Blogging gets more mainstream press all the time. Two articles today in the NYT on blogging. Thanks to my mom for sending them both my way.
One, "As Google Goes, So Goes The Nation," by Geoffrey Nunberg, is a rehash of the googlewashing debate, and a general continuation of the antagonistic journalism-blogging confrontation that's been going on for the past few months. Doc Searls has a nice rundown of the whole situation, so I'll spare you my $0.02 other than to say that it seems that there are a lot of entrenched powers within the realm of culture, media and journalism who feel very threatened by the blogging phenomena, sometimes rightly, but more often highly irrationally.
The second piece is a little more juicy, a "style and fashion" article on blogs by Warren St. John, focused around people revealing personal details and private opinions on the web and having parents/lovers/friends unexpectedly find them. While not quite as factually debatable as the Nunberg piece, this saucy little missive also substantially fails to get it.
While it's clear that the whole realtime autobio endeavour can put you in sticky situations -- outing views and experiences you may have otherwise kept to yourself for the sake of decorum -- this is hardly news. I just had a taste of that with Sasha and this page. Justin Hall took this to the extreme way back in '98 with his exploration of how posting nude images of himself online cost him a few jobs. It's something that requres a certain amount of fortitude and sensativity. Sometimes we make mistakes.
However, the generally cautionary tone of St. John's article ignores the fact the personal-publishing revolution is leading to a more fully disclosed, transparent and diverse society. Putting your shit online cuts both ways. As I've noted before, having a blog proves that you're in some ways "for real" in the virtual world. Further, while there will always be the question of what should be public vs. private, for many people it seems that blogging provides an outlet for suppressed ideas, feelings and emotions. That's important. The truth always feels better.
When I read about a 27-year old woman from Utah publishing a scathing indictment of her Mormon upbringing and then having to explain herself to her parents, I think, "that's fucking great! What a huge step forward for everyone involved, and all because of blogging." She could have gone her whole life without ever talking to her family about the problems she had with her childhood, taken that resentment all the way to her parents' funerals.
Here's something I'm convinced of: secrets and silence are the seeds of madness. All dischord, disconnect and dissonance in interpersonal relations have at their root something hidden away and secret inside someone's mind, something malignant and perhaps even shameful. If these dark spots are not brought out and shared, they will grow, poisoning anything that touches. Things that relate will become attached, memories colored with secret unspoken meanings, until finally the one doing the hiding is more or less unable to meaningfully interact with other humans because so many actions, words, thoughts, feelings and memories have the clandestine taint upon them. If it actually gets this bad most people can't handle it and they break down. I've seen it happen. Secrets and silence.
Anyway, I think publicly blogging can help avert that sort of thing, and more generally help people fully become and express themselves. People need to talk about shit, and posting online is a good exercise in this. There's a certain amount of egocentricity involved, but this doesn't need to exceed the bounds of a healthy self-esteem -- and really it's about sharing when you get down to it. This doesn't excuse people who insult others or blog with malicious intent, but that's a maturity problem (c.f. most high school website forums). Still, much better the bad apples publish their juvenile sniping on a blog than talk behind people's backs. Get it out in the open. Deal with it. Be accountable. Grow.