Sunday, June 07, 2009

Blog Fatigue

Back in the primeval days of personal corrective journalism--the precursor to blogging--gadflies like I. F. Stone and George Seldes would mail newsletters weekly to a tiny minority of Americans who wanted to know what was really going on behind newspaper headlines and radio bulletins.

A. J. Liebling, who did similar work in the pages of the New Yorker with occasional pieces on "The Wayward Press," once said that such efforts were hampered by the need to fill a fixed amount of space and suggested that, when conditions dictated, media critics just mail postcards to their subscribers: "No infamy this week."

Liebling's dictum is brought to mind by a New York Times piece on the short life and high death rate of blogs based on Technorati figures that show, of an estimated 7 to 10 million, "95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream--or at least an ambition unfulfilled."

As a late-in-life arrival after decades in the maligned mainstream media, I can testify to the exhilaration and frustrations of blogging--the freedom to react instantly to what passes for news, the brain pressure of making meaningful connections in the chaos of it all, the all-too-human need to find evidence of being heard and, in moments of doubt, anxiety over becoming the windbag at the cocktail party who sends listeners to the bar in urgent need of another drink.

At such times, there is the pep-talk wisdom of Andrew Sullivan: "You can’t have blogger’s block. You have to express yourself now, while your emotions roil, while your temper flares, while your humor lasts. You can try to hide yourself from real scrutiny, and the exposure it demands, but it’s hard. And that’s what makes blogging as a form stand out: it is rich in personality."

Unlike those pioneers who had to go to the post office with cartons of newletters, today's would-be founts of wisdom don't even have to get dressed and leave home. And Lord knows there is more than enough infamy to go around.

Getting rich and famous is another matter entirely, but these days the odds are closer to those of starting on a career in Wall Street and a lot more respectable.

1 comment:

Jeff Hess said...

Shalom Robert,

This reminds me of Theodore Sturgeon's dictum that: "90 percent of science fiction is crud. That's because 90 percent of everything is crud."