Blogging for who? Sorry, not you.

Week 7:

B) Lovink also argues that: “No matter how much talk there is of community and mobs, the fact remains that blogs are primarily used as a tool to manage the self” (Reader, page 222).

Discuss this argument, giving an example of a blog.

I’ve never understood the thinking behind a blog. I’m neither that interesting, nor that selfish (I hope). Not to be rude, but it’s true, blogs are inherently personal. They’re a means to rant, to complain, and to comment without restraint. They provide a voice, in a world where less and less voices are heard.

The argument that the blogosphere is the ultimate democratic tool of the 21st century is a highly contested one. Rather, I agree with Lovink’s argument that for all the talk of communities and mobs, “blogs are primarily used as a tool to manage the self” (2008: 28). Lovink argues that “blogs are part of a wider culture that fabricates celebrity on every possible level” (2008: 28), and that ultimately blogs just “perform the introspective duty of the online diary” (2008: 29). Arguably, the majority of blogs are “too personal, even egocentric” (Lovink, 2008: 28). West raises the interesting notion that blogs are simply “media influenced modes of escapism” (2004: 176) and indeed, many people I know write blogs because it’s therapeutic. I disagree, however, that this is fuelled only by “personal depression” and “loneliness” (West, 2004: 176). Sometimes it’s just healthy to get things off your chest.

Interestingly Shirky defines blogs as “social software”—that which “supports social interaction” (Quoted in Lovink, 2008: 29)—and yet “most sites either have ‘no comments’ or [have] closed down the possibility of responding altogether” (Lovink, 2008: 28). Extending this, Trueman argues that “when everyone in general thinks they have a right to be heard…nobody in particular is listened to” (Quoted in Lovink, 2008: 27). So if bloggers are neither listening to nor commenting on other blogs, then clearly, as Claire E. Write argues, “the essence of a blog is not the interactivity of the media: it is the sharing of the thoughts and opinions of the blogger.” (Quoted in Loving, 2008: 28) Thus, regardless of any community involvement, blogging is always fundamentally a personal endeavour.

Let’s look at a real life blog. It took me three seconds to find this one, conveniently promoted on the WordPress.com homepage.

Stevil (http://stevebetz.wordpress.com/) is the personal blog of Steve Betz. Steve is your average protein chemist-cum-structural biologist-cum-endocrinologist drug discoverer. He’s in his mid-40s (guessing from his pictures) and lives in San Diego with his wife and beloved dog (who features in the majority of these pictures).

Steve seems like a smart guy. Yet he posts stuff like:

“Boys will be boys”: An insightful post about two elephants urinating and rolling in their own faeces during his recent trip to the San Diego Zoo. In case you still don’t get it, there are 6 action shots, in glorious colour.

And “Rise and Shine”: A photo of a snail with the reminder “Time to get moving this morning”. (Source: Stevil)

Now forgive me for being harsh. But the fact that a grown man woke up and felt the need to post, in public, on the Interweb, that it was “time to get moving” — and then illustrate it with a picture of a snail — is, frankly, ridiculous. (It’s also contradictory. If you need to get moving, why are you blogging?) The elephant story isn’t much better. Nevertheless, whether or not I find Steve’s posts interesting, or read them at all, is irrelevant. That’s the beauty of a blog: it’s written fundamentally for oneself.

(Still not convinced? While explaining blogs, this video highlights their personal and often trivial nature.)

And, yes. I do realise the irony of writing this on a blog…

Words: 551

References:

Lovink, G. (2008) Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture, London, UK: Routledge. pp 1-38

Stevil – Blog: (http://stevebetz.wordpress.com/) [date accessed: 24 April 2011]

West, C. (2004) Democracy Matters: winning the fight against imperialism, New York: The Penguin Press. pp 176

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4 thoughts on “Blogging for who? Sorry, not you.

  1. Matt — I was pinged by your links. Sorry that the content of my posts was so disappointing. That snail was on my fountain that morning and I thought it was beautiful — too bad the hummingbird behind it flew away, it would have been a great juxtaposition.

    It’s an interesting question about blogging. I started because I wanted an easy way to share with my family (who live across the country from us) things that we were doing. It really wasn’t long before people I didn’t know started contributing comments (I was surprised by this) and over time these people became “regulars” and eventually friends — many of whom we’ve visited in our travels and some who have made time to see us in San Diego when they pass through.

    The content — whether book reviews, or pictures, or travel stories, or elephants-behaving-badly isn’t the point. The ability to build a community of like-minded friends from scratch is a wonderful thing.

    • Steve,
      Thanks for your comment.
      First of all, let me say that I meant no disrespect to you or your reasons for blogging, nor do I hope you’ve taken any offence from my opinion.
      I agree that building a community is indeed a wonderful thing, and don’t want to belittle the opportunity or right to do so. Rather, my aim in this post was to critically analyse the blogosphere, and the reasoning behind blogs themselves. Stumbling across yours, I thought that it provided a good example of what I was talking about, the inherently personal nature of blogs.
      Whether or not I find your posts interesting is irrelevant, because as the posted video says, “everything is news to someone”, and who am I to tell you what you should and should not share. That’s the beauty of a blog after all.
      Again, thanks for the comment. Please let me know if you would like me to modify anything, and I will attempt to do so. Hopefully no hard feelings.
      Kind regards,
      M.

  2. None at all! I mean, if we can’t post what we really think in these places what’s the point of having them?

    I’ve read that to be a “successful” blogger you have to have a theme and stick with it — book reviews, or cocktails, or the Philadelphia Eagles or whatever. I’ve always resisted that because I just like having the outlet for all my interests — as much as a mishmash that it is!

  3. Well written post – and funny! Even though I went with a different argument on my post, I can see where are coming from. Blogging is definitely primarily a personal thing. As a blogger myself (yes I admit it, outside of this uni blog I have a personal one) I find blogging to be a great way to express myself – it doesn’t matter if anyone sees. Then again, I don’t really reveal too much about myself on my blog, I post a lot of photos mainly, rather than opinonated rants or recounts of my day. So, I don’t know, am I the sort of blogger Lovink is referring to? Maybe my blogging seems pointless and valueless, but I’m getting something out of it.

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