love and blogging
William’s post reminds me of love, or of the process of falling in and out of love – or at least of the way that process has been mythologized in popular culture. Disenchantment is central to the modern love process. We meet someone who excites us, who we’re attracted to, who we find entertaining and enticing, and we date them until some or all of those features have dimmed. Until the thrill is gone, so to speak. Not vanished, mind you, but dimmed enough to where we begin to think that maybe someone else will have better luck stoking similar fires. And it’s true. For a time, someone else will be more entertaining, exciting, arousing. And in a while, those qualities will also dim. Monogamy, it turns out, is very hard.
Luckily, in blogging, monogamy is entirely unnecessary, even frowned upon. We can drift between blogs as frequently or as infrequently as we choose. I suppose we all read blogs differently to some degree. I think some people stick to very few blogs and read them religiously, while others may read dozens of blogs but not each all the time. Maybe you have your daily reads and your weekly reads. Maybe you use some blogs more as resources for information than as portals to deeper and more profound insights.
Andrew Sullivan, for instance, is a fantastic resource whether or not you agree with him. He links to lots and lots of interesting stuff, which is the reason I read the Daily Dish daily. Others, like Ezra Klein, may be a valuable resource for policy news and to help shake out some of the implications of the news in layman’s terms. Still others, like Daniel Larison, may be valuable for their deconstruction of commonly held foreign policy assumptions. And someone like John Cole might mainly be good for a laugh (or a scoff).
I suppose many people read blogs like William does – becoming terribly interested in one and then slowly growing disappointed or bored or disenchanted as the blogger becomes repetitive or runs out of steam and then drop said blogger entirely. Like a lover whose time is come.
I agree, of course, to some extent. You keep reading because it’s interesting, whether the blog is a resource or a trove of thoughtfulness or simply a witty read full of good snark. And the competition is fierce. Unlike breaking up, dropping a blog from your reader is not at all hard to do.
Which, naturally, puts a great deal of pressure on bloggers in this fiercely competitive and entirely free medium, and perhaps that’s a good thing. Perhaps not. It will either keep us honest or it will keep us writing new and interesting things. Maybe not both.
I don’t read blogs that way myself. I hardly ever drop anybody from my reader. I don’t visit them all with equal frequency or for the same reasons. Some are daily reads, some are resources – news as much as anything – and others I read to find things I disagree with (since I have no television to watch, and thus no mainstream pundits to disagree with regularly).
So I don’t know. How essential is fresh and interesting? How important is not repeating oneself? What keeps people coming back to a blog? Is it really just to keep the spark alive? Do we ever just settle into a good long-term relationship? It seems many of the bloggy veterans have many longtime readers who must keep coming back in spite of redundancy. There must be some other piece missing from William’s equation but damned if I know what it is. Maybe it’s something like that comfortableness we find when we ditch the “love process” – the constant falling in and out of it – the rush – and settle into something deeper.
Or maybe this analogy has run its course as well.