Sometimes keeping a journal can be compared to elective surgery undergone in lieu of some other action, corrective or otherwise, to remedy a more serious life-threatening condition. The act of journaling or blogging, for me, is less about getting my thoughts and creative aspirations down on paper than it is chronicling the space and time continuum in which those things arise. And really, it is less about that than it is about the interactivity of internet journaling.
To do interactive journaling right, from my perspective, is to follow where those who come to my journal come from — their journals, websites, associations, news sources. Sadly, it ultimately turns out that most blogs are not about the self of these individual bloggers, but more about their sources of information. There is, in a lot of cases, the misguided notion that the blogger is responsible for the only intelligent filtering of information available on the web. So many blogs are filled with clipped stories extracted from newsfeeds — that frankly, everyone else reads too — in an attempt to define one’s own political, spiritual and/or societal framework and/or agenda through some kind of William S. Burroughsesque cut-up of the reality they inhabit.
The problem, though, is that it is definition through exclusion, through the interplay of other peoples’ words. Very rarely — and this is what separates the mediocre news filter from the blog worth reading — the aggregator describes what is essential, absolutely necessary, and ultimately the most universal aspect of the selected news clipping — and that is its effect on them personally. In their own words. Now, these words may be disagreeable to me. They may be misspelled. They may not only disgust or amuse (and these seem to be the polar extremes, with tittilate and epiphanate floating somewhere in between) and they may cause me to shrink back in horror from the person whose self is revealed in their ramblings. But that is the REAL part of the news of that blog. That’s what makes it worth bookmarking, revisiting, and clipping from, not figuring out that of the 1,979 times Donald Rumsfield, for example, said something hideous today that was repeated on the web, that my blog has tracked down and collected 1,732 of them, and duly reported my findings like an objective reporter not personally affected by the findings or the outcome of an act, or somehow not part of the very statistics deemed worthy of report.
Because information is not an end unto itself. It cannot be. That’s like saying the Bible is God. As I’ve said before, that’s a little too limiting when it’s obvious that God is the entire library.
The point I’m trying to make is this: that it is not the information that is important, that is worth sharing — although the most interesting thing about news aggregation on the web is its explicit illustration that the freedom of the press, at least the mainstream press, is limited to those who own one. What is important is that there are people attached to those blogs. And those people, those individuals, who in these troubled times may be so afraid to not only give their opinion, but form it in the first place (after all, doesn’t the Bible say that to think about sinning is ultimately the same as committing the sin itself) have got to have something to say, something worth hearing, at least in their own minds, or they wouldn’t be going through the troubling of establishing on-line accounts, designing blog templates, accumulating directory links and cultivating friends-via-electron. But what is it they’re saying? Are we as a society claiming, boldfaced, that we are nothing more than how we are portrayed in the news? Is that all there is to it?
Sure, I’ve got an agenda. So does everyone else whose got a blog. It may be just a playful way to express an alternate side of yourself. It may be that you want some way to focus certain energies that affect your worldview. It may be that you’re simply tired of holding pen to paper, or phone to ear as a means for communicating “what’s really happening with me” to your friends, be they “real-life” or “on-line”.
I wonder, though, how many express that agenda in their own words, or taking the easy way out, like Dr. Frankenstein, create the monster that is their on-line selves using spare parts from other people’s bodies.
Bah. Enough ranting for today. I’m off to the Gulf of Mexico to dip my feet at the seashore.