Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Blogger


Ned: I want adventure. I want romance.

Bill: Ned, there is no such thing as adventure. There's no such thing as romance. There's only trouble and desire.

Ned: Trouble and desire.
Bill: That's right. And the funny thing is, when you desire something you immediately get into trouble. And when you're in trouble you don't desire anything at all.

Ned: I see.
Bill: It's impossible.
Ned: It's ironic.
Bill: It's a fucking tragedy is what it is, Ned.
I’m really pretty new to this whole blogging thing. I started in January (not counting a very short stint the month before when I was testing the waters before I did it “for real”). So I’ve only been writing as a blogger for 7 months—just over half a year.

Before that, there wasn’t much I knew about blogging. I can honestly say I’d never read a blog before, unless you count aggregator-style blogs like Metafilter or Fark. I’d glanced at a few friends-of-friends’ poorly written LiveJournal pages. That’s it. I didn’t “get” the whole blogging phenomenon.

So it’s still kind of a surprise to me that one day this past winter I suddenly signed up for a Blogspot account and started writing a blog. I’m still not sure what prompted me to do that. And now I find myself wondering just what I wanted from it. What I thought would happen.

I find myself wondering quite a lot these days, and not only about the blog, what it is I really want.

And it kills me to realize that I still just. don’t. know. Which is so entirely frustrating. I have a feeling of what I want. This feeling is set deep in the core of who I am, and I feel it all the time. It manifests as this certain kind of yearning. But I don’t know FOR WHAT. Sehnsucht. I’ve written about it before.

I was talking about it with someone again just today, in fact. You know that feeling you get when you run into a place or a person for the first time and it’s like you already know that place or person? It has a feel, a scent, a something that just clicks in in this very primal way and suddenly you feel, “I know this. I’m home.” This is what I want. But how do you go after something like that? It’s so intangible, so indefinable.

I’m not actually getting off track here. What I’m trying to say is—I don’t know the reason why I started to blog. I don’t know the reason why other bloggers did. But I suspect what I’m describing above may have something to do with it.

In every blog I read, I notice this often unspoken constant. No matter how funny, how erotic, how practical the topic of the blog is, there’s this same feeling, this something underneath that sets off my nerve center in this very instinctual, sensory way.

There is this underlying yearning. A sort of undefined loneliness and want.

I think all bloggers are lonely. By this I don’t mean bloggers are all lonely losers, outcasts, and social misfits (though some of us proudly wear those tags and make them damn cool). Most bloggers I read have (or have had) good friends, family, lovers, etc. We have lives that are often, at least on paper, rich and full and interesting, even if sometimes we hit roadblocks and difficulties.

No, this thread of loneliness that weaves itself for the blog world, it’s something else. It’s more this feeling of unrequited yearning. For some kind of connection we are just not getting. For some kind of reality we just can’t seem to create. Perhaps for others, not just me, we long for what feels right, but we don’t know what right LOOKS like. We don’t know how to get there.

I think many of us hope the blog is a way to get there. To create a world defined by us, by our own thoughts and needs. To see if others get it; get us. To search for and to finally be able to experience the feel of that familiar click into place that we’re just not experiencing in our daily lives, regardless of whether or not all the parts of that life appear to be fitting just fine.

I think this is why bloggers have these love-hate struggles with their blogs. Their blogs, no matter how overt or cleverly disguised, are their want, their yearning made incarnate. The blog is the part of them most needing to be nursed and loved and acknowledged and adored and unconditionally accepted. The stuff they just cain’t get at home, even though they feel (or are told) they “should” be able to.

And so they keep writing and writing…and does it ever click? Do they ever get to clearly define their want, and then have it met? To eradicate their loneliness and need? Does the blog help them get to there, wherever there is? I don’t know. It may just be another temporary panacea.

You know how it goes. The drugs are so good the first time. And so you keep at it, doing it more, pushing your limits. And then eventually, the drugs just don’t work. You can never get back that first high.

Or can you?

