Sunday, October 5, 2008

Blogiversary post

It's three years today since I first found Blogger and worked out what to do with it.

Perversely, I'm going to celebrate -- perhaps 'mark' would be a more accurate word -- this anniversary by mentioning what is for me the single biggest downside of blogging.

I'm what I think of as a sociable blogger, that is, one who reads and comments at lots of other people's blogs - there are at least 20 that I read regularly, and by regularly I mean often daily. A few of these blogs are written and run by small or large teams of bloggers and have large readerships and long, active comments threads. I spend a great deal more time reading other people's blogs than I do writing my own (and this in itself is, I think, a mistake).

Still, thanks to blogging I'm far better and more widely informed about current affairs and the debates around them than I have ever been before. Blogging has given me an astonishing education about what other people and their lives are like. Most of us gravitate to people like ourselves, reinforcing our belief that our own standards and values are the norm from which everything else is a deviation.

Blogging is a truly wonderful corrective to this. I get great satisfaction, pleasure and relief, for example, from seeing the state of other people's kitchen floors. I thought it was just me.

I have had far more contact with lots of different men, with mothers of young kids, with people a generation older and people a generation younger than me than I ever get in real life. From what I've seen, I have very, very high hopes of the people who are currently in their 20s. (Though I do worry in a maternal sort of way about how much they seem to drink. I put away a fair amount in my own 20s, often more out of absent-mindedness than anything else, and it was usually not a very good idea at all.)

But here's the downside. The nature of moral and ideological conviction being what it is, when you see someone expressing opinions you find repugnant then the natural impulse is to take them on. And thus it is that the blogger, or at least the social blogger, finds herself wasting hours and hours of her precious time in pointless engagement with people she would in real life cross the street, possibly the suburb and in some cases the entire country, to avoid.

Examples: those who appear to the blogger be mad or drunk or on drugs. Those who take delight in deceptive trolling, baiting and sock-puppeteering. Those who are unable to communicate without being aggressive, insulting and cruel. Those she finds ignorant, or vicious, or stupid. Those who are incapable of either producing or comprehending rational argument. Those who don't know the difference between opinion and analysis, or that between belief and fact. Those she would never engage with in real life in a million years, and whose opinions are, in her own view, worth less than a bucket of warm spit, which could at least be put on the garden.

For reasons I don't understand, I waste a lot of time reading the badly written effusions of these people. (Fellow bloggers, especially those who have ever smoked, gambled, drunk to excess, done drugs or had food issues, will know that time spent online is highly conducive to addictive behaviours and quickly leads to sitting up half the night like that little man in the XKCD cartoon.)

Like that little man, I waste a lot of time and emotional energy either in engaging with the awful stuff they write, in making the effort not to engage with it, or in dealing with the emotional effects of the hatred expressed by, in particular, a certain kind of man with a vicious, all-consuming and monomaniacal grudge against a certain kind of woman. Of which I'm.

Being hated does you harm. Especially when it comes from someone you've never even met.

One of the other really alarming effects this is having is that I can feel it gradually dumbing me down. One sure way to blunt the edge of your intellect is to use it hacking away at drongoes.

And I could be spending that time

-- listening to music
-- working
-- doing non-work reading
-- playing with the cats
-- gardening
-- calling/visiting/writing to beloveds
-- doing house and yard maintenance
-- sitting at the piano wrestling that Satie to the deck, damn it
-- sewing some cool cotton bumming-around retro-hippie dresses for summer
-- taking photographs
-- writing my novel
-- walking along the beach watching dogs and kids
-- singing

So that's my third blogiversary resolution. Put a time limit on blog activity, as though you were your own parent dealing with your own recalcitrant adolescent offspring. Refine the parameters. Engage only with the bloggers and commenters you like and admire. (I didn't say 'agree with', I said 'admire'.) Save your blogwriting energy for your own posts, not for enraged answers to nasty, stupid, aggressive, sexist, racist, masculine-supremacist and/or barking swine.

