INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Friday, December 05, 2003

Damned If I Do; Damned If I Don’t

“And you give yourself away
With or without you
I can't live
With or without you”
U2--from “The Joshua Tree,” 1987

Even after announcing my return to blogging, it’s painfully obvious that the posts are punctuated by wide gaps of time. A daily blogger I no longer am. I’m trying to find some sort of balance, but it’s not easy.

I enjoyed freeing up my consciousness when I took a vacation from blogging, but I missed being in the scene. Now that I’ve returned, I’m enjoying it, but I miss the liberation of my consciousness. Where do I find the balance? Damned if I know.

I’m a couple of days late on this, but Jonathon Delacour has weighed in on this complex issue. His powers of expression and insight are most welcome here. In describing a friend who has a more demanding job but enjoys more discretionary time, Jonathon observes:

Karl has one huge advantage over me: he doesn’t blog.

Self-employment, a constant Internet connection, a weblog, and a mildly addictive personality turn out to be a killer combination—even for someone who no longer feels compelled to post regularly, let alone every day. Liz Lawley went cold turkey by taking a vacation with her family:

'The best part of the trip was that by midweek I’d stopped blogging things in my head. I hadn’t realized how much I’d begun to detach from real life, always running meta-commentary in my head to save for later blogging. Letting go of that was very refreshing. It’s not that I don’t want to blog, it’s that I don’t want to do it all the time.'

Although Liz didn’t say this explicitly, I think she realized that having a weblog turns information overload into a two-way process: first you suck all this stuff into your head for processing; and then you regurgitate it as weblog posts. And, while this process isn’t all that different from the ways in which we manipulate information in our jobs, it’s something that we’ve chosen to do in addition to our jobs, something that detaches us even further from “real life”. I suspect that the problem is compounded by the fact that weblog entries are—overwhelmingly—expressions of opinion and, to make it worse, many of the opinions are opinions about opinions on issues concerning which the opinionators have little, if any, firsthand knowledge or experience. Me included.”

I especially agree with that last part on “opinions about opinions.” Blogging about what one knows directly—one’s experience—is what matters. I remember one of my sons’ teachers telling her lit class, “Writers write to make sense of their experience. It’s the common thread—the driving force.”

So, yes, trying to achieve a balance between blogging and the rest of my life is a constant, sometimes overwhelming struggle for someone like me—someone who shares the unholy quartet cited by Jonathon: “self-employment, a constant Internet connection, a weblog, and a mildly addictive personality.”

Nonetheless, I’m compelled to make the attempt to make sense of my experience, so I’ll keep up the struggle--provided I can keep my head above water.


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