I think this is what makes it so hard for people to give up on their blogs. The blog is the last great battlefield of desire and longing. It’s an altered reality, where there’s hope that if you fight the good fight, say the right things, reach and gather the right people, all things can eventually look bright and beautiful, the way you feel them, in the deepest parts of your being, where you’re waiting for them to come true.

Is this unrealistic? Probably.

But man, doesn’t everyone burn bright like stars while they try?

And for this reason, I don’t want them to stop. And I don’t want to stop.

In the true pagan sense of things, it’s the trying that is heroic. No one can predict the outcome of the battle, so whether you win is irrelevant. It’s how bravely, creatively, and honorably you fought, all the way through, until the end.

---

So, I know it's the age-old question, but... Why do we blog? Why do we read blogs? What's the gain? Why bother?

(photo credit: MacBook by Ricky Romero)

27 Comments:

Blogger What the Chuck said...

HI Ms. Syl,

Two reasons:

1. Because I love to flirt with Madame X.

2. Because it beats the hell out of working.

Love,

Chuck

8/09/2006 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Hiromi said...

It's fun, and a way to get things off your chest anonymously, which is a nice safety valve, and can be a jump-off to dealing with issues in a healthy way in the non-digital world.

8/09/2006 10:23 AM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Chuck: Two extraordinarly good reasons.

Hiromi: Yeah, I hear that. Initially I had very little desire to discuss personal issues on the blog. Now I find it gravitates to that more and more. Guess you never know.

I suppose there's no reason to expect writing a blog would be different than writing a novel. When you're writing fiction, often the characters or story takes over and it goes somewhere you never thought it would. In fiction, I think of that as a positive thing. I wonder why I fight it so much on the blog. Some days I think it's the name of the blog alone that's holding me back. I should probaly change it, but I've grown fond.

8/09/2006 11:37 AM  
Anonymous Darkhawk said...

I started my journal in part as a way of keeping in touch with a long-distance partner. We just weren't in touch with each other's day to day lives, and it was trying to patch that gap -- just full of the stuff he'd know bits of if he had been nearer, but which was too trivial to tell him about specifically.

Over time I've found it a useful way of sorting and presenting my thoughts -- I think best when I have people to talk to, to respond, and so I sort things out that way.

I found old friends I hadn't seen in ten years or so, and we're able to keep in touch now. I value that tremendously.

I also find that I get more work done (which is important, since I'm self-unemployed) when I post 'I got this much done today' sort of things -- it gives me the persistent illusion that if I don't get work done, the whole universe knows somehow.

Not that I've done much working or journalling lately, my life is full of selling house, buying house, moving stress, and whining about same.

8/09/2006 3:42 PM  
Blogger Karl Elvis said...

I've asked myself that question since the the very first entry in my own blog.

I don't have the answer any more today than then. The question becomes less important over time, I can say that much.

8/09/2006 8:44 PM  
Blogger Ray in New Orleans said...

That was fucking beautiful.

8/10/2006 12:24 AM  
Blogger AlwaysArousedGirl said...

What Ray said.

That was a gorgeous entry.

8/10/2006 12:53 AM  
Blogger Cherrie said...

I agree. Great post!

Why do I blog? Because it's fun. Because I have met many new friends, and each week I meet more. Because everyone is so supportive and enthusiastic. It's an alternate world. And I love it!

P.S.--Thanks for kick-starting me into getting going.

8/10/2006 2:03 AM  
Blogger Stuyvesant Parker said...

You exactly just described how I feel about why I blog. Thanks. Kind of soul crushing but yeah.

8/10/2006 3:47 AM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Darkhawk: Heh@"self-unemployed. I have been known to freelance myself at times. I remember once hearing the guys on "Car Talk" (a radio show on NPR) refer to freelancing as being "gainfully unemployed." I love that phrase.

I know buying a house is scary, but the moving part, well...I LOVE moving house--you feel like everything is such a fresh start. And you get to take inventory and dump all the stuff you are hanging on to you don't need anymore. It feels so...cleansing. Good luck with the move!

Karl Elvis: I went back and read that entry. My oh MY, has your voice changed and developed over time. You are now HONED. I wonder if I will notice a big difference over time in my own blog writing.

