Friday, 6 March 2009

W(h)ither the blog?


Perhaps it’s the New Year, causing me to reflect (even more than usual!) on my life. Perhaps it is because of friends’ comments, both considered and sloughed off incidentally in passing. Perhaps it is just the unrelenting heat here in Todos Santos that has addled my brain. Whatever the underlying reason, I have been struggling with understanding why I maintain this blog, and whether or not its value justifies continuing.

I first experimented with blogging when I was at the height of my professional business career, and at the forefront of using technology to leverage the work of teams. At that time, creating a blog, and even modifying the look and feel of the blog, required considerable work and arcane technical knowledge. Having mastered the complexities, and finding insufficient of net value to add to the toolkit, I moved on. I came back to try blogging again in late 2007, primarily because, like Everest, “it was there”. Technology had advanced to a point where it was easy to play with a blog, and I wanted to play.

I became mesmerised at first sight. I saw a beauty in the way the layout, attractive typeface and inclusion of pictures could transform even the most banal of content into something pleasing to the eye. And then the question came – ‘What could you use this for?” – rather than the content emerging first and then demanding an outlet.

Whenever a vacuum is created, something moves to fill it. I became interested in seeing whether I had the capacity to write beyond straightjacketed business prose and anguished poetic lamentations (the latter seeming now, to my mind, somewhat akin to Vogon poetry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogon ) - infinitely cathartic, but strictly for internal consumption due to its devastating effect on the listener). And I discovered that I had a pent-up reservoir of thoughts on the evolution of my life, and about the places in which I lived, that I needed to dissect and exorcise. Building on these two drivers, the blog took on a life of its own. It demanded life from me. If I did not create an entry for a while, I would feel the pressure building within me that could only be relieved, temporarily, by another post.

Working through issues and practising craft are valuable pursuits. Most blogs, though, including this one, are public. Just why did I feel the need to make my efforts public? I could posture (and I have, at some level in my mind, held this view) that it provides a vehicle for gathering comments; provoking debate. If you look at the blog, however, you will see that there are few comments. There is little real debate or useful critique. I get most of my comments via private e-mail, but many are words of encouragement, rather than building on what I have written. I am not alone in this. If you look at most popular blogs, the comments are usually but a watered down froth to complement and compliment the author’s work. The “blogsphere” acts more like a support group for its inhabitants. I liken it somewhat to the Open Readings in Todos Santos. At each reading (a.k.a. group therapy session), every performance, from the sublime to the senile-adolescent, is applauded, and no meaningful critique is offered. I have often mused indeed as to whether the intensity of the applause reflects the value of the piece, or perhaps relief or sympathy proportional to the extent to which the reader has overrun his or her allotted 5 minutes.

So the ostensible value in publication does not stand up to critical review. What really lies behind my choosing to publish the blog? I think, at heart, it is a desire to address two conflicting needs, drawing from insecurity. To make me stand out from others, and to connect with others. I have used the blog as a form of extended business card; to shout “There’s much more to me than the business consultant that you think you know!” And there is a longing to connect with others, especially as I transition from a work-based life to something else, and live in two new, very strange and warmly isolating communities.

I have been fortunate to have connected, virtually or in person, with a few very interesting people through blogging. It is, however, a very random way to connect, akin to clicking the “next blog” at the top of the page. In addition, while it is true that you can often infer a lot about a person from reading their blog, it is also the case that the content of a blog represents a filtered view of their life, thoughts and feelings. True “connection” involves more than interchange of carefully manicured narrative.

As for promoting “The Real Vic”, as with everything, once strong daylight is shed upon a subject, it loses its potency. The thought now of thrusting this perception upon unsuspecting people seems mildly amusing and ineffectual.

I do have more to say, to explore, to picture. But I doubt that this blog is the appropriate mechanism. Blogs can have value; for example to keep an artist’s followers in touch with new work, or to keep friends aware of a travel adventure. This particular vehicle of mine, however, after 74 postings, has probably run its course.

I thank those who have enjoyed my postings, and especially those who have taken the time to tell me so. The reinforcement kept me going where lethargy would have brought this venture to an untimely end.

