Captain, we may have hit a cultural barrier

My first day thinking about the new comments section, and about the (mostly negative) emails we’ve been getting about it, got me thinking whether an approach that works for a gay, elitist, British-turned-American snob can actually work for a blog focused on Venezuelans.

Because we Venezuelans tend to be very egalitarian people. We have a natural disregard for presumptuousness. We have little tolerance for pomposity. And more than other countries I have visited, we dislike conceited attitudes.

Many emails we’ve been getting say more or less the same thing: we like the participatory aspect of the old comments section; you acting as gatekeepers turns the blog into a forum for your voice and your voice only.

The new comments policy means the blog then becomes a forum for our ideas, and the ideas of those readers we deem interesting, smart, or relevant.

Notice the preponderance of the first person plural here?

Now, for Sullivan, this may work. He is a smart guy, or at least a guy many people consider smart. Therefore, it’s perfectly alright for him to turn his blog into a voice for his ideas and the ideas of those he finds interesting. He has earned his place.

But … us? I’m not so sure. The Sullivan concept translated into Venezuela may cross some undeclared cultural norm. After all, we are the land of “¿y tú quién te has creído, mijo? ¡Bájate de esa nube!” There is a metaphor for precisely this kind of attitude, and it involves a bottle of Pepsi and a desert.

This does not mean I’m against the experiment. But at this point, I’m going to need some more convincing …