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August 05, 2005

A Helpful Pamphlet

JR, at L'homme qui marche, made a fantastic discovery last week. It's to a magnificent Fifties-style parody of the Helpful Hints booklets that were ubiquitous before television. "What Everyone Should Know About Blog Depression." It spoofs the self-importance that it's hard for any blogger to avoid entirely. After all, blogging is in part a performance, especially for those of us who post at least one substantial entry a day. Nobody but Jason Kottke is getting paid to blog, and that only makes warm appreciation more important. I deserve warm appreciation, don't I?

The pamphlet reminds one over and over again that blogging is "an undertaking which was totally voluntary and which does not directly contribute to his or her continued survival on this, our plant earth." This is true only in the narrowest, most technical sense. Most bloggers really need to blog, or they give it up. Some bloggers really need to a good job, because readers are important to their continued survival on this, our planet earth. Believe me!

But of course this neediness is never supposed to show; it queers the pleasure on both sides. Good performers cultivate an entirely false modesty in order to make themselves more appealing. (This false modesty also lends an air of dignity to rough times.) When I'm particularly grateful for a comment, I usually send an email to the writer (if it's possible) that begins, "Thanks for the kind words." This is an invariable formula, but it is totally sincere. The false part is what's left out. "It made me jump for joy. Did you like this part or that part? Do you come here often?" &c.

The pamphlet breaks down five classes of bloggers, supplying an identifying complaint for each one. Community Builders, for example, will be heard to complain, "got plenty of visitors, so why is no one commenting?" (Then it gets vulgar.) My favorite is the plaint of Newbies: "Why am I still ranked only 148.926 on Technorati? It's been three months." Wouldn't 148,926 be a pretty good ranking in a blogosphere of over ten million sites? Then there's a page of symptoms. "Pressure!!!!" is one of these. "If you feel overwhelmed with a crushing pressure to post to your blog, a pressure so acute and strong that you can't post anything at all, try to remember, no one cares." I love this tough love. I have also learned always to have something, at least an idea, in what I call the pipeline. At least one post daily entry on the Daily Blague was written the day before, if not earlier, and published before midnight the preceding night. Once you've committed to daily entries, you do not want to wake up in the morning wondering what you're going to write about today.

Now for the helpful part: "Some Action You Can Take." One thing the beleaguered blogger can do is to stop believing that "just because you have heard the word blog on television countless times" blogging is therefore important. Perhaps you have something better to do. The final page of the pamphlet features a wonderfully simplistic drawing in which the sun drives away clouds of grey while warming a happy camper whose shirt reads "blogs suck." The final slam: "It need not ruin lives or waste perfectly good URL's."

ROTFIHCLOL! CB! Here's the link.

By the way, the pamphlet urges against following "how to blog" entries on other blogs. But The Doorman at Clublife has complied a pretty good guide. I've been sending everyone the link; now it's time to post it here.

Posted by pourover at August 5, 2005 11:54 PM


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