With my previous post attracting exactly one visitor, my doubts about the purpose of blogging have reached overdrive. I know what publishers and agents say that the purpose is: to motivate them by making myself pre-famous (thus rendering their services moot). While it is always nice to see Tanya Cliff, having her make the only visit to one of my most heartfelt and soul-baring posts is making me feel rejected by more than just those agents. I’m feeling rejected by the process of blogging itself.
In fact, blogging is starting to remind me a lot of High School.
Anyone who’s been to High School knows that this probably isn’t a compliment. Blogging doesn’t remind me of lazy hours talking in Ian Cuthbertson’s Dodge Charger, nor does it bring back the taste of my school cafeteria’s Pizza Puffs: so carbolicious that I had to eat them in private. It has nothing to do with the friends I made on my first summer job, or the rites of passage that attach themselves so informally to graduation. Blogging has done not a fraction for me of what that special teacher did, when she taught me that life would be a series of joys and challenges that I was uniquely equipped to navigate.
You see, Mrs. Marcuk didn’t know about the challenge of blogging.
Mrs. Marcuk didn’t know, like none of us knew, about places that would expect us to be relentlessly witty, post after post. She didn’t know that good writing would be redefined in a place where our popularity would slam doors, like a poltergeist, over the minds and judgments of literary agents. She never imagined a place where ‘likes’ could be clicked and forgotten, and ‘followers’ so easily earned and lost. Mrs. Marcuk couldn’t imagine—really, none of us imagined—these terrifying places that aren’t even places at all.
She knew a lot about High School, though. She knew how I felt whenever I wondered what magic the popular kids summoned to become popular; if she were here now, she might understand my sinking heart when I compare my two dozen followers to the thousands on other blogs. Because she knew how students feel when excluded from discussions, Mrs. Marcuk might wonder, like I do, why posts on other blogs seem to inspire pages of comments. I believe she would see that having a finely crafted post ignored—like last week’s post, about my own student—is just like being unnoticed for earning good grades.
The fact is that the blogspace has a lot in common with… well, with the Student Common. Divisions occur almost mystically based on age, social status and physical appeal. There are those of us old enough to be at a disadvantage, because we still use apostrophes correctly, and still avoid nominalizing verbs. Thoughts shared by any of the Kardashians are barely thoughts at all, but their inexplicable social clout blows most bloggers’ stats out of the ether. As for those gravatars… well, who wouldn’t rather click the millimeter-high image of a beautiful girl than the mutant checkerboard that WordPress supplies?
The fact is that wherever we go—even if we go to the blogspace, a.k.a. nowhere—we cannot completely avoid being judged and excluded. At my high school, we used to measure our social status based on which doors we were allowed to enter and exit; now, it is based on which blogs accept our comments. To some extent we will all feel the same highs of that acceptance, and the same crashing troughs when the cool bloggers turn their backs on us.
As writers, though, we can’t just turn our backs on them. Since the publishing community tells us that we must be popular bloggers to be considered good writers, I guess I had better recommit.
I’d better just keep felling those trees in the forest, until somebody happens by to hear one make a sound.