The Null Device

Beware of friends with blogs

Dating a blogger, reading about it, or the consequences of bloggers going on about their co-workers/boyfriends/buddies/&c:
Indeed, for many bloggers being noticed seems to be the point. John M. Grohol, a psychologist in the Boston area who has written about bloggers, said they often offered intimate details of their lives as a ploy to build readership.

Or perhaps it's pathological narcissism or exhibitionism? Or perhaps a symptom of the human need to communicate in a disconnected, depersonalised society?

That became an issue for a recent boyfriend of hers, a 34-year-old Manhattan hedge-fund manager who feared that having his name in the blog could compromise his business relationships. During his eight-month stint as a nameless regular on Ms. Clemente's site, he said, "it was an odd feeling that there was a camera on me." Friends and relatives who knew about the site followed his relationship online, he said. "On occasion my mother would send me an e-mail saying, `How was the play?' or, `Sounds like you had a nice weekend away,' " he said.

I wonder how long until we see personal ads reading "blogger seeks exhibitionist", promising Internet-wide fame to anyone wanting to go out with them. I suspect there'd be takers out there (though whether one would want to sleep with them is another matter).

When the relationship ended, she said, "I had totally random people e-mailing me saying they were sad we broke up." She described the experience as "totally weird," but added, "As a writer, having anyone read your stuff is a compliment."

The proliferation of personal bloggers has led to a new social anxiety: the fear of getting blogged, as friends of bloggers face the prospect of becoming characters in a public drama:

"It's personal etiquette meets journalistic rules," Mr. Denton, the blog publisher, said. "If you have a friend who's a blogger you have to say, `This is not for blogging.' It's the blogging equivalent of `This is off the record.' "

Then again, the question is, is that really blogging? Blogging was originally about linking to things on the web and/or commentary on various ideas/media; however, the word seems to have mutated to mean "any web page where new content is added at the top", with many in this category being online diaries/journals. Meanwhile, you're as likely to find old-sk00l link-based blogging in LiveJournal sites as elsewhere. (And whatever happened to E/N sites, the geek-macho cousins of blogs?)

IMHO, my philosophy of blogging is that it is not so much about one's everyday life as about one's intellectual interests. This includes links to interesting sites/articles, commentary about books/movies/music/ideas/current events, and so on. Sure it may not be as "personal" as giving the juicy goss about one's sex life or rabbiting on about the poor quality of coffee at work, but it's more interesting.

In my blog, I specifically avoid talking about friends, coworkers, places of employment and so on, for the usual reasons. And you probably won't find me talking about recent dating experiences/trips to the supermarket/taking my cats to the vet/whatever; there's enough of that sort of thing elsewhere on the web (and some do it more rivetingly than others). In short, this blog is not a journal, and not an intimate window into the author's private life. (The author's prejudices and fixations, maybe.) (That's also why the <TITLE> of this blog says "I am not your friend in the void"; if after reading a blog for a while you start to think of the author as a close friend, or someone you have a special relationship with, you probably need to get out a bit more.)

Anyway, that's just my view on the matter.

There are 4 comments on "Beware of friends with blogs":

Posted by: gjw Wed May 21 00:20:44 2003

"LiveJournal" type blogs drive me to distraction - I've never understood the appeal of reading about someone elses mundane existance (maybe for the same reason that Big Brother etc. bore me to hell). I try to keep personal stuff off my own blog as much as possible, partly because some friends and family _do_ read it, and partly because I don't see any reason to - I'd rather provide links than gossip.

Posted by: dj http:// Wed May 21 03:36:35 2003

It's just another form of the personal webpages where people listed how their farts smelt the other day, pictures of their cats and dogs, and stories about events that held no interest beyond a small group of people. I've no problem with people putting such stuff up, sometimes personal webpages can be very interesting beyond in other than the voyeuristic sense. However, you can't expect huge numbers of people to find it interesting, nor to beat a path to your page.

Posted by: acb Wed May 21 04:24:39 2003

Some Portuguese blogger (quoted by if/then/else) described it (or, in particular, some part of the Portuguese blog scene) as "masturbating in front of a mirror".

Posted by: Ben the REAL Ben Thu May 22 22:42:14 2003

The best scam is to slip news articles stolen (or just hinted at and then linked) and you can masquerade as an 'internet journalist', so people can read the same stuff they could get by scanning the headlines while they read about your cat, how you skinned your knee playing squash or how much the new car you want to buy will cost.