It’s a Small World After All

The recent debate sparked by Megnut’s blog on the essence of blogging and the vehement replies on Jonathan’s site have made me rethink some earlier doubts that blogging could ever be the phenomena apparently advocated by the new prophets of bloggerdom.

Personally, I have always doubted that bloggers could ever adequately replace journalists, though they might, in mass, outweigh editorial writers. Unfortunately, too often blogging has actually seemed to slip to the level of “letters to the editor” where mere rants rule out any kind of rational argument.

As a literature major, neither do I think bloggers have much chance of surviving as storytellers. Though blogs are free, I’d prefer to read my stories from a book. I’d prefer to let editors and professional reviewers waste their time finding what is worth reading than sort through all of the blogs online myself to find the few worth devoting that kind of time to. I haven’t found many Hawthornes or Hemingways online so far despite many hours of reading.

So, why do I spend so much time on line reading blogs? What is the primary appeal of blogging?

It seems to me that the primary appeal is the “personal” ties you feel with other bloggers. By sharing our feelings about events with other bloggers, we establish ties that bind us together. The internet throws a web of personal relationships, often supplemented by emails, over those actively participating in creating a new web space.

When I recently had surgery for throat cancer, I received a number of emails from fellow bloggers wishing me the best. When’s the last time you received such encouragement from your local newspaper reporters?

To me, this “friendship” lies at the heart of whatever we can hope to accomplish as bloggers.

The real question is how we can build on this “friendship” to build a better place for all of us. One thing it could do is add perspective to the news, particularly since bloggers seem to come from many different parts of the world and from different professions. I often discuss news events with friends, and our discussions, whether we agree or not, help me to refine my own thoughts and define my own position. Blogging should simply be an extension of this kind of “friendly” discussion. When it’s an extended discussion by friends we trust from many places and from many different perspectives, this should be a powerful new way of dealing with events in our world.

The real potential of blogging, though, is to go beyond mere journalism. Blogging, as form of journaling, can help us to see our world directly through the eyes of another person. We can see the world through the eyes of an Arkansas writing teacher, a single mother and artist raising two daughters, an emergency nurse, an English poet, a retired librarian, an active one, too, and all those great people I link to from all over the world. What a magical view of a diverse world perceived from a thousand different viewpoints.

Such insights should really begin to give us a better idea of what it means to be human and, perhaps, for the first time, truly teach us that it is a small world, after all . What happens when you feel closer to a Candadian than you do to the man who lives next door to you?

And some people thought they wanted to be mere journalists.

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