14 January, 2009

Everyone's a blogger now, and is it really a good thing?

The internet has become nearly a primary modality of communication. The telephone, of course, will never completely cease to exist because of the mobility it offers. But it's so much easier to communicate asynchronously, while almost instantaneous. In the workplace, I have come to realize that the telephone is almost superfluous. For people who are nearby, even, I still find myself choosing instant message rather than getting off my ass and walking to their office. It's not laziness. It's convenience. And I am not sure if there's a distinction, except in my mind.

As for blogs, it seems that more and more people are writing them. A friend from Boston recently commented that the internet is full of so much "noise" and that it seems pointless for some people (in particular, me) to be blogging. This is something that should be reserved for real writers. People whose livelihood depends on their internet communication. Well, unfortunately for him, that is not how things work. There are countless free websites whose specific purpose is to give anyone a voice who wants to have one. When I first started writing my blog, I only knew of one other person who published a regular blog entry, purely for the purpose of personal writing explorations. Then I met a couple more. And a couple more. And since I have been blogging, I have seen no fewer than 4 of my friends also take up blogging as a hobby, in some cases, anonymously. I don't think it's so much that I inspired them, and I will not take credit for such. But I think people are realizing the power of the internet as a vehicle. We all owe ourselves a journal of our events, our thoughts, or observations. But it's perhaps hard to justify doing that with nobody to ever read a notebook tucked away in a nighttable drawer. But now that notebook is public, and the potential feedback, and the availability of an audience, is a driver for us to do it. 

The downside, as there is with everything, is that you need to be careful what you write. As I can attest, and others whom I know can most certainly attest, what you write on the internet can and will come back around to affect you, and others. Maybe there is an intent to influence others. But the problem with putting it out there is that you cannot always tell what influence you will have, and you may not get the desired effect.

And there is a strangeness to making one's writing available for the general viewing. People can come to know you, passively, in ways much deeper and more personal than they might in regular encounters over a far greater period of time. I even have one or two associations on the internet whom I have never met, but who know me, or at least elements of my life, far more intimately than some people who see me on a weekly basis. Is that knowing? I am not sure. But one thing is for sure. The concept of knowing probably needs to be redefined in this new forum.

The blogging skeptic from back home, of whom I commented earlier, had asked me why I do it. He just thought it was a stupid waste of time, and even went so far as to specifically mock the process (he'd read my blog about the French Press). I didn't really have a good answer for him. And I don't think any answer I could provide would really satisfy. I don't like to admit it, but it must be a bit of exhibitionism. Because if it were not, then why would I write publicly? Just as, in my audience, there must be a touch of voyeurism driving people to read about my endeavors. It's not a crime, and it's not dirty. It occurred to me while I was working out today (trying to remain disciplined) that a blog can be a little bit like an internet-based reality program.

No comments:

Post a Comment