"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

the nature and nurture of blogging

school's been getting me down lately, because they (the administration, the bureaucracy, "them" who are not "me" or "us") won't let me take the classes i want and need to research my thesis.

basically, the line they give me has been some variation on "So... it sounds like you're interested in X. I recommend studying X before you write your thesis. But we don't have classes in X, and the ones that are necessary we won't let you take, so you'll have to independently work on it yourself. But you shouldn't work by yourself, because you could get lost. But I don't have time to help you. But you should study..."

since school can be so depressing, let's not think about it, and turn our attentions instead to an informal institution of education, the internet...

i've been asked by many friends and professors for my opinion on what i see blogs doing for democracy. on the one hand, we have (for us with internet access) unlimited opportunity to self-publish and voice our opinion. we have as much freedom and place in the great digital mesh of voices as big corporations and established news zines for our own work. this has potential for revolutions and subversions of established publishing powers and authorities. unfortunately, the blog has increasingly become less a medium of value and dependable journalism, and more a cheap and instant way to distribute porn, spam, and the mundane stories of extra ordinary individuals in their endearing self-assumed importance.

and don't get me wrong, i saw myself falling into the latter category too. that's why i dropped the other blogs and have been working hard to keep this blog about "significant" things (i.e. not my personal life or my day to day activities, but about breakthrus, however minor they may be, or nuances for my senior project).

= i'm a serious blogger now.

and rather than bore u with too many rantings about my institution of higher "learning," i shall wax philosophical about personal communication and the internet.

i've had too many relationships depend on email. i meet many ppl who insist on emailing as our only form of communication. which is fine, b/c i hate the phone, and there's a certain comfortable familiarity with our computers that i think enables us to email/IM/text one another so easily. in fact, most of my most meaningful relationships have been through email (i can think of at least 5 really good friends who i got to know and continue to know thru email).

is this not in a way sad? why are we so interpersonally starved that we must maintain barriers of metal and wires between us? why are we so comfortable to talk about ourselves to a nameless anonymous void called the blogosphere when we could easily step next door and sit down with a friend and talk face-to-face instead?

b/c we're scared of being intellectuals, of being thinking, feeling humans. we're robots, don't you know? and horrible exhibitionists. everyone's vying for a piece of that 15 minutes. even me. and a blog is such a quick dirty way to do it.

here's a conversation i had with my friend matt a while ago. we discussed this theory over, what else, an online chatting service. i think we came to some pretty revealing conclusions.

beep beep
blah blah
-stephan!e

---> he has some thoughts on myspaciness too!

12:37 AM Matt: wow, you're pretty prolific with your blogging
me: how's that now?
12:38 AM Matt: you write a lot
me: oh. i guess.
12:39 AM i thot you were referring to my many blogs
i have like 5 now...
i have commitment issues
[...]
you want the perfect url name
and then maybe you don't like the username you chose or something
it's pretty ridiculous
12:44 AM Matt: it's like the slightly more mature older sibling of livejournal
me: i know
12:45 AM but i have more respect for bloggers than livejournalists
i mean, that's just so obviously narcissistic
Matt: true
me: this way we can at least be subtle egoists
Matt: haha, yeah
12:46 AM that's what's so great about it, you can write about yourself without feeling like you're forcing yourself on anyone, since its voluntary
me: exactly
and it's like being semi-published
12:47 AM there's at least some validity to it
12:50 AM Matt: there's something about this whole idea of personal blogging that's so interesting... the idea that you put your personal thoughts out there for the entire internet to see
me: yeah definitely
Matt: stuff that you wouldn't tell the people around you
me: i mean, you wouldnt' publish your diary, right?
i know1
12:51 AM Matt: you'd think not... but apparently we do
or would
me: i'm more honest on my blog than i am to my friends and family in person
exactly
what is it about the perceived anonymity of the internet that allows us to abandon our inhibitions
perhaps it's because we feel no one is watching and reading
but isn't that sad?
we're a generation that assumes no one cares
12:52 AM Matt: but on one hand, i think i kinda want someone to be reading
me: yeah but does anyone?
Matt: just someone i dont know
me: we all crave audiences, few of us get any
Matt: an anonymous admirer
me: yup
Matt: yeah, there's probably not
me: it's so narcissistic
Matt: but there could be
you never know
that's the genius of it, i guess
me: what self-absorbed bastards all of us are
12:53 AM Matt: haha, what else is there
me: right right
i think a lot of it is seeking validation too
you feel more real and alive when you see other ppl noticing you
Matt: yeah, definitely
12:54 AM me: how else are you sure you're not living a dream?
12:55 AM Matt: yeah, how else can you form/maintain a self-image
me: i know, we have to rely on others to help us shape our selves
how sad and pathetic we all are
Matt: i'd like to think it's at least endearing sad and pathetic
12:56 AM me: haha i guess it is
Matt: *endearingly
me: you have to work for the endearing tho
[...]
we've grown up not believing anyone cares about us
so what do we become?
whiny emo exhibitionists armed with liejournals and myspace accounts
or blogs and facebooks, if you're classy.
;-)
1:00 AM Matt: ha, exactly

6 comments:

Brian said...

