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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Why I Blog

Every few months, I'm sure every blogger encounters some crisis of faith that makes them wonder why they subject themselves to this masochistic habit of blogging. After all, blogging can be time-consuming; yesterday, I spent almost the entire day reading and posting rather than reading articles for my summer research project. I've been known to spend at least an hour on nearly each post, no matter how short and quippy; time that could certainly be better spent doing a myriad of other, offline things. Blogging can also be thankless. When blogs build up established readerships, readers (understandably) return to the blog to read certain kinds of posts, a certain level of analysis, or a certain number of new posts each day. When blogging becomes a service industry, because of the anonymity of the Internet and the Blogosphere, readers can become demanding without much thought as to the human face behind the writing (even though they are ironically reading the blogger's public diary). They can feel entitled to certain kinds of treatment from the blogger they are reading, forgetting that the blogger is not only writing the content that entertains them, but often pays for the bandwidth and moderates the comment and discussion without receiving anything substantial in return. Conversely, some bloggers can be disappointed when a magnum opus doesn't get the kind of desired response: perhaps they can't get the number of readers they want or no matter how hard they try, the point of the original post is missed. Finally, and most importantly, blogging can be hurtful. Bloggers are essentially laying themselves out in the ultimate act of emotional exhibitionism. Many times, the blogger reveals thoughts to the Blogosphere that they would not reveal to their real-world friends, family, or professional colleagues. Often, bloggers use their blogs as a crucial step in processing some deep emotional pain or experience, and readers of the blog may end up intentionally or unintentionaly trivializing that experience with their comments, reducing a person's life, emotions, and memories to the role of a cat-toy, to be batted about by online talking heads. And that's not even to go into the brute pain that can be associated with receiving your first piece of hatemail or being called hateful epithets in a drive-by commenting. Of course, blogging is also a personal choice. No one forces a blogger to enter into this world of voyeurism, exhibitionism and ruthless debate. Thus, given the hardships associated with blogging and the fact that bloggers can easily choose to excise this frustration from their lives, the blogger frequently must stop and meditate on why they blog. As a blogger, I disagree with the idea of blogging to make money or earn oneself fame and glory. As a blogger, I think it is our responsibility to interrogate what we hope to gain out of blogging and to continuously re-examine our intentions. I fundamentally believe that the pursuit of knowledge is dependent upon the sharing of ideas. As an activist and an academic, I find that the best way to foster social change is by promoting thinking in all parties involved -- including the activist. Ever since the development of the Internet, I saw a potential in websites; I thought that this was the solution the disenfranchised were looking for. Here was our opportunity to shine a light on the oppressed minority -- self-publishing could allow us to bypass the oppression of society that threatens to silence us and make our voices heard. Idealistic, I know. Strangely, I still believe it. Despite how frequently I encounter other people in the Blogosphere or the Internet at large who continue to exist in a close-minded space, unwilling to listen and consider dissenting opinions, despite how frequently I am faced with people who even while engaging in debate seem incapable of adhereing to basic, respectful discussion and interpersonal etiquette, I still believe that the Blogosphere is a wonderful forum for sharing ideas and hearing from people you would never ordinarily hear from. I believe that blogging is about creating resources and safe spaces to promote awareness, understanding and debate over the sociopolitical issues that are most important to the blogger. I still appreciate how the discussion and debate on my blog and others have helped me shape my ideas about the world, and I can only hope that the mere seeding of an idea different from a reader's own can help them develop their own opinions on an issue, as it has for me. Because of this, I think it's important to write from the heart, based on who you are and what you believe in. I think bloggers should always try to interject as much of our analysis as we can in our posts (after all, the readers are there to hear from us), even if linking someone else's thoughts and writing -- this can only promote further discussion and debate on an issue crucial to the heart of the original writer. I leave comments relatively unmoderated to create as free and flowing a discussion as possible. And, though it's happened frequently, I welcome large blogs linking to my post where discussion continues in their comments rather than my own -- if this is to be a sharing of ideas, why should I care where the ideas end up being discussed? That's not to turn this post into a masturbatory self-congratulations. Like everyone, sometimes I find myself writing for the readers rather than based on what I truly believe. Sometimes I find myself jealous of larger blogs and their readership, wondering what they do that is so better than mine. Ssometimes when comments are hurtful and hateful, I can become power-drunk and feel tempted to ban dissenting commentors, edit comments out, or write a retaliatory post giving my comments more weight than my dissentors. But, as always, blogging is the ultimate power to the people, and not to be too cliched (and to quote, of all things, a comic book) "with great power comes great responsibility".

4 Comments:

Anonymous Mac said...

Even though I don't agree with everything you say or stand for. I like reading your blog. You're full of passion and conviction for what you believe in.

Keep it up.

6/28/2006 12:23:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Thank you for your comments, Mac! I don't expect people to always agree with me -- if that were the case, then what would be the point in writing? I appreciate your challenging my ideas -- you're helping me make sure I truly believe what I think and opening my eyes to how people might disagree.

6/28/2006 01:34:00 AM  
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3/17/2007 07:32:00 AM  
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8/06/2014 03:17:00 PM  

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