Sunday, December 11, 2005

U R the Best Evah!

I'm discovering that having a full-time job means a lot less time to write out here. I'm clam-happy to be gainfully employed, but I do miss having time to post decent stuff. I've been trying to get more people to interview for "One Dozen Questions," but I've actually been turned down and/or blown off by a couple of celebrity-type people I actually know. (Maybe they read my blog and have come to the conclusion it would Not Be A Good Career Move. Who knows?)

In other news...

I've been thinking alot lately about what I call the "Cult of Blogger-ality" where well known bloggers get heaps of praise and slavish comments even for the crappiest posts. You know the type:

"Awesome! You rule!"

"You totally rock, dude!"


Yeesh. These folks don't really seem to care if their icons just type "blah blah blah bleh bleh bleh" for a whole page or offer a videoblog of them just making weird sounds for a minute. (Unless you're Laurie Anderson or David Byrne or somesuch, it's not art - you've just hit a creative wall.) No matter what the post, these guys will still fight to be first in line to say that it's the Best. Post. Ever. I think a lot of the commenters do it in the hopes of getting recognized and somehow feeling connected to the blogger in question. (Uncharitably, I think of it as the "Rosie O'Donnell Syndrome." "Please, Rosie! PAY ATTENTION TO ME!!!") Oy vey. It makes me sad for some of these folks.

I've actually culled the herd on the high-volume blogs I read because I can't stand the cult of bloggerality that has grown around some of them and the wild acclaim that follows each random fart into the wind. Look, for most bloggers who post every day, not every post is Hemingway or Faulkner. Don't b-s the writer into thinking that his every word is a golden gift! Fawning over each post does the writer no favor (unless said writer is just a raving egomaniac) and makes the reader look desperate and sad. It also makes me wonder if the superfan has even bothered to READ the post.


Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed this, too? Maybe I'm just getting really crotchety with the cold weather.

I've read a number of contemplative posts in recent weeks about "why we blog." (I've said before, for me, it's fun and cathartic, and I like to write. I have a lot of silly stories to tell, and I'd like to build my skills to the point where I write a book eventually. Blogging is never going to make me famous and no one is going to pay me $3K a pop to put ads up here, but it's nice to know that a handful of people enjoy the words I churn out.)

A good deal of the recent navel-gazing comes from folks with high-traffic blogs, and I cannot help but wonder if the introspection comes from the unending praise lavished on them for even the lamest content. I think it has to ring very hollow after a while for any normal person and must be disconcerting. Frankly it would creep me out if people heaped accolades on the crummier stuff I produce. It would start to disturb me - especially if it was the same person or persons doing this time and time again. As a writer, I simply wouldn't trust - or want - feedback and comments from the blown-pupil crowd. Hell, I'd turn the comments off, like Dooce did. (Not a big Dooce fan, by the way - I understand why she became popular, and I visit every once in a while. Friends tell me she is a consistently good writer, but I'm just not that into reading about the growth of her toddler. So, sue me.)

I'd love to know what some of the popular bloggers think about this - there are a number of people who seem to be able to ignore and filter the drooling fan comments and continue to write solid content - they're not just playing to the lowest common denominator, in some "bread and circuses" move. Interestingly, many of these bloggers are folks who don't post every single day - there are pauses between their well-considered writing. And I'll continue to visit their sites again and again. I may not comment very often, but I always appreciate Good Writing.

So, is it just me? Anyone else feel this way?


Merujo said...

I was waiting for that. Oh yes, oh yes, I was. Good job, AJ.

Claire said...

Well, speaking as a small-time blogger, the popularity of some blogs does get to me when their content is dull/poor/reaching to fill space. (Is it sacrilege to say I'm glad Nickerblog is taking the month off? I love me some vlog, but he's seemed preoccupied all fall to me.)

It's frustrating sometimes to post pieces I'm proud of and know that only a handful of people will read it when an outrageous number of people will read a post about having nothing to post about, or having not posted lately, by a blogger with fame or who gets linked by people/sites with fame. /pettiness

There are sites where I don't bother to read the comments because they have nothing to do with the posts or are flames. Those add nothing to the blog experience for me.

The constant demand for content reduces the writing quality most people produce. Group blogs might be a good solution for that.

(sorry for the long and all over the place comment .)

Merujo said...

Claire, you hit the nail on the head. Big time.

There are a lot of really talented and interesting writers online who will only ever be read by 10 or 20 people. It's a shame - but if 10 or 20 people gain something from those words, it's worthwhile. Heck, if the writer gets something out of putting the words into the ether, it's worthwhile.

I've been fortunate to find some real gems out here, and I look forward to their new stuff, even if I have to wait a few days or more in between. :-)

Claire said...

Oh good. It's always a relief to know I'm not coming across like a crazy person locked in an attic somewhere.

And Vecordious one, that made me laugh.

