June 17, 2008

Friday Night Slights

A month and a half ago, Buzz Bissinger - you might know him as the author of Friday Night Lights - showed up on Bob Costas' Costas Now and lost his shit over the topic of sports blogs and, it would seem, blogging in general. His profanity-laden tirade was impressive, almost as impressive as his reputation for being a top-notch sports journalist. His perspective was simple and multi-fold: blogs are dumbing down society as well as sports fans; bloggers are cowards hiding behind the anonymity of the internet; and bloggers are uninformed, crappy writers. Last week he showed up on a local afternoon radio show I listen to and railed against the blogosphere in its entirety. It kinda pissed me off.

Blogs should never be considered the authoritative source on anything except the lives of those who write them. I am the leading authority on me. You may search high and low and travel the seven seas but you will never find anyone as well-versed in me as, well, me. If I wrote lengthy posts about midget rodeos, I'd encourage you to find another source. I really don't know anything about midget rodeos. I'm hardly an authoritative source. Trust but verify. So, if I wanted to find out everything about midget rodeos, I probably wouldn't start in the blogosphere. Lots of bloggers - none of you, of course - are terribly uninformed.

There are lots of people who discover the blogosphere and are immediately enamored with the fact that they have a voice. So they put virtual pen to virtual paper and write. And they suck. I've seen some doozies (again, none of you). But while some - like Bissinger - might claim that if these folks can't say anything well they shouldn't say it, I view it just the opposite. People are writing, or trying to write. People are expressing themselves to the best of their ability. How is that a bad thing?

For good or ill, the internet is the last great lawless frontier we have left. There are no rules. As a matter of fact, I really dislike the fact that people actually get away with publishing books about how to blog or even blogs about blogging. There are no rules. Repeat after me. There are no rules. Sure, you should be skeptical about what you read and not believe everything because there's a decent chance its bullshit. No one ever took an ethical pledge before we logged onto the internet. There's a whole lot of stuff happening in the world, 95% of it (my number), traditional outlets aren't talking about. Shouldn't we be trying to find out about everything that makes up our world? Shouldn't we be shouting these issues from the virtual rooftops? Shouldn't we be encouraging conversations about issues so that we're better informed? Shouldn't we all be able to share little slivers of our lives with those around us without judgmental assholes shouting at us from our televisions about the nerve we've got to exercise our rights to free expression? Even the worst written, most inane blogs do that.

And the most important rule of thumb - if you don't like it, don't read it. Problem solved.

Many of you blog and since you're here you obviously read blogs. Where do you come down on this one? Am I overreacting, looking at this the wrong way or is Bissinger just an asshat? Why do you blog? Why do you read blogs?

Posted by Chris at June 17, 2008 6:34 AM

You summed it up nicely - if you don't like it, don't read it.

I have different blogs, one to keep the family up to speed on what we have been doing, the other is new and it is my latest attempt at keeping me sane. Reading blogs is like peeping through the window into someone else's life. It is like having friends everywhere, in places you have never been and may never go. Blogging is all about sharing, supporting and having fun.

Thanks for entertaining us Mr Cactus!

Posted by: del at June 17, 2008 7:23 AM

I started blogging as a means of journaling our family life for myself and my children. My goal in that hasn't changed, and it is a perfect outlet for me to vent feelings and judgements and opinions. I don't really care if others read my blog or not, though it is sometimes fun to receive comments which illicit yet another topic of conversation. However, my blog is just me discussing life and how it affects me everyday. I am no expert on anything other than me, my values, and my thoughts (as you said).

I read several blog as well, but that's probably simply cuz I'm a nosey housewife bitch with too much time on my hands ;-) And I am finding I have more to think about, more to discuss, keep up with isses because I read other blogs. And as far as I'm concerned, there is no harm in that. People who blog do not mind others reading about their lives.

But yeah, you have to research what you read if you are using it for informative purposes. But they still give you a glimpse into what is happening in the world out there today. And I see absolutely no harm in that.

Posted by: Tera at June 17, 2008 7:26 AM

Yes, Bissinger is an asshat.

However, he's also old school. Blogging is just the most recent victim to be subjected to the disdain of "real writers". When television reporting first became more than a novelty, print journalists openly mocked them. Now, we have print journalists doing television (PTI anyone?)

The old guard always have the hardest time with change; they had something that in their time was uniquely theirs, and now have to learn to share it with a new group doing it in a new way.

