It could be anything from, "to make friends", to, "because I like writing", to, "I need an excuse to procrastinate further from this pressing English homework that shouldn't have been assigned before a weekend anyway" (note: guilty of that last one). So, shall we get to the bottom of blogging as we know it? ALLONSY!
|...into the Realm of Why We Blog.|
"Why did you start blogging in the first place?"
The answer to this question is different for everyone- perhaps you blog you're John H Watson and your therapist recommended it, or because you're undertaking a challenge to cook a gourmet Julia Child dinner every day for a year (kudos to you).
I started blogging because my two best friends were leaving the school we had all attended our entire lives. I was staying. In an environment full of acquaintances and no friends, I thought it might be easier to make friends over the interweb, since approaching people in real life is kind of, well, terrifying, especially when they saw you bleeding over the Track Field in Grade Two and their father is your dentist. My older sisters both ran blogs, I loved to write, I had to learn how to use a computer since it became required, and since the seeds of Catholicism had been planted in me and I couldn't really talk about it to the people I knew in 'real life', I decided to give blogging a go. It was a slow beginning, but a good place to rant and rave over Protestantism and use up all my excess sarcasm. But the blogosphere is a great thing in that kindred spirits are well nigh unavoidable. Which leads us to...
The best part of blogging is meeting people who would never have crossed your path in real life. I don't travel, I didn't have pen-pals until this year, and most of my family lives nearby, so I would never have met anyone of the people commonly referred to as 'interweb friends' if I didn't have this blog (in fact, I wouldn't be writing letters at all if not for the interweb; who says technology and tradition can't coexist?). Anyone who says that a friendship is invalid because it was formed online completely misses out on a good deal of great friendships. This is especially good for the shy- it's a lot easier to just talk first and actually 'meet' later and avoid all those ghastly ice-breakers and "What are you into?"s, because you already know at least some basic stuff about the person whom you are meeting. And even if you've never before laid eyes on their actual face, what's more important is that they, too, quote Papa Benny at length and know what you're talking about when you say, "Remember what you wrote a few weeks ago on the origin of Star Trek-themed teas?"
Blogging is also a learning experience (after all, where else do we get information on Star Trek tea?). All the information you need on Feast Days, CS Lewis, fandoms, the Culture War- it's all at your fingertips in the voices of those whose opinion you (at least somewhat) value.
And, of course, you get to share your often-unasked-for opinions on any subject you darn well please, writing literally whatever you want to write at any given time. You could talk about the Pro-Life cause one day and the advantages of wearing pink the next. Be free, Stanley! You can say anything about anything, from nerdiness to religion! It's great, right?! And nobody could ever judge you- and if they did, it wouldn't matter as chances are slim you'll ever be face-to-face. But, however we try to ignore it, then there's...
We all know the 'farewell post' that some of the more artistic bloggers feel compelled to publish before they shut off their laptops and move to a hippie colony in southern Greece. And perhaps they state their reasons for quitting, and one may reel back in horror as one realizes that the very things those bloggers find disagreeable are things that one does. But just because someone else doesn't want their blog to be about, say, fashion, it doesn't mean you can't tell the world what you wore today. Because someone might find the information that there's a dress sale at Forever XXI useful; who knows?
We should write about only three things: that which we like (an activity one enjoys, like needlepoint or watching old movies for example), that which we love (the saying 'Faith, family, fatherland'/'Christ, clan, country' is a good indicator of that which one usually loves), and that about which we are passionate (theology, or why chili peppers don't belong in chocolate bars, for instance). You could even blend all three! It's your blog. Of course, it's good to talk about all three, because the people who read your blog care. It won't change the State of the Union, but on the other hand, it might make someone's day. Writing puts you in a position of power, so that power should be used for one thing and one thing only: His glorification. That doesn't mean that everything we write should be a lengthy theological spiel that will change the way everyone views the Church and dispel the rumours that Saint Bonaventure was a housekeeper. Just by writing from a moral point of view, monitoring language, and behaving in a Christian manner, we can be good stewards of the responsibility of free will.
