It doesn’t do to be too well-adjusted. Whatever people may say to the contrary, being a normal, cheerful, moderately successful individual (if there is such a thing) is a sure-fire way of fading into oblivion wearing a nice pair of slacks, cup of tea and hobnob in hand (and, no, that isn’t a euphemism.) The happy man will not aspire, for obvious reasons — contentment keeping him from attempts at improvement simply because… well, like I’ve said, it’s obvious. The content and well-adjusted types will never audition for Big Brother or fall out of nightclubs on the arm of the surgically-enhanced in the hope of being “snapped” for the tabloids (that should be a euphemism.) And it is implied on chat show and celeb mag alike that this ephemeral, ordinary man should be pitied. He is a dinosaur. A relic. He hasn’t lived because no one has seen him live.
And, of course, such a celeb-centric, twisted, pseudo-Warholian attitude is tripe. Leftover tripe reheated, at that. We all know it, because we are on a different level, intellectually. We are above all that superficial nonsense. Our lives aren’t given meaning by the mere fact of their being observed by others! They have meaning already.
And yet we blog.
In recent months, I’ve read and heard a number of criticisms of the “blogosphere” (a word that makes me gag, incidentally.) These have ranged from the more considered, but nonetheless laughable, journalistic cries of “bad reporting” etc to the absurd comment that ninety-nine percent of it (“it” being all blogs, not merely journalistic blogs) is worthless, because of “factual errors”. The former is ridiculous for many reasons. It presupposes that all journalists are good journalists, for one thing, and that, naturally, all bloggers are shoddy in their approaches. This apart, however, it is clearly a Trade Union-esque mentality coming to the fore. “These bloggers are threatening my livelihood!” It’s a brand of fear and, as a writer who often despairs at the second-rate celebs who trespass on my “turf”, I can understand it. It doesn’t mean it’s right, but I can understand it.
The latter is the one I find especially annoying, however, possibly because it indirectly includes my blogtastic effort in its assault; the “blogosphere” is worthless trash, ergo my blog is worthless trash.
I don’t, of course, believe that for one minute. My definition of “value” or “worth” is too broad and flexible to allow that. I know enough to check and re-check any “facts” I read on any blog covering issues important to me but, then again, this is something I tend to do as a matter of course — even, on occasion, with articles on the BBC News site. To equate “facts” and only “facts” with a measure of a blog’s worth, however, is foolish. There’s more going on here than that.
Which brings me to the question of why we blog. Is it just an extension of Orwell’s writerly ego trip, a way for us to validate our paltry lives by demanding to be noticed? Or is there really more to it?
I can only talk about my own experiences and motivations as a blogger. To do more, I think, would be to miss the point (as I believe so many critics of Web 2.0 do.)
Blogging serves a number of purposes for me — but all of them are tied in very solidly to my life as a writer, my very basic human need to share and discuss ideas. It doesn’t especially matter if they are factually correct (although it helps), it’s the process that’s important. People interest me. I like them. I like reading their thoughts on my work. I like giving and being given advice in an environment that I control and which is relatively safe. Yes, it’s flattering when people leave positive comments, but that isn’t the only reason why I do this. I do it, first and foremost, because it is natural.
We are built to engage with others. It benefits us on so many levels. When you sit in a pub or some other gathering place, do you dismiss everything the local raconteur says that isn’t fact-based or somehow “educational”? No, of course you don’t — because that isn’t why he talks and it certainly isn’t why you listen. It’s the process. Human interaction.
Is it really so difficult to understand?