2002/09/26
 
13:57

How Are You, Today?

In my ongoing efforts to understand this wonderful new world of blogging, I've been visiting, on a semi-daily basis, the blogs run by Jen (one of the first bloggers I met) and Rannie (one of the most enthusiastic bloggers I've encountered). I have to tip my hat to them, and others, for managing to write something new and fresh almost every day.

Having something to say about the current day is quite a skill. Many people suffer from what I'm going to dub The Notter Syndrome. You know this conversation: "How are you?" "Not bad." "What's happening?" "Not much." "Seen any good movies lately?" "Not really." "What was your favourite part about being in the Boy Scouts?" "Knots."

Well, okay, maybe I made that last bit up, but that's sort of the point: how does one come up with something interesting to say? I'm reminded of the movie "L.A. Story" with Steve Martin in which he asks a woman at the dinner table what she's up to. She says she's taking a course in the art of conversation. He says something along the lines of how interesting that is. After struggling for a moment, she lamely replies, "Yes."

So what technique works for most bloggers? In many cases, I think the key word is "plunder". Blogs can bounce ideas back and forth between each other like conceptual shuttlecocks. This is a serindipitous situation, because it encourages interactivity and keeps blogs from becoming insular monologues. Some sites (such as Fark, or even earlier the "What's Hot" sections of certain portals) have taken the idea of plunder to its logical conclusion and simply ask the visitors to do all the work of ferreting out interesting links. That's fine if you get thousands of hits per day but for some reason I don't have that kind of traffic after running my blog for a week.

One thing I like about running a blog is that it encourages "mindfulness" (to borrow a word from Zen). When something interesting happens, I pay closer attention rather than simply making a mental note that gets lost in my brain's clutter. It's nice to be able to share note-worthy events, but for most of us that's like being asked, "Heard any good jokes recently?" In my case, the answer is almost invariably "Yes", followed by an uncomfortable pause. At that point, I usually revert to relating my stand-by joke for such situations...

A man is sitting at the dinner table when his cat comes up to him and says, "My water dish is empty." The man is aghast, exclaiming, "You can talk!? I've had you for ten years and you've never said a word!" The cat replies, "Up until now, everything's been okay."

I guess you could say that the thirsty cat is the antithesis of the blogger: we don't have to speak out only when there are problems. In a world that bombards us with bad news on a daily basis, it's nice to be able to read blogs that relate just how okay things are.

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