Yesterday I was walking to the bus stop, the sun shone merrily, the skies were blue and every now and then the smell of my D&G aftershave wafted up to my nose. My thoughts turned to how beautiful the physical world can be, and then I felt a tang of pity for those who are so in denial with reality that they live out their lives online… places like WOW, Secondlife, Habbo even.
And then I began to wonder, am I so different from them? I have a tight grasp on reality sure, but my thoughts often turn towards my blog and how this event, or that conversation would make a great post (and my blog isn’t even a successful one). I have become somewhat reliant on this one aspect of my life, an aspect that is, ironically enough, somewhat removed from reality, or more my physical reality.
Why then, have blogs become so successful? During my walk and my hour long bus ride into town, I pulled together a list of possible/likely reasons, well, ones that I think have caused the common blog to become both popular and, as it would seem, needed in our present day, virtual reality.
In many ways it’s another form of “Big Brother”, the idea that the government, or the citizenship in general is watching you, from Well’s 1984. The same idea that brought about Big Brother the tv series, and from that pretty much every reality tv show. I have decided to call it “Social Voyeurism; watching people in order to get your own sense of satisfaction, or in our case, reading. It’s like those people who sit in airport arrival lounges just watch the families greeting their loved ones. We may not even follow the blog because we enjoy the content, but we read it to see, to have insight as it were, into the mind of the author. Perhaps we read to make ourselves feel better, the feeling of control or power, or perhaps the blog contains content that makes our own lives seem all the more fun, or fulfilled, or in some cases… normal.
Maybe the reason is much less of commentary on society ‘perving’ , maybe the reason is a little more positive. Perhaps we read a blog, in search of something completely “original”, the ever-elusive original thought that seems to plague so many modern day writers. That by plowing through the thousands of blogs and millions of posts, we might find something truly unique, something that was worth the countless hours and mouse clicks. We log on in search of a connection, that we might find a like-minded person, a shared thought, even if it is only temporary and separated by time.
For some, the idea of reading a blog could bring about a sense of danger, the reader no longer a twenty year old, sitting at home wasting time, but a pioneer, an explorer, heading into uncharted territory. Who knows what the next blog will be about? Who knows the content of the following post? Or even slightly more perturbing… could it be that we get kicks out of reading someones blog, for the sole reason that it’s personal to them. Like being seven years old again and sneaking into your sister’s room to read her diary. Do we gain a sense of satisfaction from reading personal things about others? I guess this reason ties into Social Voyeurism, although I wanted to make the point here of the element of danger.
So far, the three points above addressed the readers, but of course, if there were no writers, then there would be no blogs… so this one is aimed at the writer, and here I can only really give account of myself, and what I think of others. I think for many, the idea of writing a blog gives them a sense of worth, that by sending out my thoughts into the void, and that somewhere out there, even if there’s only one, someone will read what I’ve written… I’ve made my mark on the world, the virtual one at least. I write in order to make something of myself.
Or, do I write on a blog, because it’s an easy accessible medium, one in which I’m 100% certain to be published. We all have ideas, and we all have thoughts, but in the world of books, novels, essays and newspapers, it’s highly unlikely that every idea is going to make it onto paper… A, there’s no room, and B, some ideas probably aren’t what the crowd are looking for. Whereas online, all you have to do is sign up to a site like this one, and within five or so minutes, your thoughts are out there, readily available to anyone whomsoever wishes. I know that for many of my posts this would be the case… my ideas are not necessarily worth putting on paper, but they’re something I want to get down nonetheless.
Well anyway, these were just some of the things running through my mind yesterday… well that was until I arrived in town (but that’s a story for the next post!).