When blogs first arrived on the internet scene a decade ago, they were places where quirky people went to obsess about inconsequential things. From shoes to Smurfs, it seemed as if every topic had an addicted chronicler who was not afraid to proclaim his existence from the basements of America. Who could have guessed that only a few short years later, ordinary citizens would embrace this format to express important political and social opinions! Today, these types of websites have become an essential component in the great debates of morality and justice in this country.
Yet there is something inherently inadequate about blogging. By definition, blogs are informal, stream of consciousness journals dedicated to single subjects. They are a virtual dream come true for a needy narcissist. They seem to say it’s okay to have phobias and passions, compulsions and illicit cravings. Hand this insecurity off to a person who may have little education and no credibility, and trouble follows. Most blogs are written by amateur thinkers with no journalistic experience. Serving up a foul stew of mishandled metaphors and run-on sentences, convoluted theses and inexcusable leaps of logic, they will label themselves as experts qualified to give vital life advice. Tragically, today’s young web surfers do not understand the difference between this sort of garbage and the work of a genuine news journalist.
The glitz and the glamour of the blogging lifestyle only makes this situation worse. It’s a feisty parade of hotlinks and party invitations, Google mentions and free promotional gifts. You get to work from home or from anywhere in the world at your own schedule– even if this means only two or three hours a week at 4am. Despite their grammar-challenged efforts, bloggers seem to exist on the cutting edge of the news cycle. They constantly scoop tv programs and newspapers, earning themselves fame and fortune in the process. As blogs grow, their audiences change as well. Once visited only by friends and random clickers, these sites have a nasty habit of devolving into cults of personality where every nuance, every changed header image, is discussed as if it’s a profound socioeconomic issue. Young people just starting out witness all this and imagine blogging as a real profession. From a distance, it looks like a respectable and even creative “career choice” and many imagine that it will be the envy of their peers.
What most do not realize is that prolonged exposure to blogging can lead to significant emotional problems. This is partly due to the fact that people lured into this lifestyle lack the psychological maturity needed to navigate the adult world (hence the reason they turned to the internet in the first place). The blog does nothing to push a young person towards confronting real world situations or finding a real job, rather it legitimates their own failings and provides unreliable financial cover as they sink deeper and deeper into codependency.
Ultimately, a blogger will develop a personal relationship with his or her blog not unlike a marriage. The blog takes on the role of the husband, providing the paycheck that keeps the roof over their heads. The blogger will become the dutiful wife, irrational and emotional in the face of the blog’s logical and authoritative technological underpinnings. She will fight with him, scream at him and he will brood in silence, manifesting his displeasure in moody outages and server problems. The two will grow intensely dependent on each other– he will not survive unless she feeds him (with new posts) and keeps their home environment clean from spam. She will fill up her days by pestering him constantly, clicking pages old and new alike to make sure he is still faithfully dedicated to their relationship and working properly.
Having an intense and extensive relationship with any inanimate object is never healthy, but for the blogger it can cross the line into the obscene. There is something about the marriage covenant played out in bits and bytes that moves from the irrational to the downright disgusting. As mentioned above, the blog often serves as a release for the pent-up psychological frustrations of its wife/writer. When these mental issues become sexual, as they often do, the blog page simulates the role of the physical partner these lonely people wished they had. Who other than a laptop would share a bed with a blogger anyway? Before long, the blogger will begin to fantasize all sorts of sexual images and metaphors in their daily exchanges.
In moments when they are “pounded” by traffic, the blogger will take it and take it both ways– “pounded” being a crude slang word for harsh intercourse and also meaning to receive a large number of web visitors. There is no doubt that it’s thrilling to be slapped awake one night by an unexplained surge, that suddenness and strength overwhelming as you seek to understand what’s happening and who’s doing it. The sensation of your site filling up is like that of blood engorging an organ or something forcing its way into a hole that you didn’t realize was so vast and empty in the first place– all those unappreciated old posts! And then the feedback starts like a sweat that breaks out all over your body at once, the perspiration leaking down your crevices, pooling up in places over some minor matter. Are you tempted to reach out a finger, post a reply there and whet your taste buds with the salty discharge of your commenters?
Hotlinks will be the next big thrill when the relationship with your own site grows too familiar. Yes, some anonymous blog from the skankiest alley of the internet might emerge to take its turn pounding you, spraying that gooey mess of new visitors across the face of your site as you pant and moan trying to keep up and maybe eventually you adapt to this new intensity, the elevated traffic numbers and endless emails, maybe you will accept this as your new life… But it will end as suddenly as it began. Those other blogs will sober up in the morning light and slip away guilty and silent. You will be left alone, mopping up the strange corners where clicks goobed up, wondering what magic combination of keywords and Facebook gossip caused all this in the first place, wondering if somehow you’ve been unfaithful to your own blog by letting these others dominate your attention. In time, you’ll grow desperate to feel that thrill again– how many days should you wait before hotlinking back to one of those blogs you encountered the other night? Will he even bother returning your call or were you just some random harlot he violated for fun and insults?
No, it will never feel like the first time ever again. You’ll chase that rush, but it will always be just beyond your reach. No amount of topical postings, liberally applied, will cure your ache. You’ve bitten into the forbidden fruit and now you’re destined to live out your life half-broke and glued to a potato chip-encrusted laptop, trolling the offbeat and pornographic corners of the internet like an aging party girl shopping for a skimpy black dress. No matter what you find, your tummy of desperation will still show. That’s the life of the full-fledged blogger and if you’ve come this far, that is what you’ve become.