Oprah's Fight Club

They used to call sites like this "online diaries." Places where people could electronically keep a journal about their lives, in much the same way that so many of us used to (and in many cases still) do in unassuming spiral notebooks or well-worn blank books picked up in the front corner shelves of Borders or Barnes and Noble. Of course things like that were always thought of as places for private thoughts. Personal worries. Private fears.
Blogs are different.
For a long time, it seemed like the people who wrote "journals," "online diaries," and "web logs" were able to maintain that sense of detachment that comes from the process of sketching their thoughts onto the page without thought to any given audience or concerns about the way things were presented. It was as it paint were splashed onto the canvas -- with themes of anger, hurt, or happiness coming through as familiar shapes, even when the edges weren't clearly defined. It was almost as if whenever you read someones online journal back in the day, you were peeking directly into their lives --
Sneaking a look into those paper diaries, reading things that
in a normal context other people wouldn't want you to see.
My old friend and mentor Rick Straub used to say that journaling is one of the most important things a writer can do to develop their craft. He always maintained that writing wasn't so much the act of copying down whatever was in your mind -- but an ongoing process of translating your personal thoughts and ideas into the kind of language that would best convey your meanings to readers.

Think about it for a second, have you ever written a letter or email to someone -- a close friend, a family member; someone who personally knows you, how you talk and has some degree of familiarity with the events and circumstances in your life -- yet all the while you're writing the message you're continually hitting the backspace key, rewriting paragraphs, changing words, or adding little parenthetical asides to sentences that you've already written?

Why do that? Why bother tweaking language for people who shouldn't need clarification on the ways you communicate?

Anyone who's received an email or text message in the last 10 years knows damn well that it's certainly not out of a desire to correct bad grammar or spelling mistakes. It's not style that gets worked over and retouched -- it's meaning.

It may not always seem like it, but I think in today's world there's almost more value in being understood than there is in being seen. Not all of us are movie stars or famous athletes -- but almost every one of us can find ways to share our opinions to people all over the world.

Of course, just because billions of people can read your words doesn't mean any of them have any reason to give a crap -- which means that even if you have thousands of MySpace friends, names on your buddy list, or contacts on your blackberry -- more than ever it's the people who actually take the time to listen to what you say who hold the most value.
Especially for a blogger.
Very few people who read blogs only read one. Instead they browse through an ever-changing library of favorites, almost as if they were walking person to person asking how their day was, or how they felt about that thing that happened on the news last night.

At the same time the impetus for most people to start and maintain their blog had something to do with wanting a place to write down private thoughts or rant about personal issues one way or the other. You talk about your kids, or discuss things that are happening in your life, or your job, or relationships. Sure every now and then you post a quiz, fill out a meme, complain about celebrities, talk politics, or whatever -- but by and large I think people who blog frequently just want to have a place to talk about what's going on in their lives. Almost like a scrapbook, or a photo album.
But are blogs really personal writings anymore?
Sure they represent your take on things, your feelings on a given topic – but when you have a blog that’s read by people and you’re aware of the audience, it tends to change the way you approach the writing.

All writers want to be read, all artists want to be appreciated and critiqued -- but from the angsty teenager with a Livejournal to the retiree who posts daily reactions to the news filtered through their own political views -- it seems that in more cases than not, bloggers write for validation.
Authenticate me. Confirm my presence. Don't shut me out.
Whether it's stat counters, comment threads, submissions from Digg or some other link sharing site -- you sorta know there are people there. Even people whose blogs only have one or two close friends who check in usually have some sort of acknowledgement of their presence (comments, emails about posts, etc).

Not that I think bloggers write specifically to appeal to their particular audience (although I'm sure some do), but that I think there is a difference between people seeing your site and having people take the time to read your words and think about the things you’re saying.
After all -- the Internet isn't a collection of published pages. It's a discussion. It's discourse.
And yes, huge percentages of this particular discourse out there are sycophantic, ill-informed, overly negative, hateful, or borderline retarded -- but without an active exchange of ideas how can anyone ever learn? Knowledge spreads through communication, communication dies without discussion. Discussion can't happen without language, or forums for that language to be used and exchanged.
People painted on cave walls for a reason.
Who are we to say that the first hieroglyphic in Egypt wasn't created to tell anyone willing to read that the pictures of stick figures throwing spears at some animal was all part of some vast right-wing conspiracy, or to add a caption the image of one of the cat gods that says "I'm in Ur Pyramids, Raising an Army of Ur Dead."

All the web really does (for better or for worse)
is provide platforms for people to make those choices.

It’s almost like a daytime talk show. If Oprah likes a book, she suggests that everyone read it. And if her viewers value her opinions -- the next time they’re in a bookstore the chances are pretty good they might check it out. But If Oprah gets pissed about something, it’s only logical to think that things might work the same way -- Especially if she dedicates and episode of her blog show to her feelings on the topic.

Every time I read Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club I’m struck by the same question: At what point does the narrator go from needing Tyler Durden in his life to feeling like he’s gone too far and has to be stopped?
In my mind, it's once Tyler starts trying to spread his message to
other people -- people willing to follow those words without question.
It could be easily argued that without Tyler, the narrator would have never reached self-actualization, would never have grown out of his dependencies on material needs and the shelters he found in his corporate status and acceptance of a lesser place in society.

But the very same things that make Tyler Durden's presence empowering to the narrator as a character (and in many ways us as a reader) change once Project Mayhem becomes a reality, and as the story goes on those traits begin to present a danger to the people he cares about (Marla), the people who believe in him (Robert Paulson), and perhaps society as a whole.

But without Tyler’s influence, would the narrator have ever been able to recognize that danger?
Let me try to put this another way..
I had a really bad weekend. Something happened that I
wasn't expecting. Something that cut me to the quick.
Not like that time you were moving furniture around and scraped your knuckles on something and messed up your favorite shirt with the bloodstains, but like an paper cut -- where something so tiny, so unexpected not only won't stop bleeding, but stings like hell long after you thought it should have stopped.

Writing about it, venting that anger -- just getting it all out would have done me a world of good. Good in the way that putting things down in a diary or a private journal does -- because you can scream it out without whining. Bitch about something without being such a bitch. Explore it in words, figure it out, go through the stages, have your time to be mad about it, grow up, get over it, and then get on with your life.
But this isn't a private journal.
For me to discuss my feelings about it would mean explaining the situation. Describing the details, and naming the names. But because of the public/private nature of blogging (and the nature my site in particular) I would also be opening the door to, perhaps even inviting discussion/discourse about the incident, my feelings of anger and hurt over the situation and the people involved.

Without the context to understand why this incident was so bothersome, all I would be doing is throwing someone else under a bus just so I could feel better – and that’s not what I want to do. I mean yeah, I was mad. I was hurt –- but considering the way that I personally would need to work through it on the page, the style that I use to write about things -– would that the best choice for me to make?
There's a difference between thinking something and saying it.
There's a difference between having an opinion and posting it.

[Listening to:    Skindred"The Fear" ]


Anonymous said…
Schnell haben)))) Гјberlegt viagra generika bestellen viagra online bestellen [url=http//t7-isis.org]levitra 20mg filmtabletten[/url]
Anonymous said…
Cam2Cam Sex

Sexkontakte privat

Cam to Cam Sex
Anonymous said…
la respuesta Competente, cognoscitivamente... [url=http://csalamanca.com/tag/sin-receta/ ]viagra generico contrareembolso [/url] Bravo, me parece esto la idea magnГ­fica http://csalamanca.com/tag/sin-receta/ comprar viagra en madrid