Friday, April 6, 2007

from November 2005 "Skeptical of Soapboxes"

While blogging has its merits (predominately calling attention to news/causes/events ignored by the popular media) the fad of blogging has yet to reveal its merits to me. Nonetheless, I find myself joining the ranks.

The blank page has always drawn me. I would create stapled books of reject green and white striped computer paper for myself to write “novels” in when I was 10. I’d buy notebook after notebook, journal after journal, and later, reams of computer paper. So the allure of a blank screen and a supposed audience is not surprising.It is the perceived audience that is troubling.

When teaching high school psychology a few years ago, I know I ran across a phenomenon common among preteen and teenage girls that described them feeling, and subsequently behaving, as though they were always being watched – like an audience followed them. (I don’t remember if this was in Reviving Ophelia, the psychology text, or in one of the countless articles I clipped and photocopied for the class.) It was almost like they were the stars of their own Laguna Beach – their own reality show. But that was just at the beginning of the reality TV show boom, and I can only imagine this self-as-star notion has continued.I can even remember snippets of this from my own experience as early as elementary. As I completed everyday tasks, I would narrate out loud, imagining I was one of those cool kids on ZOOM. The nature of adolescence itself typically places a teen in the middle of two maelstroms: the one swirling about him/her externally and the one somersaulting through his/her insides. Both lend themselves simultaneously to self-importance and self-doubt. I was no exception.

All this comes to mind as I embark on blogging.I have a real fear about self-absorbtive blogging. Even as I type this, I am imagining an audience who cares about what I write as much as I care about writing it – and that is a farce. I pretend I will be “helping” people, but underneath, I am more largely aware that I am self-promoting. I am building the soapbox on which I will stand and proclaim my twisted version of the truth.Always leery of self-publishing, I recognize that the essence of blogging is editorializing with no editing – no one to answer to, no one to fact check you (which is ironic since blogging has been a great tool for fact checking our current presidential claims), no one to help hone a piece to its essence.

So, to begin this blogging endeavor, I feel I need to state my skepticism for the record. State it to remind myself not to fall into the lure of self-aggrandizing. State it for my imaginary audience, so that you too will know I am aware of the fallacy of you. State it so that if someone does stumble across this they know I know the sheer nature of blogging sets me up for a false sense of self importance. Take it all with a grain of salt.

Addendum: I will note that my friend, Katey Schultz, who convinced me to start blogging does use this blogging as part of her daily writing practice to find her style and hone her voice. She has done so quite well, and I’m very proud of her for logging her 100th consecutive day recently. Unlike I predict for myself, she has done a good job of avoiding the pitfalls I will become trapped in.

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