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July 1, 2017

I have a confession to make: I don’t really like blogs. I don’t subscribe to any, and I do not read any on anything resembling a regular basis. So here I am, doing…what? Being a hypocrite, perhaps. I desperately hope that’s not how this turns out, but I guess we’ll see.

 

First, let me explain my aversion. I have several reasons, the first of which is that blogs can be written by absolutely anyone. The internet has changed almost everything people do in some way…it is what allows me to be a freelance editor, and I am grateful for that. It has also opened up a vast expanse of empty space for any person to fill with whatever they choose, which seemed like such a great idea at the beginning. Everyone’s voice could be heard! I don’t know about you, but I quickly realized that there were a huge number of people I didn’t care to hear from.

 

Neil Gaiman talked about this recently in an interview with Abraham Riesman for Vulture: “Geek power happened, in a weird kind of way, because there was somebody like us in every small town. In the 1950s and ‘60s, we didn’t find each other. By my time, in the ‘80s, we found each other at conventions. But there’s only one of us in each town. And then the internet suddenly means that each of those people in each of those towns gets to find all the other people like them. And suddenly, they’re empowered. And they are mighty. And that is glorious. What we didn’t think was, And by the way, in each of those towns, there’s also a Nazi. There’s a Nazi who’s too ashamed, too embarrassed, or too socially unwilling to stand up there and go, “Yes! I happen to be a Nazi!” Which was actually kind of a good thing. And the fact that all of those Nazis got to meet each other on the web and get together and go, “Hey, I am not alone! Look! There’s a million people like me.”[T]hat doesn’t make it a good thing.”

 

I’m certainly not saying that bloggers are Nazis (though there may be some); there are probably hundreds, if not thousands of blogs that are worth reading. But a functional society means following the unwritten but generally accepted rules of decency and tact. Prior to the internet, in most locations, someone standing on a street corner screaming something hateful would be ignored by the community and probably escorted away by police officers. If they were not suffering from any mental health problems, they would soon understand that nobody wanted to hear what they had to say. While they may not reconsider their views, they would at least suppress them in the interest of maintaining a functional relationship with their fellow citizens. No man is an island.

 

Now, that same person on the street corner may be a member of an extremist group forged on the internet, and the whole bunch stand on a street corner and intimidate passersby with their verbal abuse. Those who attempt to ignore or avoid them will feel anger or fear, in place of the quiet disappointment and judgment of years past. Anger and fear encourage more of the same from the hateful bunch, and as a result they cling ever tighter to their ideology because they somehow feel vindicated by their imagined oppression. People across the street will record it with their smartphones and put it up on the internet. The voyeurs and their friends will share it and talk about how horrifying those awful people are, and the ones being filmed will share it and use it as an example of the oppression they experience simply for exercising their right to free speech. It’s a self-feeding cycle of the worst parts of human nature.

 

Right about now you’re thinking:

 

Or maybe you prefer this version:

 

You see, I am not immune to my own ridiculousness.

 

My second reason for hating blogs is the word “blog.” I admit I hate made-up words more than the average person, but since fixing other people’s words is my job I feel justified in my hatred. “Blog” even sounds terrible. It’s the sound you make when you’ve put something in your mouth that you thought would be delicious and it turned out to be made of beets (aka dirt).

 

The third (and most powerful) reason? Recipe blogs. There’s a good chance I’m speaking to a fellow recipe-blog-hater, but I’ll elaborate anyway because it’s fun to commiserate. If I am searching for a recipe, it’s usually because I’m hungry. If I am hungry, I am impatient. If I am impatient, the last thing I want to do is click through a nearly impenetrable wall of pop-up ads (Congratulations valued customer! You’ve won a brand new iPhone and there’s absolutely no chance that this is a scam!) to read about your stupid family.

 

I apologize, but “impatient” quickly morphs into “angry” when food is on the line.

 

If I’ve clicked through to your blog from Pinterest, all I want from you is your recipe. We are not long-lost girlfriends. I don’t care about how much your doting husband just LOVES your zucchini ravioli, or how your 2.5 children don’t even notice the kale you put in their brownies (trust me, they notice; they just know those crappy brownies are the only ones they’re ever going to get from you). I don’t have time to spend reading about your domestic bliss because at that point I either start making dinner or I start to eat the countertop.

 

Maybe my aversion to writing a blog partially comes down to the fact that I much prefer editing to writing. Writing is hard because I want desperately to agonize over every word, or to fool around with formatting until everything is just so. I just spent five minutes messing around with those memes. They’re memes! In a blog! If you think it doesn’t bother me that they are different orientations and that there’s almost no good way to make that look decent, you are sadly mistaken. (I am also annoyed that the one on the bottom has no period at the end of the sentence, and I know I could fix that if I spent another 20 minutes fiddling with it, but luckily I am able to draw a line for my obsession somewhere.)

 

When I write I want the EXACT RIGHT WORD and if I don’t find it, the work stops. This is an attempt to retrain that part of my brain. Poor Mr. Bearce in AP English tried desperately to get me to “Just write!” by giving us five-minute essays on the previous night’s reading assignment. By the end of the year I was marginally better. The lesson didn’t really stick, though. In 2015 I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) to break that habit, and though I completed the challenge of writing 50,000 words during the month of November, I realize now that I will always struggle with that. Sometimes less, sometimes more, but I will struggle nonetheless.

 

If you’ve come this far, congratulations and thank you for doing so :) And now we’ve come to the part where I turn it over to you. You can walk away, wondering where the last 20 minutes of your life went. You can comment on my musings here and tell me if I succeeded or failed in my mission to avoid hypocrisy. That part is up to you.

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