Filthy Rotten Angel recently posted that she was going to give up blogging, or at least give up blogging in the Known Universe. She has, I guess, reconsidered in the days since her first announcement and has posted a beautiful tribute to a friend who committed suicide. I always enjoy reading her work, it’s heartfelt in a way I can never be. I’m hoping I’m not out of line, linking to her here. Her blog is pretty autobiographical, and mine never is, so my certainty is uncertain.
During the days following her announcement, I thought about what it is that I do, here, and why I do it, and why I feel less and less like doing it.
What is the purpose and nature of this thing? Why do I do this?
I first signed up for Blogger in November of 2004. As I recall, it was a whim and one of those “everyone else is doing it, might as well get one myself” things. And now that I had it, I had no idea what to do with it. I’d scrawl brief little things and post and go back to work, or whatever.
The first purposeful posting I did was probably the PaintBlogs. These were really a method of cataloguing my creativity, trying to fathom why I made the choices that I did when constructing an artwork. And it was like a time-machine, I could see a work in its historical stages as well as the finished product. If I’d stopped at that stage (of the painting) and made different choices, what artwork would I have? And thoughts like that. The main thing is, it was all for myself. After all, I’d read somewhere that someone starts a blog every forty seconds or so. How was anyone going to come across my tiny corner?
Then something weird happened. Something I never expected to happen. I started getting comments. People were reading this crap. How did they get here? I suspect it’s the same way I found new blogs—the “Next Blog” button at the top of the Blogger Title Bar. I’d done that a number of times myself, usually enjoying the various realms I’d come across. Random chance can be fun, just ask Marcel Duchamp. In this case, it happened to me and whoever stopped by actually read what I was writing.
Of course, this changes everything. I wasn’t just leaving notes to myself, I was (cough) writing for the public. It’s one thing to write in a diary, but quite another to write in a diary knowing you’re going to have to read it in front of the class. In your underwear, too.
This changes the whole process. While I still wrote for myself, without a lot of thought whether or not my writing would be “useful” to anyone else, it does change your perspective when you think someone might read this. One is more careful with one’s phrasing, one double-checks the spelling and grammar, one reads over the prose to make sure that one thought flows smoothly into its fellow.
I’d start to think, too, that I should update more regularly, and that I should have something worthwhile to say. Worthwhile to whom? Well, why…oh. I need to write things that are interesting.
The natural question is, Well, what did you expect? Blogger is a publicly availably web service, and it’s available to this public at all times. If you want to hide, write things on your laptop and keep them there. If you want to be a public figure, blow the trumpet louder. Putting things on the internet is like showing up at the school dance. While few potential partners look at you twice, there is the possibility that someone would ask you to dance with them. Unlikely, sure, given the amount of people here. But it could happen.
Maybe that’s the attraction. There’s that slight possibility. That’s why you’re there, to show that you’re placing yourself in public eye, and ready to risk.
After all, one of the attractive aspects of other blogs is the ability to leave comments. I don’t always do so, but the fact that I can—that I can interact with another person’s thoughts—is a nice feeling. It makes me feel that I do exist, and that even though I may not be asked to dance, there’s always the possibility, however slight, that it might happen.
And when it does, telling the person you don’t know how to dance is really lame. If there’s no possibility that you’re going to dance, then you’re just going so you can be seen by everyone, and that sounds pretty lame too.
Where do I go from here? I have no idea.
I created this painting while thinking about Filthy Rotten Angel’s decision, wondering about where these events were leading. While I find this image pretty disturbing, even for my work, nonetheless I’m dedicating it to her. And hoping she won’t be a stranger.
Off to my dancing lesson.