I recently gave my mom the address to this blog. She's known I've had a blog - or as she calls it, a 'blob' - for some time, but she's always figured it was something I might not want her to visit. Because, who knows, I might say something a little vulgar, perhaps. Or slip in some vaguely sexual pun. Or, you know, I might drop a few F-bombs down on this bee-atch. And in the beginning, she was right: I did find it a little unsettling to consider my mom - or any member of my family, really - reading this. Not that I'm particularly vulgar, or write about obscene sex, or say the word 'fuck' a lot. (I save all that stuff for my fiction.) But I think it's just that parents kind of wind up being a censuring force in most people's lives, whether they mean to or not. It's not their fault, really. It just happens. And for many people, just knowing that their mom could be reading something might lead to a change in tone, or an avoidance of a subject altogether. And how strange that is, isn't it? That we might freely write about all kinds of subjects in front of the anonymous Internets without giving it a second thought and the moment we think about our parents reading, we pause, reflect and edit. The red pen comes out.
But the more I've done this - shared things with the Internets - the more comfortable it has become - the more natural the voice sounds to me. And so, by extension, the easier it has become to include various members of my family in the content. Also, with my 33rd birthday staring me straight in the face like a 200 lb gorilla, I've come to the mature realization that my mom already knows I have a propensity to let out the occasional curse word or two and sometimes say things that aren't so sugary sweet. And, since I'm married, she probably assumes that I've had sex once or twice, though I might be wrong about that. So with that out of the way, I've decided the rest is cake.
So I sent her the URL. And last week she read some of it. And I asked her, "So what did you think." And her reaction was priceless: "Well, it's . . . interesting." It wasn't said in a way that implied she didn't like it exactly. It was more a sort of confusion. She was curious, for instance, about who read it. "Well, several people," I said. "Not a lot. But a few." "Are they people you know?" she asked. "Some are, some aren't," I said. "Some are people I've met solely because it's there, which is kind of amazing."
Then she said what I think was the heart of the matter: "I guess I just don't understand why anybody would keep a blog. Or why somebody might read one. I'm not saying this in reference to yours, in particular. But any of them."
And there was the crux of it: Why? Why do this thing? And that's a hard thing to answer.
One of the first blogs I read was bluishorange
. It wasn't the first
blog I read, but it was the first blog I remember reading where the whole thing made sense to me. Where I knew this was something I wanted to do. I also remember being struck by the fact that the writer of the blog was from Houston, which was where I was from. She was an English major, as was I. And the writing - unfiltered by any third-party, big-media conglomerate, completely self-driven and raw - was refreshingly relevant - it just spoke to me - and how incredibly random and wonderful and strange to have stumbled across it. Anyway, the writer, Alison, doesn't know any of this - it's the first time I've written it - but if she checks her technorati
results, or her traffic logs, she's bound to find this post. Which will be weird for her because she doesn't really know me, aside from two or three random comments I've left on her blog. But to me that's another part of what is so cool about the whole bloody thing. It's that public/private thing. That knowing who somebody is
without really knowing them at all. I went on to find several other blogs that I really enjoy - most of them are listed over at the right - but I still read bluishorange from time to time. In fact, this recent post
is partially what lead me to write this - as it deals with the same question: why?
All I know is that the medium immediately drew me in. It was something new and fresh and wide open to explore - uncharted territory. As a writer, it seemed exciting to experiment with it - find new ways of writing. New literary conventions.
This was all back in 2000-2001, when if you said you had a 'blog' some people might assume you had some chronic disease. Now, of course, everybody has a blog. Somewhere around 2003 to 2004 the word 'blog' became a common household term, sort of like 'toilet plunger,' and just as appealing. And like anything else drowning in hype, the word 'blog' somehow became one thing
to everybody - although if you asked a handful of people, not one would really be able to tell you exactly what that one thing was. It was a period during which a lot of people became famous
from their blogs. And soon after, people even began making money from their blogs via advertising or donations. In some cases, lots of money. And people in the media began to ponder: Is blogging 'journalism?' And this always seemed to me such a ridiculous question. (Quick answer: No. Not in the sense you mean it, anyway. And yet, it's kind of changing the face of journalism, isn't it?)
Now there are so many different kinds
of blogs. It's
nauseating. There are news-y blogs - blogs about politics, technology, culture, 'web culture,' sports, movies, music, books, writing. There are ranting blogs. There are homemaking blogs. There are knitting blogs. There are blogs about being productive. There are blogs about being reproductive. There are blogs about every kind of medical condition you can imagine, and probably several you can't. There are mommy blogs, and daddy blogs, and baby blogs, and blogs about your cat or your dog, or your hamster, and some blogs BY your cat, or your dog, or your hamster. There are sex blogs. There dating blogs. There are blogs about money. There are blogs about teaching. There are 'how-to' blogs. There are city blogs. There are community blogs.
But my favorite blogs are still the personal blogs. The kind that got me started. The kind I try to keep here. The kind that offers a glimpse into somebody's real thoughts and real life, and all the humor or sadness or anger therein. What matters is the sentiment. To me, that's key, though the actual writing is definitely important, as well.
I imagine for all the different kinds of blogs, there are many different kinds of motivations. Money. Fame. Vanity. An interest in a particular subject, even if that subject is: 'Myself.' A desire to share information and collaborate on projects.
For me, there's no one reason I blog. But there are lots of little reasons. So here's a few:
- Because of the connections, man, the millions of freakin' connections.
- Because it's one voice out of many, many voices. And how powerful and big that voice is - with the ability to reach millions. And yet at the same time - how small and insignificant - how completely lost in the fray of all the other voices that one voice becomes. But there's beauty in those numbers.
- Because of a feeling that I'm contributing to a 'canon' that continues to grow exponentially - an overwhelming mass of thoughts, ideas, words, letters. It's a canon that makes up our current world. And if it survives, how incredible it will be for future generations to pour over. Perhaps, ultimately, it will be the only canon.
- Because sometimes it's the only thing that seems real.
- Because sometimes it doesn't have to be real at all.
- Because it allows me to keep in contact with people I might have lost touch with otherwise - and this is something I'm continually grateful for.
- Because I've formed new acquaintances, new friendships, sometimes with people who are on the other side of the world, people I've never met, and how freakin' amazing is that?
- Because it can be a way to practice my writing.
- Because it can be an escape from 'real' writing.
- Because it's private and intimate.
- Because it's so entirely public and, who knows, maybe I'm a bit of exhibitionist.
- Because it gives me a voice.
- Because usually it helps me remember.
- Because sometimes it helps me forget.
- Because people can know me without really knowing me at all. And isn't that so weird and cool?
- Because it helps me keep things in perspective. Helps me process the world.
- Because it keeps me motivated.
- Because it can be ignored if I want.
- Because I want to leave something behind.
So there it is Mom - a few reasons why. Welcome. I'm glad you're here and I hope you come back.
Maybe some of the other bloggers who read this have some of their own reasons to add? Why do you all do it?
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