Why Do I Blog? I Still Don't KnowSaturday, May 25, 2013
At the end of 2005 I finally had my web page designed by the folks at Skunkworks and I asked them to have an ancillary blog. My blog was up January of 2006 and the ability of people to leave comments was very short. It was two days when I found out that there were many idle crackpots with time to spare to write nasty things. I have not looked back since.
But there is a problem in not allowing comments that is connected with a statement my friend, designer Ian Bateson made to me just a few days ago. He is rapidly approaching the age of 60 and believes that most of us, particularly in the profession of design and photography are much like milk in cartons. We are "best before" some expiration date. Bateson added that what keeps us going beyond that expiration date is ego. Ego is somehow connected to that word which I associate with monogrammed park benches, and lifetime achievement awards. This is legacy. Ego makes us, so Bateson says, strive to stay relevant and to push the borders of our techniques in what must be the opposite of making the motion.
I am not sure I agree as I believe that if one considers oneself to be an artist (and I sometimes acknowledge I am an artist) one keeps on to satisfy oneself.
But Bateson may be right as satisfying oneself, currently I think I am taking the best photographs of my life, could be an exercise in self-delusion which must be one of the ancillary byproducts of an ego, particularly a large one.
Legacy is the concept of leaving something behind when one is no longer around. My friend Abraham Rogatnick told me, weeks before he died, “After me the deluge.” He meant that he was not concerned about what anybody might think of him once he was gone.
In my case I see in my legacy my many metal filing cabinets with the work of almost 63 years of taking pictures. Properly used this “legacy” could mean money for my daughters and granddaughters. I do not worry about my wife as I have a good life insurance policy.
Just like Rogatnick I don’t particularly give a hoot what people might opine about my photography career once I am gone. I will not be around to be outraged by their thumbs down.
I have written five times previously (see link below) in an attempt to answer the question, “Why do I blog?”
Now is a good time to wrestle with that question again. I want to do this particularly since in the last couple of years I have made it the habit of posting my blog but then posting a link to it through facebook (note that it has to be in lower case) and Twitter. If my blog happens to be a review to an Arts Club Theatre play I will further link to my blog in the Arts Club Theatre’s facebook and Twitter sites.
In short I have been using my blog to investigate how social media is used or not used.
I have learned that previously those diehard readers of my blog either had my blog URL in their favorites or they used the RSS feed that my blog has. I learned quickly that as soon as I linked in facebook, the port of entry to my blog became facebook and Twitter. If I did not link to facebook (and even though I rarely miss a day’s blog) most thought I had not blogged.
Through the Blogger stats (imposed or gifted, take your pick by Google) I know how many people view this blog on any given day. I know what kind of computers, laptops, Macs and operating systems they use and I know from what countries they are viewing my blog. I can see the trend in an instant, day, week and month. I know what search engines they use and I have come to take the page views (any where from 300,000 to 450,000 per month) with a grain of very thin salt. Many of those page views come from random image searches which really mean nothing. I am also sure that I could create more traffic if I allowed comments.
Initially I really did not know why I was blogging. But in time it became a way of showing of my photographs and particularly those of my older granddaughter. My eldest daughter, Ale, commented that she was finding out a lot about me and about her mother and herself through my blogs. She said that she had not been brave enough to ask me some questions. But these questions were being answered little by little. I soon became very careful what I wrote when I realized that my youngest daughter’s mother-in-law read my blog.
My blog after all these years has given me a sense of the scope of my work. Thanks to Ale’s initial setting up of my filing system I am in the position of thinking about any topic of interest for the day and being able to retrieve a picture from my files to illustrate it. Somehow getting this scope has put an order into my life that feels pretty good.
At age 70 with my milk carton expiry date long past due this blog has become a happy daily routine. At one time I had the stress of having to write a blog for the day. Now I might not write one for a couple of days but I will invariably fill all the missing spots.
I would go further to point out that writing this blog is one of my few relevant obligations of the day. Sometimes I ask Rosemary, “What is in the agenda for tomorrow?” If her reply is, “Nothing,” I have no reason to get out of bed or put on day clothing. With spring and summer just around the corner, the garden is a reason for getting up tomorrow. Working in the garden is a pleasant chore that of late has become less of a chore as Rosemary and I have become veterans and know the shortcuts. But there is the sadness that comes from the fact that we are no longer asked to open our garden to garden clubs or art organizations like Ballet BC. Our garden is now a labour of love that Rosemary and I share with each other. Is this enough? No, if you have a gardening ego. Bateson may be right.
This idea of sharing what one does with others has lost a bit of its currency with the sharing involved in social media. I think that in many cases facebook sharing is the act of a many Narcissus gazing at their image on the water while saying, “Don’t look at yourself, look at me.” There just doesn’t seem to be much of real sharing going on.
I sometimes feel anger when I see so many publishing (a word that has also been devalued) little colored boxes of flat design with some inane and or banal (or both) aphorism of the day. I think, “Why don’t you create something and stop playing the air guitar?” There is so little personal content in social media that goes beyond a couple of sentences.
Sometimes I feel anger when after putting an hour or two of effort to write something, a comment in social media will show with no shadow of the doubt that the person leaving the comment has not read anything and just looked at the picture. The best, policy of course is not to become bitter or angry or to lash back.
Could that simply be a diminishing ego? Or why is it that I cannot simply accept that I am writing a diary for myself and who cares if anybody else sees it? Why do I blog? Am I making the motion? Do I need someone like Malcolm Parry to shake me up?
I don't know and I cannot quit. I write, I get pleasure. That must be enough.
Why do I blog? A sobering recapitulation
Why do I blog? A 2009 perspective & Ursula Andress
Why do I blog? a summer 2008 perspective & who shaves the barber?
Why do I blog? A Northern Voice Perspective