The exhibitionist in every blogger

MAIN BLOG POST: WEEK 7 (b)

Lovink (Reader, page 222) also argues that: “No matter how much talk there is of community and mobs, the fact remains that blogs are primarily used as a tool to manage the self”.

Much like reality television or even memoirs, blogs have risen to be a tool that allows writers to ‘exhibit and put themselves on display’ (Lawrence: 9) . Meanwhile satisfying readers’ tendency to seek out truth through voyeurism, to take a glimpse into the unfiltered lives of other people.

With the introduction of Web 2.0 and the focus on building communities over the internet realm, blogs have sufficed to be a tool to create communities by allowing users to generate their own content, express their own opinions and hold discussions within the communities. So much so that 5 years ago (2006), Time magazine name YOU (the user) Person of the Year.

‘And we didn’t just watch, we also worked. Like crazy. We made Facebook profiles and Second Life avatars and reviewed books at Amazon and recorded podcasts. We blogged about our candidates losing and wrote songs about getting dumped. We camcordered bombing runs and built open-source software.’ (Grossman: 2006)

YOU (we) in Web 2.0 have become more than passive audience(s), YOU (we) have become exhibitionists of your (our) ideas, opinions, even private lives.

‘Technology of the self’ as Foucault termed it is a concept that can be borrowed to explain how blogs are confessions of the self. A large portion of blogs on the Internet domain are essentially diaries, ‘public diary’ (Lovink: 6). The private/public dichotomy of the self is blurred with blogs, as people exhibit details of their lives on the site and the basis of readership is feeding on these exhibitionistic posts.

For example, the blog, http://bleubirdvintage.typepad.com/blog/ who is managed by Miss James. She operates an online business selling vintage pieces and owns a blog which is mainly a portal of daily happenings in her household. While blogging about her daily life, posting snapshots of her children and clothes they wear, products they use, she has attracted a hosts of advertisers on her blog and referrals to her online business.

This blog exemplifies Lovink’s argument that indeed, the Internet is about forming communities but ultimately, they essentially have the sole intention of promoting the user before anything else.

‘No one ever keeps a diary for just himself’ (Lovink: 6)

They are kept to exhibit the self, and in this case of the bleubirdvintage blog, promotion of the self and lifestyle would lead to benefiting in an economic sense for her online business and celebrity-ship in her genre of blogs.

Lovink also argues that blogs are not a new form of journalism (28). I concur with that thought, citizen journalism are clouded with the person’s opinion and interests. It is intrinsically linked to the user’s wish to be the opinion leader (Lazerfeld’s theory) in their community. To be at the top of news, to be the first to inject opinions into daily affairs and to influence opinion seekers while gaining social capital (Burt: 1999). The social capital is therefore the main intention which translates into promotion of the self.

(489 words)

Reference

1. Lawrence. Heidi, ‘Bless Me Blogger For I Have Sinned: Community and Rhetoric of Confession in the Genre of the Blog’, George Mason University.

2. Lovink. Geert, ‘Blogging, The Nihilist Impulse’, in Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture, London: Routledge, pp. 1-38.

3. Grossman. Lev, (2006) ‘Time’s Person of The Year: YOU’ in Time Magazine, <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1569514,00.html&gt;, Accessed on 21 May 2011.

4. Burt. Ronald, (1999) ‘The Social Capital of Opinion Leaders’ The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, University of Chicago, Vol. 566, no. 1, pp. 37-54.

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