Every time I sit down to blog lately, I quickly realize all I want to do is whine. Whine about the difficulty of teaching some pretty unruly kids. Whine about my local community and the many warped values I see. Whine about politics, about church, about Hollywood, about deadly Chinese imports, even about a terrific son who nevertheless has lots of anxieties and moodiness when it comes to bedtime.
But I assume that the taste of whine is bitter to many readers. (Sorry, couldn’t let the opportunity for a bad pun pass…) So now that I’ve done the above whining –condensing it into a few vague sentences stripped of all the emotional angst I very much wanted to put in there– I can spare you the actual details. (You’re welcome.)
I need to break that nasty whining habit because my intention is that Marking Time can be more than just a Mark Nielsen thing, or a shrill, self-justifying repository for paranoid manifestos, or an ungrateful, wimpy little neverending Letter to the Editor. (Yes, God does read my column, … He just prefers to answer my complaints with private IMs… no paper trail.)
My hope is that this blog, and others like it, can slowly create a new community of people more interested in building than in tearing down, more interested in creating or understanding than in complaining. Not that there isn’t a role of criticism for independent micro-media outlets (or whatever you want to call the average blog, the ones read by hundreds of people, as opposed to millions). It is the new “free press”, after all. And while I wouldn’t trust most bloggers to get all their facts right (present company included), their potential as barometers of the social climate is becoming clearer every day.
A good blog entry should be a little educational, yet without taking itself too seriously: somewhere between Schoolhouse Rock and NOW with Bill Moyers, with a bit of After-School Special thrown in to increase the dramatic tension, and thus secure a steady repeat investment by readers interested in seeing what happens to Our Hero . (Hint: nothing much. )
The main problem is one of quantity and competition for people’s attention. There’s a lot of fluff out there, and a lot of bad writing, hard to read even if I do agree with the writer. For every great BookSlut or Drudge Report out there, there are dozens of single-issue fan sites, vapid celebrity-driven promotional blogs (the People magazines of the internet), and rambling, shallow mumblings by suburban twelve-year-olds with nothing better to do than waste our time.
Finally, a disclaimer: sorry if you feel I’ve wasted your time today. Because I also believe a blog should be ABOUT something other than blogging itself. I just wanted to talk it through, maybe see if anyone has something to add about what you think a blog can be, or should never try to be.