Why start a blog? My Internet creativity story.

Why start a blog? When I typed this question into Google during my French Literature After 1945 course a few weeks ago, a variety of themes were found in the results, but reflecting back this morning here on the train to work, I smirk at the realization that the only thing I really remember seeing was the word money: how to make it, why it’ll work, what to do, when to do it, where to focus.

There were also some results on topic: how to choose a topic for your blog? Make sure readers will find it interesting in two or three years, and before you forget to pause and think about it, make sure you’ll find it interesting in two or three years. These rules help narrow one’s scope, but of course there are the other types of blogs that don’t exactly focus on a certain theme or topic: the journal/diary blogs. Those are the fun ones, the LiveJournals (the LJs!) where the emo kids in high school spent time posting their half-assed poetry (and now the hipsters post their half-assed music); where you could stumble upon (no pun intended) a random junior high school girl in Vermont’s diary of her desire for suicide, her concentrated need to be understood…

Today, these blog-journals are but journals. Exciting? Not really, but what intrigues us about blogs anyway? Something keeps us as Americans (dare I generalize and use the word humans instead?) interested in what someone has to say about their personal lives, day after day. I have been reading some sort of “blog” or another since before the term was officially coined by UrbanDictionary or Wikipedia; in fact, before these websites even existed. I’ve read online comics for nearing a decade (oh god, really?), and before that I spent my time in the junior high video game Maxpages/Angelfire web “designing” community. Two things these two branches of websites will always have in common is a blog normally entitled something simple along the lines of “News & Updates,” where the ‘webmaster’ would post updates about what was going on with the website (new design, new pages, new annoying MIDI or enlarged GIF in the background, etc), while posting news going on in the Pokémon or Nintendo world as it arrived (or after IGN wrote about the E3 expo). Not only did I follow my friends and random websites, I had my own!

I loved to update my website, yet never really had a reason to as I rarely wanted to create new pages and search the Internet for CuteFTP 3.0, which was one of those quality pieces of free software that “used- to-be-on-my-old-computer-but-haven’t-found-since-I-got-a-new-one-with-a-whole-128-megs-of-ram.” The day I discovered that I was actually capable of installing Newspro on my Perl based website (Newspro was what us professional seventh graders used for a browser based method of updating our websites, completely modifiable and template-able). I was overjoyed; yet still found nothing to write about, petting my little kitten and watching Toy Story 2 fresh on VHS. I kept my traffic flowing in through my forums, which eventually evolved into something solely for webmasters in my little click.

Sometime after the joysticks and during the online comic phase, I found The Best Page in the Universe and Tucker Max (I found the website of that Real Ultimate Power book too, inspiring me to buy the book, yet I never enjoyed browsing the site itself). They gave me some laughs as I could NEVER imagine either of them possibly being real people (yes, me tucked away in my suburban cave I couldn’t imagine such follies with felatio, or such hatred with preschooler’s artwork).

When BlogSpot and Blogger and WordPress blogs started popping up all over the place—again, emo kids and depressed Goth girls made name to this new fad— I did little besides purposely ignore it—I’ve been using this Internet thing here for YEARS, assholes, and you kids come in here and act like you know it, with your everyday journal? No one wants to read that shit. Why the hell would I, when I could keep refreshing my Hotmail inbox or chat away on AIM, browsing the Fat Wreck Chords catalog searching for a Strung Out shirt I didn’t have and couldn’t afford?

As you will soon read, this plays a vital role in explaining the point I’m trying to reach.
And then Mitch Clem moved all his comics over to his domain, where I discovered that it would be a lot simpler to read the scarcely updated Nothing Nice to Say and Coffee Achievers just by checking his blog, where he would announce if there were a new comic. It was through said blog that I began to understand what this no-longer-new phenomenon was. Mitch Clem was not just a funny-as-punk cartoonist, but an artist who had a LIFE of which he would share intimate details (okay, not so intimate, but I learned that he was moving from Minnesota to Texas) alongside showing his fans his artwork and his comedic standpoint on the whole punk scene that I was so into.

