On Blogging

As I said in my first post, I toyed with the idea of starting a blog for over a year before taking the plunge. For me, blogging is rooted in personal interests and opinions, but also should be removed from the personal. I’m not a fan of the inane, self-centered status updates that Facebook or Twitter users annoy their friends and fans with, and so degrade themselves by.

I’m a writer. I cannot work within a predefined word limit or within the confines of a template. It’s the major reason why I do not write using specific poetic forms such as the sonnet. I cannot abide by boundaries that control and confine my creativity. And the argument that the defined, structured form of a sonnet, for instance, actually serves to develop and hone your creativity into something distinctly refined and artistic holds no weight for me. I believe in freedom of form, and the freedom to say what you think and feel, but that you must be responsible and mindful of the words you choose to express your ideas and emotions. So, in a sense, before you hit “Publish” or “Send,” the words on the page or in the e-mail should be polished and tempered for reading.

This brings me to the point and purpose of blogging. When you are blogging, a post about your own personal life can have value if your experience illuminates a deeper truth about life and the human condition. But I do not believe in blogging as a means of personal storytelling and self-gratification. Your closest friends and family should not find out about important life events or experiences via a blog post, or a Facebook or Twitter update. I believe, and this is my opinion, that the line between the private and the public has not just been crossed, but also completely obliterated, and this is at the center, the foundational core, of our disintegration as a nation and as a democracy. Blogging and status updates as expressions of self-centeredness did not initiate this dissolution, but they have certainly put it into hyperdrive.

Blogging is and can be instrumental when it does what art does—mediates between the artist/writer and his audience. Journaling does the opposite—it reflects and constructs the personal self and its experiences, it enables self-discovery and remains private; it creates a private, domestic self that is in contrast to the public self that art, and the performance of art, creates, and that engaging in society and culture as individual citizens also produces. Blogging, then, creates a public self, a self that is constructed and performed through the narrative that the blogger/writer pens. But blogging the personal self that belongs within the pages of a diary or journal leaves nothing private and nothing sacred. Thus, the line between private and public is ultimately blurred, crossed, and erased.

Blogging about a topic or subject of interest to you paints a picture of you without filling in a tremendous amount of detail. It’s like that old saying “Less is more”: if you want someone to be interested in and respect you, then don’t go running around showing it all off; it displays a lack of self-respect and dignity, and a failure to know where the boundary between public and private lies.

Blogging should transcend the personal; bloggers should write about issues and ideas that are of a more universal nature and importance to a wide range of people, from a love of language and literature to fashion trends, from a love of film to a love of science and astronomy. Blog posts about common political values and interests shared by citizens across the nation or throughout the global community can function quite productively and provocatively if written with the right language and then marketed through the right social media channels.

This returns me to my earlier point concerning the polished, tempered language of an e-mail or a post that you intend on sending or publishing. If you want your point to get across and to make sense, and to spark response and reaction, then the language you use when writing about a hot-button topic, for example gay rights or immigration reform, should be constructively critical, not argumentative, and should inspire not outrage but thoughtful reflection, further investigation, and nonviolent reaction through further words and public action.

There is great truth in the saying “the pen is mightier than the sword”; transformative ideas are not born of the sword and violence, but of thought put into language, language formed and recast in an oral tradition passed down before being set down in print and disseminated across the globe. It is only when individuals and a people become intractable in their beliefs, believing that theirs alone are the right ones, that violence is resorted to, and the sword destroys lives and defends only one law, one text, as the truth, hoping through any and all methods to eliminate all other beliefs out of ignorance, fear, anger, and a lack of perceiving and understanding the beauty of multiplicity in the oneness of humanity.

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