Today, July 7, is an anniversary of sorts.
I started keeping an Online Journal ten years ago today, with a post that, not surprisingly to those who know me, made mention of certain unmentionable digestive issues. (Online Journal sounds so more professional and important than “blog,” that distasteful-sounding nonce word that comes from hacking off the first two letters of “weblog.”) That was at a site I chose to call “Blog d’Elisson” out of a combined failure of creativity and a desire to honor my father. I was, after all, Eli’s son, and so that became my nom d’électron.
What was the point of all this? You may well ask. I had already accumulated a small pile of miscellaneous scribblings, and I suppose I was curious as to whether anyone else would find them amusing and/or worthwhile. All it took was a precipitating event to get me started. And, as I discovered later, there was the element of catharsis, as well: It felt good to write about certain things... even if they were painful. Writing as anodyne.
The catchphrase I used on that site was “Another Monumental Exercise in Self-Aggrandizement and Time-Wastage,” the first such exercise having been the static website I started sometime around the turn of the century. I hesitate to try to calculate how many hours I have pissed away writing at both Blog d’Elisson and here, but when you consider that there is a combined total of over 5,000 posts at the two sites, you can assume that, at least, the Time-Wastage part of my mission has been successful.
As far as Self-Aggrandizement is concerned, blogging is not necessarily the most efficient way of tooting one’s own horn. (If that were my main concern, I would have been better served by simply renting a billboard on Atlanta’s Downtown Connector and slapping my grinning face on it.) My use of that term, originally, had been facetious... and yet I cannot deny the modest ego boost I got back in the early days of my bloggitry when I would get a new blogroll link - hell, any link - or a comment. Those, along with my pageview stats, meant that somebody out there in the Internet-Ether had read something I had written, sometimes liking it enough to lob a comment back over the net or plug a link into his or her own site. That somebody was most likely a total stranger, and yet those invisible linky connections, over time, sometimes morphed into real-life friendships. One element that made those friendships remarkable was their sheer unlikeliness: These were people I would probably never have encountered in everyday life - yet we became bound together solely by the strength of our ideas and our ability to express them.
That, to me, was what made Old-School Blogging special. It built communities... without necessarily intending to. And it did not rely on a self-selected network of “ffriends” to keep it going.
Alas, Facebook (which I refer to as “Farcebook” in my blacker moods) has eaten the guts out of blogging. That is, any guts that remained after the commercial interests jumped in. Most of the people who used to write personal blogs have given up and migrated to Facebook, where their connectivity is measured in their number of ffriends, their likes, their status updates, their shares. Blogroll links and comments just aren’t sexy any more.
That’s too bad, because - to me, anyway - blogs were where I discovered people whose politics were different from mine... or the same. People who looked at the same things I did and came away with completely different takes. People whose senses of humor were all over the map. People who saw the beauty in the mundane. People who were just plain nuts... but entertainingly so. People who could write... and make me want to read more. And people who interacted with you, people with whom you could have a dialogue.
Rob Smith, who styled himself Acidman on his famous - some would say infamous - blog Gut Rumbles, used to call his blogging “a ceaseless quest for adoration from people who don’t know me.” Sounds an awful lot like Self-Aggrandizement, doesn’t it? And that is hardly a surprise, for it is normal for males to seek the Three A’s: admiration, appreciation, and acknowledgement. Adoration and aggrandizement might be a bit more extreme, but they certainly fall somewhere in the spectrum with those other A’s.
Since mid-2010, I’ve been writing here at Lost in the Cheese Aisle, where the elements of self-aggrandizement and time-wastage, while still present, are no longer worth memorializing in the form of a catchphrase. The title of the blog comes from one of the Missus’s more endearing characterizations of me: when I’m acting especially distracted or confused, she calls it “being lost in the cheese aisle.” (I am actually capable of getting lost in the cheese aisle. Oooh, cheese!) That ADHD-ish facet of my personality can be exasperating, but I like to believe that it adds to my charm... at least, such charm as I may possess.
And I suppose I will keep writing here, albeit with diminished frequency. I started all of this Online Journalism for my own amusement - despite any and all appearances to the contrary - and as long as it continues to amuse me, I’ll keep flogging the beast.