What exactly is a blog?

GonzoThere was some discussion on Twitter the other day, about how a blog differed from a journal; that many blogs were in fact mere journals, filled with the personal thoughts and observations, and that there should be a different nomenclature for them.

You know what though, the differentiation is at best paper-thin. Unless you’re writing a commercial listicle for salary, ad revenue or exposure, a blogpost is no different from a journal entry. At the end of the day, it’s gonzo self-published article, and that’s a good thing.

Gonzo journalism, popularised by Hunter S. Thompson, puts paid to the fallacy that any writing can be purely objective. There will always be an element of subjectivity, to a greater or lesser extent. One might pretend otherwise, claim the writing is devoid of such trappings, but unless it’s the driest recount of facts, that’s nigh-impossible. Gonzo takes that idea to it’s logical opposite: if you can’t remove the writer from the writing, why not embrace that entirely?

Blogposts frequently instinctually blur this divide, as per the original observation, where a factual post is heavily tinged with the personality and prejudices of the writer. And why not? The blog is after all a personal domain. It may not be a safe space, it is public after all, but it is the digital yard of the writer. Those interested can visit, but none are compelled to stay.

So why not embrace this attitude, this gonzo sensibility? Why not accept that facts and guidance are useful, but do we really need another article telling us, for example, which rules of writing we should or should not follow? More interesting is what the topic means to an individual, what their perspective is, how it makes them feel. That’s where the individuality comes in: Everyone’s tastes and perspectives will be like nobody else’s. What’s interesting is when those tastes and perspectives appeal to the reader, making them think or empathise or just enjoy the ride while it’s happening.

So, embrace the gonzo, I say. Don’t try to write a dry recitation in a failed attempt at objectivity. Even if nobody ever partakes of your creations, find the joy of the writer in the written word, regardless of what you end up calling the result.

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