USA Today raves on the wonders of political blogs, which are, of course, transforming political journalism as we know it and heralding a new dawn of citizen democracy.
For future reference I’ll call this a Mister Jones Story, in honor of Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man,” which describes a reporter covering the counterculture of the 1960s, trying to describe something incomprehensible to those who do not participate. The line goes, “you know something is happening but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mister Jones?”
OK, so I have this perverse tendency — when I see a balloon, I don’t think, “”wow, check out that colorful orb bouncing on the breeze.” I think, “where did I leave my needle?” I tend to have allergic reactions to hype, even when it hypes stuff near and dear to me. So with that context in mind, I offer:
Blogging: a reality check
Or, what the hypesters never tell you.
1) Blogging is not free. It has a cost, paid out in time spent on things that don’t get done because the blogger is busy typing and linking. Every minute doing this is a minute not doing something else, whether it’s tending to their kids or devising strategies for world peace. (Yeah, I realize I’m essentially saying time spent gardening is time not spent advancing the cause of humanity … but bear with me).
2) Blogging is not easy to do well. It’s a lot like work: the rewards reflect the effort, talent and time devoted to the blog, combined with the interest in the subject matter. You need all four for a blog to get any traction.
3) Blogging is lonely. You can spend hours crafting the perfect post and get no response. Or you can spend 15 seconds linking to “what were your favorite songs this year” and get an-all day debate. There’s no telling what will catch people’s fancy, and this tends to test your sanity.
4) Blogging is an art form — with all the suffering that implies. The dedicated blogger is like the artist who cannot imagine doing anything else. Days, weeks, months and years are devoted to fretting over the tiniest details, and there’s a fair chance that one’s greatest achievements will be misunderstood or ignored.
Well, that’s a good start. I’m all for everybody starting blogs and devoting their lives to them, but they have to know blogging is not all sweetness and glory. It’s isolation, frustration, aggravation — and a dozen other annoyances that cause people to abandon their blogs after the glow wears off.
Hype and anti-hype aside, blogging is worth doing well, it’s just not especially easy to do well.