Monday, October 18, 2010

The secret life of blogging?

A friend and successful blogger told me this weekend that a blog is not a diary: it is not where you share your most personal experiences with everyone, his brother and his dog (if his dog happens to be online). In a blog you have something to offer, something to teach, the reader can walk away enriched in some way by your words.

I'm not so sure.

This morning I was confronted with an ad for [another!] reality show. Bret Michaels, Life As I Know It. You know, the guy from Poison? So I moused over the ad to see the preview and thought, Why?? Who cares about this guy and his life? Because he was famous, I assume. We see people in the news, on TV, on stage and we want to know more! But at some point we lose interest in their faces, bodies or voices, and they (hopefully for them) realize this and either get out or do something new. Maybe they recognize the demand from our voyeurism and start a reality show!

Fair enough.

But what about Big Brother? Or The Biggest Loser? Or The Hills (etc.)? (I don't know if this last is considered a reality show but it looks like one and has had the same effect.) Some Nobody exposes their personal life on television and gets famous.

Now I'm not prepared to do an analysis of the sociopolitical effects of reality shows in the second decade of the new millennium. But I'd like to know: is this what we want? To root into people's personal lives, know their secrets and their failures? Why? To feel better about ourselves? Or is it just curiosity? The insatiable desire to know things just because they're on the internet or television?

I do not know. But with this I come back to my friend's statement. Are blogs the proper venue for discussion of our personal lives?

Why not? It seems to be where the audience's interest lies. Sure, they should be well written, since reading is so more work than watching (therefore we are more willing to watch crap than read it). And it can't hurt to have a moral or informative aspect so that readers can apply this intimate knowledge to their own lives.

But I think that in the end, we just want to know about other people's lives. Hopefully not just out of Schadenfreude, but so that we can learn more about our own.

And besides, we bloggers love to write - and our own lives are our best source of material.

4 comments:

Twintensity said...

I saw "Julie and Julia" this weekend at the hotel. And thought, hmmmm, what did she do that was so exciting? The idea was clever, true. I think a "niche" - like cooking - helps tremendously. Other HUGE draws seem to be religion, homeschooling, parenting. SO yea, there is something to say about targeting a specific audience. BUt I agree with you that people really DO want the personal and day-to-day drama. Hence reality shows. THink "Bridget Jones Diary" type-stuff. Ot that Julia ROberts thing you saw recently. THis personal jounralling is a HUGE draw. IT is what the "mommies" I know are reading. Easy-light-hearted and personal. I do think it is voyarism in a sense - a sense of schadenfreude and a sense of "phew.it's not only me." I got a little annoyed at Juile - I thought, I can do this. BUt good news there Claire it - HEY! WE CAN DO THIS! I figure I am developing a character - me - in my blogs. And a voice. Going to Dresden MIGHT have given ma an actual plot or theme. ANd we go from there. IN any case, WE CAN DO THIS! And one of the first successful blogs I shared with you was just some nutty MOmmy writing about her life and kids - and it is one of the best-earning blogs of all time. Key there was to be the first. Now all of us nutty MOms are blogging. I eprsonally get bored reading about someone else's home life but...apparently most of the world disagrees!

Sarah said...

Yes, and by writing about our lives, we understand ourselves better. I often figure things out about myself (and now, about parenting) when blogging.

RC said...

@Twintensity:
I agree that it's generally boring to read about other people's lives. But if they're good writers, there's something to read about. And if we can relate to the material, then it can give us something to think about. And something to write about.

RC said...

@Sarah:
Yes! And when we share our revelations with others, they learn with us.