A friend of mine asked me this past week to help him assemble a list of important topics and tips to establishing a blog. He needed to convey these points in a lecture before a classroom of media-savvy college students. As we reviewed the finer and not-so-finer points of blogging, he declared in exasperation, “This stuff is just so obvious to kids who have probably already been blogging for five years.”
I have been blogging for five years, but I am far from a child. Though, it was a child that sent me into the realm of online writing. I began my blog after the birth of my second child. Despite the addition of a new human in my life, I felt isolated and sequestered away from the fast tempo of office life and the even faster beat of city lifestyle. I had always done a fair amount of writing in my media job though mostly in the way of formulaic client proposals. Writing had always been something I loved to do. I was regularly sought out by friends to adjust resumes, draft a resignation letter, or to pen a breakup email that struck just the right balance between contrition and “I just really can’t be seen with you anymore.”
I staked my claim on my patch of Internet with a blog I named “I’m Gonna Kill Him,” which I knew to be a statement every married woman around me muttered under her breath most days of the week regardless of what some of the more sensitive readers of this column will say about that. As my readership expanded, so did my family. I added a third child. My blog became less a repository of late-night musings and more a weekly essay meant to capture the absurdity and wonder of the modern family.
People were still impressed by blogs then. “What exactly is a blog?” and “Can anyone do one?” were questions I was met with every place I turned. People would nod their heads slowly, trying to digest the revelation that anyone with 20 bucks for a URL and an ethernet cord can be a published writer. The same people who had no idea what a blog even was suddenly became authors of one. My mother, infamous for clipping topical articles out of her favorite magazines and sending them to me through the post, transmuted into a person who would text me, “You should eat more chia seeds; I just read that on Oprah’s blog.”
Now, every preteen has an online footprint. Whether it’s Facebook statuses about their love for Eminem or an eponymous website that hosts the short films they’ve directed, children are using the Internet as a place to connect and a platform from which to be noted. It’s certainly a better portal than their back pockets or dresser drawers. It can’t be argued that Dear Blog, It’s Me Margaret can offer a more direct forum than God can. Plus, you never know who might stumble across their work because, as I have learned over the years, both terrible and magical figures will.
With all this reflection weighing heavy on our minds, my friend and I decided the best course of action was not to teach these kids about the best way to blog. It was just to have them set one up, if they hadn’t already. And to take it very seriously, even if your aim — as mine is each week — is to not be taken seriously. After all, you may only live for a short while, but your blog can stay out there forever.
As a side note, I am eternally grateful that I did not begin blogging in the years of my late teens and early twenties stage because …
1. My capri anxiety was at full-tilt, leaving little time for even basic needs.
2. The entire Internet did not need to know that if I drank two glasses of wine rapidly and then crossed my eyes just slightly before looking at one of my boyfriends, he looked exactly like Ben Affleck.
3. Twenty-something friends are way less cool than 40-something friends about reading ‘to protect her privacy, I will refer to her as Schmessica’ in your writing.
4. Every month, there would have been a post entitled “This time I really seriously must have Toxic Shock Syndrome.”
5. Every other sentence would have included the parenthetical aside: (Do you think my boss knows about this blog? If yes, do you think he also knows that I never lock the door when I’m the last to leave and that my Sun Chips habit was probably responsible for the mice?)
6. How many times would you have really wanted to read, “I’m writing this from the bathroom of a restaurant where I am trying to pull the Tampax dispenser off the wall in hopes that there is an escape tunnel behind it that I can use to avoid returning to this first date.”
7. It would have been much more awkward to have to bang on the wall of my apartment and yell, “Can you two move it to a hotel room tonight? But first remind me of your wireless password!”
8. I related every milestone, achievement and setback to the TV show “Felicity.” Now, I only do it in my head.
9. Every post would have ended with a vote on the question, “Given all this information, who would you say broke up with who first?”
10. It’s difficult to be creative when the oxygen flow to your brain is restricted as it is when you have to wear a bra. Every day.