Thursday, December 04, 2008

Why We Blog

Arianna Huffington was on the “Daily Show” last night hawking a new book on how to blog. Putting aside the irony of someone writing a book on how to blog, and not a blog on how to blog, I was interested in the interview. Huffington used to be married to a gay Congressman from California who ran as a very conservative Republican. He was not openly gay at the time, although he claims Huffington knew he was.


Huffington was known and popular for her very conservative views, she was a darling of the right wing. Somehow after her divorce, she became liberal and Is now a darling of the left wing (we must not discount wisdom because it comes late in life, quote from someone, I forget). Anyway, Huffington is a big believer in blogging since that is how she makes her living now. I was fascinated to hear her admit that she did not write the book herself, rather it was written by some members her blogger “staff”. A blogger with a staff. Most of us don’t even have readers. What in the hell does a blogger need a staff for ? If you have a staff, you have to use them for fact checking, the last thing a blogger needs to do. Accuracy in a blog ? It might as well be a newspaper. Blogs are for truth, not accuracy. Anybody can write accurately if they want to spend half of their time checking facts and the other half typing boring prose that is no fun to read or write.


John Stewart is a pretend news anchor who sometimes confuses me by trying to act like a real news guy. It makes me wonder, are we supposed to take his serious questions seriously, or is he still being the fake news guy pretending (for our entertainment) to be a real news guy ? Whatever he is, he gave some mild disparagement, I thought, to blogs which were not up to the standards of Ms. Huffington’s. To her credit, Huffington, who is trying to sell a book after all in order  to get people to blog, defended the rest of us. Huffington thinks that everyone should blog their “passion” and then added, “both open and secret”. Well once you blog it, it is no longer a secret, and maybe that is a good thing. Maybe Walter Mitty needed a blog.


A blogger friend of mine, who differs from me in that people read her blog, asked her audience why they blogged. The answers were fascinating. The fact is that they all have the same root. People want to communicate, to themselves or others, to family or strangers, to friend or adversary. There are a million reasons why people want to communicate, but that’s the only one reason why they want to blog. The blog is the antidote for Thoreau’s view that the mass of humanity live lives of “quiet desperation”. Blogging allows them to live lives of “louder desperation” which, in and of itself, makes them less desperate. It is therapy that you don’t have to pay $150 an hour for.


I probably won’t buy Huffington’s book (I will wait until it is online), but I do salute her in recognizing the universal appeal of the blog. 50,000 new blogs are begun every day. We ought to welcome each and every one of them.


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