Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 27, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

BLOGGING COMMUNITIES....Professor B ruminates on blogging and life:

Even the things we don't experience ourselves, we can get some idea of what they're like by reading other people write honestly about them, and part of that honesty is the rage, the frustration, the complaint. These things matter not because they're abstractly unfair but because they affect real people, who have real feelings about them. There's an enormous amount of good writing out there about important stuff, popular though it is to dismiss it.

....I've been thinking about this in terms of this blog. First, there's the hit spike from the Drum and Volokh posts I'm well over 2,000 hits/day now. There's a temptation to write more about politics, both in response to that, and in response to the whole "women don't blog politics the way men do" thing, but the fact is that the A-list type of political blogging bores the crap out of me, and frankly, feels false to me for precisely the reasons outlined above.

This, of course, is one of the wonderful things about blogging. In a large sense, it does matter who the A-list bloggers, A-list op-ed writers, and A-list talk show guests are, because they control both the tone and content of a lot of public discourse. But the whole point of blogging (well, one of the points, anyway) is that it allows far more people to participate in public discourse, and to participate with a very different and more personal tone than op-ed writing or academic journal writing. You don't have to appeal to a hundred thousand people. A few hundred or a few thousand will do.

For example, standard issue political blogging doesn't feel false to me, but that's because I like that kind of thing. On the other hand, I've long felt that occasionally mixing in personal blogging with purely news-driven blogging is useful because it provides my readers with a better perspective of who I am and whether or not they should care what I have to say. It's also fun. This why you get catblogging here, as well as random pet peeve blogging, TV blogging, and linguistic blogging. These posts almost always provoke a few comments from people who want to know why I'm wasting their time with this stuff when GEORGE BUSH IS BUSY TURNING AMERICA INTO A FASCIST STATE! but that's the whole point. If this kind of thing makes you think I'm not a serious person, then this probably isn't a blog you should bother reading.

On the other hand, we all draw different limits around our lives and that includes limits around the amount of rage and frustration we're willing to expose. Like Prof B, I suffer from chronic depression, though, also like Prof B, it's obviously not debilitating. It just sucks. And while I'm not sure what choices she's made in her non-anonymous life, I chose long ago to mention this very seldom and to very few people. (If you're not sure why, go ahead and let your boss know that you're a chronic depressive and see what happens. For many people, their careers would be over.) I know from experience that my moods change, and while my mood is never what you'd call ebullient, the depressive cycles always eventually give way to something that's at least neutral. While I'm in a down cycle, though, I'm very conscious that I'm in the grip of bad brain chemistry, and my way of coping is to keep myself under very tight control. Don't react. Minimize human contact. Under no circumstances lose control of my temper.

Is this the right choice? I don't know. But it's the one I've made. And it does affect my blogging. For the most part, I keep an even tone because that's just what comes naturally to me, but other times it's a struggle. During those times, I occasionally break down (here's an example), but most of the time I don't. In fact, if I know I'm in a down cycle, I usually take care to watch my tone even more than usual.

(And in case you're wondering, I'm feeling fine right now, thanks very much. Although a bit of chocolate would sure hit the spot at the moment.)

So: did you want to hear this? Or were you bored because you come here for political red meat and wish I'd cut the crap and get back to Terri Schiavo? To me, the question seems pointless. It only takes a few seconds to skip a post you're not interested in, and there are thousands of other blogs out there to sample from as well. If this post bores you, wait for the next one. And if standard issue news blogging in general bores you, Prof B's advice is good: take the time to track down one of the countless communities of other likeminded people whose approach you probably will like. They're there for the taking.

Kevin Drum 2:56 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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