The circlejerk is a defensive social phenomenon in which a group of relatively unaccomplished individuals gather together for the purpose of collectively inflating their apparent worth. The difference between the circlejerk and actual legitimate social hierarchy is exactly the inferiority of the individuals composing the circlejerk, not really the methodology employed.
In a meritocracy (where social hierarchy is based on some sort of individual merit) the jerk-offs will fawn over each others' imagined merits. Sometimes these are objective, such as intelligence or physical appearance but more often they're patent nonsense, things such as "good morals", "good style", "good taste" and so forth. If hierarchy is based on heredity rather than merit the circlejerk becomes something like The Court of the Lord Lyon.
In all cases the circlejerk relies on the fact that one way to establish truth is through agreement, and so manipulating agreement can at least on short stretches give anything the appearance of truth. This merged with the fabulous property of the Internet (that nobody knows you're a dog) has created practically speaking a circlejerk society. Apparently, nobody knows he's a jerk-off.
The Internet hasn't created the circlejerk however, it merely brought the cost of participation down to what the average person can afford. They existed over one hundred years ago, as for instance :
These were no giants. Think who was writing in those days—Lardner, Fitzgerald, Faulkner and Hemingway. Those were the real giants. The Round Table was just a lot of people telling jokes and telling each other how good they were. Just a bunch of loudmouths showing off, saving their gags for days, waiting for a chance to spring them....There was no truth in anything they said. It was the terrible day of the wisecrack, so there didn't have to be any truth...
To participate in the Algonquin Round Table one had to at least afford the price of a dinner at the Algonquin Hotel in NYCi, which while not an exorbitant imposition still managed to exclude the 99%.
I started all of this with a point in mind. Unfortunately I do not remember what it was.———
- Obviously these days a bunch of circlejerking bloggers would expect the dinner on the house for the grandiose benefit their circlejerking brings the establishment - yet another way in which the Internet brings circlejerking in line with the meagre means of the toiling multitudes. [↩]