Why Do You Blog?

15 Sep


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
Spam: 1393
Trolls: 56
“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?


Posted by on September 15, 2007 in Life, Personal


11 responses to “Why Do You Blog?

  1. Aditya

    September 15, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed today!

    Well, one might blog for so many different reasons. Some might indeed blog to change the world. Some just to be heard (which in itself is not as trivial a reason as one might first imagine). I won’t, or likelier, can’t even begin to explain why I began blogging. (Though I must say, it definitely beats email. And you get to meet great people on the blogosphere. Had I not started blogging, I wouldn’t have met you would I? :D)

    You’ve summed it up pretty well, although personally, I think it’s more about having the power to affect what people think about, rather than how they think. *Sigh*, am I a pedant or what!

    BTW, love the ICHC pic;-)

  2. DesiGirl

    September 16, 2007 at 5:14 am

    It all makes me want to run out and eat a tub of butter.
    LOL! Mary, Mary, quite contrary!!

    Don’t worry, that’s me as well. Another thing that gives me the jeebies is when people preface their statements with “Let me tell you frankly”. I cannot help a “uh oh” flitting thru my empty space upstairs.

  3. Aditya

    September 16, 2007 at 6:26 am

    Now I’ve figured out why that lolcat’s been so familiar. That’s Schrödinger’s cat. Just found this article:

  4. Amrita

    September 16, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Aditya – lol, it does sound pretty bitter doesn’t it? I guess I’m just tired of people talking down to me. I don’t understand why someone would do that to their own readers. Sometimes people just get carried away and that’s fine, but some people are just a bit too much into this messiah style of blogging and while they have every right in the world to do so, it does piss me off sometimes. But yeah, this blogging thing does have its compensations 🙂 Like I said, I stick around for the company, which includes you!
    Oh and ICHC is the best thing EVER!

    DG – hee hee, that dumb rhyme is now gonna be stuck in my head 😀 I know what you mean by the “frankly” preface and its always the people who call their own rudeness “frankness” and other people’s frankness “rudeness”.

  5. gagan

    September 16, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    well said Amrita….I’m guilty of it at times.. and then I cringe at what I have written….I guess it may have something to do with not being sure with what ur trying to say…u realise something that u think is profound and it take a little while for it to sink in and think about the broader implications….and then u re-edit….Lot of times its just a lazy job of editing….or just not being able to express it clearly or thinking it through b4 putting it down. The consistent offenders may just be obtuse in some way. I have friends who have all kinds of radical opinions that they are so sure of….don’t have that mindset….read an interview of hari kunzru for his latest book where he is caught going on about consumerism and the journalist mentions his hugo boss shirt and he sheepishly admits to not being consistent and then relates it to how he while admired the radicalism of the 60’s he would not quite fit in…he thinks his indecisiveness is good for art but not for being a firebrand.. i can relate to that. so i kind of waver…or it may also be at times changing outlook ..i recall reading about bruce sprinsteen and how his early songs were huge anthem like takes on the american dream…ie born to run and then later he took smaller slices of life.. still i have just as much of a problem with all the weak provisos some people put into their work…there’s a high profile desi blogger who can’t abide coz he is just so anemic…. no names… yeah so i think it does take real talent to capture all the ambiguities that come out of dealing with so many warring opinions today.. the frustration is real though.. ie am I qualified to say this …often the middle ground is not right.. may be the truth is on the fringes .. funny that u have schrodinger’s cat there….cos steven hawking is at times really condescending when he talks about it i guess cos its a take off point for all kinds of mystic new age stuff .. but the funny thing is i read a review of his ex wife and she describes hawiking as someone who is prone to saying all kinds of stupid misathropic things as a point of fact…i found that reassuring as when i hear all the big authorities of strict rational world view dawkins, hitchens ect are prone to so many inconsistencies..and i am surprised how reasonable how some of the left field thinkers can be…but even there i get dissapointed when they go ahead and try and explain the reasons for mysterious happenings with some harebrained theory…why can’t they just shut the fuck up….and say yep…it’s strange as hell. 🙂 freeman dyson is the best for just laying it out there and saying sort of wow. the fact that you get it and express makes you good.. 🙂

  6. rAm

    September 17, 2007 at 5:02 am

    i started blogging as a personal diary. Then underwent various phases of why I would blog. These days. i do it because i want to write and more importantly want to say something.
    Changing the world and making it a better place are the least on my mind when i blog, though with some posts i might be doing that !!

    What made you come up with this a bit out of the blue??

  7. Amrita

    September 17, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Gagan – you put it with so much more grace than I have 🙂 I agree that its really hard to hit all points possible all the time because the simple act of having an opinion means you’ll make a judgment somewhere along the line and discount some information while elevating other stuff but imo it’s really easy to make out when somebody is talking or blogging down to you as compared to defending an opinion. And the messiahs of course, all but come out of the screen and present their feet to be kissed.
    And hmmmmm…. who’s this blogger? 😀

    rAm – i’m pretty much on the same page as you 🙂 I dont know, I was just reading Shantanu and I’d just finished reading at least three bloggers in a row who’d had a VISION and thus felt compelled to lecture me about stuff they could barely spell and it just ticked me off.

  8. Anon

    September 17, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    Writing about being ticked off is also a reason to blog:). From where I am sitting, you blog cos of variety of reasons, noble, not so noble, just because, boredom, like writing, to piss people off, to vent…..Whatever the reason, you have the right to express. As for the truths out there, its like three blind men and the elephant. With so much written, so many facets, its hard to zero in on the what is real and what is not, but one does what one can, goes on with ones life:)

  9. gagan

    September 18, 2007 at 3:41 am

    I hear you Amrita…..still, think its better to let them wallow in themselves,,,,people can tell ur a blowhard after a while… names ya …just was using it as a reference point….sure lot of people aggree but why belabor the point 🙂

  10. tom sheepandgoats

    September 18, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    Sometimes I think that nobody has ever changed their mind about anything on the blogosphere, that it’s just a giant soapbox.

    Yeah, yeah, I guess that includes me as well. Though I try for empathy and humor to supplement the cause.

    But I suppose they all say that.

  11. Amrita

    September 19, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    Anon – stop being so reasonable, you’re calming me down 😀

    Gagan – lol, ok 🙂 i was just pulling your leg.

    Tom – “But I suppose they all say that.” …. including me 😀

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