I’ve been reading Andrew Sullivan’s 2008 article, “Why I Blog,” in the Atlantic. He writes from the perspective of a popular columnist, which I am not. Still, some of his thoughts remind me why I blog, what’s satisfying about it, and what’s problematic.
When I first began blogging (mostly poetry), a decade ago, it seemed a kind of subterranean activity, flying beneath the radar of most readers’ observation. This relative anonymity afforded me (I see now) a certain freedom–from the weight of my ego. Time passes. Readers come, readers go. But I blog for other reasons besides satisfying the need for attention. My strong need to communicate is about equal to my inquisitiveness and need to collect information for a rainy day. In that sense, I guess I’m not so different from the squawking crows in my backyard. A friend recently pointed out that my need to express myself idiosyncratically as an individual, and my need to be part of a community (in Pilipino: kalayaan and kapwa, respectively) are about equally strong; it creates a certain amount of tension that just needs to get played out. Maybe everyone has this issue, but I suspect Filipino Americans have it with a particular intensity.
“Jazz and blogging are intimate, improvisational, and individual—but also inherently collective. And the audience talks over both.
The reason they talk while listening, and comment or link while reading, is that they understand that this is a kind of music that needs to be engaged rather than merely absorbed.” –Andrew Sullivan
Blogging also satisfies some sort of deep-seated survival urge in me. In a world that’s changing radically, and is so unsettled and chaotic, I feel that all this browsing (whether for poetry, fiction, or news) and sharing (writing) online is somehow important, as well as entertaining. (I was once a Girl Scout: “Be Prepared!”) Yet, absorption and contemplation are essential too. The two modes of reading and writing are different, and effect us differently. I don’t want to give up either of them.