Monday, January 31, 2011

Diaries from Our Lives

Since my days working and living just over the Hudson River from New York City, I've been a fan of the New York Times. I'm a blogger, a writer on the Internet, so the Times really got my attention last week with a piece on how US President Obama seems to have lost his way on the Web after he very successfully used it to fund his campaign.
 

From For Obama, Getting Message Out Online Is a Challenge:
"Perhaps, though, the president’s team is over-thinking the challenge, putting too much emphasis on how to use the trendiest applications or on how to interact with voters, when what really matters is creating an authentic narrative. One of the most pervasive activities on the Internet, after all, is the basic conveyance of personal experiences by way of the written word — a tendency to share stories widely in e-mails or on blogs, rather than talking one on one to a friend on the phone. In the online age, we are all diarists." I've bolded above what I found reassuring; I have busy professionals tell me that they don't 'do social media' and blogs as they already know how to connect and don't see why they should change. Yet these same people have changed in that they now feel it OK to send an e-card at Christmas without that personal note of the past, and rarely any longer do lunch or a drink or even use the 'phone to keep their network in touch with their life. If asked they say it's because they don't have time any more. How then do they discover what people like them are really thinking? And just how do they connect any more with others like them? Can they develop any perspective on their lives if they don't make time to diarise even occasionally and share it?

Writing online can seem to some a narcissism. Who are you to think that anyone cares about what you think or what you have done! It's more responsible not to clutter my life with your unorthodox thoughts. Anyway, it's much safer not to be 'out there'! Why take the risk? Yet, for myself, I see blogging as citizen storytelling. Yes, news columnists have a blog but there are many, many lifestyles and interests that you won't find talked up in today's professional media. We bloggers narrate to connect with folk who care about what we care about. We write to talk over things that matter to us and, we hope, those like us. We do this because we know people with interests like ours don't make a cohort large enough to get media attention.
 
I've often wondered why it is so important to folk who've already made their way in life that their contacts don't ever trouble them with details of their passions and fears. I have to suppose they feel it's time-wasting and impertinent. And for they themselves to write about their personal enthusiasms wouldn't at all fit their self-image. Yet younger adults are out there all the time texting, Tweeting and on Facebook. They almost seem to be another species, fearlessly going on about themselves as no-one ever did before.
 

So, for the reluctant, think of Blogging as more like the older ways you once accepted - consider it a Round Robin letter to folk you know, plus some you don't yet. You take care about what you say, yet can say things that no editor would encourage. You might get some feedback, and learn something! And, best of all, you may even acquire a clearer sense of who you are.

1 comment:

  1. Keeping it personal is really important to me. I have never sent a 'round robin' letter because it just doesn't enable me to share my news and thoughts with friends in a way that will be understood by them alone - because we have different background and experience with every one of our friends. That's not to say I'm not a fan of blogging. It's just a different style of communication with its own benefits and advantages. As Ian says, it enables us to have conversations with 'unknown' folk who care about the things we care about and, who knows, we may learn something from their perspective!

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