A Story No Blogger Should Miss (Frankie – 2008)
(This piece originally appeared in Frankie #23)
Dear Blog, Today I did this and said that and made this private joke and generally my grammar was terrible and I got myself into a situation with no dramatic tension or character arcs and I guess you had to be there. *SUMBIT*
Sound familiar? Yes, tickle me Qwertyuiop: it’s blog-o’clock! Enter the literary dark ages as a million volume omnibus of misspelled first drafts and textual healing is spammed out of Generation-Why? keyboards quicker than you can Yahoo! ‘line breaks please!’ Hey, don’t get me wrong, this influx in self-narration can only be good for the online diary industry – it’s just the readers union I feel sorry for.
In high school your journal was a little bleeding heart kept alive in the bottom drawer, guarded vehemently with your tatters of a life. Now, it’s an instant access accessory we can’t WAIT to bandy around like some bawdy billboard:
Punctuation’s Been Slashed!
Truth Reduced To Clear!
All Dignity Must Go!
Don’t get me wrong (or do, I’d never find out) – cathartic writing, used wisely, is arguably the finest and most thrifty form of therapy available. A blog can be a shot of alphabetic adrenalin to the soul. The combination of seeing your muddled thoughts all neat and trim in twelve point, with the lucky dip publishing promise of the Interweb means that the star of the high school musical in us gets to see their story magnetted to the global fridge.
Credit should go to those socially conscious cavaliers who have been able to touch type their way out of the blunderground with style and grace. In 2003 Salam Pax (The Baghdad Blogger), became famous for his daily reports on the Iraqi capital, and his musings were eventually published in a book. Amanda Palmer from The Dresden Dolls impressed me with the wit and charisma of her tour tales, and yet the concept of book-marking her daily seemed like auteur autism, for someone who struggles to read a novel unless it’s inflatable and bath-ready.
The ultimate catch with self-publishing on the information blooperhighway (I went there) is the ethereal legalities of emotional copyright. Read: writing about other people. Dave Eggers nails this topic in his memoir ‘A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.’ He was so obsessed with the notion of making his own life read like good fiction that he originally put in working phone numbers of some of the ‘characters.’ He argued that he owned his experiences and memories as much as anyone. It’s an intriguing notion, but as I will attest, being extroverted about privacy is one narcissistic rubber duck destined for hot water.
I once went home with a girl I liked, and within twelve hours a brief yet graphic account of it was up on her blog. (Discovered during my morning self-google). To make it weirder she had referred to me by my stage name, creating the post-Catholic reality that my Mum could find it. When I confronted the girl asking her to take it down I was met with a tone of arrogant disbelief that I could possibly have a problem. Apparently by making eye contact I’d signed a spiritual waver submitting my existence as a plotline in her aggressively empowering reality serial. Surely I’d just appreciate the publicity? (and the three star review.)
How will historians look back on this e-era? A liberating lattice of language and interconnectivity or a billion gigs of ego gunk? Academics keep saying how isolated and disconnected we’re all feeling, despite the communication age explosion. Perhaps if we all took a big virtual *breath* and deeply pondered what we really want to say to the world, and to each other – artistic discipline could win over from ‘this morning my friend said something hilarious but I can’t remember.’
“…this is like making electricity from dirt; it’s almost too good to be believed, that we can make beauty from this stuff.” Dave Eggers.