Blogging -- and by 'blogging' I mean reading and commenting as well as writing -- is a wonderful thing, and its powers should be used only for good. Today, here at Still Life With Cat, I resolve to lift my standards.


Mark Bahnisch said...

Happy blogiversary and many thanks for the three years of bloggy goodness!

I sorta wrestle with a lot of those issues - which are more about the practice of the blog space for conversation than blogging proper, as you note - too.

I find a laptop with an off switch for the intertubes is quite an aid to managing and disciplining one's time in resisting the urge to respond to wrong stuff on the internets!

Yemily said...

What's needed sometimes is a clever invention to mirror the moronity that can monster the internets: I'm not sure if one can include a link in a comment, but here's the source of my thinkin'

and keep it up, it's a-good reading!

Nabakov said...

Firstly, congrats on the new pad. A nice streamlined moderne design. Though as usual I have problems finding the toilet.

And secondly, congrats on three years of blogging. The first five years are always the hardest. Then the bad bits all sorta becomes autonomic after that.

"And thus it is that the blogger, or at least the social blogger, finds herself wasting hours and hours of her precious time in pointless engagement with people she would in real life cross the street, possibly the suburb and in some cases the entire country, to avoid. "

So fuck 'em. When you're confronted with something really repellant on screen, you basically have three choices. Ignore, respond or time out for some Cat Time!

Cats and computers go together like bacon and eggs, Saunders and French, lamb and mint jelly, Morcombe and Wise or airport novels and long flights.

If computers didn't exist, cats would invented them. How else to pin your can-opener down for hours at stretch with nibbles scattered around and clear eyelines you get in front of? And unlike like TV, it comes with a mouse and lots of other dangling and moving thingies.

Or think of it this way. Can you imagine any of the trolls, ratbags, shitshitters and unpleasant whackos you've encountered online having much time for cats or vice-versa? I bet even dogs don't like hanging arond with them. Being shithead for no reason with people you'll never meet is its own punishment. The cats they know this.

Here's a little 3rd anniversay greeting card that captures some most unbloglike behaviour..

Anonymous said...

Speaking of cats, if anyone in Adelaide would like a kitten, leave a message here...five weeks ago we found a mum that had moved her just-born trio under the car in the driveway. We've fed and socialised 'em, but the last thing I want to do is take them to the Animal Welfare League (we have seven already, so taking on four more is not possible).


Deborah said...

Oh - your list of things to do other than blog is so like mine. I'll be leaving out the photography and novel writing, but adding in singing and baking, all with the company of my beloved daughters.

Congratulations on three years blogging. And thank you - I enjoy your blog so much, especially the English lit, and the cats, and social comments, and well, all of it.

Right - must go and update my blogroll with your new address.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Evening all, and thanks for those kind words.

Mark -- yes, we despised latte-sipping elites suffer from constant anxiety about not including everyone. Or, worse, *gasp* "censoring" them. Oh the irony.

Yemily -- yes I saw that one. Thought it was hysterical.

Nabs: first, the litterbox is two doors down on the right -- the door with the paw prints on it. Thank you for your very sound advice and encouragement, much appreciated. And it is true that the worst kind of troll is usually driven away screaming by the mere sight of a kitty.

BS, would you like me to put up a proper kitten-advertising post? Have you got an email address I can put in it, or can they contact you through me? Do you have photos? Descriptions?

Deborah, have just bought a new little boombox type sound system THAT WORKS, unlike the former antique, and have been singing along with various heroes of my era all afternoon! The down side: I killed my iPod trying to update iTunes prior to plugging it into the new toy. I guess now I'll just have to spend some of my money before it disappears down the global toilet and buy an iPhone. Sometimes Fate forces one's hand.

skepticlawyer said...

Congratulations on maintaining such an excellent blog over such a long time... my only request? Bring the old posts over from the Pink Palace so that we can enjoy them here, too.

clarencegirl said...

