In an earlier post, On learning writing through blogging, I wrote about the benefits that blogging has brought me. I still stick by my idea that blogging is beneficial overall. But having said that, once the exuberance of maintaining a blog has subsided, I do think there are a few caveats related to the blog form that regular bloggers need to be aware of. This might be even more true of new writers who might be getting into a mould through repeated writing that will set their habit for life.
So one needs to keep in mind the following bloggers’ maladies:
1. Losing rigorousness in writing
By their very nature, blog posts are supposed to be short. They have to make a point, make it catchy and live thoroughly in their instant in the limelight. Then they are supposed to disappear.
Therefore, this form does not have much space for presenting thorough research about a point made. Getting used to making quick, catchy points might become a habit for the less discerning writer and carry forward into other genres where this could be a problem.
Making an argument through following nuanced logic is a virtue in writing. An extended logical exploration requires a word-length that the blog form does not allow except in the case of the rare, long blog that looks rather out of place in the blogosphere. The art of being emphatic, loud, or clever is used in the blog post to replace logic. This is useful in blogging but may not be acceptable in other genres where people expect logical expositions.
2. Succumbing to instant gratification
The desire for instant visibility, especially in our weak moments, in times of stress or in the dead of night leads to embarrassing grammatical or punctuation errors on our posts that we can be ashamed of in broad daylight. We may make statements that are only passing and momentary in our minds when we write them on a public forum that may come back to haunt us later on. Or, we might simply think of better versions of what we already said in our posts hastily and regret not having waited to compose our thoughts better.
3. Losing appreciation for a variety of audiences
At first glance, the world wide web seems just that. World wide. Until you realize that it’s just a tiny fraction of the world stretched out in front of you as an illusion of the whole world. Even within that, you create networks that are like-minded, niches, fans, followers, people who exchange publicity arrangements with you.
This is true of any genre but if we produce free content and let it loose on the web, we might feel like our audience can potentially be anybody in the world whereas in truth we might be slowly moulding ourselves towards a specific audience. This phenomenon is not necessarily bad (or good) in itself but we need to be aware of this shift. When we trace trends or when people agree or disagree with us on the blog we ought to remember that we are functioning within a certain coterie. Assuming universal truths based on a consensus within the blog forum may not be as universally applicable as we might think.
4. Getting used to journal-style recordings and freewriting
Being able to express the everyday self is a strength of the blog form. But this can become a weakness if this is the only form we write most commonly in. This can become a problem in two aspects. (a) We might get used to stopping only at description, recording the daily, failing to take these details to the level of analysis. When we get accolades from our readers because our descriptions turn out attractive or our thoughts resonate with them, we stop trying harder. (b) We might lose the ability to build our experiences towards a vision of a larger goal in writing such as an insightful essay or a coherent memoir or what have you by writing these disconnected bits everyday that we don’t think of stringing together in some way because we already have an outlet.
5. Becoming too “cool”
This is a problem rather hard to express but everyone familiar with online communication knows videos that go viral because of some “cool” factor, of cute pictures that are viewed a million times or other modes of expression that strike a chord for some reason. Similarly, juxtaposition of text, visual material, new words or random “stuff” can go viral. It makes the creator feel talented. This is surely an enduring talent in some cases but in most cases, the creators turn out to be one-trick ponies. That’s a rather risky path to take if one wants to take the gift somewhere.
This does not mean that we should stop blogging or slow down on posting. This only means that we should be aware of the limitations of the blog form even as we blog.