Wednesday, February 04, 2009

blogger

I am a blogger, apparently. Apparently. It's an accident borne of having a blog. On some days, being a blogger is a good thing to be: as when bloggers latch on to a story that fell below the radar of the media. On some days, it's not: as when the expression of inflamed passions go beyond the boundaries of decency.

On most days, I don't even bother at all with the distinction. I have a blog, yes; I feed it with stories, yes; sometimes, the stories are substantial, but more likely they're mundane. What can I say? Keeping a blog is a hobby and an outlet.

But a blogger? Hmmmm.... If I'm ambivalent, it's because there are bloggers and there are Bloggers. There are the folks like me who plug away a few minutes each day at the keyboard because it keeps our writing fingers limber and because it's our way of keeping touch with a small circle of friends. And then there are Bloggers, the superstars whom everyone sees as representatives of blogging at large.

What makes a blogger a Blogger? I'd say it's the following, running into the hundreds and thousands of readers each day. Some have the following because they have something to say and they say it well. Some, because they're entertaining. Some, because they network well. Some, because of their personality and notoriety. It even gets to the point that some Bloggers cultivate their notoriety in order to maintain their following.

With a daily audience in the hundreds and in the thousands, Bloggers can parlay their popularity into cash. What follows is the fever for blog monetization and the incestuous affair with search engine optimization. Make big money from home! Make big money while you sleep! Who can resist such a pitch?

Fame, money, power: can a little bit of madness be far behind? With all the influence they wield within their circle, Bloggers aspire to be media moguls. They formulate new theories, they prognosticate on the future of the medium, they seek to depose traditional media. The battlecry: Out with the Old! In with the New!

Alas, their circle isn't nearly as big as Bloggers think it is. We can't fault Bloggers for their ambition, but surely there's a Flaw in the Plan. And the Flaw? Bloggers are Bloggers because their barriers to entry are low. On closer examination, their infrastructure is nil, their only currency are posts, links, and eyeballs. Posts can be commissioned, links can be bought, and after that, the eyeballs will follow. Fame can be fickle, and when that goes, so too will money and power.

While they can be entertaining to watch, Bloggers ultimately leave bloggers like me in the lurch. There's a point early on at which our motivations and results diverge. My audience is not likely to grow beyond the 20 or so friends who read my blog regularly, nor would I want it to: there's something about that kind of fame that I find creepy. Yes, I monetize my blog but it's not likely to go beyond the pocket change I take in every day; if the price for higher income is the creepy kind of fame, no thanks. While I may occasionally agree with a point that some Bloggers have to make, I don't need -- much less want -- them speaking for me; I can speak my own mind, thank you very much.

Simply put: I don't want to be subsumed into a movement, or lumped into a mass. My blog exists because it's an expression of my voice, no one else's.

I have a blog, but that's all it is. If that makes me a blogger, fine. Just make sure it's spelled with a small letter 'b' because that all I am.