Friday, January 27, 2006

On blogging, kissing butt, and self-censorship

Every day I read this blog by Stephanie Klein (http://stephanieklein.blogs.com/greek_tragedy/) because I read about it in the New York Times one day and, even though I find some of her posts a bit psycho-babbly, I do enjoy her witticisms and descriptions of decadent food. Anyway, it probably would have never occurred to me independently to read someone else's blog, because even though this is 2006 and some people get their NEWS exclusively from blogs written by guys who live in their parents' basements, reading other people's online thoughts/diary entries/ramblings/recommendations still feels weirdly self-indulgent. No, not even self-indulgent, it's more like, OTHER-indulgent, as if by reading Stephanie Klein's posts about her "relationship issues" I am somehow validating her airing her dirty laundry for all to see, and sort of admitting that I am intrigued by someone's else's life -- someone whom I don't even know. Not that she knows I am reading it, I never post on her comment board or anything, but it still feels weird.

What I find even more arresting/dismaying than bloggers, however, are these people who follow blogs like my dad follows Penn State football -- posting on bulletin boards, checking and re-checking for new posts, instigating disussion and debate with fellow ravenous blog-stalkers, and so on. At least my dad can bet on football -- one of the many joys of living in Nevada -- but what do these weirdos who post religiously on Stephanie Klein's comment board get out of it? Are they are genuinely THAT interested in the goings-on of a stranger's life? Do they just have a lot of free time? Why do they argue over whether Stephanie is right or wrong in her analysis on some aspect of her own life?

What drives me especially nuts on Stephanie's comment board are the people (almost all female) who kiss her butt after every single borderline-treacly post about love, her boyfriend, feeling fat, her Issues, etc. ("Steph, you go girl!!" "Steph, don't let anyone tell you you're not amazing!" "Steph, you AMAZE me with your DEEPNESS!!! Love ya!!!!!" "Steph, you're incredible, girl! Loved the part about finding peace with your tumultuous childhood! It's like you GET me!")... I mean, yikes. My problem here is not with Stephanie Klein's posts -- after all, it's her blog, she can write whatever the heck she wants, and I forgive her the occasional foray into melodrama/sentimentality/cliché because I generally enjoy her writing --- what bothers me is the butt-kissers. Can't say why, exactly, except I get the feeling that these ladies like to sing Stephanie's praises to her because they think she is going to be famous and they like to feel like they know her somehow, like they share so much in common with her and that she, in turn, knows them. Is that cynical of me? Probably.

Anyway, as I post this, I realize that maybe 2 people read my blog, one of whom is probably me, the other of whom is probably my cousin. And that is a generous estimate. So this entire exercise in blogging is sort of, well, really self-indulgent, isn't it? And I'm not even a GOOD blogger. All I do is cut and paste emails that I write home onto a website once a month or so. That's not blogging, that's lazy. I am not committed enough to keep potential blog-stalkers sated, they would go hungry waiting for me to toss them little morsels to read. I give total props to committed bloggers who have a loyal fan base -- it means that whatever they are writing is interesting enough to people -- many of whom don't even know them -- to read and think about. I wonder if anyone ever reads my blog. I wonder if I'd read it if I weren't me. I'd be like, "ho hum, some chick in Brazil, been there, booo-ring. Back to reading celebrity gossip on MSN (http://entertainment.msn.com/gossip)

The reason I decided to start a blog in the first place was because I thought it might be interesting to chronicle what I did in Brazil, just so -- if nothing else -- I could look back it later and remember the "good times," or the "tempos bons" as we Portuglish speakers would say. I used to be a fanatical journal-keeper, a habit which I wisely curtailed when I got to college, and now is too hard to start up again. I have this beautiful beaded journal that my friends gave me for my 22nd birthday -- it's the kind of book that I feel obligated to use a nice pen to write in -- but I have only written in it a few times. It's easier for me to write long emails -- I can be wittier in emails because I feel a bit of a need to impress my readers, and no need to include the gory and self-incriminating details of my escapades. There are certain things that are better left unsaid -- and I self-censor even in my own journals. My mom always said, "never write anything down that you wouldn't want everyone to see," or something to that effect. It's true. If nothing else, I say, invest in a black marker to redact your own journal entries, just like the US government does!

One question before I put this post to rest -- does anyone read this?

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