I just finished a blog several pages long. It began a couple of weeks ago when a Belgian friend, Rudi, called to wish me a happy new year and to talk about making arrangements for his visit to BYU in April. Rudi and I have been friends for perhaps fifteen years and very good friends for ten or so. As part of his phone call he said “You are one of the only American friends to whose funeral I would go.” An odd compliment, to be sure, but one I appreciated. I can’t think of another of my European friends to whose funeral I would go, but I would certainly go to Rudi’s. One measure of friendship is the answer to the question “How much money would you be willing to spend and how much trouble would you go to so that you could attend that person’s funeral?”
Rudi’s call and the mention of my funeral started me thinking about the fact that I probably have less than ten working years left. In turn, that started me thinking about what it means to grow older. One of the things it is supposed to mean is that one is wiser, so I wondered if I am any wiser than I was 30+ years ago and talked about some of the things that, perhaps, I’ve learned.
However, after I wrote the blog and read over it, I decided that some of it was too personal to post. Even worse, it all seemed pretentious. Who am I to think that anyone cares about my navel-gazing? But to a large degree, that is what blogging is all about, public navel-gazing. So why do we blog and why is it, for many, so addictive? Are we frustrated writers with no publisher but looking for an audience? People in need of attention? Is blogging a new kind of community, where some of us find kindred souls that, without the internet, we wouldn’t be able to associate with? (I can see myself described by each of those.)
Whatever our particular reasons for blogging, why are we so drawn to the sensational threads? At Times and Seasons, think SSM. I can’t think of a thread on that or similar topics that brought news to those who didn’t know it or changed any minds, yet we continue to post them and people by the score continue to yell at each other on them. I admit that my perception of what happens on those threads is probably colored by the fact that I avoid them as much as I can. However, when I do read them I find myself almost immediately drawn into the fray, wanting to respond with my own snide remark or put-down, or to write my own post that “finally explains the only reasonable position that a person can take on issue X.”
I’m not arguing that we ought not to be blogging. I’m just trying to figure out what we are doing when we do.