This is probably a profoundly hypocritical topic to undertake in a column (a classic pillar of self-aggrandizing writing), but I’ll just come out and say it: There are too many damn blogs.
For the uninitiated (or for perhaps the few people older than 25 who read this column . Hi mom!), a blog is simply an online journal where people can post whatever they want, anytime. That’s it. No one is in charge of “publishing” the content other than the person clicking the “publish” button on a desktop. I would argue that blogging is responsible for more instantly weak writing by inexperienced voices than anything since confessional, free-verse poetry’s transformation from applicability to “woe is me!”
Yet so many blogs have proven their worth. In the age of dangerously corporate omni-media sites (CNN.com, BBC.com – even seemingly enduring nytimes.com looks more and more like Us Weekly), the blog was the ultimate in citizen response. There were facts too raw, reporting too bold and topics too invisible for mainstream media coverage. When blogging is done right, it’s the best direction new journalism can take – unapologetic, independent voices reporting on the overlooked.
The real problem is that any Joe could also blog about how shitty his day was. Or how sweet his new hook up buddy is. Or how hard his life is and what piece of pop treacle (I’m looking directly at Fall Out Boy, Simple Plan and Coldplay) best exemplifies his totally sucky day. This most public and suddenly omnipresent of mediums has a huge disparity between the top tier and gutter.
For an example, here’s something I would blog about:
I went on spring break and sat next to my mother on the plane. “The Family Stone” was the in-flight entertainment. In between trying to split up the boxed-up, compressed pieces of “chicken” flesh in my meal, I found myself falling in love with Rachel McAdams because she rocked a Dinosaur Jr. T-shirt and an NPR bag. She’s my righteous New England liberal Aphrodite. I want to sit around with her listening to Public Enemy records, drinking gin and making fun of people in our discussion section.
Does anyone in their right mind need to read this? Of course not. Is it profoundly affecting? Shit no, and I’m totally in love with McAdams. Does it add anything to the world? No, and even I feel filthy for writing it.
But who is likely to produce this kind of blog?
Well, you and me, really.
For every Juan Cole and his masterful Informed Comment (www.juancole.com) – an unapologetic, bold, informed (excuse the pun) voice who, let’s face it, would face unnecessary obstacles publishing some of his blog in print – there are a countless number of despondent bourgeoisie kids trying to parse through their adolescence with the help of livejournal.com and way too many “One Tree Hill” DVDs. They write everything from their day down and call it, well, who knows?
So I guess the problem isn’t the medium of the blog, but who uses them.
I feel comfortable with this basic tenet: Young writers need editors. The act of writing demands multiple sets of eyes before a piece sees the light of day. Not everything that’s thought has to be written. Not everything that is written is useful or effective. Not everything in the public spectrum is worth reading. The process of writing, the craft of writing – these have been flushed down the drain of instant gratification: juvenile blogs, Internet “creative writing” sites. Our generation is forgetting about craft and effort because the “publish” button is hovering between iTunes and their AIM conversations.
The best blogs have a focused subject matter, an author who can speak with authority, posts that hinge on factual analysis and a basic grasp of style and textual coherency.
If you are younger than 30, you most likely have one of these skills. One. And even that one skill only means you can talk about Young Jeezy with some semblance of authority, not so much detailed psychoanalysis of your family.
The ultimate responsibility of the blog falls on – you guessed it – the person doing the blogging themselves. My strongest feeling on young, untested writers and personal blogs? Kids way too young and way too green are making things way too easy on themselves with blogging. Why not try to write for – oh, I don’t know – your student newspaper instead?
– Ev4n thinks Fall Out Boy is gr8! E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.