Two words that have been terribly abused and misused in the blogospher are “conversation” and “contrarian.” As Chris Edwards puts it:
It’s funny how apparently innocent words become insults. Lit-crit types have been thumbing their noses at each other with accusations of “Leavisite” for years. Poor old FR Leavis: you turn lit-crit into a serious subject and end up becoming the top insult for drunk English students. The political left wing used to be fond of the old standby of “reactionary”, sometimes expanded into “reactionary running dogs of the imperialist aggressors” among the more hardline members. I remember being told by a teacher how children had managed to turn the politically correct term of “learning difficulties” into a playground slur thanks to its contraction to “learndiff”. Now, it seems that the world of blogging has its own: “contrarian”.
I suppose there’s a fine line between questioning conventional wisdom (with a healthy bit of iconoclasm) and being a “contrarian,” which in the blogosphere has come to be loosely defined as “you are disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing and not because you actually have a good reason to disagree.”
As for poor “conversation,” well, that word has been wielded like a holy sword to discourage anyone who would engage in the “wrong” type of conversation. It’s not enough to have a conversation, you have to do it the “right” way.
As for me, I proudly where the badge of contrarian conversationalist, or whatever.