Sunday, March 14, 2010

Thoughts On... Blogging

A couple of days ago, one of my favorite shows came back after a relatively long time on break. The show is House MD, and while I could go on for awhile about why the show is so awesome, that's beyond the scope of this essay. Suffice it to say that one reason I enjoy the show is because they tend to bring up intriguing topics to think about & discuss. This past ep brings up the idea of blogging and the effect it has on people. Both those who blog AND those who read blogs.

The patient in the last ep is a woman who is an avid blogger, who spends a good portion of time posting every detail of her life to her blog for public consumption. Including a fight she had with her husband, and all the issues with her treatments as events in the ep play themselves out. It was brought to a focal point, when she had to choose between two options for heart surgery and left it up to the opinions of her readers which option she would take. A decision that could determine whether or not she would be able to have children in the future.

Is it right to live your life so openly? Posting personal information not only about yourself, but also about those people who matter in your life? A friend of mine believes that losing yourself in a crowd of people can be therapeutic, and I agree. There is a balancing nature in hearing the varied opinions of the people around you in regards to the events you're dealing with in your life. But at what point does it stop being therapy and becomes a place to hide from making decisions on your own?

That's a huge danger of living life publicly. At a certain point, the pressure of your "followers" can overwhelm you into making decisions you wouldn't make under normal circumstances. Think about the example of the lady in the House ep. She was willing to make a decision that could prevent her from EVER having children based SOLELY on the input of her readers. And not what SHE thought was best for her. It's the difference between asking for advice & opinions from others and having your own thoughts overridden by the whims of the masses. Seriously, should you live your life according to the whims of your blog readers? People you don't know, and have never met??

And then there's the consideration of other people you mention in your blog posts. By putting them in your blog, you're taking away a part of their privacy. In today's modern world, there's an expectation of a small amount of public exposure. For example, my friend who has his own blog. I can safely reference anything in that blog, because it's already in a public forum. But at what point should the line be drawn. Would an argument between myself & my friend belong on my blog? It's part of my life, right? For me, I would leave it out, or if I did put it in, make the other person's identity as general as possible to protect their privacy. After all, no one likes unwanted public exposure. The ep mentioned that privacy is a modern concept since people lived in communities so small that it was impossible to keep secrets, but I disagree. If that were true, people would not have lived in in separate, discrete houses. The desire for privacy has been around for a long time. In fact, I would venture to say that it's a primal need. History is chock full of people going off on their own to discover themselves, or for adventures, or just for the solitude.

But when does blogging become too ridiculous? The woman in the ep says that she likes blogging because it's an avenue into how someone thinks and what they are thinking at any given time which, in her mind, makes for a stonger bond between her & her followers, or her and whatever blogger she's into at the moment. She actually stated the fact that she hated that her husband didn't have a blog, hated not knowing what he was thinking. To which I thought, why not just ASK him? Why not just SPEAK to him? To further illustrate the point, another scene in the ep has the blogger lady typing in a post, while a friend and reader catches up on the latest postings WHILE BEING IN THE SAME ROOM! They're in the same room together, and they're communicating via text on the screens of their respective laptops!! One has to ask, is the pseudo-public venue of blogging really a connection? Or is it just another virtual world we lay onto the reality around us to make it more palatable?


  1. Personally, I thought that ep was just tv. I saw very little of real life in the example of that woman vis-a-vis real bloggers. Some bloggers are very public like her, yes; but most are not. I got the feeling that the ep was written and acted by people who don't really understand blogging. Or, if they do understand, chose to over-exaggerate certain details and effects.

    Which is par for the course on television. Ask any real-world professional about various shows that depict their specific profession, and almost always you'll get back that the show in question is getting some details right, but over-blowing them for the sake of dramatic license.

    A forensics expert watching CSI; a cop watching Law & Order; a lawyer watching The Practice; a doctor watching Grey's Anatomy (or even House itself). I'm sure they all roll their eyes at certain liberties that are taken with each respective shows.

    So all the questions you pose I don't even consider because they are so outside my reality and my own blogging habits. Most bloggers know to leave their families and very personal details out, or at least minimize them to the point of vagueness. It's not a sufficient worry as far as I know.