The photo I have chosen to accompany this final posting is again of bougainvilleas, a fitting symmetry to my first image on this blog. In some ways I think the omnipresent bougainvillea reflects truths about us and our lives. Continual outbreaks of flowers that are breathtakingly gorgeous and delicate present a longed for illusion of permanent beauty, while the detritus of withered dead flowers under the bush reminds me of the reality of the temporary nature of all things. Hidden behind the showy but ephemeral beauty of the flowers, are superficially uninteresting branches that are, in reality, the true strong core of the plant. Over time, this framework for the plant evolves from innocent sinewy shoots that twist as needed, to become strong, accreted with character, but unexpectedly encrusted with wicked thorns, ready to rend the unsuspecting or unprepared that dares probe beneath the surface illusion.

12 comments:

Chris+Lynn said...

If you have more to say & explore, I hope this blog doesn't die!We're all searching for connections, aren't we? And in a blogosphere filled mostly with self-promotion masquerading as personal growth, I always look forward to reading your authentic voice.
Writing, whatever form it takes, is always a courageous act partly because it is in its nature both private & public. Its "value" is different(greater?)than a travelogue or informational guide or sales pitch. Chronicling one's thinking is such a gift to oneself & your readers. Its value is right there, in its 74-post existence.

Anonymous said...

I have found your blog to be way over the top, listen-to-me, self indulgent at times and at others fun to read to hear about a Gringo's life in Todos Santos. There is a heart beat in there somewhere.

I hope your blog evolves and does not die, it is the only way I know you. I can tell you that from this voyeuristic anonymous seat I would not return unless there was entertainment value. I have read your postings for sometime now.

Anonymous said...

Wow!! I love that you are not screening comments.

A blog is so much more alive when people have a chance to post commentary of any sort.

Evolution!

Ian Lidster said...

I'm sorry that you are considering leaving your blog, but I understand perfectly why, and have toyed with the thought myself from time-to-time. But, of course, I write for a living in any case and I guess my ramblings are part of who I am.
However, having met you in person you are significantly greater than the sum of your blogger parts, so please do keep in touch. I would value that.

citizen of the world said...

Having just stumbled in, I ahet to hear it. But people blog when they feel a need to, and there is a natural waxing and waning. The best of luck to you.

wp said...

Wow, Citizen of the World (comment above) has an excellent blog, worth checking out. You read it and feel you know her, but of course you don't.

Like in this blog you are beginning to feel like you are getting to know the person behind the writing but are unsure if you really appreciate what having a drink at the local pub would be like. Something tells me having a beer with Vic would be entertaining.

I have found 'A Tale of Two Towns' to be a fun and interesting read. I love getting a feel for life in Todos Santos and am envious of the winter escape to the south. As much as I have enjoyed the writing I have loved the photos, they are always great.

Hope you re-think the finality.

Anonymous said...

Bummer... Sitting here in Bellingham, waiting for yet another round of possible snow coming in the next day or two, I will miss reading your words coming from our other home down south. Since we can't be in TS as much as we would like right now, in a few years we plan to spend the winters, returning to Bellingham for the summer. Thank you... It's been fun, interesting, and enlightening to read what you've had to say.

See you on the beach sometime! Take care... Lisa

Anonymous said...

THE END.

Chris+Lynn said...

Just checking in to see if there's any news from A Tale of Two Towns...no? Too bad. Will have to find you for a drink then next time we're in town!

thedailyg said...

Commenters don't generally have much of a stomach for debate because we're not living in a time of polar certainties; the mythologies that motivate people are fragmented and it's an empty, superficially pluralistic society. No one knows what's going on; they don't have a powerful or convincing story with which to explain events, so they can't take a strong view.

The support-group mentality is a symptom of people who are isolated and inward-looking, and who try to create a bubble in which they can form genuine connections. It's safer than going out and trying to change the real world or talk about real ideas and problems. Real argument can burst the bubble so easily when people can just click away from you, so there's a disincentive to be challenging.

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