I've been thinking long and hard about some things over the past few weeks about blogging. After reading a whole bunch of anti-blogging articles, mainly ones that attack fashion and design blogs, I came away with a rather frustrated feeling. I guess what bothered me about some of these articles is not the specific criticism of particular blogs (although I did think this was a tad bitchy and in some cases, unjustified), but more so the fact that such huge, sweeping generalisations were made about the practice of blogging and those who undertake it. Granted, I come from a totally biased position regarding this issue as I have a blog myself. I also invest a lot of time, energy and creativity into my blog. But I think I get rewarded for this effort in ways that are not always tangible and which don't always come down to the ever-cynical point made by critics of blogging: popularity.
Let's face it, my blog is not really ever going to be one of those uber-popular blogs that become a hit on the net. But who decided that this is the only reason people blog? It's hard not to get defensive when you read a string of complaints about how narcissistic the blogging community is. Well, lots of people are narcissistic, it's a personality trait, and it's not exclusive to bloggers. But I guess that's beside the point: the real point is that I feel some of these (quite vicious) attacks are a form of resisting just what can be done through blogs these days and how varied they actually are.
I understand the frustration of professional writers when they work so hard on a lengthy and well-researched piece of work and receive little attention, only to hop on the net and see a blogger who types maybe three sentences and gets a huge number of hits. But that's just one scenario, and it doesn't mean that blogger is inherently superficial. We don't actually know the people behind the posts in their daily lives, it seems pointless to attack them personally. I think one of the few times I've been moved to criticise a blog article myself was when it came to that infamous "Bad Classics" article. But not all articles on the net are like that, it's one trend out of many, it's one voice out of many. I don't particularly like it, but I'm not going write-off the entire blogging community over it. To altogether dismiss the creative and community-minded possibilities of blogs as a writer is a bit short-sighted these days. I'm not saying that every writer should have a blog, but it's rather unproductive to go out of your way to dismiss writers who do.
I'm not going to name the articles I read, because I don't want to enter into an online argument with other people here. I guess I'm raising this topic because I find it interesting and I think I've come to really appreciate what the act of blogging has done for my consciousness and abilities as a writer. I'm also interested in the wider motivations of why so many of us blog. And after reading Elmo Keep's article, The morning after my father died, I think it has a lot to do with what she calls 'proof':
I think I was much more narcissistic when I was in my twenties, like many young people on the internet are, trying to prove constantly that you are someone, that you’re doing something. Which also makes me think, though, are we really that much more narcissistic than people older than us? Or would this have happened to anyone who waded into a time and place where it was possible to capture and share every moment of your life with everyone you know? If we told ourselves no stories of our lives, then the things that happen to us would just be an extraordinarily confusing string of unconnected occurrences.
So I think, yes. I think they would have done it too, because the urge to prove that you were here goes as far back as leaving a hand print on a cave wall in Lascaux.
That's exactly it. Maybe if we started to think about blogging as one avenue via which we tell our stories, then it wouldn't seem so threatening to so many people.
Image found here.