Of course, there will be that blogger who considers it their bounden duty to tell everyone else that they are wasting their time on the interweb and that the blogosphere, even the nerdiness and Catholicism, is nothing but a popularity contest and an excuse for egotistical brats to gain the popularity that they surely lack in real life (hence the title, egotistical brat). And while this is no more true than the statement that blogging is the be-all-and-end-all, they do, alas, have a point. Which pulls us into the vortex of...
Blogging can become a slimy rat-race in which the contenders turn into nasty, vicious she-wasps who compete for everything from readership to blog design. It's downright scary, and frankly, so unpleasant that it can make one retreat into hibernation and never consider opening up the feed again.
I think this is why it's so important to examine what we, as bloggers, value most blog-wise. To illustrate this point, I came up with an example that I particularly like as it involves that slice of heaven (pun intended), pie.
Suppose you're new to a neighbourhood, still unpacking, and all your decorations, old prom dresses, and framed quotes are lying around your new parlour. You're just pondering whether to have frozen pizza or Kraft Dinner for supper when- lo and behold!- your new neighbour shows up at your door with a delicious, substantial meat-pie. Unless you are allergic to gravy or have circumstantial evidence that said neighbour is a serial killer, any sane person would take that pie and toss the premade salads to the wind. Anyways, you'd thank the neighbour. Why? Because, even if you don't eat the pie (if you ain't eatin' it, hand that pie ovah, sistah), thanking them is the polite thing to do. It's the kind thing to do. They didn't have to make you a pie, they chose to make you a pie. And they see, in the framed quotes and prom dresses and decor, who you are, and who you are interests them (in the least-creepy way possible), so they offer their friendship through the medium of steamed pork and salted crust. Now, it would be wise to give a bit of the meat to your dog first, just to be sure it isn't poisoned, but if the pie is good and the neighbour is decent, gratefully partake of the pie. It stopped you from eating Mickey Dee's again, after all.
In much the same way, the people who follow your blog do not have to follow your blog, they chose to follow your blog. They chose to follow your blog because some facet of your life struck a chord with them. You are not entitled to their following you, in the same way that one doesn't waltz over to their neighbour's abode and demand a hot pie. I'm not saying that everyone you know the name of online is your sister-from-another-mister, or that you should drop everything and move to their city so you can be housemates, and eventually make her your maid of honour and godmother to your children. I'm just saying that your readers are real people; they've got favourite desserts, unique thumbprints, birthdays. We should be grateful for their friendship, because they don't have to offer it. It wouldn't kill to take five minutes to read the comment they left, and then leave a quick reply. Maybe even check out their website. Who knows? Perhaps they, too, have a passion for checkered skirts and British soft-rock. Who, after all, doesn't like checkered skirts and British soft-rock?
If you blog for the sake of having followers, you're doing it wrong. There will always be someone with more followers, a more pro layout, or whatever bugs you. Pause. Breathe. It is not the end of the world. Say thanks for the people who take the time to read your words. Thank them for the gift of their words.
So, what I'm trying to say is, "thank you". You lovely women are the reason I blog. Like Peregrin, who constantly inspires me to search for deeper Truths and greater beauty. Like Iris, whose class, down-to-earth style of writing, and dazzling photographs reveal so much of God's gifts that we often forget to see. Like Mady, who never fails to bring a smile to my face and remind me of the goodness that is Catholic nerdiness. Like Clare, whose blog is a lovely window into Catholic living and appreciating the beauty that is around us. Like Marisa, who gives me hope for fashion yet. Like Haley, who reminds me why I'm converting in the first place (in case I should ever forget). Like Raewyn, whose writing is like a warm flash of sunlight on an overcast day. Like Aspirer, who ceaselessly displays the Truth in many beautiful ways on her lovely corner of the blogosphere. And there are many more. I'm so blessed to know all of you.
Here's to good bloggers. May we know them, may we be them. And now, so help me, I am going to finish this English homework.
Dear Lord, help us ladies to spread the Truth, to constantly search for it, and to foster real and meaningful friendships among one another as well as in our day-to-day lives. Inspire our words, help us to keep our priorities in order, and assist us in our calling to be annoying-zealous followers of Christ.
Okay-dokay. Time to write an essay on gang-life, which I know nothing about whatsoever. Sounds fun.
Love and blessings,