Okay, that last part may have been misleading. I learned what was a blog through the rain of bastards, but I didn’t start reading them. Least I Could Do and PVP kept me coming back for their random words as well as comics, but Penny Arcade or Ctrl-Alt-Del couldn’t do it for me—Tycho’s words were just too extreme for my little brain (ADULTS aren’t actually on the Internet posting COMICS are they?).

I started my own blog—Jordan’s Blog Abroad: France—in fall of 2007 when I moved to France for my sophomore year of college. I began by updating it twice or thrice a week, excited to share my pictures and cultural mishaps and random experiences abroad… Slowly this trickled down to once a week, and by January, after I’d discovered cheap round trip flights to the Netherlands, it turned into a scant once per month—and only because my father’s intercultural communications class was obligated to read and report on it once a month. It was a great way to keep my family updated; plus I got to design and re-design a website again. And then re-design it again. I always loved designing, and I always hated creating content. I’ll go out on a limb and say I’m still the same way in many facets of my life: I love cooking but I hate learning recipes, I love playing music but I hate writing it out and organizing it. I love getting to know a girl through all that special hazy romance but I normally can’t stand her after.

Abstract examples, yes. Valid, maybe.

I never made this blog abroad for the public, however; and this is where I realized I’d fucked up during all those years in high school by ignoring BlogSpot and Blogger and all those who I thought to be but mere depressed folk intruding on my Internet. Had I any idea what I were doing, I could have easily—and I mean easily: what’s not to want to read about a confused twenty-year old virgin wannabe bodybuilder deciding to go study in France with a group of forty girls and seven guys (three of which homosexual), who ended up playing American Football, hitchhiking around France, and taking mushrooms on both Christmas in Amsterdam and his birthday in Den Bosch; all the while forgetting about his girlfriend, his strict diets, college, career? I’m not sure—written and created stimulating content that kept visitors coming back..

Point in case, I could have capitalized. By using one of these free blog services to make an anonymous blog with a name unrelated to my own—so the folks wouldn’t find out, of course—I could have talked about all my smoking sessions in almost ten Western European countries (note to self: write something on this topic), the different bar scenes, the near-sex encounters (note to self: stop kicking yourself over it), the missed planes, and the PEOPLE.

Think about that: hundreds, thousands of visitors coming to see how awesome my life abroad for a year was, seeing pictures of my exploits, and wishing they had the money to do the same thing. Then, at some point, I’d bring up the fact that I had no money, and I did this all on a student loan I have yet to pay back. Does that bum me out? No. Has that affected my life whatsoever? No. Does that change the amazing year I experienced before even turning twenty-one that I’ll never forget?

Of course not.

Now hopefully I’ve made my point somewhat clear: I could have influenced people (positively, mind you). I could have inspired someone—and even if it were solely one person, that would have made it all worthwhile—to go abroad themselves and meet the other people outside the walls that are our borders, immersing themselves in cultures so familiar yet so strange outside of a Disney movie.

Bummer, yes, but I’m not one to mourn. Moving on: so why start a blog, why am I writing right now? You’ve just read my reasoning. I missed out when the pan was hot and now my crêpe batter is sitting in a bowl next to the sink getting moldy and gross. Bad analogy, but if I can’t go back in the past and re-live that year (sometimes I wish I do, sometimes I’m glad I can’t) so I could blog it, the next best thing I can do is start from where I am now: right here. I can only hope I can write words that do anything from inspire to make think to make do…

There you have it: my topic will be to inspire, to make think, and to make do. Everyone can be inspired, so I can only hope some words here and there will do the trick; there’s not much more I can do on that part.

Everyone’s a thinker, but not so many realize how constricted we’re taught—molded— to think, and thus too many thoughts are purely naïve, repetitive and pointless, not contributing to positive change. With any luck, an odd perspective (I label it ‘illusioned’) can spark a few crossed wires and do some untangling.

Not everyone is a doer (this is actually a word, see how odd these letters look next to each other?), but with enough cause and a hint of passion, anyone can be stimulated despite confidence, thought, or justification.

Thus there you have it, welcome to the curse.

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Another twenty some odd young adult who believes he sees things from a unique perspective. Here be my poetry & prose, short stories, favored school papers, rantings, and "blogs." Comment, critique, and profit.

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