I've been trying to decide exactly why I hate most blogs. It's not the poor writing, though there's alot of that on either end of the Long Tail. And it's not the narcissism - that's practically built into the process, that "Look at me, Read my thoughts" impulse (one could argue that all writers are narcissists). No, what I think bothers me is the wealth of self-aggrandizement that seems to fester in blogs once they've been around long enough to develop a bit of fan mail and a casual thumbs-up from a more popular blog (Scott Johnson at PowerLine raves: "YOUR VISUAL DESIGN IS INTERESTING...!!!") The bloggers begin doubting the words of anyone but themselves, become fascinated by the minutiae of their own life, assume that their readers want, nay, NEED to devour their observations on dogs, the Middle East, whatever. They reflect upon their brilliant career.
After pondering about a dozen of the blogs, I think that what bothers me is the lack of doubt - both interior (self-doubt - any acknowledgement that my little blog is just one of several kajillion trying to nab your time) and exterior (a lack of skepticism: my opinion is unchanging; it is also the most important thing you will read all day). The entire blog aesthetic (I'm referring here to the more personal blogs, not the big writing circles like Huffington Post) is really geared towards the creation of a Cult of Personality around the writer - I will tell you my opinions, my favorite music, and show you pictures of me on family vacation.
As an example, I checked out the blog All Things Beautiful . The page is beautifully designed: each posting begins with a gorgeous piece of artwork (often Renaissance, often religious), that has absolutely nothing to do with the posts, which tread relatively common conservative ground (War on Christmas, Liberals are cowards), and occasionally twist into fascinating logic pretzels (Carter-loving liberals are also Holocaust-denier Apologists; THAT is a pretty awesome accusation). The Biography of the site (I'm sorry, "The Vision") is:
Imagine having a copy of Vogue in front of you Imagine it moving Imagine it having sound Imagine things in context and being able to purchase what you like immediately The point of engagement is the point of purchase Simply swipe your credit card on the side of the wireless touch-screen tablet It is not the Web it is not TV it is not a Magazine but a combination of the best of all these media All Things Beautiful is a magazine in motion™ A still point in a turning world A moment for yourself Engagement Enrichment Fullfilment.
I love how "Magazine in Motion" is trademarked.
It just seems strange that what appears to be the main selling point of blogs - that it's written by normal people, for normal people, cut-through-the-bull-of-pop-culture - quickly fades away, because in a sense, the writers of the blogs begin to feel "important." People are reading me. I am become Celebrity. Another blogger couldn't stop laughing (in text form, so we could share in her joy) at how she kept on misspelling Labyrinth (Labiarynth, OMG LOL).
Am I being too critical? Certainly, I expect alot out of stuff that I read, and blogs by their nature are more amateurish than anything that's published (blanket statement, but blogs don't have to go through editors, publishers, even any rewrites). Perhaps I'm just too cynical to accept anyone sincere enough to put Rembrandt's "The Return of the Prodigal Son" over a posting celebrating the execution of Saddam Hussein (completely sincerely, mind you). It makes me want to write a blog about how stupid the Internet is. Except somebody beat me to it.