Of course it is in vogue to be a societal critic, but I feel like most critics of society today are really just a part of the “scribbling rabble,” a term used by Nietzsche for the group of people who make no real contribution to society apart from their commentary, to keep the explanation short. The scribbling rabble is encapsulated in both the individual and the media at large. We can see this as we analyze the way that people respond to news stories, to movies, to new ideas and political happenings. There is a dreadfully predictable set of conversations that come from each and every action of the people who claim to be out doing things.
What is interesting, though, is that the people they cover – the celebrities, politicians, and such – do not themselves make a real contribution anymore, it seems. It is so rare that you find anything more than a talking point coming from the mouths of these people. We all participate in this cult of social media that, on the surface seems wonderful, but is truly just a way for us to create a circular conversation in which there is no refreshment. No new ideas. No progress. We all repeat somebody’s talking points and argue with each other with scripted argumentation. I realize that this particular sort of criticism is common, but I don’t think I’ve read an article yet that so definitively traces this back to the wisdom of Nietzsche.
As someone who greatly enjoys a good philosophy book or essay, I found Nietzsche to be fascinating. He was intriguing, at the very least, and certainly opened my mind to a lot of different ideas that I otherwise probably would not have developed or considered. I think that calling ourselves members of the scribbling rabble is entirely appropriate. We are all (at least, those of us who are involved in social media, blogging, and the like) part of this circular conversation that I have described. I don’t yet know what this really means in a practical sense, but I thought it would be worth mentioning.
As a member of the scribbling rabble, I hope to do more than just talk and write and perpetuate this endless cycle. Perhaps it’s slightly nihilistic (a result of Nietzsche’s overall philosophy), but I find the explanation to be quite apt. Think, read, and develop ideas for yourself. Share them. Don’t just repeat the droning talking points, because they’re designed to manipulate, not to effect real change in the world we treasure so.