Hi Steph,

I'm glad I stopped by tonight. I was going to read the Times, but you have covered all the serious issues of the day here. ;)

I have to say my friend, that my blogs are for me a way to be *real* and since I have been blogging I've made my life better and found out who I am.

Can't beat that. :)

stephan!e lee said...

brian,
thank you! what a tremendous compliment! to be considered on the queue alongside the Times is quite an honor!

i too have found blogging to be a rewarding experience, if only because of all the wonderful people i have met this way.

it's just an extra bonus to have found myself along the way.

:-)
-stephanie

remaerdyaD said...

Very poiniant article Good for you putting on your serious face - and not losing that sense of humour I SEE

I had a couple thoughts, if I might just blurt them out: what about people using what you do? Like me, for instance - I am sorry I might not express well... sorry, I might type a lot here... I mean a gender issue, but just openly thinking here, not being all heady I just tire of seeing so many courageous individuals who give and give (and give and give) and are just so gifted and pains in the ass and like me and not like me and all that stuff of life - who just happen to be smart women like yourself - just to have it taken away by somebody who is in a position to make something out of it (I saw in a senate bill today that 500 is the going rate - it appears if you have 500 or more people regularly reading your blog, you are taken quite seriously) How do you know I am not one of these users

Am I deluding myself by thinking I can make and support friends when it is something that, like you said, just exists in email Should I stop spamming your blog

There has always been two book ends on this issue: using video conferencing and just meeting in person

The former is clearly the closest we can have to communicating Some people say I am an autist because I do not communicate well AT ALL via inanimate communicationy objects But video... in fact, now that I think of it, I do not think I would have come to your blog without your video work There is just something about seeing the actual face of who I am communicating with

The catch is that it is sure a long time coming to get video conferencing going (I did it on old PC's back in 1996 - and that was on 'amazing' 56baud phone-lines! So technical issues simply do not apply)

As for one on one, well, I do not write about that publicly... but since we are sharing chats, I tell my online buddies that I will never meet them And just like real life, they come and go - sometimes we meet every day, sometimes we move away to different servers... different protocols Which brings us to social networking

What if I asked you on your blog here: what is the standard fare on 'social networking' web2.0 type people (if you know who I mean, like myspacers as opposed to us IRC'ers) - Is personally meeting those from the network considered normal? Cos there is a lot of room for argument on both sides (Re: I have never used my surname or given name on the Internet)

Do think I will make an opportunity and start by ending my use of (-:'s with your seriousness'ing... I always hated them anyways - best to use my REAL glorious mugg, eh

smell ya later

p.s. alas I can credit you for inspiring me to try making my own blog, for crying out loud

stephan!e lee said...

R: i am glad u post yr thots on my blog! and how wonderful that u "spam" it from time to time. that's what i do this for, otherwise, my writing would be completely masturbatory, don't you think?

and i hope u do start ur own blog! it's about time too!

:-) with seriousness,
stephan!e

remaerdyaD said...

Not necessarily If a blogger felt passionately about a topic the others found uninteresting then any 'masturbating' becomes an alternative rather than vice

Forgot to mention I prefer the new look to your blog over the old, btw

bye again, fellow blogger (nice ring to it... but 'fellow' is 64% corny... so much to learn...)

remaerdyaD the heavenly spamming blogger said...

I hemmed and hawed over asking you this when I first arrived at your corner of the Internet (please see the second paragraph of my first comment here to your article): It would be so cool to pick your brain about your year's experience blogging - even tutorial down to detail of how you do it (I know it sounds silly, but some of us just do not know - even if we do not want to blog, it would be very interesting) or just some url or other bloggers (didnt you have a list of your favourite blogs somewhere?...)

To jump the gun, I can Deal you that if you do more article like this, I will write in my b'log from the other side - with my experience (outside of certain luxuries, but a quarter century of theory nonetheless must mean something) and try to relate There is some barrier, I think, between bloggers and, for lack of a better term, web2.0'ers (sorry to lump you with others) and us old timers

Just a thought