Hullo, Backlash!

Mood: Annoyed
Drinking: Agua

Ugh.

Shoulda known better. The internet can be such an fickle, ugly beast. One day you poke it with a stick and it rolls over and giggles. The next day, it rips that stick out of your hand and beats you soundly about the brains with it.

So I said what I thought about a few boring blogs (which I was oh-so-careful not to call out by name, ‘cuz that would just be rude), and suddenly all hell breaks loose.

So far I’ve been called a bitch (not so shocking, really) and some earnest blogger posted on another site that when I prefer other names for this section (example: “newsletters” instead of “blogs”), calling it a newsletter is like putting an ugly Christmas present in saran wrap. Doesn’t make a whole lotta sense, but whatever. Personally, I think saran wrap is cool. All shiny and squeaky. You can even use it as a murder weapon.

So, here’s a little bit of background info for the newbies who came to my site out of righteous idignation to defend the blogs they assumed were in danger:
First, let me explain that I don’t consider myself to be a writer because I have one book of poetry out on the shelves. I call myself a writer because that is how I have made my living for more than 10 years. Words pay the bills. And I may not have 15 novels on the best seller list, but you’ve seen my words everywhere…they just didn’t have my name attached. I’ve chosen to make my living by writing for someone else, so that, on my own time, I can do the kind of writing I really want to do the way I want to do it. Because unless you die young or sell your soul to Hallmark, poetry doesn’t pay the bills.

Furthermore, you can come up with cute little analogies all you want, but really, this whole web site is NOT a blog. It is a site that was created 4 years ago to promote a book, photography and performance art. This little “She Says” section was an afterthought that was added last fall when the site was redesigned. It was supposed to be a little bit of croutons to top off the salad. So that’s why there are other sections of the site with self-promotional stuff in them (like oodles of photographs).

See, this isn’t live journal or typepad or diaryland. This web site doesn’t exist so that I can write about my exciting trips to the grocery store. The point of this whole web site is everything BUT this page. And yeah, if you have a web site with your name as the url, you are trying to get some attention. But I’m not angling for blog fame. I’m just another artist out there hawking her wares. The right kind of attention to this web site can get me another book deal. Another spoken word gig. Another magazine piece. Whatever. Attention is a tool of the trade.

Internet drama is so ridiculous. It’s so easy to jump to conclusions and call people names when you never have to actually look them in the eye.

Let’s all move on to a new topic, yes? How about ham in a can? Tasty, or not so much? You decide.

Lo, backing away slowly.

Blog? Bleah!

Mood: Oh, so superior
Drinking: DVCoke

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately. Trolling about the internet, clicking on random links and flipping through the intimate details of the lives of people I don’t know. This is not necessarily a good thing. (TMI, anybody?)

So I’ve decided that my little corner of the net is NOT a blog. It’s a newsletter. An op-ed piece. A post. An essay. A rant. An update. But heaven-help-me, it is not a blog!

(I hate that word! “Blog.” Sounds like a tumor. “I’m sorry to tell you that you have a blog on your lymph-node and only six months to live.”)

My beef with blogs does not extend to every weblog in cyberspace. There are several little sites that I visit most diligently and wait for new entries most anxiously. But then there are those other ones. The diary-blogs. The ones where the authors have no shame.

The ones where they talk about their co-worker crushes, the frequency of their cat’s bowel movements, the consistency of their morning bowl of Wheaties, the way their favorite undies ride up the crack, and on and on. The ones where you sit there for a minute, reading, and thinking “Dude, seriously?”

(Exception to this rule: sites like dooce.com. I’ve been reading Dooce’s site for years. It’s an oasis in the diary desert where poop is not only interesting, it’s hilarious. Dooce knows how to make you care about her bowl of Wheaties. And so she is excused from this self-righteous lecture. Mimi Smartypants can be excused, too. Really, if you can make me laugh because of your wit and charm, as opposed to your idiocy, you are excused. Pack up your textbooks and head to the snack shop!)

