I was reading fellow Desicritic Shantanu Dutta’s piece on blogging and how it makes him uneasy to observe the way the internet has made it easy for one to feed and/or proclaim one’s obsession, and I found myself going off on a tangent.
Although IndieQuill is only six months old, I’ve been on the blogging scene for a lot longer than that and I can’t count the number of times I’ve come across a blogger who’s stated that s/he began blogging in an attempt to “change the world”.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that ambition, of course. We regularly tell little kids that they ought to dream big and some day they’ll accomplish all the things that we haven’t been able to – like peace on earth and an end to poverty. We always see the kiddies doing something wonderful and terrific.
But it seems to me there’s another side to the coin that few of us think about. Look at Adolf Hitler (ah, Hitler, the example that fits all sizes). He was once a little kid too and he dreamed big and went on to realize the greater part of them. He couldn’t hang on to it in the end but he definitely had an impact on the world. I suppose it’s possible that his mother kept rubbing her belly when she was pregnant with him and dreamt of the day when her baby would grow up to be a homicidal fuckhead, but on the balance I’m going to say that she probably had no idea of what was to come.
Like Jack the Ripper’s mom. You think she ever found out that her son once spent all his time carving up London whores? Or imagined that he’d end up as a figure of macabre legend? There’s a very interesting story in there somewhere.
Coming back to blogging for change, how about those people whose world views differ from yours? Say, you’re the last of the happy hippies, sitting outside your teepee, smoking a joint and telling your four year old to dream big – of the day when she becomes President and mandates love for the world. And down the road, there lives the neo Nazi with his brood of perfect Aryan children, telling his four year old to dream big of the day he’ll be President and mandate death to the evil Jews, Blacks and Homosexuals coz that’s what Jesus would do.
Everybody has dreams. Even people you think are evil or stupid or maybe both. And some of us even work towards those dreams.
So… blogs. Bringing the Truth to a world blinded by corporations and special interests. And I look at these blogs and am swamped by distrust.
Not of the blogger’s motives or anything – I’m sure I share a number of the same concerns and doubts and it’s not like I know any of these people personally to have an opinion as to their general trustworthiness – but of what they write. Be it ever so well written, I have an instinctive distrust of something that comes labeled as The Truth. Anytime somebody tells me, This is the truth, I automatically begin wondering, Why does this person have to specify that?
Did somebody ask for proof? Have doubts as to the veracity of these facts been expressed? What is this person not telling me? Is there some other side to this instance that is not being adequately represented in this report?
I suppose it really is a personality quirk more than anything else because I find I’m a lot more willing to take things at face value if people simply state their case. But once I get the feeling I’m being told to believe something, I find it all but impossible to do it. I like being able to make up my mind. It likes the exercise.
The other thing that is common amongst these blogs, is that a lot of them have a strong whiff of the soapbox about them. It’s like the Second Coming of the Truth About Butter is here and all ye faithful are thus commanded to pay attention to the Truth concerning clogged arteries because So-And-So has the Sight, the Vision, and is here to save all you lowly beings.
It all makes me want to run out and eat a tub of butter.
Yes, I’m a contrary little cuss and I probably sound horribly condescending. But you can’t tell me you actively enjoy being preached to all day and all night. I mean, everybody finds a soapbox once or twice in their lifetime. I myself happen to have found it a lot more often, something that you’d easily discover if you hang around here long enough (hint hint). But an entire blog that’s the web equivalent of a hammer pounding mercilessly on your head?
Shantanu, like a lot of other people, was writing about the content of these blogs. I’m not. I just want to know what drives people to dedicate huge amounts of time to changing the world one blog post at a time. I understand it’s convenient for you to put your ideas across through this medium but isn’t it much the same as those people who literally stand on a box on the pavement and tell you the end of the world is near?
I used to wonder the same thing about Jehovah’s Witnesses. I mean, who lets themselves be talked into changing their religion by some lady who accosts them on the street? I don’t think I’ve ever once come across a person who had a nice thing to say about those roadside Bible-thumpers.
And yet, given that they’ve been roaming all our streets and ringing our doorbells throughout the world, somebody must be paying attention to them. But the thing they really have going for them is that they can see the effect they’re having on the planet.
Suppose we have:
Diary of Mariam, Jehovah’s Witness
This Week in the New Millennium of Our Lord
Doors Slammed: 50
People Who Yelled: 20
Child Who Spat on Brand New Dress and Fully Deserves to go to Hell (May God Forgive Him): 1
Indecent Proposals: 0 (sigh.)
Souls Saved: 1
Compare that to:
Diary of 3min8er, Blogger
This Week in My New Badass Calendar based on the one used by Klingons
“You suck” comments: 93 (and a half coz I think this guy was being sarcastic)
“You rock” comments: 104 (and a half in case that guy wasn’t being sarcastic)
“Die Bitch Die” comments: 1
Stalker: 1 (I finally locked down on your IP, you little fucker)
Invitation to Facebook: 2 (yeah!)
Friends on MySpace: Tom Anderson (I wonder if a sex tape would help?)
What’s the point? It’s pretty sad when an annoying old lady in dreary clothes has more to show for her pains than you do. Then again, you might end up as Matt Drudge or something.
I used to say that I began blogging out of vanity and keep on blogging because I love the company. But sometimes I wonder if all of us are here for the same purpose – the power to affect how people think.
Why do we blog?