Congrats on being here after three years! So many don't last the distance.

M-H said...

Congratulations on your blogiversary. And you are right - that XKCD cartoon caused great hilarity in our household - mainly from my partner with me wailing "I don't - not that much!" But last night when she saw a post I was writing in response to a ridiculous patronising putdown on Scepticlawyer she shook her head and said "And you'd be engaging with that crap because...?" And I realised she was right. I resolve to lift my standards too. And to blog more often about stuff that matters.

lucy tartan said...

Happy blogiversary and thanks for sticking with it through the rough & the smooth. I love your resolution.

tigtog said...

Happy blogiversary, PC! You were one of the first oz-bloggers I ever added to my blogroll, which reminds me that I must update it to your new address (at least I updated the feed-reader already!) so that others can find and enjoy your blog.

Your resolution is excellent. I realise that over the last few months I've been doing more of that (refusing to waste my time on drongoes) without ever actually thinking about it particularly. Your resolution adds some firmness to the new habit. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Congrats PC, good luck with the resolutions. i have been saved many times by the fact that i am quite shy and discard most of my posts, also Blog reading is stolen time and the Hbomb, 2 on sat, is not tolerant of such thefts.

I have enjoyed many of your posts, esp those re literature and the writing process.


Pavlov's Cat said...

STOP PRESS: The iPod came to life again! And it is a very old one, too, relatively speaking; I tried everything I could think of and everything in the Help menu, to no avail. I was sure such a major upgrade of iTunes and so much new music had simply made its heart give out. But no. I picked it up this morning, looked at its blank little screen, pressed dispiritedly just one more time on the button in the middle of the clickwheel -- et voilà: an apple!!! Plus all the new music. The moral of the story is that often all you need is a night in hospital.

And so, SL, as you can see, my tech abilities are limited to magical accidents. I tried hard to find out whether Blogger would let me amalgamate the pink palace in some way but I need a Help menu to navigate their new Help menu. I think p'raps a sidebar link to t'old blog immediately after t'new blog's archives may be the easiest way to go.

T'anks again to all for good wishes. Dylwah, you are right, I should post more about books and writing, and I should revive Australian Literature Diary properly, too. I was looking forward to retiring and having as much time to blog as I wanted, but it currently looks as though I'm going to have to spend my last days looking after chooks, hoeing vegies, walking the mile or two to the beach to swim instead of having a shower, and swapping old bits of string with the neighbours.

Which is probably still better than the post-holocaust scenarios one feared in the 60s and 70s.

Zoe said...

I think this blog needs more pink. Also, I like it very much when you go the drongoes

Just sayin'


Mindy said...

You always say the nicest things. I was going to mop the kitchen floor, but if it makes you feel better the way it is!;)

Thanks for the last three years, and here's to many more.

Jen at Semantically driven said...

Happy blogiversary! I'm sure you're not alone in spending far too much time blogging etc online.

Another Outspoken Female said...

A belated (my bloglines is being most tardy at present, I blame mercury in retrograde) birthday greeting from me too. My world is always better for having another thinking cat lover in it :)

Ampersand Duck said...

Happy belated bloggy returns! Done good, played strong.

Best Beloved accidently put his iPod through the washing machine and it still worked (once it dried out), to his utter delight. I was very surprised he'd actually told me, because he's very cat-like with the saving face thing.

Also -- I made a vow ages ago to abstain from blog-stouching. I like to stouch over real glasses of real alcohol. Blog-stouching doesn't seem to achieve much in the way of persuasion, methinks. And time is too precious. Mind you, I do love to *read* a quality blog-stouch when they are pointed out to me by friends, and you have always been in those, as you are a quality stoucher.

Karen (miscellaneous mum) said...

Happy Blogiversary to you. Yes, I am also having to need to cap the time-suck which is the blogging world, however I can - and do - justify what I do on here for work purposes. (At least, I try!)

I hope you don't reel it back too much though!