I used to be a blogger. I had a LiveJournal to put the details of my day, my thoughts and my life in hypertext somewhere on the web. It coincided like it does for a lot of the emo set with my late teenage and university years. Blogging was cathartic, it was good, it felt vital and necessary and right. It was also new and when you are Raging Against The Machine it is important to have that sense of “they don’t understand it but we do”. So I blogged about the things I hated, the things I loved, I blogged about my day and my dog. I have fond memories of it for a lot of reasons: it felt good to say those things whether I was right to be saying them all not, it got the words down where I could make sense of them as well. And sometimes when it connected you with like-minded people it felt good to be understood.
But like going to Scouts or keeping a hand-written journal, you started to wonder why you did it. Were you too old for this? You were too busy, you couldn’t be bothered. There was no moment where I thought “why is it I blog again?” but over time that’s what it was about. Why was I telling strangers these things? What was I getting out of it? I now find myself probably a couple of years down the track from really having blogged anywhere in any great substance. I don’t feel it anymore although occaisionally I’ll have a strong desire to release some vitirol and write invective but I’ll write a sentence and feel silly.
Blogging is a paradox. In it’s purest form it can often be your inner-most thoughts and deepest secrets you would only talk to a few people about but you will publish it online where 600 million strangers (and 5 people you thought didn’t know about your blog) can read it. But it also makes complete sense – a way to engage people about the issues we really want to talk about. I think I remember coming to a point where I blogged about something and the result wasn’t what I wanted – no passionate debate, no fists in the air… Instead, criticism, stodgy talking heads and cynical one-liners. “Damn”, I thought “Where have all the cool people gone?”
But they hadn’t gone anywhere. I was changing, they were changing, the crisp black and white lines were being replaced by adult shades of gray and I wasn’t studying anymore. I was working for the Man, which gave me some ammunition for a while but it wasn’t the same. Different attempts to find that blogging magic failed to spark, I was answering my own questions as soon as I posed them on the screen or the questions I wanted to ask suffered in the medium of the internet. I needed real people with real thoughts instead of NietscheApprentice666 firing missives from his keyboard somewhere in Long Island. Whenever I read the comments on a YouTube video these days or visit an online gaming forum questing for tech answers, when I get what I was after I hastily beat a return up the stairs and back to the light.
I look at Bebo or myspace and don’t beget their fun; I remember logging onto ICQ and needing to connect. You can look at the current crop of Windows Live Spaces and Blogspots and recognise how important it is to get it out, to enter in those communities. It can often be messy, poorly punctuated and a sad reflection on the brain food the kids of the parcus congregatio get fed these days. But I think I understand.
There are those who still blog because that is their gift, they are still relevant and they are still getting something out of it. My insights are now my own and the answers I want only found some of the time at the end of a Google query. But what interests me is those of us who grew up with a blog or two, how is that going to play out? Will we return to blogging one day when we’re old and waiting for our next pill? What about all our hopes and dreams sitting out there in databases on the Wayback Machine and in Google’s cache? It’s bigger now than it was, what have we unleashed?