Blogs, blogging, bloggery, blogosphere, and bloggers…

Blogs, blogging, bloggery, blogosphere, and bloggers… January 7, 2010

Nothing special here. Just some thoughts. Maybe a bit indulgent.

In a letter, William James once wrote that he was “a most protestant protestant.” Oftentimes, I feel that way about many of the things I invest my into—including blogging.

To start, I dislike the term itself. I even find the original term “web log” distasteful. It makes me try to think of a log made of a spider’s web, backwards.

Beyond such petty things, I find blogging contradictory. Some of the time, it makes me feel more in-the-world and less insulated in my academic work. Other times, it can be almost suffocatingly insulated.

Some of the time, I am sending links to friends and other times I am contemplating quitting this virtual world and returning to the real one going on without me across the street.

I sense that this struggle is less of a battle over blogging and more of an internal resistance to the “virtual world” in general.

At times it seems so wordly here on the internet highway of blogging and, at other times, it seems plastic and fake. (Not to mention boring, repetitive, and predictable.) I don’t know which is the real virtual reality. I am not sure whether blogs in general, or this one in particular, live in a real world or an alienating fraudulent one.

But I do know this: I would prefer to meet you and see you and shake your real hand and look into your real eyes and have a real conversation about real things that we find important or interesting. (Or both!)

It might seem trite to say this, but it is true. This medium of conversation we share—even for the majority of you who never comment—is not innocently happening. Sometimes it seems better than that. Other times, I am sure it is making things worse.

A blog will never replace speech and touch. For those reasons and more, blogs are tragically imperfect things—not unlike its bloggers, especially me. (As reluctant I am to admit that I am a “blogger.”)

Does this redeem or damn it?

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  • Neither Sam – just tells it like it is.

  • David Nickol


    I am in absolute agreement with you about the ugliness of blog and web log. I can’t think of any words that irritate me more.

    I do not really consider Vox Nova a blog. To me, a blog is an on-line diary of sorts, and I also think a true blog has only one point of view. So I think of this as an online forum and of you as contributor and me as a commenter.

  • Ronald King

    Sam, I read the other day where I am one of the most frequent commenters on this site. My initial response was embarrassment due to the lack of face to face human contact. Then I realized that I have contact all day at work which has influenced me for over 30 years to formulate my comments here.
    This has been a blessing for me because of the intelligence and kindness of all of you contributors and commenters with your sincere, intelligent and passionate search for truth.
    Face to face in a coffee shop discussing what we discuss here would be outstanding. When I attempt to have discussions where I live I will eventually see eyes rolling and seizures starting and my wife tells me that these are signals to stop. Bummer.
    You have opened me to a new world of writers and their thoughts and have added only blessings to my life. Thank You.

  • Gordie

    Ronald King expresses my sentiments also.

    My coming back to the Catholic Church was a direct result of the wonderful forums/blogs on the internet, in which kind, smart people offered their experiences and knowledge in a unselfish way so as bring Truth, Good, and Beauty to my life as well as to others.

    I’m business professional who spends most of his day talking with co-workers, customers, etc about trivial matters such as sports, latest reality show, and latest celebrity arrest. We do talk about politics but this is usually on a surface level. Religion, Faith, God, Philosophy are out of the question. This type of talk doesn’t change much with after work friends. I find most people I meet on a day to day basis do not ask or contemplate on the deepest questions of life.

    I was reading an interview of Father Theodore Murr:

    I found the last question and answer so interesting and true in my comfortable life.

    “Murr: As a man who has lived his priesthood for thirty-three years in Italy, France, Mexico, United States, Austria, and Spain, I would say the sin that surprises me most is the sin of complacency; complacency of people who live comfortable and generally upright lives, performing well at work, paying their mortgage and taxes, loving their (1.6) children and sending them to the best schools money can buy, but never once giving a serious thought to questions like where the universe came from, what makes actions right or wrong, what is the purpose of human life, what happens after death. ”

    I think to really know someone at the deepest level we have to talk about the deepest questions but at the same time have a real physical presence with them.

    The Blogs are a great way for us to learn and gain confidence that the deepest questions are something worthy to talk about in the “real” world of living day to day.


  • Ronald and Gordie,

    Thank you for your uplifting comments. My Jamesian sentiment often make me a quick skeptic and your views on the matter remind that for some people the insecurity of blogging is not the case—whether they like the word of not.

    And hey, David has even posited that VN transcends the “blog” category altogether. Nice…

  • Nate Wildermuth

    Nice reflection, Sam. Have you read Wendell Berry’s article, “Why I am not going to buy a computer”?

    IMO, blogging is like running into a burning house to save people from burning alive. You’d better wear a lot of protective gear, and try to get in and out as quick as possible. Personally, I spent *way* too much time in the fire. Good luck and blessings to those still fighting the good fight!