February 6, 2007

Bloggers, that is. So says Michael Keren, a professor on the faculty of communications and culture at the University of Calgary, and author of “Blogosphere: The New Political Arena”. Here are some excerpts from an article resulting from an interview he did with Bill Graveland of the Canadian Press (my boldings):

“Bloggers think of themselves as rebels against mainstream society, but that rebellion is mostly confined to cyberspace, which makes blogging as melancholic and illusionary as Don Quixote tilting at windmills”, the author says.

“In this world of blogging, which the whole world can read, you have a personal expectation about a readership that’s just not there for the millions of bloggers who are writing their personal feelings.”

Keren praises the Internet as a great place for self-expression, but he also suggests that blogs often have the opposite effect by creating feelings of loneliness for those who aren’t lucky enough to reach “celebrity” status.

“Many of us end up like Father McKenzie in the ‘Eleanor Rigby’ Beatles song, who is writing a sermon that no one is going to hear,” he suggests. “Some of us are going to be embraced by the mainstream media, but the majority of us remain in the dark, remain in the loneliness.”

In his book, Keren follows the blogs of nine individuals, including a Canadian woman living in the woods in a cabin in Quebec. She discusses her identity through stories about her two cats.

“One day one of the cats dies and the whole blogosphere becomes crazy about the death of this cat, and what happens is she gets a community of support which is not real.

These are people with nicknames who express enormous support, but they can disappear in the next minute and they are not real, and she remains lonely in the end.”

Hmm. There’s so much here it’s difficult to know where to start. Of course, every person is entitled to their own opinion, but with all due respect to Professor Keren, I say, ‘speak for yourself!’. The blogosphere, like the Internet, is simply a reflection of society where people blog for any number of reasons. While I have no doubt that there are those who blog because they have no other means of self-expression, or are lonely, or long to be the next Glenn Reynolds, Daily Kos, or The Anchoress, my guess is that most are like yours truly – they enjoy writing and blogging serves as an outlet for that enjoyment.

Speaking for myself, I’ve found that blogging is, more often than not, something that is simply fun to do, a better alternative than sitting on the couch and watching bad TV at night, an outlet for self-expression, and something that (at least for me) demands a certain amount of discipline to think and write both cohesively and concisely – something that’s always been a challenge. Do I use this blog as an occasional means to bear my soul? Sure, why not? But it’s not because I’m stuck in some basement all day wearing pajamas and avoiding human interaction. I suppose if that’s all one’s blog amounted to, it would be a very tedious thing to write (and read) over time, indeed.

When I started this blog a year ago, I deliberately chose not to worry about the number of hits this site gets each day (actually, it’s a heck of a lot more than I ever dreamed it would be) and weigh the value of my work by the number of comments I received. Sometimes I write seriously, sometimes the subject matter is more whimsical, but either way, my primary goal has always been to make certain whatever gets posted is never boring. If people get some small enjoyment out of it, all the better.

Going back to the professor’s comment about the response the woman blogger received after one of her cats died: to say whether the ‘community of support’ one receives is real or not based on the means by which that support is communicated is a pretty cynical observation. (You’d think a professor of communication would, more than anyone, understand that.) While there’s no way to tell from Graveland’s article, my guess is that Professor Keren is probably not a very religious or even spiritual person. Because if he was, he would know that any form of expression of support, be it a simple note sent to someone, a comment on a blog, or a prayer said for someone that, like my friend Jana is wont to say, goes out ‘into the universe’, all have their own impact in some way.

There are many reasons why people blog, and my guess is that one of the subconscious reasons behind it all is that, as a result of our increasingly mobile (and therefore, stressful) society, the rules of intimacy and interpersonal relationships are all being rewritten. Is it good or bad? Who’s to say. But I know that blogging in this space has resulted in friendships with people far from here that I otherwise would never have met. Do they replace my family and my so-called ‘traditional’ friendships? Absolutely not. If it were, that would be a sad thing indeed! But I don’t think that’s the case for the vast majority of bloggers out there who consider blogging an art form, fun, or just another means to get your voice out there in a society already drowning in noise.

(BTW, as for the nickname, I’ve had it for years. It’s just one of the many ‘benefits’ of being a member of Goodboys Nation. And believe me, compared to some of the others, it could be a hell of a lot worse. And, as for Keren’s comment about bloggers being ‘rebels against mainstream society’, all I can say is [as both my mom and my good friend Dona will attest], I was a rebel against the mainstream long before I ever considered blogging!)

Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt (who, BTW, knows a thing or two about blogging in his own right).

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:06 | Comments (3)
3 Comments »
  1. Hey GWS! Thanks for mentioning me in your blog. Yes, I can certainly attest that you have been a rebel for as long as I’ve known you! And I’m definitely not a rebel so Professor Keren’s comments don’t explain you or me. I’m interested in blogging because it is a new form of communication and it’s fun. It is a way of keeping in touch with my family and friends. I also think that blogs kept by soldiers in Iraq are very helpful to the blogger and to their family and friends. Hope all is well with you. Dona

    Comment by Dona — February 6, 2007 @ 5:35 pm


  2. Just stuff for a Wednesday

    The latest person to think they can mix all blogging everywhere into a crucible, boil it down, and get one single truth has GoodBoys Nation thinking “There’s so much here it’s difficult to know where to start.” Been there, done that. National signing …

    Trackback by CrabAppleLane Blog — February 7, 2007 @ 5:27 am


  3. Thanks Dona and Rob for the comment and link, respectively. Dona, I’ll bet a lot of bloggers do it just for that reason. No need to turn it into some kind of psychological mumbo-jumbo. But then again, isn’t that what academics by their very nature exist to begin with?

    Comment by The Great White Shank — February 7, 2007 @ 6:18 pm


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