So, I click. And click. And click again.
What do I find? Lots of interesting things. And some not-so-interesting things. I find that many people blog the way I used to journal. They start with a couple of fine entries and then do something foolish, like get married and have babies, and the blogs end up alone and abandoned, left to fend for themselves, like little children on the streets of New Delhi. I find that some soulless bastards have decided to use free blog sites as an opportunity to sell me things I already have or never wanted. I find this incredibly wasteful and annoying, but much less disturbing than pop-ups, so I can live with it, I suppose.
I find that many people who don't speak English blog, and I find myself wishing that we had the nifty Star Trek translator device that just allowed everyone to experience language the way they could understand it. I'm not sure, but I suspect that people in France and Brazil are having a kickin' good time without me, and for some reason, that bothers me. I want to come to the party, too.
I've stumbled on some good blogs through "next blog" -- Cooking with Amy was a "next blog" find, in fact. A lot of people, like the Crumleys and The Wendy Lady, are in the blog-biz for the purposes of keeping in touch with family and friends who are far away. It's brilliant for that. I'm trying to talk some family who are poor correspondents into starting blogs, so they don't have to write long e-mails. And I come from a family of artists, so their writing would make good entertainment, whether you knew them or not.
It's a chain -- I find a website through "next blog" that lists another blog that I find I must read, and that blog lists a third. I'm still new to the blogging community. I'm discovering that bloggers are really loyal to each other. They read each others stuff. They comment on each other lives. They encourage each other, celebrate in each other's joys, condole in each other's losses, find comfort in connecting with someone who's going through the same ups and downs. Tash of Elephants & Dragonflies has just discovered she's pregnant, and with the click of a button, several dozen of her closest friends, people she's never met, nor likely ever will, all share in the joy of her positive pregnancy test. On the other side of the fence, Julie documented her battles with infertility, and her subsequent pregnancy on A Little Bit Pregnant, all with a kind of honesty, humor and aplomb that I doubt I could muster under such trying conditions. Now the mother of a baby boy, her entries have drifted into social observations that transcend the ordinary. Meanwhile, Kate of Corporate Peon, who expresses no desire to be pregnant or have children, gives a detailed description of a dream she had of giving birth, and wonders what it might mean (I suggested she was either feeling vulnerable and needed taking care of, or she'd eaten Thai food too close to bedtime -- dream analysis is not an exact science, after all).
Blogging is both best and worst of what the world wide web has to offer. Like journaling, it's a chance to be brutally honest, funny without being p.c., opinionated without being judged. Even unwelcome comments are easier to take in this arena -- the ability to hit the "delete" button on any needlessly mean attacks on your spirit is healing in a way that therapy never could be. How different would our lives be today if we could have simply deleted all the attempts to kill our little souls by clicking a button?
Unlike journaling, instead of closing the page and hiding such thoughts away until the next time you need to release them, we perversely click "publish" and send them out into the world for everyone to see. Blogging is shameless. It's brazen. It's unthinkably exposed and indecent. And we all share in it with each other, egging each other on, pushing each other to new heights of exposure. Anonymity helps. But so does having a medium where people can't interrupt you when you're talking.
So, I click "next blog," looking for a new contact, a new connection, a new friend. Someone whose thoughts and ideas and language speak to me. Humor, angst, neurosis -- something I can hang my hat on. It's a gamble, sure. But sometimes, it pays off.
Blog well, my darlings.