Enough About Me--How Do Like My Blog?
Okay, so blogger Emily Gould, profiled in tomorrow morning's Times Magazine, seems to be self-centered, even narcissistic (at least based on what she writes about online). Evidently the emerging consensus is that this reveals something about the nature of blogging. On Megan McArdle's blog, guest blogger Peter Suderman defends Gould, saying:
Bloggers write about their lives, their interests, their cities, their friends. On many blogs, the author's life becomes part of the story--you read these bloggers as much for who they are as for what they have to say. This is what accounts for the sense one sometimes gets that one "knows" the blogger. Blogs serve as running commentary on the world at large (or some part of it), yes, but also as extensions of the lives of their authors. To become a regular reader is to share and take part in that life, and that's a large part of the blogosphere's appeal. It's also a function of both the frantic pace and pressure of the professional blogosphere: The easiest content to produce is that which is inspired by what's nearest to you.All true enough. But here is a point no one else seems to be raising: Since when is writing about oneself restricted to the blogosphere? Any regular reader of a writer like Calvin Trillin gets to know a heck of a lot about him--his life, his family, his personal quirks, even the foods he likes (spaghetti carbonara). And Trillin writes in the tradition of many journalists, columnists, and New Yorker writers, about whom something similar could be said.
For that matter, the sainted Orwell's journalism is full of stories about his personal life (his horrid experiences at boarding school, his adventures as a sous-chef in a Paris restaurant). And going back still further in time, what did Thoreau and Montaigne write about other than themselves--their foibles and eccentricities--using these as levers with which to pry open the secrets of life?
As far as I can see, the only thing truly new about the autobiographical writing in the blogosphere is that it's unfiltered by an editor or publisher. Are bloggers people who are unduly fascinated with ourselves? Sure we are--and so are most human beings, truth be told.