Monday, October 15, 2012

'Blogger'

A new acquaintance was cut short today (the budding relationship, not the person), when I mentioned having started this blog recently. He said, with his voice rising in disgust, "You have a blog? You're a blogger?"
"Uh, yeah," I replied, nonplussed.

I'm still a bit bemused by this contemptuous reaction. As far as I'm concerned, a blogger is simply someone who keeps a web log, posting about whatever topics interest him or her. There are a lot of different types of blogs about a wide variety of subjects; some are fascinating or fun, some are dull or foolish, and some are just horrible. Apparently, to this guy, they're all bad.

His earlier cell-phone bragging meant he wasn't simply a technophobe. So it must have been the activity of blogging, not the medium, that offended him.

I know that a fair number of monolithic mainstream media organizations still look upon bloggers as a mob of pajama-clad ranters. But this guy wasn't a journalist, so I don't think he was irritated about encroachment on his turf.

However, the first definition of "blogger" on Urban Dictionary starts out this way: "Term used to describe anyone with enough time or narcissism to document every tedious bit of minutia filling their uneventful lives." And that's one of the polite definitions. Apparently there are a lot of people out there who have encountered enough trivial navel-gazing on the web that they just despise all bloggers.

Such generalizations don't make much sense to me, and I'm certainly not going to let that attitude discourage my own blogging. But it does serve as a reminder that even when people may agree on a technical definition for a word, they can differ strongly, even emotionally, about its connotations.

3 comments:

  1. That is pretty weird, and the urban dictionary definitions are ... just checking ... yep, 5-10 years out of date.

    When the NYT, Forbes, The Atlantic, the Guardian, etc., all have blogs -- and that's just mentioning some mainstream media -- it's pretty backwards to look at it that way. Professional blogs are all over the place, universities expect faculty to blog, and this guy probably goes to dozens of blogs every time he searches for anything on the web.

    I wonder if neologisms are generally prone to radical definitional shift in their early years. What do you think? Know any other examples?

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  2. As you said, blogging is just a tool or method. Nothing unusual about that. Over the last 5 years blogging has been commercialized both because traditional news sources have "bought" bloggers and forced their journalists to be bloggers/twitterers.

    I think the distrust towards bloggers is misapplied.But you need to be careful about which bloggers you read. Although I follow hundreds (if not thousands) of blogs, I really only keep up with less than 15 (BTW, Chuck Kuffner's is one of them! )

    BTW, you might enjoy my post comparing journalists vs. bloggers .

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading back through my older posts! Not that I have a huge volume of them yet, but I still appreciate the time and effort.

      I was definitely interested in your comparison post; thanks for pointing it out to me. You make some good points, although I would argue with some of them (you probably would revise some of them too by now, five years later, given how things have evolved).

      I certainly agree that the lines between journalism and blogging have blurred, and sometimes bloggers do a much better job than the professionals. I must absolutely disagree with your tentative definition (in the comments) of a journalist as someone who has a journalism degree, because I'm one and I don't, nor do many of the finest ones.

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