Sunday, 19 February 2012

I rule!

I have a blog.  I feel a little like Lester Burnham and his 1970 Pontiac Firebird in American Beauty.  I’ve always wanted it and now I have it.  I rule!

Except now that I have it, I am not entirely sure that I know what to do with it.  There’s that little internal voice, of course.  Sometimes a monologue, sometimes a documentary-style commentary or an opinion piece...... 
Anne is far more down-to-earth than I expected for a multi-award winning novelist and international sex-symbol.  She laughs when I tell her this as I sip tea in the beautiful, yet understated décor of her lovely home, the evening sun glinting off her sleek, perfectly-coiffed hair.

 Sometimes more of a “Come Dine With Me” style voice-over....... 
Anne stirs the gravy, entirely failing to notice that her guests have succumbed to a sudden and fatal bout of food poisoning brought on by her total inability to follow a recipe.  Better luck next time, Anne.

 Occasionally a full-surround sound cinematic experience, complete with panoramic views and an epic soundtrack.......
Camera sweeps across a cityscape in a birds-eye view.  Gradually it spirals in on a lonely figure striding up the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice.  Hers is a hopeless cause and yet every movement speaks of determination and courage.  As the camera pans in closer she pulls off her wig, shedding the traditional trappings of her profession in a symbolic moment of defiance.  As she turns her face up to survey the intimidating vastness of the court building, the music swells and changes key…

But apart from providing an outlet for my internal stream of consciousness, what do I actually do with a blog?  What is it for?  There is a whole online universe of words and experience and people’s lives out there – when it comes to that virtual world we have a thousand and one ways of connecting with people and sharing thoughts and information.

Take Twitter for example.  Sometimes it seems like everyone has a Twitter account.  Everyone tweets.  Everyone is a ‘#’ or an ‘@’ or whatever the symbol is.  Maybe I am missing something but I just don't get Twitter.  As I understand it, each tweet has to be under a certain number of characters, so information is shared in very short soundbites, presumably at a great rate.  It is like Facebook on speed.  I find it difficult to imagine what I could find to say in 140 characters or less.  (Particularly given that Simon claims that if I were a superhero, my power would be overwhelming people with sheer volume of words.)  I suspect that if I were to try out this particular form of communication, it would be less 'Twitter' and more 'Witter'.  I also strongly suspect that my communications would effectively be a real-time rant about the failure of those around me to abide by my own private rules of conduct, probably with a strong public transport leaning.

Why is that woman not moving down the carriage?

She's still not moving.  I shall glare at her.  [glares]

Strange.  She seems to be immune to the power of the glare.

Ohforgoodnesssakewomanjustmovedownthebloodycarriage.  Aaaargh!

Perhaps this is the sort of thing that South-West trains have in mind when they invite passengers to "Follow us on Twitter" on the scrolling screens in the carriages.  Although I have a vision of train drivers cheerfully updating their status between stations.

Still late
Continuing to be late
Sure I just saw Jordan on the platform at Mortlake
Very, very late

On balance, I think I will pass on the Twitter phenomenon.  Although, given that Wikipedia credits Twitter for starting several major revolutions, this probably means that when we overthrow the Coalition I will remain entirely oblivious and miss the whole thing, I think this is a chance I am prepared to take.

Facebook, I get.  There are no character-restrictions.  There are pictures.  The things that people post generally tend to be highlights or points of interest in their lives or in their day.  Where Twitter seems to be the unedited, unabridged, director's cut version of  people's daily lives, Facebook is the crib notes, the bits you really want to know.  Things happen at a more sedate pace on Facebook.  There are, of course, people who seem to have no filter between their real lives and their Facebook account.  Nothing is too fleeting or trivial to be recorded for posterity, held up for observation.  I know some Facebook friends better than their own mothers.  I know what they had for dinner last Tuesday, what their partner said to them in bed two days ago and the status of their ongoing crush on Harry from One Direction.

But over-sharing aside, I am comfortable with Facebook.  I understand its purpose and its etiquette and, most importantly, I understand how the "hide" button works.

Then there is Pinterest.  Not exactly a social network, but certainly a mechanism for sharing thoughts and experiences.  When I discovered Pinterest I was enchanted.  Pictures of fun things, pretty things, downright weird things – what’s not to like?  I nagged until someone sent me an invite and I gleefully set up my Pinterest account.  And then I sat and stared at the screen wondering what on earth to do with it.  My mind was blank.  I honestly could not think of anything to post.  My Pinterest page now consists of a single, lonely little picture of a pretty baby sling that I was coveting at the time.  Some people I know have started “following” me on Pinterest.  I suspect they may soon stop.

Pinterest did however point me to 2011's funniest Christmas present - the bearded hat....

So with Facebook and Twitter and all the other social networking options available, why do people blog?

I think the difference is that most of these other sites are about directly communicating with others.  People put their thoughts and experiences out there in the hope of engaging with others.  Facebook and Twitter are conversations of sorts, slightly bizarre conversations, granted, with unnaturally long pauses or else everyone shouting at once, but ultimately views are exchanged.  A blog is more of an online journal.  It doesn't really matter if people read and comment, read and move on, or don't read it at all.  The point is to write it.

Obviously it would be nice if people do read and enjoy, and possibly even tell you that they are enjoying it - everyone likes vindication, after all! 

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