Washington Cube said...

You crock AND drool. :)

author said...

Firstly, this really was a very great post! And the comments were on the mark too! Though I must admit I think Dooce is extraordinarily funny - pluss she doesn't have comments (kudos!).

If there's more than ten comments I hesitate to read them at all... can't stand the blind praising - (But every now and then you just have to get down on you knees and suck that genious' toes...)

Barbara said...

What I've noticed is that I can never predict which posts I will even get 1 comment on. I wrote what I thought was one of the best posts ever the other day and either no one read it or no one thought it merited a comment. Instead I sometimes get comments on dorky posts -- you're right they're certainly not all equal, but somedays you just feel like writing whatever junk floats to the top. I think the biggest challenge is to maintain your own style and not adopt the style of the people who get those huge numbers of comments. Otherwise, it's like kissing up to the popular girls with the thought that that will make you popular too.

Dennis! said...

I am totally with you on the blogger cult thingee, and AJ hits it on the head when he says the cliques and "popular" blogs are so high school.

That being said, many times I still read the popular blogs, but I have given up reading the comments. There's no purpose to reading 146 "you are such a wonderful writer!!!!" comments, even if, in fact, I agree that the blogger is a wonderful writer.

playfulinnc said...

I was so *not* cool in HS.

Try explaining the groups of bloggers to non-bloggers who are actually cool in person. It's like I needed to get out my manual and pocket protector and presentation handouts to even begin to explain.

I like my 10 readers. I wouldn't want anyone else.

Gotta get me some horns like that.

Melissa said...

Funny, I don't post for the comments. Often they end up becoming a conversation between a few different people and I'm uninvolved. I guess I'd turn them off but I belive in free speech, blah blah blah.

What is a "celebrity blog?" I'm lost.

alwswrite said...

This is a great post, and I mean that sincerely. It's important for us to step back and look at our little subculture sometimes. This conversation could be applied to the blogger happy hour scene as well.

Reya Mellicker said...

I find the whole phenomena of connection through blogging to be fascinating, including the cult of celebrity bloggers which to me shows that even in virtual space, we behave just like humans.

Of course there's lots of bad blog writing. It can be tedious to sift through the dreck, but I love it that people are writing - even bad writing is better than spending the day on eBay. At least I think so.

Journal writing and/or letter writing, depending on how you look at blogging, was an almost lost art. Also you probably know my theory that all together we bloggers are creating a social history of a specific subculture. It's a unique social history of the first decade of this millenium. Yes it's uneven, yes it's flawed, but people are connecting, through comments, at the happy hours (not that I've attended yet, but i'm going next week). People are writing.

Annoying or not, I think it's great. I am pro-blogging .

A Unique Alias said...

If you find the comments on some blogs to be frequently insipid or pandering to the author, then why do you read the comments?
Further, for 'high-traffic' blogs that you once enjoyed, have you stopped reading them because you believe the quality of the author's writing is compromised by their growing audience? Then, it would seems to be a question of declining quality and not increasing audience.

Merujo said...

Very good questions, Unique Alias. Where there's chaff, there's usually some wheat. So, sometimes I dig through the comments to find the ones that are gems or interesting - they occasionally lead to another blogger/writer with good stuff to read.

In some cases, I do feel that the quality of the writing has been compromised - the writer starts writing for the accolades (even the inane ones) instead of just simply writing. In other cases, I just can't stand the dumb rah-rah fandom, which I think is more a cultural I-need-to-be-connected-to-you phenomenon on the part of the commenters than any change in the writer's quality.

After a while I'm silently cheering for the writers who get these comments to turn them off for a while or just say, "Thanks for the kind support, but it's not necessary to tell me I "rock" every day." But how does the writer do that without looking very self-consciously self-important or alienating readers? I dunno.

I need to ponder that some more. Thanks, Alias, for making me think some more. Appreciate it!

Barbara said...

This is actually one of the most useful set of comments I have read recently -- and this is not flattery! It makes me feel guilty for the times I might have attempted to attract readers or say things in a way that is not 100% me (which sometimes translates to BORING). What I find so fascinating is that we are really treading on new ground in determining the ethics of blogging and how we relate to each other, when in fact most of us have never met. There is probably a new set of literature in the realm of "blogger psychology" that is coming out of this new phenomenon.

Merujo said...

Velvet - "celebrity blogs" are, in my mind two things: 1)blogs put up by "legitmate" celebrities (i.e., Rosie O'Donnell) and 2)blogs by people who have become online celebrities by virtue of blogging (i.e., Dooce.) Both attract a lot of fans/readers.

Dooce turned comments off, permanently. Rosie turns hers on and off and now has a big, bad-ass delete button for the crazy haters and homophobes that visit her blog. She has some of the saddest and neediest commenters around. (Although there are some perfectly nice folks there, too.)