taking the passive out of passive-aggressive

Thursday, January 27, 2005

OK, I'm doing it: I'm going to blog about blogging. Stick with me, here. (Anyway, it's all Tracey's fault, so blame her.)

Theory 1: Blogging is for people who don't really like other people all that much, but still feel some driving need for social interaction. It's the ideal in one-sided communication. You can present yourself in the best possible light, while still appearing honest and forthcoming. Your comments give you a limited amount of feedback, which is what basically antisocial people want--a limited amount of feedback. Very limited. And you can say bitter things that you're not allowed to say in the Real World.

Theory 2: Blogging is like talking to a stranger in a bar. You're enjoying this person some, but you don't know who the hell they are, so you keep the personal information really limited. For instance, maybe you're having a nice fun conversation with this stranger, you've had a drink or two, and then they ask a perfectly innocent question like "So whereabouts do you live?" And you freeze up. "Oh, over in the north part of town," you might say, or even name your neighborhood. If pressed for details, you will become less forthcoming and more nervous. Blogging is kind of like that--you want to offer enough information to keep it lively, but not so much that the whole world knows your bidness. Information, after all, makes us vulnerable. And we can't have that.

Theory 3: Blogging is easy. Most of us are sadly not disciplined enough, or too damn busy, to finish that novel or work on that poem til it's really really good. But we're bursting at the seams with half-formed ideas that can't be expressed anywhere between the crying baby and the whining dog. So we blog half-assed theories like these. It's low-effort and realtively high reward. Hence the high proportion of bloggin' mamas.

I'm not underestimating the importance of the identity question that Sweetney raises. We do this thing, we obsess over it, we review our stats, we wonder who's listening in on the conversation we're conducting, ultimately, with ourselves. We wonder why we're circumspect here and not here, and what that means. But I honestly think it comes down to this: we need to write, we need to be heard, we're not comfortable enough with the rest of the human race to truly be ourselves here or anywhere else. And yet we're driven to connect, somehow, through writing, because it's the thing we know how to do best. Is this me? Of course it is. And of course, it isn't.


At 6:50 PM, Blogger Joshua Berlow said...

I'm working on my second novel, but I've always kept a journal (now a blog) as well. I can't think of what to write in the novel every single day, but blogging keeps me writing. Steinbeck and Kafka both kept journals while writing novels, it's not unusual.


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