Thursday, September 11, 2008

Snark, angst, and the future of blogging

A recent post by Anne on Elastic Waist (a.k.a. Jen) got a lot of confused comments because the angst that seemed to be expressed in the post seemed all out of proportion to the video-game topic it was about. I had read the post and was curious to read the comments, some of which were outrageously nasty, I think, like this one (edited for length): "I don't get all this low self esteem. Everything you write seems to be an utter angst fest...Fuck." Then the author chimed in with, "Are you guys serious? This was meant as a humorous post...." But to be honest, I was fooled too. After the general tone of other recent postings I knew that her style was self-deprecating humor, but I had started to believe that there was more to it than that. Who knew? It made me wonder if all the other vulnerable-seeming posts are actually a caricature, and if so, what the real Jen is like, and what would happen if she started posting as herself?

The general expectation is that blogs are honest reflections of the person who wrote them, but of course people who post as regularly as they do at that site probably have personas, that may or may not be who they really are. I know that I have edited myself more than once because I didn't want to start a big fight, or make myself look pathetic, or smug. After I posted an entry expressing gratitude for the happy things in my life, I was afraid people would think I was being smug, or bragging, or gloating over the fact that I am fortunate enough to have the freedom to take a risk on a temporary job that is my dream come true but may or may not translate into a real career. I thought briefly about posting something else, or deleting the entry, but I didn't, because I want to be my real self, or at least a reasonable facsimile. Plus, I don't have enough readership to worry about a flood of angry emails.

Jennette, a.k.a. PastaQueen posted a while ago about defensive blogging, which has to do with trying to second-guess the ways that people might misread, dislike, or take offense to something you write. It happens. I still get annoyed comments from fans of Judith Beck because I didn't like her book that much. They get the last laugh, of course, because they're losing weight and I'm still stuck here in neutral. Good for them, though. All I can say is I'm working on it. I don't see the point in trying to twist myself into a pretzel to avoid annoying a few readers now and then. Controversy is at least interesting.

This is my second post for the day, which only happens when I'm thinking hard about something. I'm not trying to blow the whole Elastic Waist post thing out of proportion -- I can see how I went wrong on that one. Just thinking about how snarkiness and self-parody have become kind of a convention on blogs, and what might be next when that all goes out of style.

1 comment:

  1. Blogging is so weird. I wrote something recently about how I talked to some Republicans at the Blog Indiana conference and was "surprised" they didn't have horns and cloven hooves. It was a humorous way of pointing out how silly it is that people have stereotypes about people in different political parties. Nine times out of 10 they're decent, friendly people - even if I don't want them running the country. But some people thought I was being serious and thought I actually thought Republicans were all evil people. I was like, chill out people, and familiarize yourself with the concept of "hyperbole" while you're at it.

    If you do this for any amount of time you have to grow a thick skin. I've gotten to a point where I let most of the stupid comments slide and accept that some people just won't get it.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07