Blogging Responsibility

When I showed a guildie, a veteran blogger himself, my blog the other day and asked him if he had any thoughts, he chuckled mildly to himself and said that I was just like a typical new blogger, writing about what I know and what goes on in my head. He probably didn’t mean it thus, but I took it as an insult; partly because I hate being thought of as average and anything less than a unique precious snowflake, but more than that, I was insulted because I knew he was right. You always hear about “transference” of feelings in psychology and the things you hate about yourself are what you see in people you don’t like. Well, him calling me out on my stubborn refusal to do anything but slink by with the bare minimum, even on my own person, not-packaged-for-consumption, vanity online journal, just made me mad that he was right, and that I hadn’t really planned to do anything about it.
So that got me thinking. I knew right from the start I wasn’t going to consider this something that I wanted a large amount of exposure or feedback on, it was basically all for my own personal vanity and maybe for a few people to see where my head was at. If someone stumbled upon it while falling through the series of tubes that is the internet, then so be it. Maybe they find something to their liking, maybe they just click the “back” button; either way, it wasn’t really a concern of mine; though I do try to spell everything correctly and form complete sentences. My guildie is once again proclaiming he is a changed man and promises to update his blog more, though I’m sure my hazing of his lack of updates didn’t contribute to this fact at all, and his “re-re-re-introductory post” mentions all those blogs who helped him when he needed something from the community and now he has resolved (*cough*again*cough*) to give something back himself in case he is ever able to provide a similar service to another faceless entity in need of aid. All of this brings my thoughts back to the concepts of personal honesty, responsibility, and the difference between personal journalists and bloggers.
As a Paladin, one who has dabbled in all 3 specs available to my class, my blogroll is filled with Paladin-specific blogs that I frequent with a few others thrown in there for perspective’s sake. There are people who have been playing this game far longer than I have, understand it far better than I do, and work far harder at sharing that knowledge than I likely ever will. With that in mind, I knew I never set this out to become “another paladin advice blog.” That, along with my desire to mostly bitch about things I don’t get to tell people to their faces for the sake of tact or guild-harmony and other off-topic nonsense such as the latest pretty dress I found, made me feel justified in believing I have no responsibilities to fulfill to anyone who may ever read this. I have no responsibility to educate, inform, sway, communicate, reassure, placate, conform, or even update, it’s all-selfish all-the-time. Perhaps that would be a good blog name… but in any case; Responsibility.
Is a blogger (or online journalist) responsible to deliver content to their readers? I suppose not, at least if you’re not being paid for it. Some people may feel a sense of responsibility depending on how often they check their hit-tracker, or if they feel that what they offer is something readers can’t get anywhere else. They may feel a responsibility to an imagined “other,” a sort of invisible karmic reader, their own superego perhaps, to post things of a “valid” nature, informative in a non-selfish way or otherwise. As a paladin with a blog, in a virtual sea of blogs by paladins and for paladins, I can’t really claim to feel any kind of responsibility. Even if I were in the upper 5% of skilled and knowledgeable paladins playing the World of Warcraft, by sheer volume of other paladin blogs available (and tanking blogs in general) the odds that I would have something unique to contribute education-wise, or even a unique train of thought on a subject of the community, is statistically unlikely. Does this mean I can’t talk about how persecuted I felt when I read that Lay on Hands would no longer be self-cast enabled just because EVERY paladin blog out there obviously made such a post? I suppose not, but, if I did, I would be little better than a unique web-address which basically replicated a forum post on every other unique web address discussing the subject, and I wasn’t too motivated to do it when it’s looked at in those terms.
Do I feel any sort of responsibility to make my blog exist for the sake of a karmic future; of someone who MAY happen upon this blog who then MAY decide to read it and thus MAY take something away from it that betters their life? As a believer in the Chaos Theory of the world, I suppose I do feel at least some small responsibility in that sense, but it’s really not enough to motivate me to make a post, mostly just to constantly be in some form of nagging, etherial pain; the kind you get when you’re so tired you really don’t want to do your homework, but then can’t go to sleep because all you can think about is how you’re going to feel tomorrow knowing it isn’t done. I never could ascend to the bliss of apathy about homework when I was in school, so I can still remember that irritation years after graduating from college.
