Jeff Simmermon, one of the authors of And I Am Not Lying wrote this about blogging the other day:
So much of what passes for quality writing online these days is little more than lurid typing, and I’m not into that. I had hoped the blogosphere would be a great literary groundswell, an electronic distillation of art and beauty for the 21st century. Turns out that generation blog just Google-maps the contours of our own navels, and the greatest oversharers get the biggest prize.
And it got me thinking about what the point of a blog is, and whether a blog can be considered art in its own right. (Of course, when you see some of the things people call art these days, you might wonder if this isn't a rhetorical question. I suppose at the end of the day the art question might just be a matter of opinion.)
Anyway, I've heard some bloggers say that they don't write their blogs for their audience, but for themselves. And I think that's utter baloney (therapeutic benefits of blogging aside). If you were really only writing for yourself, you'd be writing in a journal that you keep locked up in your bedside table never to be read by anyone but yourself and maybe your snoopy "concerned" parent or jealous spouse. But by publishing stuff on the internet for everyone and their grandma to see, you gotta know that at least a little tiny part of you is looking for an audience.
But does that mean we bloggers are trying to make our writing a literary groundswell for our audiences? I think not. I think if we were, most of us would fail at the task, but maybe also a lot more of us would actually make a living doing this stuff. But ultimately I think it's unfair to expect blogs to achieve the same literary status as a collection of Keats.
I like to think of blogs as being akin to an undergraduate term paper. I don't know about you, but I did a whole lot of night-before and morning-of paper writing in college. In fact, I got pretty damn good at churning out a good paper at the last minute. Going back and reading some of those papers, it's clear to me that I could have written most of them better. I could have explored the issues more deeply, and achieved better structural organization and clarity of thought. But I feel like overall I achieved the purpose I was setting out to achieve with my work. I'm not necessarily proud of my good-enough accomplishments, but I'm not ashamed of them either.
Same thing with this blog; I do try to be entertaining and provocative, and I try to write well. But I don't hone my posts draft after draft, and I don't expect them to stand as my best work. Most of the time, I write the posts as they come to me, without thought as to organization or really where I plan to go in the end, then I read them through once or twice and change a few things and then publish away. If I happen to notice any glaring grammatical errors following publication, I go back and fix them, but for the most part, once a post is out there, it's there to be read and commented on for a day and then to be forgotten and never thought of or spoken about again.
It's the nature of blogs to be an ephemeral glimpse at the mundanity of every day life.
But more than that, I think it's also an opportunity to connect with other people who vibe with you intellectually, or who can relate to the same types of issues you have dealt with in your life and written about on your blog. Maybe it's just a chance to get inside someone else's head for a change. Have you ever wondered what it might be like to see the world through someone else's eyes? I used to think about that a lot when I was a kid. Well, I think blogs let us do that a little bit, more so at least than novels, films, or even essays, all of which are strongly edited, and some of which are fictional and therefore not necessarily a true view of the human experience.
I'm not trying to say that blogs are the tits-screw and down with novels and artsy films. I'm just saying that blogs serve a purpose, and maybe that purpose is just for us to Google-map our navels, and then show that Google-mapped navel to someone else and say, "Look what I have!" and for them to say, "Hey, that's neat, I've got something like that too, here let me show you."
In short, blogs are just a place for us to be the lovely individuals that we are, and to share that lovely navel fluffiness with others. So feel free to come around here and show me your navel lint any time. I'd love to see it.
I say these things in the name of Jesus riding a T-Rex,
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