The blog is dead! Long live blogging!
Saturday 2 May 2015, 12.39am HKT
LET’S make waves now.
Okay, olay, oday, obey! I’ve been blogging for 20 years now, just a few years after the world’s first website appeared (info.cern.ch), so I feel qualified in my own small way to say my piece. I don’t normally do stunts like this.
There are a number of ways to look at this strange, nebulous, definably indefinable creature called “blogging.”
May the Force be ever in your odd hands
Let’s start with the lowest common denominator — “lowest common (demon)ator” as I’ve dubbed it in my time — we have a proper online presence that we can call our very own.
Shuuure … we have our very nice accounts with Facecrook, Twatter, LockedIn, Gurgle Plus, MySpazz and their ilk as our online presence — can’t argue with that.
Other than having a .com website, a blog really is our easiest, unique, freestanding, standalone, interactive — choose the words you like best — online presence. Apart from abiding by the IPS’s and the hosting company’s Terms of Service (which are pretty lax in reality), we bloggers (plus our outlandish content) are not locked into some third party’s terms of servitude.
For me, it’s exactly THAT — my own independent online presence, less the Terms of Service of my ISP and blog service provider.
Soapbox to do your Beige Box
(If you don’t know what “Beige Box” means, you ain’t old enough. Sorry.)
Next up (or ‘down,’ as the case may be), we have our very own soapbox to say whatever the blazes we feel is worth saying.
The (relatively) polite, prim and proper, insipidly inspirationless among us use blogging as (heard by me once)…
“… a socioculturally meaningful integrative interface of the post-Industrial dynamic.”
Sorry, come again?
It’s a worthwhile cathartic outlet for some deep-seated psychological angst rebadged as a sociopolitical economic perspective. Flex our illiterate literary muscle to heart’s content. Feel a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Self-therapy like that for the cheap-as-night-soil price of $7.99 a month is hard to beat.
For the more creative, it’s a “relevantly meaningful” social space to “curate” one’s own idiosyncratic body of re-imagined home-life stories and randomly recycled thoughts while masturbating surreptitiously to pictures of Auntie Mildred in a bikini bursting at the seams in the wrong places at a freezing beach.
Or maybe you’re just another loudmouth dying to show pics of your semi-hideous girlfriend sat semi-naked on someone else’s wussy 250cc motorbike with a rusted-up c@nt of an exhaust pipe (the pipe, not the girlfriend).
For me, I’m unfortunately old and elderly enough to have reminiscences from my wild, unbridled, overpaid, oversexed and over there, rebelliously conservative callous youth growing up in 13 different countries around the world (as a corporate urchin, not a military brat, in case anyone’s wondering). No one is going to be insane enough to want to publish my crap unless I do it myself, thankyouverymuch.
More usefully perhaps, blogging helps pull our thoughts and feelings together.
Right or wrong, blogging is writing — even if each post contains only embedded YouLube videos. Writing a post is essay writing. In the words of the late and great Usenet — “POAST! Poast if your sore, poast till you’re sore!”
(I don’t know how that Usenet-era axiom relates to things, actually.)
Whatever the case, writing slightly longer than a note to the milkman isn’t exactly a cakewalk — but not exactly hard either.
You’re not disposing night soil — chucking a bucketful (fucketbul?) of ideas onto paper (online, that is) and see what sticks.
If blogging doesn’t pull your insights or thoughts together, then you need to pull your socks up because others will be glad to pull your pants down for the you-know-wozit.
For me, blogging pulls my stuff to pieces because, like most things in Life, everything is hitched together.
Money for nothing and your chicks for free
After 20 years of this lark, no denying that blogging makes some money for some people.
I do have a conscience, you know, and do like to see others making money in any way they can.
After so many years of watching people get in, get out, get the stick in this lark called blogging, it’s pretty hard to miss that a lot of bloggers have convinced themselves that the Road to Financial Salvation is just to monetise the blog and get backlines and whatnot.
We’ve all heard the saying “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”
Thing is, where’s the damned sizzle going to come from without the steak, eh?
For me, I don’t give a flying fog about SEO or whatchamacallit. Some of the bloggers I personally know who started out the same time as me never made anything more than cover the yearly ISP connectivity fees. All on clocking up heroic time, effort and money in the process.
A good hero is a dead hero, and I like to hang on to dear life.
Introducing Skynet’s Self-Terminator, Mk. 0.5
I said “demonator” in the beginning.
Pretty soon after launching your blog — and getting down to actually pen (type) something 25 words or more, and getting the first “Follow” or “Like” or “Share” — it dawns on the wide-eyed blogger grinning like a souped-up Cheshire cat that this blogging thing is no lark.
It’s a daemon from Mrs Whiplash Robinson’s School of Heavy-Handed Shiny Latex Discipline.
A couple more posts, a few more Follows or Likes, one or two Shares — and hey ho! you’re self-pressurising yourself to “do a good job” on each post.
Poast! Poast! POAST!
