Thursday, November 13, 2008

To Blog or Not to Blog? That is the question

Dave doesn't blog. He reckons he's too old.

By definition, since we were in the same school year, this means that I am also.

I try not to be ageist - at my age it'd be somewhat self-defeating. I also wonder if I should be taking maturity advice from someone who runs a comic shop.

In his defence it is the largest comic and sci-fi emporium in the whole of Birmingham, so he deserves some respect. He has risen to the top of his retail game.

Dave also had a comic published last year. This effectively means that more people have paid more money to read his work than they ever have mine.

I used to write a column in a free music magazine. When eventually I graduated to grown-up newspapers I can't kid myself that anyone coughed up the cover-price for my work alone.

Not even my mum. She had it delivered every night regardless.

I don't have creative envy. Again, it'd be self-defeating.

In the same school year as me and Dave was Rob, who went on to draw the 'Flanimals' in Ricky Gervais's children's books.

Another of our contemporaries was the best artist of them all and now creates fantasy figurines for retailers. I have no artistic ability, so I'm not fit to judge.

My abiding memory of art at school was when Mr Jackson crafted a sculpture of Jesus on the cross.

Unfortunately, when it left the kiln, Jesus' stomach had exploded - something to do with air bubbles in the clay. Possibly he was trying to teach us something biblical via allegory, but I doubt it.

He didn't look best pleased.

From the achievements of my classmates you might think I'm referring to a private college for the artistically gifted rather than some bog-standard comprehensive.

In truth it was probably below bog-standard. My school would never have topped any Ofsted rankings.

Fortunately schools were not graded that way back then. I think the school points system worked something like this: 10 points if 70% of the children turned up regularly, 20 points if 70% of the teachers did the same, 30 points if the school survived all vandalism and arson attacks during the term.

People tend to glorify their school days.

The best years of your life apparently, if you survive the bullies, knife-crime, teacher-apathy and the rigorous testing.

What did I learn from school? Perhaps that only the strong survive.

I learned eventually to become independent, to be self-sufficient. In a sense self-determination is the central to the development of all online activity.

People can do so much more by themselves and for themselves, even creating different identities should they wish. The advancement of computers and the dawn of the internet have led us here.

Thus, if I want to write a blog and Dave doesn't then we are entirely justified and currently able to do so.

Finding people to read it, or even think about paying for it is a different matter. Free speech and freedom of information seem to have no currency. It's a free world baby.

Only the strong survive. Unfortunately this moment of realisation dawned long after I'd escaped the confines of educational establishments.

Almost the whole of internet activity is based around an amplification of the self, interaction and social networking compels you to be involved and exaggerate elements of your real personality.
It will become one of the great philosophical questions of our time: 'If I'm not online do I really exist?' Or as a fellow Sunday Mercury blogger put it: 'I surf, therefore I am'.

So many sites seem like an exercise in 'showing off' whether they're Friends Disunited, Farcebook or the next one to explode, Twit-ter.

Similarly I have the writer's curse - the overwhelming desire to see my work in print.
These days print would seem to mean a screen of electronic type, but it's all the same to those of us who regularly need our ego inflated. My appearance here is possibly to satisfy my self-worth.

If a blog falls in cyber-space and there's no-one there to read it, does it make any sense?

The other question remains unanswered: are bloggers self-possessed or self-obsessed? Most are one or the other, and some are both. It all begins as an extension of your diary and develops from there.

Eventually you realise that your opinions are as valid as most others - perhaps even more so than some.

Of course, you might think this because you're mostly just interacting with yourself. It's self-validation or auto-flagellation perhaps.

Maybe Dave is right. Be sure to let me know or I'll think I'm on my own out here.

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