Friday, 1 May 2009

In which, once more, I wax a little sentimental about the blogosphere

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Today, I was going to give you my very own recipe for spaghetti olio, aglio e peperoncino, but, my darlings, you are going to have to wait for that until tomorrow. Instead, I am going to write a little ode to the wonders of the blogosphere.

I do not wish to sound like one of those grumpy old geezers who are endlessly groaning about how everything was so much better in their day. And I hate the intellectually lazy habit of bashing the media (or the MSM, as I learn we bloggers must call it). But I have been lately struck by the almost indecent delight that the papers have been taking in The Bad News. Railing against bad news is a fast track to derision and rolling eyes; remember when poor Martin Lewis made his plea for some good news, and how everyone laughed and scoffed? No one now dares say stop, and so we exist on a crazed diet of economic crash, swine flu, political malfeasance, feral children and vapid celebrities, who are unpicking the very moral fibre of the country with their bare hands, thread by thread. You can say it has always been so; you can say it does not matter so very much. You can say the punters are just getting what they want. But it does have real consequences. Take crime, for example. Because of sensationalist headlines about knives and stabbing and no police on the streets, the public believes that we are living in a crime wave. The numbers, dry and unsensational, suggest that crime is decreasing at a steady rate; the curve runs down yearly. So there is a canyon between perception and reality, and since no one believes any more a word the government says, those in power have given up even trying to insist on the truth of the matter.

So it goes with the blogs. The general notion is put about that the bloggers are geeks and freaks and blatant self-regarders. Don't go there: it is where the nutters live. When I first started blogging, I was actually afraid. My terror existed on several levels. I feared that people whose opinions I valued would mark me down in the narcissist box. I had an inchoate fret that by going from the safety of the printed page, where I have lived for my whole professional life, to the unknown world of cyberspace, I would somehow be sacrificing my literary integrity. (I know, don't shriek, but we all have our little fantasies about ourselves; literary integrity is one of mine.) And I had a low-level fear that once I entered the blogosphere I would find myself lost in Crazytown without a map home.

Instead, as I have written before and I shall almost certainly write again, I find myself in a disarmingly wonderful new place. I use the word wonderful advisedly: every day, as I navigate the blogging ether, I am actually filled with wonder. Kevin Kline once said in The Big Chill something like - how much fun, friendship and good times can one man take? That is how I feel about the bloggers. I wish one of the bad news merchants would one day decide to write about the cleverness, funniness, occasional blatant brilliance and sheer mass of interesting information that is to be found out there in blogland.

I slept badly last night. My poor old mum is in the hospital; I know she will be fine, but I don't like to think of her in a strange, sterile room, away from home. I woke this morning feeling slightly lost and worried. I listlessly checked my Twitter feed, more out of habit than anything else. And there was a message from Libertylondongirl saying: read my blog. I went to her page to find she had given Backwards In High Heels a glorious, shameless plug. It was a little shaft of sunlight in a grey day. (Also, it is the kind of thing my mum would love; she does not quite understand the concept of blogging, although she listens very politely as I try to explain it to her, but she understands very well the concept of people saying nice things about the book, and diligently clips cuttings on the subject and sends them to me in case I might have missed them.) Praise from LLG is a high thing. She is a serious presence in the blogosphere. When the papers pause in their embrace of the bad news and find a moment to run lists of the hundred best blogs, she is always high up on the roll call. From the moment I entered this strange new place, she took time to welcome me in, show me around, and fire off little morale boosters. No one writes about that, but I discover, to my delight and surprise, that this is what bloggers do. I suppose 'Some bloggers really are rather kind' is not the catchiest of headlines. It's not front page news. But today, it is my front page.

14 comments:

  1. I hope your Ma gets better soon - and you should show her this whole blog and everyone's supportive comments of you and your latest 'oevre' - just print it out - you should be proud.

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  2. I am sending positive thoughts your mother's way through the blogosphere. I do hope she gets better soon. And the post is, as always, so apposite, capturing the very essence of blogging.

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  3. You are both so lovely. Thank you, thank you. x

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  4. Oh Tania: I am sending thoughts to you and your mother. Its never easy when you are not the main "caregiver".
    Re: the blogosphere. There are always going to be the naysayers aren't there. I like to tell myself its jealousy from the ones that haven't spent the time to set one up. I haven't found a single nasty person on my journey so far. A few odd ones, but that's life, right? xox

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  5. I believe madly in the old cliche of what goes round comes round. Blogs and twitter lets you see little glimpses of a person and each reader fill the gaps according to their points of reference. So you love dogs, horses, books and writing. You either have shelves of CDs or books behind you, so you're interested in arts and culture. So you're my kind of person. You also love co-novelist's kids and mind your ps & qs. It is thus with every blog or tweet we read. Sounds a bit pompous but I think blogging and twitter is creating a strength exchange between real people outside the published media.

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  6. Dear All - spoke to my mum this morning and read her your lovely good wishes. 'Oh,' she said, 'I am getting blog love, no wonder I am feeling better.' She will be home on Monday, so good news.

    And Sarah - such a nice comment, thank you. Am particularly pleased that you think I mind my ps and qs. Must say that I have my dear old mum to thank for that; she was very hot on manners when we were all growing up. A magazine recently asked me and some other writers to say what we learnt from our mothers and they all gave rather mystical philosophical answers, and I just said, staunchly: good manners. One of the things that has interested me most about the new world of Twitter and blogging is how much old-fashioned courtesy infects such a modern medium. That's part of the reason I get so grumpy with the people who write the columns knocking the blogs.

    xx

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  8. I loved what you wrote re the blogosphere, it is a whole new wold for me. And one that I find terrifying, fascinating and compulsive. How honest does one be? What will people think? All questions I'm sure will be answered in due time!

    Best of luck and love to your mum. I spent a lot of last year caring for mine, and know how much it takes up your thoughts and worries. Thankfully she has been given a 6 month reprieve and feel (selfishly!) like I can breath again. So I wish her the speedy road to recovery.
    Hugs x

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  9. Bianca - how kind you are, and welcome to the world of the blog. I so know about the what will people think fear, even though I have spent the last twenty years trying to shake that one off.

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  10. I just found out about you and your book from LLG and have just ordered a copy for my birthday next week (from the UK to California) - and I completely agree with the wonder of the blogland. Also sending sunny, healing thoughts to you and your mother!

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  11. Lucy, how thrilling you are getting the book. I love it when it goes international.

    Thank you so much for healing thoughts. They are clearly working; I spoke to my mum today and she is much, much better. Modern medicine really is a miracle sometimes. Although I have told her to watch like a hawk for any sign of MRSA (she gets cranky if she has not got something to worry about).

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  12. Reading blogs could literally eat up my whole day - it's a revelation to find so many fascinating things to read...I could (almost) never buy a book again! I'm thrilled to have found yours. I blog about beauty but am constantly, constantly distracted by great reads!

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  13. love your blog and got this link for libertylondon

    http://haideeandco.blogspot.com/

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