Mol (mollyringle) wrote,

On LJ, the universe, and believing that there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo.

A popular pastime on blogs (by which word I include LJ) is to point out what's annoying about blogs. It's a fun, not to mention a rich, topic, and one I've indulged in too. Just about everyone who has dipped their toes into the blog world has experienced a love/hate relationship with the whole deal.

For instance, last year I wrote this post, which I'll reprint here since it may be the truest thing I have ever written about LJ:

* * *
If I say I like something, people will ruin it for me by telling me why they hate it.

If I say I don't like something, people who do like it will emerge from the woodwork and demand to know what my problem is.

If I share good news, people will think I'm bragging.

If I share bad news, people will think I'm fishing for sympathy.

If I share personal news, people will think I'm an exhibitionist.

If I broach the subject of politics, people will unleash an all-out flame war.

If I treat a subject lightly, people will call me thoughtless.

If I treat a subject in depth, people will call me pedantic.

If I muse at length upon a small matter, people will think I'm babbling.

If I say I'm angry about something, people will tell me I'm overreacting.

If I share something I find funny, people will get offended.

If I put up pictures of myself, people will think I'm narcissistic and fishing for compliments.

If I share a piece of writing I've done (like this), people will think I'm narcissistic and fishing for compliments.

If I share what I did today, people will think I'm boring.

If I stay silent and don't post anything at all, people will think I'm sulking and/or neglecting them.
* * *

...And to the list I now add: "If I didn't have a blog, my publisher or agent (if I had an agent) would urge me to get one." Much to my dismay, self-promotion has become a prerequisite for being a writer, in the eyes of the industry. I play along, but I don't usually like it. Meanwhile, we fledglings are labeled self-important and boring and not "real" writers when we do self-promote on blogs, because if we were real writers we'd be writing articles and books, not blog entries. It's a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum: once you're a real writer, like Neil Gaiman, it's fine for you to have a blog, and people will devour it and think how cool it is that you can fit both books and blog entries into your writing life. But if you have a blog before you become a real writer, you're a poser and you'll never be a real writer because you're wasting your time on a blog; even though your agent or publisher says you must get a blog because you need to self-promote and "get your name out there." Damned if we do, damned if we don't. But that's an aside.

It's true: there are lots of flaws about blogs, and about LJ in particular. You can find people whose journals are sleazy, or filled with false information presented as fact, or hysterical in their hatred of something, or stupidly manic in their love of something, or packed to the brim with self-psychoanalysis that no one else could possibly care about. Furthermore, I know my journal has shown each of those traits on occasion, and some other failings. Not a shock, since I as a person have a number of failings. (I venture the bold opinion that everyone does.)

Doesn't mean, however, that by one's blog you can get a clear portrait of the blog keeper. I pick and choose what to post, yes, but not out of any attempt to be dashingly elusive. As my list above illustrates, it's hard to walk the line between revealing too much about oneself (and thus being self-indulgent or exhibitionistic) and revealing too little (and thus being overly mysterious, which in itself might be called self-indulgent). I don't expect my personality to be thoroughly diagnosed through what I write on the internet. I'm not sure *I* know or understand myself as a complete person, and I'm with me in the flesh all day; so how can you be expected to? Furthermore, even if I had the power of speech to illustrate exactly who I am...well, 1) should I, on LJ?, 2) I still couldn't guarantee that any given reader would grasp it. I can't make you understand me. You might happen to, by some stroke of luck, but that would be a fluke.

Is it worth fretting about? Decidedly not. Yep, blogs are imperfect, as am I, as are you, and as is the world. But in that sordid, misleading, spastic dramafest we call the blogosphere, I also find writers and posts who say clear things, true things, brilliantly amusing things, interesting things, and noble things; and that's why I stick around. As Hurricane Katrina has shown us, in every disaster (and we could call the internet a disaster if we were being really pessimistic) there are despicable looters, and there are shining heroes. I don't call myself a shining hero for occasionally making people laugh with a silly, shallow post; but I appreciate a laugh myself, so I still think it's worthwhile.

I better cut this short before I mention silver linings, or drinking vessels being half full. But I'll add this: to those who rant about the evils and inanities of our world, or our LiveJournals in particular, I do in fact thank you. Despite my proud exterior, I know I can only become a better person through humility checks. If I were convinced I was the coolest, smartest person on Earth, I would never try to improve my mind or behavior; and in truth I would very much like to do both.

It's hard to lie there warm in bed, feeling the ripples of my kid moving inside me, harmless and lovely as flickers of heat lightning on the mountains, and not feel both humble and optimistic.

Yes, I know that last sentence veered into schmaltz. Deal with it.
Tags: computers, irritation, love, philosophy, writing

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