Elmo is thinking about blogs. You know, blogs.

March 11, 2005

Blogs are funny. In this instance I mean funny in the accepted “norms” in the blogging community about how to link to other blogs, what style of blogging to use, the dialog engendered by comments, etc. There is an underlying epistemology of blogs that is only now beginning to take shape, a way of thinking about what blogs are, what they contain, and how they communicate that shared understanding. Over time this will become part of the shared experience we all have of communication and social discourse. Today, however, it is still something new and exciting to many (most) people.

Given the fear of the new, the sometimes scary prospect of self-disclosure and retreat from anonymity, some people just don’t want to blog. Some choose to blog in an anonymous fashion. Some ask “what’s a blog?” To take the step forward, to engage, is not easy. I often encourage the people I know to cast away their inhibitions for a while and try it, but in doing so I also know that I am forcing them to ask the introspective questions of “why” and “who”. In essence, encouraging someone else to blog is the modern equivalent of encouraging them to go into Psychoanalysis. Like phrenology was before the advent of modern Psychology, blogging might be the precursor to another form of communication yet to emerge.

Then, who might be the William James of blogging? Who can approach the subject with that rare combination of ontological insight into the blog with pragmatic ratiocination of it use? Who can lay the foundation for modern thought about electronic communication? There are many soi-disant prophets of blogging, but I trust none of them. I truly wonder when the voice will emerge from the aether.

The natural tendency of people is to shield themselves from change. Change means that the fine balance we establish between the rational mind and the irrational is maintained and we have the illusion of control. Forcing people outside that illusion is a difficult task and one that creates a palpable state of tremulous anxiety in most. Blogs, as a mirror of technology and a mirror of the self (cf. Sartre’s “The Look”) are a philosophical demon, an electronic doppelganger, a digital boogeyman. Fear is an appropriate response.

Overcoming that fear is the challenge. Finding the voice, the stance, and the perspective to represent your own reality and use it to describe the reality around the self is the struggle. Conquering the fear is an evolutionary step tantamount to the first time we realize we are a unique individual in the world and not simply an abstraction of thought and dreams.

Go forth and blog, young human. Your ego may be frangible now, but it can withstand the shock and grow.

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