Why do we blog?

It’s the official start–as if there were anything otherwise– of the New Year. Welcome 2010 to the future of today. Or something. I spent New Years eve with a good friend. Sushi and then movies/drinks at her place. It was very nice, and exactly the non-partying NYE I wanted (although next year I plan to party it up on a yaught somewhere, I’ll let you know how that turns out). Anyway, we watched Julie and Julia. Her choice, but I had been meaning to see it. Every now and then I just crave a good feel-good, do-nothing movie. I don’t have to think (that’s what CIFF is for) and I don’t have recover from the drama/blood/explosions/death or other Hollywood or other blockbuster type events. So it was nice to spend an evening where I knew I would more-or-less like the outcome. But the film did make me wonder something I haven’t wondered for quite some time: “Why do we blog?”

I suppose I could dig through the net and find the origins of public blogging. I know how blogs have been used as platforms for businesses to interact on a humanized level with their clients, etc., but personal blogging is an entirely different kettle of onions. I wonder who first decided that their personal life and thoughts were of enough importance/interest to broadcast to the unsuspecting public? And furthermore, why someone chose to read it? It’s like some obscure voyeurism – readers can glimpse a fragment of said bloggers innermost thoughts and, what? Feel as though they’re in on the secret? When I was little, and my mother would watch the occasional daytime soap opera, I never questioned that I, the viewer, could see into the lives of all the characters. When I entered primary school, it disappointed me at first that I didn’t know what was going on in the homes of my classmates. I suppose, in time, readers come to commiserate with bloggers who share their particular interests. But what brings you to it in the first place? Are we really so self-obsessed and self-absorbed to think that we can just share our thoughts with the world and expect others to marvel at our creativity? It’s really a rather odd culture, don’t you think? Because it has, indeed, become a culture, a culture that has grown to include vlogs, podcasts, profuse twittering and creative YouTube videos, and so many other forms of expression.

So why am I here? I’ve never expected to appeal to the masses with my witty missives, though as a writer even I find this a little surprising. There is a difference, in my mind, between when I ‘write’ – poetry, work, etc.- and when I ‘blog’. The original intent of this blog was to update my friends and family back in Canada on my life and activities while I was away at school, thereby foregoing multiple emails to multiple parties that read pretty much the same. But now that my life is filled with 9-5 press releases and the occasional — and I do stress, occasional — outing with friends, there’s not allot to update. Which brings me back to Julie and Julia. Protagonist Julie is ‘drowning in mediocrity’, something I dare say many of us, save for Paris Hilton, experience on a semi-regular basis. She is a writer who feels she cannot call herself a writer until she’s been published. To do something of substance, and ease her mind after a day of cubicle life, she starts a blog, cooking her way through the 500+ recipes of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It’s an interesting undertaking, I’ll agree. And it made me wonder – today, when the technologically-literate masses of the (largely Western) world are bombarded by media, official and otherwise, do blogs need a proper purpose? Can I natter away a’la Stephen Fry’s podgrams (a personal favorite), or do I need a general topic, like Julie Wilson’s Seen Reading? Or, is chattering away on any topic of my choosing a blog theme of its own?

The above is, I have to say, the result of nearly two weeks off work with very little accomplished by a mind that questions almost everything all of the time. The long and short (certainly the long) of it is this: I do not know what this blog will be, or if it will even exist. Nor do I have any expectations of people reading, following and commenting, thought of course that is always a welcomed surprise. I have no grand, sweeping answers to the questions I have posed. In truth, I’m not even sure they make sense. But I’m here, and like so many others, I’ve decided to mention it from time to time. If you read, I hope you enjoy.

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2 comments

  1. Are our personal ramblings interesting to the hoi poloi?
    Think what blogging is. On-line digital self publishing. Is this so different to Socrates holding forth in an oral tradition? Or any of the classical or neo-classical sages right down to the present. In fact blogging probably has more in common in some respects to the evolution of codified knowledge than present day universities. Just a matter of scale – literate, thinking people writing about things that interest them for the sake of understanding – no utilitarian aspect to dictate the field of enquiry.
    On a poetry site a member ridiculed the work of other members and posed the question – “does everyone have to be a poet?”. Instinctively my answer was “Yes” (if they feel moved to write and share). There are few bad works or answers, those that are just signpost the way to better achievements. If there is mass communication, mass literacy and mass access then even open dictionaries will benefit the world. Let all who feel the urge to communicate do so in whatever way they feel comfortable with – JUST NOT TEXT-SPEAK!

  2. Fergus,
    Thanks so much for your comments. I must admit I was thrilled to see such an astute reply to my question 🙂 I had never thought of how digital 'self publication' could be considered an extension of formal higher education study/dialogue.
    Your belief that 'anyone who chooses to be a poet is a poet' raises a good point about the 'value' or 'quality' of works. We may put them out there, and others may or may not choose to view, agree – or disagree, as the case may be – comment, share, etc., as they would with any piece of information they find. Perhaps the true value of blogging lies in its' very bulk – there are so many doing it that 'citizen journalism' has taken a surprising bite out of the mainstream. While the opinions are just that, opinions, the range and sheer volume provide readers with options of varying points of view. And I've always found those vastly interesting, even if I don't necessarily agree.
    Thanks again for sharing your insights!
    Shannon

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