Have you ever tried explaining blogging (or, God help me, twitter) to someone who just doesn't get it? I did it yesterday, and it was like trying to explain yellow to someone who is colorblind.
"What's the point of typing all that stuff out?" For some reason, the word "typing" really bothered me there. As if we're all those monkeys chained to machines, hoping to randomly hit on something worthwhile. I noticed myself getting really defensive, really quick. Why did I feel the need to update my twitter status every few hours? Why would anyone want to read the stuff I write here?
It was an interesting question, though. For me, the blogs give me a place to stretch out my ideas and sometimes have an audience for them. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to have a serious conversation with anyone lately? None of us have the attention span to listen to someone else long enough to find out what they're thinking about, or what their daydreams are, or why they are frustrated with their favorite politician. Sad but true, it seems like people (me included) can only tolerate about a minute of serious conversation before there is the desperate need to insert a joke to lighten things up.
I try not to be boring when I blog but if I am, people can just skip ahead to the next thing in their RSS reader or click on a link. It doesn't seem as deadly as being boring in conversation. I also have more time to wind through my thoughts and figure out what I really mean, why something really bothers me, why I'm really feeling so happy.
When I was a teenager, I kept a journal, and felt really seriously hurt and angry when my father confronted me about something in there. I had actually never considered that someone might read it. I thought that my right to privacy was so sacred that it couldn't be questioned, but he thought that he had the right to read my journal and my mail and anything else he wanted if he was concerned about me and wanted to find out what was up. I understand why he did it, now, but I still would like to think I wouldn't do that to my daughter, if I had one. I wouldn't have ever started journaling if I had realized that what I was doing was creating a public record of my most private thoughts. I have never wanted to keep a journal since then, because I don't want someone somewhere to read it and misunderstand.
This is different because I know there is an audience, and I write with the understanding that these thoughts will be read. I like it when someone takes the time to comment (unless it's someone selling diet pills) and it's interesting to see which posts get reactions and which ones don't.
I do find blogs and twitter useful -- it's interesting to see what people share and I feel very connected to the people whose tweets and posts I read, sometimes more than to friends and family in real life. I'm still not sure I can make my friend understand what this stuff is all about, but at least I know why I bother with it, even if he doesn't.