  2. I understand that tv exaggerates things, but I've personally seen people sitting on opposite ends of the same room texting each other rather than speaking.

    I see that ep as kind of a vision of the future. One thing I know about human society is that it's a pendulum. We're already living out alternate lives in virtual everlasting games like WarCraft, chatting in virtual forums, and looking for romance online. Blogging is just a new version of that.

    Look how far texting has come in the short time it has existed and the impact it's had on our language, who's to say blogging won't have the same effect?

    And yes, I recognize the irony of having this discussion on a blog comment... :-)

  3. Wow, you guys are too portentous. (Did I spell that correctly?) You guys behave quite full of yourselves. I absolutely love the blog idea because it allows you to connect to people in ways that you couldn't do it in person, but I believe that's it. I understand that people will, like we do with anything and everything, abuse it. But to have that be a basis in a blog for 2 very intelligent people makes me question that very statement. Yes, blogging is fun and will, hopefully, allow people to STOP blogging and actually, like you mention in your blog, speak to each other. There will always be people like the girl in the episode and there will always be people at the other end of the spectrum, blogging with no information about themselves at all. I am more interested in the question that you posed at the end of your 5th paragraph concerning solitude being of primal need. First off, I'd like to say, I 100% disagree with that. Now here is the purpose, in my opinion of the blog. To have an idea and find out what people think, so, here is what I think. I'm pretty sure that solitude is a new thing. I'm pretty sure that we, as humans, try to find new and improved ways of killing ourselves all the time. I am not like everyone else, and I'm sure you would agree Rodney, that you haven't met or heard of too many people like me, which in my opinion, would make me the perfect candidate to primally want to be alone. I can tell you with 100% certainty that I don't want to be alone. Now, do I think I can do things better than most people? Yes, I do, which makes me want to work out problems on my own, not because I want to be alone, but because the waist of time that I've grown acustomed to by listening to others is frustrating. I would love nothing more than to bounce ideas off of someone that can understand my point and give me an equal opposing view.

  4. You know me Rodney, I can stay talking with you about a single topic for days, months, even years!! (Who is better, Batman or Superman? Superman, of course :), Point taken I hope.) This is the point and purpose of my giving you my opinion. So I can connect with you or David, or anybody else that may have an interesting view of things that I am not seeing. You will find, I'm pretty sure, that anyone you find alone by their own accord, that it wasn't by their own accord. No one wants to be alone, that's primal, since the beginning of time, not just history. The reason why we don't all live together is because I don't want to clean up your shit if you make the mess and don't want to clean it. Not because we're all clean and hard working and honest, because if we were that way, since the beginning of time, we would all live together in one magnificent..... You can fill in the blank, but I'm right. Don't let the fact that we can't trust each other deter you from the fact that we CAN trust each other. We're just different, but exactly the same.

  5. From when we're kids, we want to do things on our own. It starts with walking, reading your first book on your own, then riding a bike, then the first time you walk to school by yourself. Then the crowd mentality begins. But, almost EVERY rite of passage in human life, is a step taken alone. Like the Jewish Bat Mitsvah, you get all the training and tutoring, but you have to read that ancient language all by yourself. The first time you ask that special someone out. And when you spend time with that special someone, you and that person are ALONE together.

    Bringing a team to a fight is considered unhonorable. You have to fight your battles ALONE. You may be trained, and you may have tools/weapons to use. But you're doing it alone.

    Then there's psychology. One thing that is prized among humanity is INDIVIDUALITY. Uniqueness. Difference. Something that is unique is the only instance of itself, therefore it's ALONE.

    Solitude has been prized by humanity for a long time. Wise men spend great portions of their lives alone in contemplation.

    Solitude has been feared by humanity for a long time. Psychotic spend great portions of their lives alone in contemplation.

    What's the worst punishment in prison: solitary confinement. The idea of prison itself, shows how powerful the idea of solitude and aloneness is for humanity as a whole.

    Anyway you slice it, the concept of solitude has been part of humanity since the first human thought "I am". And for a concept to last that long in humanity means that it is an essential part of our makeup which, in my book, makes it a primal need of humanity.