I'm going to take a break today from saving the world, lifting up the oppressed, shedding light onto the injustices of the world, and calling a spade a spade. This entry focuses on blogging itself. Every now and then we need to turn our focus inward rather than outward. Those of you who have been blogging for a while have realized how complex and multifaceted a place is the blogosphere. I'm not going to address all of them in this entry, but I will highlight a few archetypes I've seen over the past fourteen months of almost-daily blogging.
Over the past several months, I have watched many blogs shift from free accounts like Blogger or Wordpress towards self-contained sites. These self-contained sites do afford their users more control and provide better avenues for creativity. If my HTML skills were better, I might consider doing so. However, I consciously try to keep this blog pretty bare-bones and simplistic. Bells and whistles are fantastic things but I find they can overwhelm a viewer with a visceral experience that distracts from the content. The other side of that is that if a blog is too heady, too cerebral, then it can be overwhelming to the audience.
I am reminded of one blog in particular which unfortunately falls prey to John Kerry Syndrome. A seminary student, her blog entries read like academic journals and I must admit that deciphering such intensely complex entries often leaves me exhausted. Here's a tip. Exhausted readers do not often leave comments.
Some bloggers need to lighten up. Yes, we all get a case of ain't it awful syndrome from time to time, but taken to extremes, it makes a person seem like a crabby misanthrope. We have more than enough Archie Bunkers in the world. I spent my formative years with one in the person of my father. When I find myself acting like him, I make a point to take time out and re-channel my thoughts.
My personal pet peeve regards the sorts of people who put a minimum of fifteen hyperlinks to other sites in one blog entry. Sure, this sort of behavior does easily fill up a page, but neither does this reveal your original voice. Furthermore, who is really going to take the time to look at fifteen different websites? We know you have something original to say, so say it. Disambiguation pages are for wikipedia.
Some bloggers, however, post entries so inconsequential and fluffy that it's tough to take them seriously. That's what livejournal or xanga is for, buddy.
A few examples to avoid are Mommy blogs or the Wingnut sorts of which Pammy is a good example. Mommy blogs have occasional merits, though they do tend to be pretty narrow in focus. Some of you recent mothers feel a compulsion to document everything your offspring touches, smells, feels, or speaks. Not that I don't share your joy at having brought a new life into the world, but the minutia of raising children often wears pretty thin. In addition, you must hold great expectations for your son or daughter, because the sort of details you reveal would only be of interest to future biographers or sycophantic admirers.
The typical wing-nut blog says absolutely nothing of consequence, reports supposition as fact, reveals the inherently narcissistic nature of its owner, and confuses rational critique with screamed epithets. Avoid.
The key, of course, is to strike a balance in your own writing. Strive to comment on a variety of different subjects. Don't be afraid to display your strengths. If you have hidden talents, then reveal them to the world. This is supposed to be fun, after all.
Happy blogging, everyone.