March 14, 2008

Blogging vs. Facebook

I haven't always been up to cultural speed. I've never owned an ipod or mp3 player. I didn't get a CD player until 1997. I didn't have one in my car until 2003, the same year I got my first cell phone. I don't own a laptop or a video game console of any kind. I got my first digital camera in 2007 which was a tough pill to swallow given my lifelong loyalty to the technological wonder known as the disposable camera. In my mind, blue tooth is what happens when you eat a popsicle and PDA refers to a frowned upon behavior, not those now-ubiquitous devices that promise to organize your life at the touch of a button or, if you'd prefer, with the the touch of one of those plastic-toothpick-screen-presser-sticks. I've never had a MySpace or Facebook account and I still have yet to observe the "unprecedented" quality of a BluRay DVD. I've also never had a blog... until now.

So what gives? If you haven't noticed, there seems to be a change in the air this year. It's been a while since I first began thinking about starting, no 'creating' sounds better, I mean LAUNCHING a blog for all the typical reasons: to express my inner self, to prove that my voice has something to add to the blogosphere, to give back to the virtual world that has given me so much. The reason I haven't done so until now has largely been due to the fact that I was equally tempted to obtain a Facebook account. I knew that having both a blog and a Facebook (let me fix that- no one says, "I HAVE a Facebook." It's always, "so-and-so is ON Facebook") would suck up gallons of precious time and reduce my existence to little more than a screen-dependent parasite- which I already am fast becoming.

So I was faced with a choice. Start a blog or start a Facebook page (it took me long enough to determine that MySpace was not the space for me). Blogging vs. Social Networking. To "publish" thoughts and ideas or share pictures and personal updates with long-lost friends. There were pros and cons to both, but I ended up deciding to blog for the same reason many of my friends have become long and lost: I'm simply terrible at keeping in touch with people if I don't see them regularly. Of course, I suppose that's the whole premise of social networking, but there was something irresistible about offering my opinions, reflections and observations to anyone who might take a pit stop along the information superhighway.

I don't seem like the Facebook type, but I could fancy myself a closet blogger. My Facebook credentials are weak: I'm (sadly) not the kind of person who travels a lot or takes lots of pictures. If I were on Facebook, what would I show? My life consists of doing almost the same thing day after day, week after week. Even if my pictures were exceedingly interesting, something about transferring / uploading / attaching them from the the camera to the computer involves too many steps for me. My schedule of activities doesn't vary much, but I'm enamored with the thought that my ideas and opinions might. My pictures and personal updates are limited by my dull and predictable life, but the only restrictions for my ideas are the length of my internal rabbit trails and the extent of my vocabulary. It doesn't bother me if no one ever sees the pictures I've taken or hears a description of "what I'm doing right now." For some reason though, it really does matter to me that my ideas and opinions are validated and understood. Blogging seems to be the logical next step after posting comments at the end of online articles, a practice that just doesn't float my cyberboat anymore. Blogs are essentially comments with an identity. Commentary meets social networking.

I also enjoy the anonymity of blogging. Who am I? Who could I be? Displaying a picture of me would spoil it all. That cross-legged geek on the purple paper trail is not me (besides, I already said that I don't own a laptop). Of course, the only people even likely to read this are the ones who already know me, but it's much more exciting if we pretend like there's some mystery to this whole charade. I always tell myself that I need to write more, reflect more, journal more. Is blogging to journaling what movies are to reading? Hmm. They're both bite-sized forms of storytelling that have evolved into widespread cultural phenomena. Just as there are a thousand lousy movies for every gem on the silver screen, thoughtless blogs are becoming more common than junk e-mail.

So if no one ever reads these dime-a-dozen words of mine, do they have any significance? I suppose that's the blogosphere version of the "If a tree fell in the forest..." question. Maybe that's why I likened blogging to journaling. It's a sort of midpoint between the mindless and the reflective, the intentional and the random. Halfway between writing a speech and playing fantasy baseball.

I still haven't ruled out the possibility of joining Facebook, though. It will probably happen around the same time that I give up my beloved CD collection.

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