So I do have beef with the whole fashion/food/travel/lifestyle blogging phenomenon, and it’s this:
I’ve been online since 9 am, this morning. Cumulatively, since our family desktop sputtered out its first screeches which signaled the information age coming to the Sarmiento household, I’ve been online since, I don’t know, ass o’clock? That I can use ass o’clock in a sentence and have someone else read it says enough about the times we’re living in. I know it’s not necessarily a generational thing. I know there are people still toiling away in medieval living conditions who will never know the pleasure of tapping away at a keyboard an allowing their thoughts to materialize first onscreen, in a string of words and sentences, before they become publicly accessible. But for a huge chunk of my life, my days have begun with checking if anyone is talking to me on the internet.
Ultimately (and I’m trying to say this without sounding righteous), this is what makes the blogosphere such a lively and nurturing environment. Looking for people to talk to upon going online doesn’t necessarily involve trolling a message board or a social network for people like us, but looking at a seemingly endless feed of articulated thoughts that crest over brainwaves most similar in length and frequency to our own. Blogging, when done well, opens an opportunity not only to begin but to continue conversations on the things that matter to us. In no other time has the breadth and variety of human concerns been more broadly accepted, hence the trending of #firstworldproblems. That the blog post typically exists for public consumption means pulling through in several areas where mainstream and commercial publishing fall short.
I guess this is the beef I have with the number of people getting into blogging for commercial gain. I understand that public space is for public consumption, and where there’s consumption – even at the metaphorical level – there’s money to be had. I understand how this benefits both parties in that businesses large and small get their exposure, and bloggers get to prolong the period of doing what they love.
What doesn’t change is that space for text is space for writing. Writing is someone’s job. Those tiny captions tucked neatly into the margins of the magazines you lovingly modeled your blog after are the result of someone who was hired and paid to do a job. There is good writing out there because there are people who do it well, and unfortunately not everybody with an internet connection (and in most cases, a good camera) does it well. There are too many who remind us why the filtration system set by editors, proofreaders, and publishers is necessary.
This is where the particular problem with the lifestyle blogging genre really shines through:
Most people lead uninteresting lives. If you were brought up middle class and are subjected to the consequences of living in a capitalist economy–which is the case with most bloggers–chances are, your life is painfully dull. We’re living in the age that coined “cool story, bro”, and no amount of “I ate this…” or “I stood next to this statue…” is going to change the fact that you return, day in-day out (or in the case of travel bloggers, every few weeks), to the same reality. If you’re writing from a coffee shop, chances are the people in the coffee shop encounter or have encountered problems similar to yours. Hell, they probably even ordered the same thing.
No one has to give a shit. No one has to want your life.
And that is okay. Now take a cue from a status update posted by my friend, Lili:
There is a paradox that exists with defrosting a refrigerator. On one hand, I’m in control; I pull the plug. Everything melts and sweats into the coolest of nothingness at my disposal. But simultaneously, I am at the mercy of time. I can’t help but watch ice fall from the freezer compartment. And as the seconds turn to minutes, I know time slips from my fingers – as if it were really mine to hold. And there grows slowly, a very acute awareness of how we’re dying little by little, with every moment that passes.
What sets a good blogger apart though is no different from what sets a good writer apart, in that they retreat into brains that process these realities differently. It’s not about the constant stream of evidence testifying to a life lived to the fullest, but the style, the cadence, the play of words that make even the most half-baked thoughts and the most mediocre details sing like fucking arias.