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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Why We Blog

Yesterday Sylvia and her friend Suzanne flew to Victoria for a short getaway. I drove Sylvia to the airport, escorted her inside, wished them well and drove back to Edmonton's north side for an evening of Dungeons & Dragons with my friends.

About as mundane a day as any North American could imagine, and yet thousands and thousands of us are blogging about events equally ordinary. When I came home to an empty house last night, I browsed through some of my older posts and, somewhat embarrassed by the sheer ennui of much of the contents, wondered why I blog at all. Doubtless many folks who have accidentally stumbled upon this blog wonder the same thing.

But after reading forward from the early days of the blog, I realized that I was grateful that I'd captured some of the past few years of my life, however ordinary, because with the passage of enough time, even the everyday somehow starts to feel extraordinary.

Take, for example, Sylvia's flight. Ten or twenty years from now, we might be amazed that middle-class Canadians could afford to travel hundreds or thousands of kilometres for trivial reasons; if the oil runs out and the era of cheap flights ends, what was once mundane could become amazing in retrospect. On the other hand, perhaps by then Canada's capital cities will all be connected by maglev trains that make air travel seem slow, dangerous and inconvenient. Or maybe we'll all be using blimps to get around.

For reasons I still don't entirely understand, I've saved a great deal of my life's minutea. I have hundreds of photographs, cards, notes, badges, buttons, pins, schoolbooks, binders full of university notes, letters, old toys. I've carried these things around from place to place, examining them only rarely.

But sometimes I'll come across something revealing or mysterious, something that captures the essence of days gone by: a series of notes for a play I directed at the University of Alberta, a cartoon drawn by a friend in high school, a broken toy Batmobile, a batch of slides waiting to be scanned and reexamined. Usually these objects tells me something about the past, or presents a new mystery to ponder, such as a quote scrawled by a feminine hand in one of my notebooks: "To the world you may be only one person, but to one person you may be the world." I could google the quote now, I suppose, but I feel like that would take a bit of the magic out of it. I'll likely never know who quoted that bit of wisdom and slipped it anonymously into my belongings...and not knowing is somehow special.

So all these posts about nothing - about action figures and model kits and trips to northern Manitoba and grown adults playing with miniature figures and ruminations on politics as transitory as our very ephemeral lives - all these posts, by myself and so many others, have some value, I hope. If nothing else, should these words last at least a few years, they'll give our future selves reason to wonder who we were and why we did the things we did, and if we've learned as much as we've lost.


susan_rn92 said...

Personally I find that blogging is a substitute for that Christmas letter that other people send out once a year. Probably as many people read my blog as take a second look at festive cards I send out.

Earl J. Woods said...

Another very good reason for blogging. I only discovered the fact by accident, but several friends and relatives, some very distant in time and space, have told me that they keep up to date by following this blog. And I do the same by visiting other blogs, including yours, Susan. I wish Microsoft made it easier to comment on your blog, though!

"Jeff X" said...

We all have different reasons for blogging. Mine are different from yours or Sue's.

The disadvantage to the Microsoft Blog is that it is pretty difficult for some people to leave to comments, although you can always send e-mails to her. The other disadvantage (for me) is that it is slow and difficult to use for picture posts. Most artists I have talked to prefer Blogger, although after Blogger mangles pictures with arcane compression algorythms, I'm not so sure.

The big advantage of Microsoft over Blogger is that Microsoft has far better tools for tracking readership. This would be important for a political blog where you want to keep track of and categorize your readers.