Blog Essay

I have been blogging with some regularity since attending EMU last fall. These blogs were class related, often used as a means to comment on reading assignments or class related issues. Before this class blogs were made on blogspot, which surprised me somewhat when I discovered that we’d be using wordpress. Officially, I do not have a preference for either blogspot or for wordpress both seem equally capable of posting my thoughts and ramblings. But I suspect I’d use blogspot for business things and wordpress for personal, or impersonal as it were, postings. Maybe. It is perhaps arbitrary reasoning. (I think I’ve noticed more personal sites on wordpress). Perhaps because I am most recently familiarized with wordpress that if I ever choose to blog on my own outside of class that I might use wordpress.

Intellectually, I think I understand the appeal for blogging. Basically, people want to express themselves and to garner attention. I might want to use it as a facebook substitute, or a substitue for personal e-mail. And, hey, technology is cool, you know? I know that blogs are designed for multiple purposes such as news blogs, or hobby related blogs, or for communication purposes and so forth. I see how it can be used as an information resource or as an entertainment resource. Is it really anything more than an online magazine article then? I don’t know if I can totally “get it” outside of business or entertainment purposes (which is kinda the same thing I suppose). I for one enjoy reading certain blogs, for example: Monitor Mix on NPR, or Amanda Palmer’s blog at amandapalmer.net. Both are pure entertainment, and both are examples of great writing. I still wonder though if it (blogging) is something I understand from a cultural or personal perspective.

I don’t perceive that there are a lot of benefits to blogging in an open and personal manner. Which, I believe is part of the appeal of blogs and internet communication, in general. There seems to be too many potential negative impacts, like losing one’s job or not getting a job because of something you’ve posted on a social network site like facebook, or twitter or a blog; generally giving a bad impression of yourself to anyone that might read your blog. (Speaking as someone who’s had to deal with unemployment I don’t want to make things harder on myself). Consequently, I take blogging and twitter, et al very seriously now. I have to develop an understanding of how I am to have a relationship with these technologies and for any future technologies. This sensitivity is really the issue at hand for me. The real reason, I believe, why I don’t “get it” (blogging) from a cultural or personal perspective.

Some people can get away with whatever and some can’t, but some people, regardless of age are not emotionally and intelligently equipped to understand the consequences of their actions. What I take from this is that a.) the public nature of the internet makes blogging about personal stuff unwise; b.) some people are, or can be, immune to the consequences of blogging about personal stuff, but even they are subject to consequences; c.) the appeal of freedom online is a falsity. It makes me think of fearful, careful, stulted writing; d.) blogging has taken on a foggy demeanor. I don’t think anyone yet knows what to make of it. All of our experimenting will help shape it for the future. Maybe then my thinking about it will change.

Despite my uncertainty regarding blogging I dive in and try to make it into something of use and importance to myself. Maybe the best thing that can be said of the internet is that despite its public-ness it is a space filled with infinite self-contained universes, probably much like our own, where one can live and create and express and just be in ways different from all others who share the same space. This is the positive attitude I choose to have toward blogging. This perspective is what helps make the concept and practice of blogging appealing to me – and not at all scary.

Wherein I have found a way in which to become comfortable with blogging, and in that sense enjoy doing it – it is a very premeditative, removed or objective experience. I find it difficult to justify blogging. If I am not providing a service or specific knowledge then why do it? As well, if I can’t express myself freely in this environment then why am I using it at all? I have more freedom in a physical journal, for example. Everything I post, regardless of how quickly it is developed and posted, has been filtered and vetted. The consequence is that I use my blog in a very personal but detached manner. It can be amusing to write and to read, especially when it isn’t being forced by some time constraint, deadline, or catering to an audience. Just the same though the voice I’ve developed seems somehow inconsequential. It is as if it serves no purpose – it is just there for the sake of being there, and that is one half of the tone of the blog postings. It’s like, “Hey, look at me. Look at me!” Yet when I am being paid attention to I have nothing substantial to provide, I have nothing to say or do. We’ve all just wasted our time.

At the start of the semester I thought my blog would be narrow in focus. I suppose I interpreted the blog assignment as being intent on us writing about one specific topic. However, time constraints made me forgo any idea of consistency or research. Instead, I have gone through a process where I find an inspired idea or topic I want to explore. I’ll compose it carefully on a word template and when I feel it is done I’ll post it. My postings are purposefully divorced from anything too personal, either biographically or emotionally. I am a normally private individual and I see no point in publicly expressing things online that I wouldn’t do so with someone in person. But, moreover, if I can’t discover a reason for posting information about myself then why should I expect anyone else to be interested? That might say more about me as a person and about my cultural or aesthetic tastes but I don’t feel “free” when I blog, especially for a class.

My blog posts are written in fun or are at least intentionally prosaic, as if not meant to be the lone tree in the forest that falls without a sound. These blog entries are not to be taken too seriously and are merely meant to be dispersed into the universe. My postings definitely reflect a distrust of posting anything that I feel could be looked down upon by a potential employer. My fearful writing is therefore incredibly revealing, terribly restricted, and highly inventive. Ultimately, my postings are meant to be fun and harmless. Maintaining a conversation with an invisible audience does not seem appealing to me. Behaving in an open manner is not in my character to begin with why force it on a larger international audience?

Obviously, from what I’ve said so far I am a conflicted person. I am divided in my understanding about the purpose and appeal of blogs. I am equally conflicted about how I perceive blogging and how I feel about blogging. Do I really want to do it? What are the benefits and consequences? Am I wholly indifferent to it or is it just something that I don’t do – like watch American Idol or ski? If I were to do it what am I going to write about and why? Do I care about having an audience? And if I do do I write for myself or the audience? And finally, since I can see how blogs work as a business and entertainment tool does that influence me and my perceptions of blogging when a blog isn’t easily categorized either way?

It has been made clear to me just recently that using blogs like Live Journal can be used in a seemingly harmless, personal, and highly interactive manner. One can feel free to write whatever, vent about whatever and, apparently only those Live Journal friends can read it – something like that. I can now understand how appealing blogging can be in that personal manner. I will consider it, at least for the future. I think if I were to start a personal blog outside of class I would maintain a certain level of distance from my audience. I would treat it as artwork – non-utilitarian artwork. Something that exists of its own accord for anyone to discover and experience but is not a beautiful car or an elegant math equation. I would devote it to something like creative pursuits – it would be a manner to show off indirectly. I think if I had a business interest then a blog would certainly be a wise tool to use and I would have an entirely different approach and attitude toward it.

I used to think of blogs as online diaries/journals and that has changed but to what I am still not sure. I never understood the appeal of posting your (supposed private) diary online for all of the world to read, or why anyone would care to read it anyway. But blogs have changed, morphed into something that is different but not yet fully realized. I am hesitant to predict anything with any certainty regarding blogs and their future but I can see that it is serving some purpose for many, many people, and I can only hope to find something for myself with it too

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