Saturday, February 25, 2006

a vindication of the rights of bloggers

It seems there's been some talk lately about blogging, and more specifically, why we blog. People who create come around sooner or later to asking this fundamental question: why do the thing anyway? What purpose does it serve? (I'm inclined to think creative types actually think this from the get-go, but only let on later, when the creative act succeeds, or doesn't.) We were talking about it at lunch the other day, and Jan posted defending her right to blog to the masses--or the ether, depending. Now Leah McLaren, one of my favorite columnists from the Globe and Mail, has written on the matter, and is deciding to opt out of the madness.

Apparently, there are 28 million blogs, and counting, out there. Let's just say that again--twenty-eight million. That is nearly the population of Canada, ladies and gentlemen. (For the record, Canada will reach 32,569,394 people on July 1, 2006, according to StatsCan.) Okay, well, not nearly the population, but when you get in the millions, what's 4 more? Anyway, that's a lot of people out there, famous or no, writing sans editor into the strange network that isn't really a network of the Internet. Enough to make me feel like there's not a whole lot of point, really. I mean, I could save the time I write on the Internet and just call the people who read it, who are all my close friends and relatives anyway. I'm not going to get famous, there isn't a mysterious editory type trawling the "blogosphere" looking for fresh new talent. This new way of communicating hasn't revolutionized the writing industry, people still have to go about it the traditional way ("it's not what you know, it's who you know") in order to get readers. So why blog at all? It's enough to make one put down the cyber-pen.

But no. After three years, there's got to be some reason why I blog, and not just email or phone. And after thinking about it on the bus ride home from my morning downtown sojourn (where I read McLaren's article in the Globe, in the cafe), I came up with a few reasons why.

First of all, I've been keeping a journal since I was eight. Writing things down is how I make sense of the world. It's creative, but it's also therapeutic. I still keep a journal just for me, but the blog is more than that, it's also communication. Those aforementioned close friends and relatives might not always have time for me, or me for them, but through the blog they can read my words at thier leisure and still feel a connection. This connection goes both ways--with comments, I get to hear feedback. And the last reason, though of course anyone with an ounce of humility hates to admit it, is that putting something out there where anyone can (potentially) read it is a boost to the ego. It's gratifying to think that my interpretation of existence is interesting enough to keep people coming back, even if those people love me dearly and would no matter what I did.

So I'm going to keep blogging, even though some days I feel like "I've said all this before" or "No-one reads this anyway, why bother?" And it's true, as McLaren says, that a sense of community is sometimes lacking is this strange, pseudo-anonymous world of blogging: "If I'm supposed to feel part of some cool, fringe community, or world-changing global discussion, I'm not getting it." But sometimes I get that connected feeling to other bloggers, which is nice. I could live without blogging--conversation and journals would suffice--but right now, I don't want to. And that's enough reason for me.

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