Do I feel any sort of responsibility to make my blog accessible to readers? As I said, I never intended this to be read by more than a handful of people and thus did not package it for consumption. It was written with at least some care to not be overloaded with acronyms or with exclusionary dialog familiar only to those in the same intellectual and social “clubs” with whom I shared admittance. Why, I suppose only to diffuse any sort of self-doubt about the small potential damage to accessibility in that hypothetical situation that a non-initiate finds their way here. And along with the responsibility of being accessible, do I feel any responsibility to make it, subjectively, and possibly grammatically, well-written? Here, I confess, I believe I do, but only to a point. Even if no one reads it, I read it, because I have nothing better to do. I will embarrass myself while re-reading entries if I don’t make an effort to be erudite and eloquent. It’s all about vanity you see; to come back and say, “I wrote that, and it was pretty cool, even if I’m the only one who ever sees it,” and I can be happy with that. But by the same token, I know almost no one will read it, so laziness and corner-cutting enters into it. As an intellectual fact, I understand, and accept, that people who make the best story-tellers are not concerned with facts, but with feelings. You do not make connections with others through fact, you make them through a mutual belief in a shared aspect of the experience of The Human Condition. I am a very “fact” kind of person. Curt, specific, and to the point, to my social detriment, and thus, often boring, impatient with others, and impatient with myself. I could use the opportunity this space provides me with to improve myself. That is what my father, whom I deeply admire, respect, and am often falling far short of in comparison to in my own personal measurements, would do. I could use this space to be less about fact that no one cares about, and instead use it to present the facts in an emotional way that people could identify with. That “shared experience” is what builds communities, both in the real world and on the internet.
Bloggers get traffic for 3 main reasons; constant updates, controversy, community interaction. No blogger with any significant number of hits doesn’t have comments. If you want to get your name out in the internet age, take a stand, be specifically unpopular, cause a controversy, and roll in the dough once people come to your comment boards to flame the shit out of you and your dumb ideas. Once you have your captive audience you can either win them over, or become more acidic to keep them coming back just to see what you say next so they can indulge in their annonymity-fueled desire to freely, blamelessly, unselfconsciously, self-righteously, and unabashedly throw shit at you from their moral or intellectual high horse. And the horses get taller by the day. As someone far too lazy to indulge in trolling or controversy, I feel no need to further add to the cesspool of internet drudgery and turn my blog into another boil on the internet’s ass. You don’t need controversy to create a dedicated readership, that just takes constant updates and consumable content. Once you build the community, however you do it, all you need are the updates, regardless of the quality of the content. Since I did not set out to build a community with this online journal, some might call me an irresponsible blogger; and that I may be; but I believe therein lies the inherent distinction between “Blogger” and “Online Journalist.” Whether it is your priority to build a community yourself, or merely accept it if one finds its way to you. Therein lies the essence of whether or not the author has any “real” responsibility or not, even if that responsibility is only to themselves.
So then, do I have a responsibility with this space? Is it a “blog” or an “online journal,” or have I decided yet? Is there a responsibility for it to be accessible and publish-worthy, a responsibility to help create and foster a community, to be a hotbed of discussion or teaching, to update it at all, to use it as a means of bettering myself as a person and a writer, to write for the unknown reader who may never come, or to do anything other than allow it to chronicle my continuing downward spiral into apathetic, unchallenged average-ville? When you are at the bottom, the gap between “terri-bad” and above average is wide in distance but not in time. The difference between above average and exceptional, or, for the purposes of this article, “scholarly,” is very small in distance, but very very wide in time. I would have to invest a considerably larger amount of time into learning, honing, and perfecting my paladin-craft before I would feel comfortable throwing my hat in the proverbial ring of “Paladin Blogs.” You will likely never see anything I post referenced in any place read by masses seeking either entertainment or knowledge. If I set out to better myself as a blogger, I suppose that is what I would have to do. So, for now, I am content with my lack of responsibility and the void of desire to acquire any sense of such, despite any ego-bruising that may occur as a result of it.

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