Monday, May 22, 2006

Sympathy for the Blogger

For my first attempted flight into the blogosphere, I thought I might offer a question about the blog/vlog phenomenon in general: What does it mean? I mean, why are people who normally couldn’t be bothered to write a thank-you note to the grandma who sent $100 in the birthday card suddenly finding all this time to either publicly chronicle, with imagined drama, the routines of their mundane lives or else offering their half-informed, largely gut-level opinions on momentous events that pundits will still be analyzing two decades in the future?

(And of course since I’ve tossed my own hat [souvenir, 1996 Columbus Floral Show] into the blogging ring, I’ve forfeited any right be taken seriously on this matter, but I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.)

If Willy Loman had “lived” in the age of the Internet, would he have been such a loser? Or would he have posted his angst on a blog — “Finding Diamonds,” maybe — and become a celebrity?

Nah — people today would pay him as much serious attention (that is, none) as his own kids did. Why? Partly because he ended up too befuddled about his place in the world to become a famous blogger — the most avidly read blogs are all about certitude if not certainty — but mainly because blogging is interactive only the way that tossing a message in a bottle onto the wide blue sea is interactive. The vast majority of blogs go unread — which is probably just as well, given how many of them are unreadable.

OK, now that I’ve successfully alienated not only any stray reader but quite possibly my fellow Barking Rabbit (just stirring the pot, zeppo!), I’ll get to my point: people blog out of same reason that Willy Loman dreamed — because “Attention must be paid!’ and so few are listening. As the art of conversation atrophies, blogs proliferate. Blogs aren’t conversation, per se; they’re attempts to be heard, regain some control of a world that seems to chortle at anyone who’s not the CEO, COO or CFO of a major international corporation — before puttin’ the boot in.

And I empathize. It sucks to feel powerless.

I just wonder — shades of David Brin’s EARTH — if blogs will ever become more than personal therapy (watch for more of mine in that vein once I get this subject out of my system) and will make the difference that non-electronically connected people have made in the past.

In other words, will all the disparate, largely solitary bloggers tap their way into becoming a community that can kick some serious ass? It’s early days, so let’s stay optimistic — blog on.

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