I completely understand the urge to at least try to read these things…I’m admitting to being a lurker. It’s the voyeurism. You get to be a virtual peeping tom, except most of the time you don’t get to see anything scandalous.

What I don’t get about the bleah blogs is the need to write about every damn detail of your little life and publish it all over the internet. The thing is, you’re not a unique snowflake. Every single thing you do is not fascinating. And did you stop and think for a sec that the “www” stands for worldwide web? So you’re telling the whole world (or at least the five hapless souls who stumble across your site) all about the interesting texture of your boogers. There are diaries for these things. Tangible paper blankbooks in which you can write all about your temper tantrums and sexual escapades and whatever else you do on Tuesday nights. And then hide it under your mattress for safekeeping.

I am a diary whore. I love the feel of pen on paper. Even more than that, I love the way a page gets all curled and crispy after you’ve covered both sides with ballpoint scrawl. I’ve kept a journal almost since I could write the alphabet. (My first one had a lock and key and a big blue elephant on the front. The first entry consisted of three pages of me trying to spell my name in big block letters that sloped steadily down into the corner.) I now have a suitcase chock full of finished blankbooks, each one carrying with it all my tawdry secrets and oh-so-naive aspirations. First-kiss confessions and bell jar blackness. I don’t expect that anybody will ever read them. Hell, I don’t even go back and read them. It’s too horrifying to see the silly things I was so sincere about at age 16. Not to mention the penmanship!

For me, keeping a diary, journal, scrapbook, whatever, has always been a quest to understand. My diary was my confidant, my therapist, my muse. I could pour everything out onto the blank page, then shut the book and walk away and feel somewhat satiated. And I didn’t have to feel stupid about what I wrote, either, because nobody was ever going to see it. It was secret. It was safe.

Perhaps all these online diarists, these look-at-my-tits bloggers hope that by spreading all their miniscule moments out there for anybody to rifle through, they will find a kindred spirit. Somebody will come along who finally understands them. But to me, writing about personal details is writing to understand, for yourself, not to be understood by someone else.

I should make it clear, again, that all blogs are not created equal. There are the online diaries wherein far too much is revealed (and believe it or not, they’re not all published by teenage girls), and then there are the other ones. The funny ones, the interesting ones, the artistic ones, the political ones. The sites where the writing has some substance and some value. It’s not all verbal diarrhea and insecure rambling. And those are the blogs that I tend to visit on a daily basis.

I realize I’m treading on thin ice. Because here I am ranting about blogs while writing on a web site. But I don’t see this as a pot/kettle situation. For one thing, I’M A WRITER. Putting words on a page is my job, my calling, my raison d’etre. And this is not my diary. I’m not going to give you any intimate details. You’re never going to lay a finger on those. Most of the time, I’m not even going to give you the real names of the characters in my little stories.

“She Says” is more of an exercise in writing. I aim to be readable, interesting, provocative, even witty sometimes. I write when I actually have something to say. I try to write the type of entry that I’d be interested in reading. That’s my measuring stick.

In an effort to extricate myself from the sticky blog mess I’ve so foolishly waded into, I’ll say this: I fully understand and encourage the need to “get it all out” by writing about it. Doing just that has saved my life more than once. And I know how the Internet works. I know I can click on the little red X anytime I want and make it all disappear. I’m not bound to a chair with my eyelids clipped open, forced to read so much drivel until I crack. All I’m advocating is a little old-fashioned “think before you speak” etiquette. A little more buying of blankbooks. A little less “OMG, HE, LIKE, IM-ED ME BACK AND IT WAS SOOOOOOOOO HOTT!”

A note to all my “real-world” friends out there who have blogs…No, I’m not ripping on your blog! Don’t get paranoid, lovies. I wouldn’t visit your cyberspace cubbyholes every single day if I thought they were boring, now, would I?

-Lo, who’s just sitting here waiting for the backlash.

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