blog to validate every comment or make sure everyone feels welcome. The bloggernacle is not church (which DOES have a responsibility to validate people). Even so, some blogs do a better job at fostering community than others.

That said, you do a particularly good job, mfranti. I do very much feel a part of the community at FMH, and I've noticed that the community as a whole seems more close-knit. I am sorry if my comment sounded like condemnation of you or FMH. It wasn't. It came across more harsh than I meant it to. I was just observing that I think it is interesting that a lot of people who don't feel like they fit in at church turn to the bloggernacle, where they sometimes contribute to making others feel like they don't fit in. One of those little ironies.

And, like I said in my second comment, relationships take time. I've been on FMH for a year and a half. I wouldn't have said I "fit in" after the first month or so. :) I had to adapt and keep trying, and there was a lot of forgiveness on the part of permabloggers.

So I guess in response to Kalola's statement that It appears as if one has to receive a special invitation to join the "Bloggernacle Illuminati." , my response is: Don't wait for a special invitation. If you want to participate and "make friends", keep trying. Be quick to forgive and slow to offend or be offended.

Stephanie said...

I have a few more thoughts related to this:

1. When I read a comment directed at me that I find offensive, before attacking back, I ask myself, "Could he/she have meant this another way?" Could it be a joke? Most of the time, I find that it is, or that I can't discern, so I let it go.

2. People usually comment when they have something to say. So, if someone doesn't respond to your comment, it probably doesn't have anything to do with you. It probably doesn't mean that you are being ignored - it just means that noone has anything to add.

3. In general, the Bloggernacle (particularly the sites you listed) is more liberal than the mainstream of the church. I personally rarely hear people at church express liberal views, and posters online comment that they often refrain from commenting in church. Therefore, the bloggernaccle is an ideal place to discuss liberal views. I tend to give bloggers a "pass" on attacking conservative viewpoints because I figure that they have their own viewpoints attacked in Sunday School enough. I do really appreciate it when they make room for discussion that includes both sides, but I also have to consider that when I am on their site, I am a guest in their "house".

4. A lot of the bloggers on the Bloggernaccle are friends in real life, too. When someone comes in and starts attacking one, it's natural for their friends to defend them. And drive-by commenters can be brutal. It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there the way bloggers do and sometimes you just get tired of the constant attacks. I can't blame them for being a little testy or banding together to put an obnoxious commenter in their place. I find that it's not so often the dissenting opinion that is attacked - it's the way it was expressed.

So, anyways, while I agree that there is an element of cliqueishness in the Bloggernaccle as a whole (and sometimes it is uncomfortable for those who view themselves on the outside), I can understand its natural evolution. I'm not sure it will change. If you want to participate and have it be a positive experience, you have to adapt and play by the rules.