Friday, March 16, 2012

I Beg To Differ

.:I Beg To Differ:.

Do we even need a funny caption here? The article is unintentionally hilarious enough.

In today's Philippine Star, Karen Bolilia quotes one of the teenagers she interviews, who says “For as long as there are readers, there will always be bloggers. A blog is nothing without its readers.” The writer proceeds to indicate her assent to this statement with her last sentence, "Point taken."

Pardon me, but I beg to differ.

For as long as there are mom's basements, there will always be bloggers. That's more like it.

I'm fast approaching ten years of blogging, and I've always focused on the quality of my writing first, and the number of people reading my blog has always been an afterthought. While I like the recognition that has come through the years for what I have done in my little corner of the blogging world, I never allowed it to dictate how I would write my entries, or what I would talk about.

This isn't to say that there's anything wrong with writing with expanding one's audience in mind. In fact, quite the opposite: I am pointing out that a blog being written for its own writer's sake is every bit as valid as a blog being written for its readers' collective sakes. After all, didn't the blog simply start out as an online diary, for all intents and purposes, a repository for ideas and reflections that may or may not be there for the world to see?

To this very day, my blog still mostly follows that. Sure, I try my best to write with safe-space rules and political correctness in place, but it's not like that's far from how I really am in real life, either. I write for me. If people like my ideas and wish to subscribe to my newsletter, then great. If not, then that's fine, too. I've outlined my reasons for keeping my blog a long time ago. Gaining a following and achieving popularity was far from it, and I'm sure some people, such as Somebody That I Used To Know, even keep a blog for their eyes only, so it isn't even about finding a witness, but simply about having your own corner of the world where one's buntong-hininga could pass unnoticed to all but to one's self.

Solipsism or total immersion in the Einerlei of blogging? A wide breadth of motivations and involvement, ranging all kinds? Who would've thought, right? No, not really. This isn't even surprising. However, what is surprising is how an article mainly focused on fashion blogging, a particular niche of the blogosphere that certainly caters to gaining followers and wielding influence, suddenly became representative of the entirety of the blogosphere, the subtext thus becoming an unfortunate insinuation of invalidation. Insinuation of invalidation for every other aspect of this digital space that runs counter to the notion that bloggers are validated mainly, if not solely, by its readers.

Pardon me, but I beg to differ.

Flapping one's gums even just metaphorically has become a new form of exercise.

I am slighted by the misguided and narrow perception of blogging as a whole being paraded as representative and universal of all of us, precisely because besides having a computer of sorts (Yes, even cellphones can count as that.) and internet access, blogging has been all about breaking boundaries. It is the perfect storm of prose and post-modernism: very few things hold blogs together now, and reader validation would be the least of them, by far. To invalidate a blog in this manner is grossly ignorant, and must be at the very least corrected.

This isn't even the author's first attempt to put labels on blogging in what the easier to offend would take as presumptuous and condescending of her to do. I, on the other hand, find it woefully lacking in perspective for someone who focused on fashion blogging to draw grossly erroneous generalizations of the rest of the blogosphere. It's naive at best, and dangerously duplicitous of a so-called journalist at worst.

There is no question that for a blogger like Tricia Gosingtian to be considered successful, a following is needed. A blog that professes to be a peddler of influence requires precisely that: influence. That's well and good. But not every blog professes, or even wishes to be a peddler of influence. By what metric does one validate them, then? Would it not ultimately fall upon the author of the blog, and would this not shatter the premise that "a blog is nothing without its readers" if the author herself gives exactly [(100-10)/9] - 1 f%&s about readers?

To say I have a vendetta against Karen Bolilia would be giving this article too much credit. What I am simply doing at this point is correcting a misconception that is but the tip of the iceberg. As these misconceptions stack up, we end up attracting people who see these things as their ur-reason for being and validation, and find themselves woefully inadequate when they don't get what they thought they would be entitled to. It's not about elitism, or being a hipster and turning up your nose at mainstream bloggers while saying "I was a blogger before it was mainstream." It's actually about making sure people get into blogging not having absurd expectations of the platform.

When people hear about the kind of money someone like Yugatech makes, or how many freebies bloggers get from events, people jump right into blogging, expecting the same things. When people hear about how readers validate people's blogs, and they end up starting blogs with no readers to speak of, what do you think would happen to them? Do you think they'd be happy to be hit by such a rude awakening?

I make no claims about my blog except the very title of this blog for the past ten years: It's True! It's True! If I'm joking, it's true. If I'm mourning, it's true. If I'm lying, it's true. For me, knowing that my blog will likely outlive me is validation enough in doing what I do. If I manage to influence people, that just sweetens the pot for me, really. I appreciate outside validation, of course. But it isn't what keeps me writing. At all.

I refuse to be put in boxes where boxes should not exist. I refuse to accept invalidation on standards hardly anyone even considered when I started blogging ten years ago. I respect the evolution of the blogosphere and ride along with it, but I do so on my terms.

And that, Ms. Bolilia, is why I beg to differ.


skysenshi said...

Super agree. Ever since the start of the year, I wanted to make sure that I'm writing for me, the way I started out back in 2001.

That's why if I don't feel like writing about something, I don't blog at all na. Keep it up, Kel. Proud of you for writing this.

Kat said...

Agree with you in all counts, Kel. I definitely started a blog for journal purposes back in 2003, and it was a lot convenient than bringing a notebook to the office haha. My audience (composed mainly of friends) never influenced my posts and probably never will.

Kel Fabie said...

@Bea: remember, it was OB that first introduced me to the then-newfangled concept of blogs. In effect, I owe it all to you, then. :p

@Kat: what we do is not more praiseworthy or more "pure" than what they do. Neither is it less. This is why sweeping our kind under the rug is disingenious, to say the least.