Friday, August 05, 2005

Reading other people's lives...

Last night, my sister and her boyfriend were over at my apartment, and they began reading my blog on my computer. I have to admit, a wave of embarassment came over me. Why is it that, while I don't mind baring my innermost thoughts to the entire Internet world, it bothers me to bare those same thoughts to only two people (who I am very close with) sitting right next to me? I'll tell you why... because when they are next to me, I can see the reactions in their faces. I can see their eyes moving over the page and I immediately start to wonder what they are thinking. I feel judged when they are sitting right there. But when my audience is only connected to me by a bunch of wires or satellities (or however the heck the Internet is built) spread through the universe, I usually don't feel any judgement at all.

So this brings me to my next musing. What exactly is it that makes public blogs so alluring? I have a constant yearning to write in my blog... and I have just as much of a yearning to read other people's. It's a constant pull... a pull to escape one's own life by... reading other people's, I guess. Maybe it's that voyeur in all of us coming out. We're all nosy, some of us more than others, and who doesn't want to read about so-and-so's latest gripe or tryst? Reading other people's lives make our own lives seem, well, normal. We say, "Hey! She's just like me! She's obsessed with her hair too!" or... "Wow, I thought my love life was bad, but this poor girl's break-up stories make it seem like a dream."

So, now we understand why we read other people's blogs, but what are the benefits of having an audience to your own thoughts? As I have mentioned before, I think writing for an audience gives us a reason to write. Writing for ourselves is a great thing...very therapeutic...but I find that writing and knowing that other people may read it brings on a new quality...danger. Danger and even conflict. We wonder what these people will think of us. Do they like our writing? Our lives? Are they interested in us? Are we offering some sort of entertainment value? Are we helping them?

Yes, writing in a public blog has the ability to impact people. It's a narcissim thing, really. We want to know that we are making a mark on the world... even if that mark is as silly as a blog entry about flowers. Plus, there's always the off-chance that a blog can make you famous (see Diary of a Fired Flight Attendant and the Washingtonienne). The Washington Post Express even has a small column dedicated to interesting quotes from people's blogs. Just the other day it featured a few sentences from a fellow DC blogger. And when I saw that her witty remark had made it into print, boy was I impressed! Envious, even! Blogs have made it to the big-time, and anyone who thinks they're silly or doesn't see their merits is in the minority.

Honestly, you can't tell me you don't want to read other people's lives. You do, so just let out the voyeur you always wanted to be. Or, better yet, start a blog and join the empire. It really can be good for the soul. Just the fact that people care gives you a feeling of...well, I'm not sure what it is...accomplishment? Pride? Camraderie? Maybe it's satisfaction, but whatever it is, it's a way to have an impact. And I think having an impact is everyone's secret dream. I know it's a not-so-secret way. For example, in the car on the way to work this very morning I was thinking about impact and the like, and I thought to myself, "I'm going to write a book! I'm really going to write it, and people will love it! It will change their lives and the landscape of publishing! I will became famous and never have to work again!" See, there you go folks. Impact. A blog is simply a small step in that direction.


At 7:31 PM, Blogger eyegirl77 said...

I haven't had a chance to read your other blogs yet but I'm new to blogging and I totally know what you mean about putting your thoughts out there being theraputic. I don't feel like I can talk to the ones closest to me because all they do is judge, but for those who don't know me they are unbiased so if they want to comment then it can't hurt as much coming from a stranger. I'm looking forward to reading other things you have written. It's nice to know I may not be the only person who thinks the way I do.


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