I have been thinking about what I would say. I have gotten carried away in recent days with all of the funny and/or twisted shit going on inside of my head, and those are the things that frequently leap out of my brain, through my fingertips and into my computer most easily. I worry that I am relegating myself into a sort of gross-out or bizarre comedic corner of the blogosphere. Which wouldn't be too bad, I guess... because I love gross out laughs, and anyone else who enjoys them.
Me, "Charles the Blog Clown"
I am also struck with a nearly overwhelming anxiety in regards to the new readers. Before, I felt perfectly safe writing for my twenty or so followers. I felt like it was MY blog, and that I risked little by being alternatingly serious, funny, poetic, ironic or whatever. But, as I have seen other bloggers mention, now that I have more than twenty followers, I don't know if I feel like it's MY blog anymore, in some strange way. I feel a developing sense of community here, and I feel somewhat responsible for entertaining anyone who winds up here, as I have tried to do in the past.
But then I decided: "hey, I'm a writer. I started this blog to get myself writing more often. I care about what I write and I care about who reads it, so if I keep those two things in mind, nothing can go wrong." Which is hopefully true.
All of this reflection on my blog led me to the inevitable place where I was merely reflecting on that very thing: the nature of blogging. The nature of this wild thing known as the "sphere".
My artistic interpretation of the Blogosphere.
My blog, magnified X10,000,000 against Blogosphere for scale.
I have, in the short amount of time that I have been writing in this public format, been given the opportunity to talk to a lot of awesome people and to read so much cool (and so much CRAZY) stuff. When I look at the scope of this blogging deal, it's almost impossible to not take that "step back" for perspective and look at it all as it is. As a whole. To look at it all as a cohesive unit and wonder: "what does this mean"?
And I have decided that it means a few things to me. Certainly, since it's inception when Al Gore designed it, and especially now with the advent of blogging and social networking and all the rest, the internet has proven to be an exponentially expanding life form of it's own. It has showed no signs of abating. I believe that blogging was a natural off-shoot of the un-tamed growth of the internet.
We are social creatures, even those of us who are the most resolutely anti-social, and having a public forum like the internet where we can all say what we think all of the time was bound to give rise to a huge group of serious writers who would write about anything and everything, from politics to social advocacy issues to experiences with pants-shitting. And, now that I have had a taste of the sphere, I know that I wouldn't have it any other way.
This is paramount to me because it seemed, as I grew up, that the social fabric of America had come to a spot in which people had stopped saying what they really meant most of the time. Would I be wrong in attributing this to a political and social climate that became intolerant of views that were far outside the norm somehow? It seemed that people were much happier to talk in a moderate and muted voice, and to identify themselves as either "red" or "blue", "Christian" or "non", and to leave it at that. In the narrow existence in which I grew up (and let's face it, growing up for anyone is usually a "narrow existence"), the goal of interfacing with another human being seemed to be "to not be too potent". The goal seemed to be to "go with the flow". I know that there are obvious exceptions to this rule, but especially as far as the common media seemed, it indeed was the rule.
I am fucking pumped to live today when the anonymity of the web has given us all an opportunity to say what is really on our minds. I can write about my struggles with bulimia and drugs here, and another blogger can write about her struggle to stay celibate for no other reason but to torture herself, apparently. Bloggers write with balls and from the gut, and it seems so culturally-forward to me. A blogger might show her flash and wit and her powerful command of English, for no reason greater than the fact that she can, or a blogger might just rant for the sake of ranting. No topic is out of bounds, and there is no such thing as taboo. The human consciousness, it would seem, has been tapped. What I love is that this true, rich and deep freedom of speech we have found online transcends any normal social boundaries.
For instance: I find racism to be abhorrent and ignorant, but I love that racists can express themselves freely with a blog or "vlog" or podcast on the internet. I dislike religious zealotism, but I love that fact that it too has a home in the sphere. I despise, on almost every level, almost every portion of the mass-media-entertainment machine in America, but I love the fact that a hoard of bloggers are out there picking apart that machine in every way imaginable, and looking at it from every angle, even if some of those bloggers just really LOVE network television.
I like this because good ideas shared openly grow and evolve. Shitty ideas shared openly die in the light of exposure over time. Or so my optimism tells me.
When there is a public dialogue about all of these things, the powerful force of thousands of discerning minds tend, I think, on a long term scale, to eventually act as a filter, conserving the truly relevant or meaningful, and discarding the truly inaccurate or unimportant.
And all of this kicks ass because I have a choice about who I read or what I expose myself to on the internet. And, on the many pornographic websites, we all have a choice on who exposes themselves to us.
I can find those bloggers who are of a similar mind to me, or I can just as easily interact with those with whom I do not agree at all. And both are important to me. The point is that the internet is bringing us closer and closer, with the blogosphere being an example of this, to a day when any human voice that really wants to be heard will be heard. On a global scale.
I think that, in a way, this blogging and this hyper-connectivity with others like ourselves is a real revolution. Can you sense that the day of the corporate media machine may be nearly at a close? I think that maybe I can. In the blogosphere, and outside of it, the internet is connecting writers, thinkers, philosophers, fashionistas, photographers, film-makers, visual artists, theologians, politicians and even wackos like myself in ways previously unimaginable, that they might be the force that puts an end to the daily grind of the media monopoly that huge corporations have controlled in America and across the world for nearly goddamn ever.
If this IS revolutionary, then one could be even more optimistic (as I am) and hope that this will lead mankind into a sort of new renaissance, or a new intellectual resurgence of sorts.
A woodcut of craftsmen working on an early printing press.
Could we be on the brink of a revolution like the one the printing press ushered in?
When the controllers of information lose their grip on what they have had for so long, and control slips then into the hands of the people, then certainly there follows great and nearly universal learning and, therefore, great liberation for the collective human mind. Inevitably, it seems to me when I take my step back for perspective, humankind is headed for a triumphant increase in the standards of knowledge, enlightenment, and living. Across the board. I believe that the internet, and mechanisms reflecting true freedom of speech, like the blogosphere, are reflections of that new reality.
I want to be there when that all happens. When I was younger, I used to think that I was "born into the wrong decade", and that I would have fared better in the '60s or the 70's. I don't think that today. I am humbled to live in a time when the voice of one person can reach so many ears so easily. I am humbled to think that my small voice would reach ANYONE outside of my inner-circle of life acquaintances. And I am so excited to be a small part of this all. Because even tiny blogs about nothing mean more than the reality TV and unimaginably biased news landscape that has been perpetrated upon us recently, in my humble opinion.
So what do you all think? Am I merely misapplying some grandiose self-importance to the act of blogging? Or do you find yourself feeling liberated in some way by the free flow of information on the web? Are we approaching a time when we won't have to listen to dick heads like Keith Olbermann or Bill O'Reilly anymore? A time when information and art and ideas flow so freely across an open platform that no one will ever again lament that there are "1000 channels and nothing to watch"? Do you bloggers and web-heads feel like you are a little part of something huge? What do see for the future of our increasingly connected world?
As per usual: love.