Why are you here?
No, I haven’t gone all zen-metaphysics on you, though do feel free to indulge, we’ve all got to get our kicks somehow. I just want to know why you come here. To this blog. Or, indeed, to any blog mostly personal in nature. Why do you read this stuff? I looked back through some of it the other day and my opinion remains the same as it ever was. Each post an elongated ramble in desperate search of an editor.
Still, as creator of this particular blog and author of its content, my opinion remains entirely immaterial and usually quite irrelevant. I’ve never assumed I know more about the words I string together than anybody else does; just because I write them doesn’t mean I’ve got monopoly over their interpretation or anything. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then meaning must surely remain the responsibility of the one who’s stuck around long enough to read more than three sentences.
So I want to know why you come here. Why you read this, or such like it elsewhere.
(And yes, I will be deleting smart-arse comments I don’t much like, so just pack away those mischievous ideas back in the box with your other toys right now, please. Meaning might be up to the reader, but moderating direct feedback in a public forum is entirely under my own excessive and strictly wielded control.)
Not that I get a lot of comments. But I do get emails and the stats are up, so I know there are readers out there somewhere, and it surprises me. Sure, I’m hardly about to start competing with whatever food or travel blog of the moment has most recently wowed the indie online magazine crowd of Melbourne or anything, but there’s enough evidence now to prove that readers do come here, and they can’t all be my real world friends. Especially as most of my friends can’t be bothered to come here just to read the same jokes they’ve had from me in email five times already anyway.*
(What can I say, I’m not a comedian by profession, I’m not even a particularly reliable comedic writer, so when I do latch onto a funny line, I like to re-use that bugger over and over again, until it’s gone all grey and mushy and the nutrients have been sucked right out of it.)
It’s a strange and scary thing, being read. No, really, I mean that. Sure, readers are the point of all writing and I will do whatever is within my power to get you all over here reading every word which ever tumbles out of my keyboard, just the same as anyone else in this business would. But unlike other written formats, a blog is a highly personal statement of opinion and thought. The author is right at the centre of it. So putting it out there into the world does leave one feeling a tad… vulnerable.
And hey, I’m all for feeling vulnerable when the mood is right, but it’s not like blogging comes with safewords or anything, you know?
So why do I do it, if I’m not entirely comfortable with putting my self “out there” in the form of this kind of personal blog? Or more to the point, why didn’t I just create an online fakie – otherwise known as a pseudonym – under which I could be as cynical and smartarse as I liked but not have to worry about the consequences of others’ judgements, and just be done with it?
Well. Let me… oh, you know what comes next…
I began this blog because I needed somewhere to learn some WordPress skills, and kept on with it because I actually enjoy it. Weird, I know, but as I was going to be chucking the words together anyway, I figured I might as well put them online. This blog is my thinking space. My playing ground. The little patch of online territory where I can experiment with a thought process, detail out a new argument, or just play around with the words (and oooh, don’t they just love that, the cunning little minxes.) And I can do it all without worrying too much about weakness in narrative or structure, or caring about the minor things, such as evidence or original thought.
You know. Elongated rambling in need of a good edit.
But I chose to do it all under my real name because I was tired of not owning up to my own words. I’ve set up so many fake online identities over the years that I was starting to drown in my own alter-egos. There were so many about that at some point or another life was guaranteed to go all David Lynch and see my fakies start battling it out in some kind of “there can be only one” Highlander style world-conquest thang. Which, if I know anything about appropriate narrative causality, was destined to be won by the darkest and nastiest of them sucking all the others’ power into itself before coming after me in a kind of post-post-modern self-referential identity play and psychological thriller…
… or was that just a dream I had?
Anyway. Whatever it was that had me come out as myself and write online under my own name – and I’m sure there must be a medication somewhere to fix it – it does get all a bit weird at times and not only because of the ex from years unexpectedly turning up in the inbox. Identity is such a loopy and elasticised thing. Our sense of self, our subjectivity, its all a negotiated mix of experience and emotion, memory and learning. A personal mash up. A muddy path trodden between how others view us in any one place and time, and the way we understand our own good selves, twisting and turning and doing the tango around again.
So where does that leave the personal blogger and her/his stranger readers, then?
And how does one maintain the appropriate persona relevant to the readers, but still retain the authenticity needed for the personal blogging format, anyway?
I am not this blog. (Yes, do try to contain your disappointment.) No more than I am any of my other writing, even the stuff I do take the time to edit, or my photography, or my stupid Facebook status lines or throw-away tweets. I am a well-rounded, complex and complicated human being, thank you very much, the same as any of you, and not merely the sum of a few unedited, poorly structured words on your computer screen.
And yet it is me, all of it. Me in a certain mood, at a certain time of day. Wanting to provoke a certain reaction. Leaving little bits of online detritus behind me, out of context glimpses, individual slices taken away from the whole, which are out there and available for anyone, any stranger, any reader to accidently stumble upon and interpret, like the words, in any which way they like.
And if the meaning of the words is entirely up to the interpretation of the reader, then what about the one who writes them and puts herself “out there” in doing so…?
Or have I just gone all zen-metaphysics on you after all?
Time to do what I always do when the topic of conversation starts to look deeper than your average puddle: change the subject and move right on along.
Next week, kiddies, I promise you pictures…
* Except for the delectable Ange, blog connoisseur extraordinaire. If there were a Master Chef for bloggers, she’d be Matt Preston. Only prettier. And with even better cravats.