Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Riddle me this:

Is blogging the new past-time of privileged women? Like the luxury of learning to read in the Middle Ages or the time to sit and paint during the Renaissance? (And by 'privileged', I do mean pretty much all of us lucky enough to be toiling away here in first-world countries.) Because I was thinking about this the other day as I scrolled through countless (well-written) blogs about various people's lives, their struggles and fears, their kids, their TV viewing choices, their marital arguments and vacation photos, and it occurred to me that it is.

Because it's self-indulgent, isn't it? It can be borderline narcissistic, just like social and personal media platforms like Facebook and Flickr can be. (And yes, I'm taking cheap shots at myself left and right here.) We want to record, record, record. In a society ever more inundated with images, words, and graphics, in which it's become harder and harder to hear through all the noise, we shout: look at me! Look at my life! Look at my kids! The world gets smaller and smaller and we struggle and squirm in an effort not to be squeezed out by the sheer amount of information, headlines, photos, and anecdotes.

And the fact remains, not everyone has the luxury of this daily, weekly, or bi-weekly self-indulgence.

But that doesn't make it a bad thing. Because not everyone has the inclination, either. And someone needs to: if statistics of blog readership can be trusted, we evidently crave that peppering of philosophy and psychology in our daily grind, that reflection of our lives, that finger on the pulse point of what we do each day: the mothering and the working, the spousal discord and the perfectly rising bread. I know I speak for myself when I say we want that depth to the ordinary. The current under the surface.

We want someone, somewhere to be monitoring it all. Confirming our fears. Echoing our opinions. It's a comfort, I think, to see that nod from another soul. Case in point: have you ever found yourself on a webpage of photo thumbnails (perhaps a link-up list), and marveled at all those postage stamp-sized glimpses of random people's lives? All those beaming children, snippets of gardens and kitchens, cropped family portraits and slivers of trees or cloud? (A beautiful example is at Chatting at the Sky.) It's stunning. And inspiring. And crowded. It makes you want to hold hands with these people and throw an elbow for some breathing space both at the same time. It might as well be me. You. Your neighbor with the cooking blog. Your kid's teacher with the coupon code site.

We're self-obsessed, sure (especially the writers among us...and again, I'm looking at me). But the musings and the over-analyzing of, well, everything has always been left to the ones with time on their hands (even in short supply). Who writes history (not to be mistaken for making history)? Primarily rich white men women, right? The ones with the luxury of sitting and staring at their computer screens while sipping lattes. (Or more accurately, the ones rushing to schedule a post amid Cheerios flung onto the floor and kids clamoring for attention.)

The ones with the burning need to document.

And yes, I am fully, painfully aware that I am now over-analyzing why we over-analyze. But I can't escape it, it seems. This subject of blogging, of recording, of sharing this cyber-space with one another the world over, has been on my mind of late, especially in light of all the buzz circulating the blogosphere about whether bloggers are being fairly compensated (which is a whole other can o' worms). And if we know why we write, then why do we read? Why are we drawn to our favorite blogs day after day? What do we gain? Are we really so voyeuristic that we can't get enough of other people's lives? Are we craving fiction (even if that fiction is someone else's reality)? Or is it all less noble than that? Are we merely trying to gauge whether we measure up, a cyber version of keeping up with the Jones'? Is the fact that everyone-with-a-computer-and-an-internet-connection-can-now-have-an-audience really a good thing?  For that matter, can we even hear ourselves think through the cacophony of opinion?

Obviously, I don't know, which is why I'm asking you. Feel free to wax lyrical or simply self-indulge.

Penny pixel for your thoughts?

This post was written in response to the 'write an opinion post' prompt at:

Mama's Losin' It

blog comments powered by Disqus