Homo homini rodentius est

Why do I blog (when I do)?

I’ve been tagged by [Lord Matt] to explain why I blog. Couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. The challenge roused me from an unintentional month-long torpor triggered by a nasty case of writer’s block that resulted from my attempt to write a review of Sam Harris’s book “The End of Faith”. I was held back partly by innate perfectionist (read: severely anal) tendencies — I couldn’t write anything else until I published the Harris review — coupled with my utter revulsion of Harris and his anti-liberal project. Alas, I will struggle past the block under the assumption that there are actually readers out there who care to read what I have to write and with the aid of an oil can or two of Foster’s (god bless the Australians…) and a CD of Heaven 17 cranked loud. As I remember, the question was “Why do I blog?”

1. To find like minds. The internet promises us infinite opportunity to connect with others. It’s like being in the biggest dorm in the world and like the opportunities provided in our college years we can run into people who share our idiosyncratic world-views and make connections that, otherwise, would have been impossible. In practice, though, the conversation is a bit one-sided. I’ve met up with a few good souls but I’ve had well over 50,000 people stop by the blog in the first year of its existence and most have been absolutely, resoundingly silent. Maybe it’s because people see the internet as a new form of television: watch it while you sit in your underwear playing with yourself (“The shades are closed, they can’t see me… right?”), but don’t respond to the guy who spent 8 hours preparing the post you’re enjoying. Flip the channel if it’s not entertaining enough. There are certainly enough channels to choose from (70 million according to Technorati). Promise meets praxis.

2. To advertise myself. Blogs can be great big business cards. I had thought in my (not so) youthful innocence that by making my Great Big Talent™ obvious, I would elicit offers to write in more mainstream venues (“Hey! This guy’s sharp as a tack and has something to say! Let’s bring him on board!”) That’s how editors talk isn’t it? Well. The irony here is that I’ve worked in the biggest marketing and advertising agency in the world for 10 years and I didn’t apply the methods I’ve used for my clients to promote my own humble offerings. It’s as if I forgot everything I know about targeting an audience and delivering a message that moves them. Silly boy. But, as ever, the challenge is to sell yourself without selling your soul. Whatever that means.

3. Ego. I write whatever I want, click a button and (potentially) millions of people can read it. ‘Nuff said?

4. There is no fourth reason.

5. As a bulwark against mortality. My life is more than half over. One day I was walking home from work and I looked down into my Manhattan neighborhood from a height and, seeing the hundreds of people milling about, imagined the scene without me in it. Anywhere. Just like my parents whose remains lie in the earth of upstate New York but who are now nowhere. It stopped me in my tracks. Literally. I blog for the same reasons I speak at all, anywhere — to remind myself and others that I’m still here. That I think, that I have something to say if there are any who care to hear.


I tag:

Eric Berlin

Heida Biddle
Mark Allen (I’m really curious, though he’ll never bite)
Andrew Sullivan (as if…)

UPDATE 4.30: Eric, Heida and Shazzer have all taken the bait and provided insightful and honest explanations of their need to communicate through this medium. Follow the links above to their sites.

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