Ray: As are you, sweet man. Thanks.

AAG: As are you, sweet girl. Thanks.

Cherrie; I think it's so *cool* I influenced someone else to start blogging in any way. I totally forgot I had anything to do with it! I'm glad you've stuck with it.

Stuyvesant Parker: Oh dear--soul crushing? I was going for inspirational, not depressing. In ways I think that lonliness and yearning is what keeps society moving forward. Who would ever have the strength or drive to invent anything new or beautiful if they didn't have a *need* to see it exist? So it's not always a sad thing. Though sometimes it can be hard to live with it inside you.

8/10/2006 9:08 AM  
Blogger Stille Tyr said...

Basically i post because from time to time i like to show people what i write.
Secondary i post cause i have free time at work, but i guess i would do it even if i should´t have that time.

8/10/2006 3:06 PM  
Blogger Karl Elvis said...

Don't let Ray fool you with that sweet act, he's a bad, bad, dangerous man who will most certainly do a girl harm.

Or so the girls tell me.

Yeah, Syl, I'm much better since I hired the ghost writer, huh? Only problem is, his ectoplasmic fingers so rarely find the keys these days.

8/10/2006 7:58 PM  
Blogger Ray in New Orleans said...

Nah, I'm mostly harmless. At least, I try not to do any permanent damage.

8/10/2006 9:18 PM  
Blogger Karl Elvis said...

I like a little permanent damage.

In the right place.

8/10/2006 9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ray: Dangerous as in playing with......fire.

KE: Demanding :)

Great post, Ms Syl - I blog for therapy and because I meet unusual people. I like unusual.....people.
TM

8/10/2006 10:15 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to "Flirt Off 2006!" hosted by the good folks at SEXETERIA.

In the right-hand ring, we have the amazing, flexible, acrobatic linguistic exchanges of...What the Chuck and Madame X!

In the left-hand ring, gasp with horror at the savage, to-the-death erotic cage match between Ruthless Ray, Killer Karl Elvis, and the world's one and only amazing half-woman, half-siren--Traveling Mermaid!

In the center ring, it's BLOGGERISTAS GONE WILD, with a nasty, three-way creme brulee wrestling extravaganza between three bold, brazen, badass blogging broads: Hiromi_X, Miss Syl, and AlwaysArousedGirl. Can AAG disarm Hiromi of her Blender of Death???? Can Syl overcome AAG and win the Golden N-Joy?

And don't forget the post-game Flirt-Fest-cum-Naked-Prom (prizes for most creative corsage/boutonniere placement!!!!), featuring the musical stylings of that sizzing hot Foxy Foursome: Darkhawk, Cherrie, Stuyvesant Parker, and Stille Tyr!

Tickets only...

Hell, do you really care how much? You know you're gonna pay.

Any joiners?

8/10/2006 11:12 PM  
Blogger AlwaysArousedGirl said...

I'd sneak off to the corner and play with The Golden Njoy.

And hope that Karl Elvis and Ray would come find me.

:D

Make love, not war and all that.

8/10/2006 11:18 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

AAG: Well, only one of them would find you, because one of them would be dead. Unless Traveling Mermaid kicked both their asses.

8/10/2006 11:21 PM  
Blogger daboga75 said...

Pretty damn dramatic, I thought as I read the post, being drawn in to what you felt. Although agreeing with it for the most part, I began thinking you were reading way too much into this blog thing, perhaps placing an importance on it that did not belong, attaching to it unwarranted emotion. Then I got it, I think, and realized the great beauty in this searching, this yearning...undescribable and unknowable, but shared by so many. It seems so spiritual.

Pretty damn dramatic, indeed.

8/11/2006 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Circe said...

I want a new drug
One that does what it should
One that wont make me feel too bad
One that wont make me feel too good


***

Yep. Chasing that blogger's high.

There are two types of bloggers, those that Get It, and those that don't.

You totally Get It, Miss Syl.

xoxooxoxo

P.S. Is it too late for me to sign up for Flirt Off 2006?

