Why "Blog"? (with Illustrations)


Why the hell waste your life in the "Blogosphere", writing silly rants and comments on other blogs? It's Summertime, dammit.

Well, I can only speak for myself. Ah, feck that, this is true for you too:

There's no point debating anything online. You might as well hurl shoes in the air to knock clouds from the sky. The internet's perfect for all manner of things, but productive discussion ain't one of them. It provides scant room for debate and infinite opportunities for fruitless point-scoring: the heady combination of perceived anonymity, gestated responses, random heckling and a notional "live audience" quickly conspire to create a "perfect storm" of perpetual bickering.


Stumble in, take umbrage with someone, trade a few blows, and within about two or three exchanges, the subject itself goes out the window. Suddenly you're simply arguing about arguing. Eventually, one side gets bored, comes to its senses, or dies, and the row fizzles out: just another needless belch in the swirling online guffstorm.

Well, in case you were beginning to think I may actually have something to say, let me just tell you that this bit is from a newspaper, and it gets better:

But not for long, because online quarrelling is also addictive, in precisely the same way Tetris is addictive. It appeals to the "lab rat" part of your brain; the annoying, irrepressible part that adores repetitive pointlessness and would gleefully make you pop bubblewrap till Doomsday if it ever got its way. An unfortunate few, hooked on the futile thrill of online debate, devote their lives to its cause. They roam the internet, actively seeking out viewpoints they disagree with, or squat on messageboards, whining, needling, sneering, over-analysing each new proclamation - joylessly fiddling, like unhappy gorillas doomed to pick lice from one another's fur for all eternity.

So you see, it's a completely useless and derivative activity that I am doing that you now reading. Isn't personal blogging simply a combination of talking points, venting, magical thinking, and the very occasional actual crystal-clear insight. Mostly it's full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. This is the best of times for self-referential, random-abstract chicken-chasers like me.

Personal blogs are occasionally insightful, but mostly they're recreation, and let's face it, mental masturbation.

In the giant echo-chamber that is the World of Blogging, everyday is Groundhog Day. People slinging the same ole shit takes up most of this void.

So why have I spent hours learning about blogging, obsessively perfecting the placement images and tags, contructing snarky put-downs in far corners of the web? The whole technical side eats up the hours for a complete idiot such as myself even now when sites like Google's Blogger can get you started in about a minute.

There are target="_blank"35 million blogs out there. Why do I need one? The "answer" is that this blog must be filling a need for me in expressing myself, and an old post on George Orwell's reasons for writing summed it up without me ever having to lift a pen, er, tap a key. Note the reach for gravitas. Note also the post's referral to another post, which refers to yet another, which quotes George's undying words:

...I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:

1. Sheer egoism.
Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen – in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all – and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.

2. Aesthetic enthusiasm.
Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.

3. Historical impulse.
Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

4. Political purpose.
Using the word 'political' in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples' idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

It can be seen how these various impulses must war against one another, and how they must fluctuate from person to person and from time to time... full version

I'm surprising myself at the font of anger that has sprung out of me in writing anonymously online. Right now I feel like venting about my belief that my culture is taking a nosedive, but this subject may change. No one's reading, or commenting, but I don't (lie) give a shit.

I feel very strongly about what I write. I'm sad about what the right wing has done to America. I have problems with the left as well. But something I have no illusion about is that my "blog" is anything more than just a drop in the ocean. It's just practice, and fun. It's worth doing, but this is a playground. I'm a wannabe writer, journalist, or better yet: Op-Ed Columnist for the Washington Times--er, no, I mean the NY Times. Yeah, that's it--the power to sway people for the good would be swell. Nicholas Kristof has got the best job in the world.

Mostly, despite everything I've said, doing this thing simply fills a need, for now. There are few things more ephemeral that a blog entry. Then again, there will likely be some trace of this post in twenty years. You can embarass yourself etermally--just another reason to blog.

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At 12:06 PM, July 01, 2006, Blogger poubellecanyon said...

I happened upon your blog and I really like it. You've eloquently described the malaise that I, too, feel about blogging, and perhaps writing in general. Thank you for your insight. The George Orwell bit was nice. I'm going to pass that along. Blog on...

At 6:13 PM, July 03, 2006, Blogger Ozyman said...

It's good to know I've randomly reached you across the ether on this topic. I'm ambivalent about this thing I've begun doing. I'd write more frequently if I received feedback like what you've written. thanks

At 10:46 PM, November 20, 2006, Anonymous Webomatica said...

Ha, ha, funny stuff. I had a feeling I would find something cool to read at your blog. As for blogging reasons, I plead guilty to 1) egoism and 2) Aesthetic enthusiasm. I'll have to think on this subject further. But for now I am thinking I really am not sure why I blog, and yes, it could just be a form of mental solitaire and ego stroking. But some would say the same about all manner of hobbies (like knitting or collecting pin cushions). Maybe blogging gets extra flak since it's on public display.


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