I awoke recently to discover that everyone on the planet seems to have a blog. While I will admit that my recent retreat into somewhat Luddite territory online has rendered me fairly terrified of social media and the influential power it seems to possess over everything that is seen, heard, written, performed, whispered or belched, the startling notion that everyone wants to put their day-to-day life on display forced me to consider the value of doing just that. And whether I wanted to contribute to what could be described as a pandemic of over-sharing.
I am old enough to remember being an adult before the explosion of the online world that many of us now exist in for more hours of the day than otherwise. Back when people actually spoke the words ‘world wide web’ and ‘information superhighway’ and prefaced URL addresses with ‘double u, double u, double u…’. The idea of writing regularly on a ‘weblog’ that quite likely very few people would see, seemed like a silly idea. It was literally a virtual diary. I mean, why bother? Just go out and buy a pink unicorn-decorated fabric-lined notebook with a flimsy plastic lock like the rest of the world and keep your entries on how cheap your husband is or how annoying your three-your-old is to yourself. The idea of blabbing on and on about what was going on in my life before some kind of unseen audience seemed self-important and frankly boring. Who would want to read about my hangnails and baby’s diaper rashes when they had hangnails and baby’s diaper rashes of their own?
Although many early blogs rose to popularity because of controversial content (remember Dooce.com? The author got fired after writing about some of her co-workers. If that happened today, they’d just return the favor. Or maybe remove their LinkedIn recommendations….), and what I would consider ‘online editorials or journalistic content written by professional writers who get paid for it’ are sometimes referred to as blogs, the sheer number of people writing their own personal blogs, contributing to personal blog sites or tweeting, instagramming, vlogging and whatever the hell else you can turn into a verb these days online makes me feel…..overwhelmed.
Why do people blog?
Certainly human nature is somewhat narcissistic. We crave attention, and if we are intimidated by actual physical attention, even the most introverted of us can appreciate the idea of being….appreciated. It’s nice to know there are others out there who ‘like’ you, understand you or just give a damn about anything going on in your humble, mundane little life. (“Wow, she loves armadillos? I thought I was the only one!”)
And, what was once merely a way to post droll pictures to illustrate the bad humor of your cat, increasingly CAN also make a you rich and famous (see previous cat reference) or at least enhance your salary on the side. Get enough followers and you can make a tidy sum from advertising. Get enough rapid fans and you can create an online revolution or a book that debuts on the New York Times bestseller list.
As someone, who long ago, made a living as a writer (of sorts), the idea of making money using an instantaneous publishing machine seems commonsense. And yet, the sheer volume of content that floats out in the solar system of the internet makes wading through the space junk somewhat exhausting and painful. I’m not quite sure I want to be another ‘mom with a blog’ who recounts the antics of her precocious and snarky kiddos in list form (‘Top Ten Ways to Distract Your Children When Attempting to Have Sex with Your Husband’) while dealing with the realities of approaching middle-age disappointments with copious amounts of Starbucks lattes and glasses of chardonnay (I want to DO that, but I’m not sure I want to broadcast it).
Like everyone else, I want to be different.
As I am writing this post on my blog, I am either a hypocrite or attempting to make peace with the idea that perhaps blogging CAN be an art form – it can contain well-crafted pieces of illuminating elegance on the human condition. It can be a reflection of one’s inner tormented soul with a word count. It can be thoroughly spell-checked and grammatically correct.
A blog is merely as eloquent and artistic as its author.