8/11/2006 3:47 PM  
Blogger A Nawty Mouz said...

Miss Syl,

I would say you are right on! And, I would say that there is far more, so very much more going on in the blogging experience than what you have exposed here.

Blogging is full of surprises.

Starting out as an unknown blogger, you think, I'm going to start writing my experiences. No one will see, because no one knows I am here.

Five days after my first posting, I get a comment from a blogger that I read (aag). OMG! I was beside myself with shock and surprise.

Yes, the loneliness, an interesting observation. Then, there's the organic community that you hook into.

How did AAG find my blog? I hadn't posted any comments, then, or made any other contact. AAG, most likely, noticed my blog because I used my blogroll to visit her blog. She noticed a new blog linking to her. She looked and commented. And, so it began, a connection with someone.

Your post is right on.

And, there's so much more to blogging.

One post or comment will not suffice to share what it is to be a blogger or why we blog.

-ANM.

PS: Interesting, I started in January as well.

8/12/2006 12:11 AM  
Blogger Cherrie said...

Count me in, Syl! I'm trying to decide where to wear that corsage. Maybe on top of my head?

P.S.--You were the first commenter on my blog. I won't forget!

8/12/2006 1:35 AM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

daboga75: Wow, quite an emotional journey you had there. I'm not sure if "dramatic" is a compliment, but in that it made you feel and think, that, I consider a good thing. That's all I ever hope to do.

Circe: Baby, without you, there simply IS no Flirt Off 2006! What event would you like to join/create?

A Nawty Mouz: Thanks for commenting. I think you're right, there are probably lots of other motivations I didn't cover. And having AAG as your first blogwarming guest is certainly great good luck. Warming things up is her specialty.

Cherrie: You know, I didn't realize that. And I need to comment more. I'm a bit of a shy commenter, which really isn't good form. What is it Elizabeth Bennet says in Pride and Prejudice? Oh, yes: I'm "of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless [I] expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb.'' I really must get over that. But rest assured I do read and enjoy your writing.

You just made me look at who commented first on my blog. I didn't even remember. It was Scaramouch from the always amusing YesButNoButYes. But he commented because I'd commented on an article of his. My first real, unsolicited commenter was someone named Joe, who didn't link to a blog. Hm.

8/13/2006 2:49 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

daboga75: Wow, quite an emotional journey you had there. I'm not sure if "dramatic" is a compliment, but in that it made you feel and think, that, I consider a good thing. That's all I ever hope to do.

Circe: Baby, without you, there simply IS no Flirt Off 2006! What event would you like to join/create?

A Nawty Mouz: Thanks for commenting. I think you're right, there are probably lots of other motivations I didn't cover. And having AAG as your first blogwarming guest is certainly great good luck. Warming things up is her specialty.

Cherrie: You know, I didn't realize that. And I need to comment more. I'm a bit of a shy commenter, which really isn't good form. What is it Elizabeth Bennet says in Pride and Prejudice? Oh, yes: I'm "of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless [I] expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb.'' I really must get over that. But rest assured I do read and enjoy your writing.

You just made me look at who commented first on my blog. I didn't even remember. It was Scaramouch from the always amusing YesButNoButYes. But he commented because I'd commented on an article of his. My first real, unsolicited commenter was someone named Joe, who didn't link to a blog. Hm.

8/13/2006 2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Erotic cage match" ---- this might put me in the "unusual people" catagory,huh?

KE and Ray are for sure in that catagory! heh!

Peace,
TM

8/13/2006 4:09 PM  
Blogger Ray in New Orleans said...

Whazzat? I kind of saw "blah blah
flexible blah blah savage blah blah Traveling Mermaid etc etc three-way Hiromi_X, Miss Syl, AAG
cum-Naked..." and then I passed out from the heat.

I assume somebody needs a good thrashing.

8/13/2006 9:16 PM  
Blogger Cherrie said...

I'm cool with that, Syl. My blog is there for you to enjoy, any way you like. And thanks for letting me know you do enjoy!

8/20/2006 1:35 AM  

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