Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blog-dentity Crisis

Oh boy, this is going to be a long one.

One of my favorite things to do when checking out a new blog is to take a look at their very first post. It usually provides some insight into the blogger and what their expectations are. You can then compare the expectations with what the blog has become. I don't know; I just find it interesting.

Today I read a post on Don Hall's blog "An Angry White Guy in Chicago." For those of you who don't know him, Don is something of an off-loop theatrical institution here in Chicago. Today's post was a response to a post written by some guy I've never met or previously heard of living in New York. The interwebs are funny that way in that you get access to the thoughts and ramblings of people with whom you will probably never interact otherwise. Another funny thing about the interwebs - one post begets another post which begot this post.

Anyway, this guy's post basically satirized people who write blog posts lamenting the state of the American Theatre and kind of reminded me of an essay I wrote back in college about the bullshit of writing short fiction for a class load of stuffy pain-in-the-ass fiction writers- the same kind of 'biting the hand that feeds' mentality.

Don wrote a response post that ended up basically defending himself and between his post and the comment section it basically (and possibly inadvertently) amounted to a microcosm of the whole concept of his blog: Don rants about injustices in theatre, art and politics and makes poop jokes.

I believe that would be a fair summary and would apply to most (though not all) of what appears on his blog.

Blogs are funny things. The idea of blogging gets a lot of flack from non-bloggers for being forums for narcissistic jackasses to bitch and complain about things that nobody else in the world would reasonably ever care about. I wrote about this topic a while back.

Essentially a blog is just a format. You log onto a site, write something in a white box (like I am doing right now) and then hit "Publish" and then your post shows up on the interwebs, tagged and dated with the newest post at the top of the page.

What you do with your blog is your business. Your blog can be what amounts to an electronic diary, as is so often lamented by nonbloggers as previously mentioned. But blogs can just as easily serve other purposes. My sister started hers as a trip journal for while she was going to school in France for six months. My friend Joe is using his (formerly titled "Bite and Smile") as a place to post sketches for his 365 Sketches project, where he writes a sketch every day for a year. My favorite sports website is called MGoBlog and, as you can probably tell in the name, runs on a blog format.

A blog format can also be used to post pictures of disgusting food, or pictures/movies of people doing stupid things, or any number of random things. All of these blogs have a purpose. Blog A is more or less about topic A.

So, being one of these aforementioned narcissistic jackass bloggers I read this microcosm of Don Hall's blog and began to think "Gee, what is my blog about?" and suddenly realize that I really don't have an answer to that question.

I write about all sorts of different things. I make fun of Chuck Norris and Richard Simmons. I write about politics and sports and theatre and sketch comedy and things I find on the Internet. I write about writing. I write about my life. I write about Chicago, and Michigan. I write about things I like or things that irritate me. I write little fictional pieces or fake histories. I post pictures of monkeys fighting with knives and medieval torture.

Some days I come to the post with an idea of something I want to write. Some days, I show up and have no idea what I'm going to write and then accidentally stumble on something. Most days, though, I have no idea what I'm going to do and I end up just making something up or posting a picture or not posting at all.

And the result is a blog that, as near as I can tell in looking back on a year and a half's worth of posts, just kind of wanders aimlessly from topic to topic without ever really sticking with anything. It's not a diary - I try not to bitch about my personal life as much as possible - but it's not focused enough on any particular topic to be about something either.

My blog's not really about anything.

Sudden confrontation with the lack of consequence or direction of one's blog might very easily crumble a blogger, especially once juxtaposed with such venerable blogs. Feeling a surprisingly desperate introspection, I looked back at my first blog post here at Clever Title - a fittingly vague name given the above realizations - to see if I ever left myself any clues on what I was about to do with a year and a half (and going) of my life. Basically what I find is (1) bloggers are narcissists who write things nobody wants to read, and (2) I'm doing this to keep writing.

That's it. That's all I gave myself to go on. Keep writing. Don't be a whiny jackass.

I look at my goals and I say "Have I kept writing? Have I been a whiny jackass?" And, since the answer is yes and no respectively (at least I don't think I've been a whiny jackass. I guess you readers could tell better than I) then I guess I've accomplished my goals.

So that will have to do for now. This blog is not about anything in particular, but at least there are goals here, as loose as they may be. And that's probably just as well, because for the moment I'm content just to wander around blathering.

Yikes. Tune in tomorrow for more pictures of monkeys.

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