Imperceptibly, we start ‘perfecting’ our thoughts. We start perfecting our “topic window.” We start fidgeting with the copy. Perfecting you name it. We start feeling we’re doing something rather important.
Come a few nameless comments on some unmemorable or srsly inconsequential point (of personal experience) in the post, and we’re off on round-the-clock Action Stations to please them.
No loaded dice
Ultimately, you are your own source of grief.
Schooling, it has been said for years, has conditioned into us (like Pavlov’s stupid dogs inside and fed shite in Skinner boxes) an overweening attitude that it is required to be ‘evenhanded,’ ‘objective,’ ‘verifiable’ and/or (heaven help us) ‘original.’
Desirable qualities — but not entirely essential in blogging, akchually.
That brings us to why 90% of bloggers have a rather special type of allergy.
“How do you deal with comments? I notice some blogs allow all comments, others have the person wait for approval from the blog owner, and sometimes it seems the blog owner refuses all comments. As I understand it, comments (especially when they are on-topic) can improve an article’s SEO.”
A remark heard more times than I care to remember.
Any louder we could dance to it
Commenting is the leading cause of blog death, in my experience.
Believe you me, I know the difficulties. It’s pretty easy to deal with nolifes (as we used to call them in Italy) who blitz our posts with:—
“Your information is valuable, but did you need to be rude to make your point? You must be one of those arrogant ‘know-it-all’ types. And that may not be true either because you haven’t learned respect. Thanks for the info but I could do with out the condescension.”
Comeback:— “I’m just the opposite. I consider nothing to be valuable from anyone who hadn’t learnt self-respect, like your comment.”
But it’s damn near impossible to defend against something that does have a point (somewhere) but is insincere:—
“So please don’t talk down to us. You may not have asked us to read this article, but you did publish it on the Internet for everyone to read. You should be aware of your responsibility on accuracy, so don’t throw a fit when someone calls you out for being a jerk.”
Comeback:— “Are you aware of your own responsibilities in the same for your comment?”
As the Italians say, “È quello che è” (“It is what it is”).
This is the Internet. We’re not in Kansas anymore.
There are troublemakers like the unavoidable trolls and the even worse self-anointed standard bearers of whatever their pet peeves are.
Some bloggers disable commenting “because of spam.” I don’t buy that — it’s a bloody lame excuse. Couple of clicks to delete is no big deal. My Akismyass antispam catches nearly everything, so I don’t worry about that. Why should you?
No, it’s because too many times too many bloggers try to be evenhanded with comments. That just ends up doing endless rounds of explaining and counter-explaining to be on the good grace of commenters. Eventually they cave in to the ludicrous demands, or switch off commenting altogether. Bad move, in my opinion.
Ask yourself this:—
Why can’t THEY be on OUR good grace?
Why should WE let THEM off for the same behaviour WE’RE being accused of?
I’m very comfortable with all sorts of comments — on/off-topic, off-colour, even off-your-rockers. I’ve always had commenting ON.
I generally don’t have trouble dealing with pseuds and their insincere comments. My position is simple — my blog, my lawn, get off it. If they don’t like it, switch channels, I guess.
My policy on rogue commenters is far better said by her:—
“I think we can allow […] to speak because it’s a totally self-discrediting exercise anyway. […] Can we please ensure the microphone is not ‘live,’ as this is not an authorized presentation?”
— Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, on 30 April 2015 (via Al Jazeera English)
If anyone’s banking on my removing negative comments, my policy is to retain everything and delete nothing once published. Comments once cleared are non-removable even upon request. Documentary evidence. Scared now?
Don’t misunderstand. I have given online troublemakers a hard run for their money in the comment threads. It’s just not in my nature to do that. Heaven knows I deserve the peace rather than piss my time away arguing online for Internet points with some disembodied Anon.
We’re supposed to be blogging — and explain ourselves in separate posts, if necessary — not f@ck it away on comments and counter-comments. True fact that, in my opinion.
Read what you understand, genius
And then there’s the readers themselves.
Some readers literally forget (literally, not figuratively) THIS:—
The blogger isn’t actually writing a normal, peer-reviewable academic research paper.
This very special type of insincere reader therefore needs a very gentle and genteel reminder IN KEYBOARD STUCK IN ALLCAPS that their overwrought emotional feeling that the blogger ‘owes’ them some kind of ‘objective’ product is … well …
Grandpa once said:—
“A person who can’t see proportionality in things don’t learn anything well, or worthwhile.”
Which, I have to say, aligns pretty well with:—
“A person who doesn’t change his mind isn’t very bright.”
— Robert Wistrich on “Head to Head,” Al Jazeera English, 28 April 2015
In a moment of weakness, the blogger convinces himself that The True Way rests on evenhandedness, objectivity, originality, etc. He pulls himself alive from the earthquake rubble of that state of mind by doing all those things by the third post before even gaining baby-step experience in blogging. The whole lark rapidly becomes too much and gives up the ghost.
“I’ll be back” is the international motto of bloggers, I’ll have you know. Many, many blogs get abandoned in the first three months of their birth.
The Naked Listener
30 April 2015, 10.30pm HKT
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