The other day my grandma and I were sitting in the kitchen eating some really bland, salt-less popcorn and after filling each other in on our day, we somehow got into the topic of social networking. Keep in mind, my grandma can barely navigate her own email account so naturally she had a lot of questions. She admitted that she doesn’t really understand this new term “blogging” that young people are throwing around these days and went on to question why anyone would post about their life on the internet and why anyone would even be interested in reading about that. This is the point in the conversation where I chimed in (of course I left out how I have a blog and write about her and my grandfather in practically every post).
It seems that most people think of personal/narrative blogs as an “online diary.” However, this is a bad comparison. If you wrote a blog the way you wrote in a diary, you would be left with something that would probably get you in some sort of legal trouble, was mean and spiteful, revealed way too much about yourself, and was incomprehensible due to its whiny tone. In other words, a blog is not the same medium as a pink, fluffy diary with a bejeweled lock (not that I ever had one of these or anything…)
Being able to write a successful blog is a craft in itself, a knack. It is a combination of storytelling, filtering the millions of microscopic details throughout your day, and then molding it into something captivating and original. When I told my grandma this, she challenged me by asking if someone writing: “I just smoked my fifth cigarette” would be worth posting about and my answer to this was “sure.” Maybe this is the fifth cigarette this person has smoked in their lifetime or it could very well be their fifth cigarette of the hour. This person could be smoking on the roof, in a car, or shamelessly on the toilet. It could be that this person is lighting a cigarette because they just lost their job or perhaps they are about to end a serious relationship– the possibilities are endless. My point is that it’s not what people write about that make a blog worth reading but how they write it and the voice they use to suggest this is something worth your time.
A while back, I attempted to keep a blog, however, it was not very successful. I was too concerned with writing what I thought people wanted to read about that I unconsciously drained the life out of my work. It was only until I put aside this notion and wrote what I wanted to write about that people began to read what I had to say. I used to be fixated on projecting this almighty “academic voice” but I’ve learned to save that for the classroom. Personally, if I’m reading something outside of school, I want to read something genuine and refreshingly real. And I’ve found this to be true for others as well.
So back to my grandma’s question about why anyone would post about his or her life on the internet and why anyone would want to read about that. And it’s a good question indeed. I think of blogging, and writing in general, as maintaining a garden. Often times when I am writing, it feels very similar to weeding. It can be tedious but is essential. And just as weeding enables the soil underneath to replenish and rejuvenate, writing brings to life my own garden of thoughts.
I think most people blog because they have something they want to share with the world. It’s amazing, when you think about it, that the internet allows the average person to get their message across and is not just reserved for well-established authors and scholars. Instead of thinking of personal blogs as an online diary, they should be thought of as an encyclopedia of life in its rawest form. Through blogging, I’ve unexpectedly learned a lot about myself and other people. Yeah there’s a lot of crap on the internet these days but if you take the time to weed through it, you might just discover something amazing.