After Blogging, Only Shame

The inevitable blog post about a blogger’s feelings on blogging doesn’t do much for me. The confessional tone is often only a more devious ploy for attention, and the solipsism of the post is an uncomfortable reminder of the solipsism of the form, with everyone talking to ourselves, while hardly anyone listens.

So why, when I felt so busy this morning, couldn’t I stop reading the New York Times Magazine’s ten-page essay from a former Gawker blogger about blogging, written by Emily Gould? At first it was the picture of the author sleeping beside her laptop. Then it was this one beautiful sentence: she wrote after a breakup that she felt like “the last living speaker of some dying language.”

And finally it was that she seemed like the most unlikely person in the world to explain what every blogger sooner or later learns: that communication without the possibility of privacy is hardly communication at all (whenever someone I’ve met for a hot chocolate asks “How are you? I mean, really?” I first try to remember if he has a blog), that your voice really does sound that way on the answering machine, that the accumulation of hastily written (and sometimes not-so-hastily-written), calculating, heartfelt, boring, argumentative, funny posts might be who you really are, less likable than you’d hoped, irrevocably given away to strangers.

Reading the essay’s description of people blogging morning, noon and night, it was hard not to think of Adam Gopnik’s description of Shakespeare characters as “compulsion machines, capable of charm.”

The comments are also good: “Turn off the computer, drive to Coney Island and jump in the ocean. Cleanse yourself and start all over again. You won’t be missing a thing.” And: “Will the cure for cancer get this many pages [in the paper]?” And: “At first, I thought I was reading the sophomore page of the student newspaper at Harding High in Yokelville, Ohio. Then I realized that it was the New York Times. Just awful.” Reading a perfect snark like that, I still bounce up and down with excitement, which is exactly what Emily was arguing against.

Sometimes I feel like God first created people, and then the Internet, so that after we’re gone, there will still be an elaborate record — perhaps even a blueprint for our re-creation, like a self-replicating piece of DNA — of our contradictions, our multitudes.

Discussion

  • http://www.bonzai.squarespace.com/blog Mike Farmer

    I think we owe our profundities to the world, a way of saying “Thank you, for all the crap.”

  • http://matrix.millersamuel.com Jonathan Miller

    Its funny but I found my self drawn to the article and actually read the whole thing. More amazing to me that people write so much about their personal lives (and drivel) but there are many more people that actually read it. Can you imagine dating someone who actually shares your private comments in public without approval? How does that help your relationship? Good grief.