Monday, August 08, 2005

Blogging About Blogging - Does This Make Me Postmodern?

Last fall, during the Miss America pageant, Jason started a blog. His first entry was a scathing, if brief, review of the crowning, despite the fact that we didn't even watch it. I teased him mercilessly for weeks for being such a nerd. I had never heard of a blog before, but since it involved Jason hunched over his laptop, I was certain it deserved such a label.

As fate would have it, I would be piqued by the blog bug myself before long, and Kill The Goat was launched in October. Jason's blog didn't last long, but I became strangely addicted to typing up entries and hitting the publish button, often during twilight hours. I have always kept a journal to write in, so I can't say why I started a blog in addition, but I did, and I enjoyed it. In the early days, I had never seen another blog besides mine and Jason's, and I couldn't imagine that very many of them were floating around. I was a closet nerd.

I had also not discovered that you could receive comments on your posts, until one day I must have hit a wrong button, and that same day a stranger came across this small space, and the first comment was left. I had no idea where it came from, or how a stranger had happened upon my silly writings. But, I followed the link back to the originating blog, and suddenly a whole world opened up to me.

I still don't know how it is that people feel compelled to read about the daily misdeeds of complete strangers. Do we find beauty in the mundane? Do we find it comforting that we do not struggle alone? Or is a blog the layperson's version of reality TV, where each of us is laying bear our very lives, with a lot of editing, of course? After all this time, I still haven't figured out the magic of the blog, or why I continue to write here so regularly. But I continue to write down my daily travails, sometimes veering from the bleak to the completely silly in a matter of 24 hours. I have written about thoughts, feelings and opinions, and am delighted to look back into my archives and discover what I was thinking on this day 6 months ago.

In fact, a quick perusal through my archives reveals to me that not much has changed in terms of my writing over the course of this blog. I still write for myself as I did when I received no comments. However, I do get comments now, and I must say that any publisher in any medium would slit throats for this kind of reader feedback. If I was interested in writing to the audience, it could be very easily achieved:

post about the city of Cornwall: 26 comments
post about volunteering with the mentally challenged: 27 comments
post about violence against women: 42 comments
post about men and women's underwear, padded with lots of half-nude pictures: 128 combined comments

These stats are taken from days where equal amounts of people visited; clearly very unequal amounts of people chose to comment. We could all study our stats and come to pretty clear conclusions about pandering to our audience - so why don't we? The people who come here enjoy the silly over the serious...and yet, I still write seriously when it strikes me, and I am not alone. I visit a number of good blogs, and I still find people writing about what feels right to them.

A blog is a web log - an online journal. This is not a news source. I write with a strong bias. I write my personal opinions - whether that opinion is on Tom Cruise, yogurt, or war. And yet invariably I receive emails and comments that range from condemning my opinion to condemning me to hell. Someone recently took the time to write to me that my blog was "nothing remarkable - you write an account of personal activities as though we care."

And this is true. Sorry, but, I will write what I want to write. You may not care, but I do. And each entry, regardless of the number of comments received, is dear to me. I enjoy reading what other people have to say, and at times I have been truly touched at the love and support I have received from what amounts to be a group of strangers with little in common other than a blogger account. But it remains my personal opinion that a blog is a personal forum, emphasis on the personal. If you don't like what I'm saying, you are not compelled to read, and you are certainly not compelled to comment. I have always felt that comments on a blog should be positive, or not at all. If your opinion differs from mine, I respect that. You may go to your own blog and write all about it, and I will happily read about it there. And yet, there is rarely a comment section that has not been infected by any number of spammers, religious zealots, political despots, or fervent Clay Aiken fans. One such commenter, strong in his belief that Coldplay are apparently the new messiah and the cure for all that ails us, asked me what my blog had done for the world lately.

My answer:


Nothing whatsoever, I can only hope. This is the place where I write about the excrutiating minutiae of my day. Whatever my mark on the world will be, it will not be done within the confines of Kill The Goat. This is not a soapbox. This is my journal.

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