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A reflection on blogging (v.)

Written By: AmyStorn on December 3, 2008 1 Comment

The pressure to be amusing, insightful, personal, and relevant, all while doing compositional backflips is a lot of pressure. Too much pressure. My name is Amy, and this is my first blog post (anywhere, ever). I feel the need to admit that up front.

I am friends with Dave M. and Usree, who are regular posters and who seem to come up with interesting anecdotes and witty insights on a daily (hourly?) basis, but what about us regular folk? Oh, that’s right, blogging is supposed to be inherently democratic, in that access to wide audiences and the ability to author is determined by one’s access to a computer and adequate bandwidth to connect. So, why does it feel like I should have something of import to say before I can go share it with the world? In other words, I wonder why I have not blogged before now and what has been holding me back from blogging on FIT for the last month (for that class assignment Dave P. referred to that is now coming due in … a couple of hours). Why can Dave and Usree share so much of themselves and I am so reticent?

It’s not as if I am particularly shy. As a grad student in the School of Ed and a teacher, I manage to say relatively interesting and important things to large groups of people in face to face situations just fine. And in writing papers and project, again, no problems. But put me in front of a computer and I freeze up. it took me a month to post a status update on Facebook, and then my 19 year old son commented that he didn’t get what I posted, which immediately put me on status-update hiatus.

It seems to me that what I am getting at is a particular notion of audience that constrains me–not so much the people who might read my words exactly, but my idea about those potential people. I guess I am worried about finding the right pitch for an audience I have a hard time predicting. Do I write about myself, my loved ones, my experience, my self? Do I keep more of a distance? Do I write something that sounds academic? And then the pressure builds and I say, nah, nevermind. I am not sure what is expected of me when I blog, and while that may sound ridiculous to those avid bloggers out there, I think it boils down to the potential inherent in blogs. That is, how do I formulate a speech plan, in the words of Bakhtin, when I don’t know who might be my reading audience? Or, even worse, how do I formulate a speech plan when my audience might be smart, hip, witty folks who think I am pedestrian (or inappropriate, or ….the list goes on).

Perhaps this is nothing new. Maybe it is just the newest version of writer’s block for me. But I also think that blogging, as a new kind of activity, might be something new for some of us–a new relationship with an audience. Because right now, I am thinking this feels a little bit like a journal, yet I am also fully aware that others will read it. And that tension–of a genre both personal and public–seems like a productive one to think about. It is afforded by the unique potential of expanded audiences via the Internet; never before have we had access to so many people across so many contexts. And that potential, for all of its exciting possibilities for rethinking what we mean by author and what counts as worthy of writing down, can be damn scary.

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One Response to “A reflection on blogging (v.)”

  1. Usree Bhattacharya on: 3 December 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Interesting post, Amy. I’m forced to think about why those very tensions don’t play out in my mind…and I am surprised by the answer: I don’t think I have ever fully developed this barrier between my public and private self; I think even BEFORE Google (I can barely remember that time!), I thought myself inherently “Googleable.” My writing, even the most private, intimate kind, has had an audience in mind, has always been shaped by an imagined audience in mind, shaped by an audience whose response I imagined as well. Perhaps that’s why this “tension” that you speak of so eloquently is something I don’t think of or ever really recognize…?

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