On Friday in an idle moment I followed up a few of the links on the 'Blogs of Note' from Blogger and came to 'When Tara Met Blog': http://www.tarametblog.com/ Now her blog could not be further away from mine, (though I do note her noting encounters with minor celebrities too), hers is all pink, almost anti-Goth (as in like anti-matter, not opposed to Goth) in its nature. Hers has been running for over three years, so she is well passed the usual life expectancy of a blog. She likes free giveaway items and twee things and has blogged about dating in New York and is now engaged in Los Angeles.
So, what was there to interest me on this blog? It is the posting of 8th May 2008, 'Are blogs self-serving?'. Apparently Tara had been challenged by a friend that her blog was simply there to serve herself. Tara defended her blog and like me she has found solace from blogging through the hard times. In this role it is no different to keeping a diary. Of course diaries may be seen as self-serving too, but the result of them is that the diarist/blogger is in a much better mental state to get on with their lives, so actually to be less of a burden to others. As she notes, you get feedback from people with an interest in similar things and often if you have a problem, are very supportive. If people are not interested then they do not have to read it. It is an excellent way to get out anger without harming anyone else. So, it is rather like a diary that you keep but you share with a therapy or help group.
I suppose we are in a generation in which everyone feels they have to be some sort of celebrity and it is interesting that celebrities are often keen bloggers, but maybe for the reverse effect, to show that they are real people under all the hype. So maybe blogging is our five minutes in the spotlight. However, given how much stuff is out there on the internet and how many blogs alone there are, it is hardly as if we are jabbing ourselves into everyone's lives. About 200 people have viewed my profile on this blog since it started a year ago, so I am hardly intruding into too many people's lives given how many people are active on the internet at any one time.
You could say that blogs are not so much about celebrity as about immortality. You can guarantee that even if you die tomorrow, your ideas will be recorded somewhere for people to stumble across for years to come. This is what motivated me to get my novels out there as I knew otherwise no-one would ever see them again and even if one person enjoys reading them or has thoughts stimulated by them, then that will be a gain for the world.
Of course the blogs that are run by families are very much like this, repositories for the life of a person/people. I have not seen anything about bloggers who have died, but I imagine there is something nice about having a blog to go and see Grandpa's/Grandma's thoughts especially in an age when we do not write letters to each other and photographs often are not even downloaded from the digital camera. We are in an incredibly ephemeral age which could easily be eliminated with an EMP blast in your neighbourhood. Of course, as with letters the condemnation of the departed may hang over you, but turning away from blogs is not a way to deal with that, it is just we have to learn new habits for the new facilities. Whilst pictures feature a great deal in blogs, at their base are words and I feel they are important for helping sustaining a literate culture.
I think ultimately blogs are not self-serving. They do certainly benefit the blogger, but in return for a lot of work being put in. I think they are vital as they expose millions of fragments of culture across the world. When searching for ideas and facts and opinions I come across so much on blogs which intrigues, entertains or infuriates me and that in turn stimulates my own thoughts. Society is about interchange of ideas and discussion. I know that in many parts of the globe such things are dismissed as unnecessary and I am not even thinking about the dictatorial states, but I think it is an element of what makes us human. So, blog on, you may be benefiting yourself, but you are also adding many pieces to the mosaic of humans on this planet.
P.P. Talking about my blog with a friend of mine who works in the media, he asked me how many subscribers I had to it and I said none. Consequently he dismissed it as a waste of time as clearly nothing that I said impacted on the 'media-sphere'. No wonder bloggers get a reputation for being self-serving if that is seen as the measure of the 'success' of a blog. Of course, that is not the criteria I use to judge mine.