As for blogging in general, I agree with your sentiments. The only change I would make (and it's nitpicky, I know) is that it's the last great lawless frontier we have *right now*... there will always be new frontiers.

Posted by: SciFi Dad at June 17, 2008 7:30 AM

If I don't like it, I won't read it. Period.

But I blog because I love to write. The only way to get better at writing is to keep writing. I have 2 blogs - the one I link to here, and the one that is more private where I feel I am more myself and more real. The first, more public venue is the one that I shared with friends when I started it. Thus, people I know read it soooooo... if one of them infuriates me, or stresses me out, THAT blog wouldn't be the place I would go write about it.

I never try to pass off knowledge or advice as though I am the authority on anything. My main purpose of blogging is to have an outlet that frees my mind of what's twirling around in it, so I can focus other things!

Posted by: Sarah at June 17, 2008 7:31 AM

I started blogging because I like to write and "all my friends were doing it". I'm not saying I'm a great blogger but I enjoy it. I stay in blogging because of all the fantastic people I've met. I talk regularly with people all over the U.S., Canada, Europe, etc. whom I never would have met, had it not been for our blogs. I love learning about how we're different and most importantly, how we are all very much the same.

I read blogs because they are entertaining and maybe just a tad voyeuristic. Who doesn't like to peek in the curtains at somebody else's home life?

Now, why I Twitter? God only knows. :)

Posted by: debra at June 17, 2008 7:32 AM

My first instinct after reading your post was to write a 1000 word diatribe on the state of the American Midget Rodeo scene. Just because I can.

If you ask me, Bissinger feels threatened for some reason by us “uninformed, crappy writers.”

Posted by: Bob at June 17, 2008 7:38 AM

I started blogging because I have always written. Never liked journals but blogging was different.

Most blogs that I keep up with are written by people that have something in common with me.

I don't confuse blogging with my other traditional life/friends. I know there are some bloggers that I probably wouldn't like in "real" life (not you, of course!) but I enjoy their extreme opinions on other things.

Posted by: Debbie at June 17, 2008 7:38 AM

Bissenger wrote that book my junior year in high school in the town I lived in 20 miles away. Although the people of Odessa think they are portrayed erroneously in the book, I can tell you from first hand experience, they are not.

It is just as fanatical as they are portrayed.


Posted by: Knot at June 17, 2008 7:59 AM

First off, that's exactly my sentiment about most things of a delicate nature: if you don't like it, don't do it. I always think that when blogs like Dooce get all this hate mail. If they don't like it, then why do they read it?

I blog because since sixth grade, I have kept a journal. And in 2001, I started a little blog over on Diary-x. I guess I have this need to share with people what's going on in my life. Because, for the same reason I read blogs, I like to know that the things I am experiencing are in fact, things other people all over the world experience. It's like sharing something with total strangers and becoming closer.

Posted by: claire at June 17, 2008 8:07 AM

I think Bissinger is an asshole. When the movie Friday Night Lights came out he was on a local radio program to pimp his film. The radio host's dad was an assistant coach in HS football for over 30 years and wanted to meet Bissinger. When Bissinger asked him if he liked the film the Host's Dad simply said, "No. It was not for me." and Bissinger went off cursing at the guy and what not. Telling the guy he had no idea about football and that he should keep his mouth shut. He has no class.

Posted by: William at June 17, 2008 8:09 AM

I totally, 100%, completely agree with you.

Just because I don't like something someone writes, it doesn't mean they shouldn't write it. I just shouldn't read it if I think it's that awful. Blogging gives so many people that would otherwise sit in a corner unnoticed (for a variety of reasons) an outlet and a voice. It sometimes leads to friendships--valuable friendships with people you never would have met otherwise.

Posted by: Alissa at June 17, 2008 8:09 AM

I vote for asshat. I agree with the person above that said it sounds like Bissenger is threatened by the blogspehere for some reason. I don't know why I read blogs. I started off just reading the blogs of people I actually knew. Then I found Dooce and it all exploded from there. There are many blogs I read on a daily basis. Some because the authors are excellant writers. Some are entertaining. Some are educational. Some are people I feel I've come to know over the years and I want to keep up with what's going on in their lives. Some blogs are the soap operas of the internet.

I know someone doing their dissertation on social media, and blogs in particular, in relation to Hurricane Katrina, and how people used them to communicate what was happening and to find each other.

Posted by: Lisa at June 17, 2008 8:15 AM

I think that Bissinger *is* an asshat. I look at the kids in school that have no interest in writing, and how poorly they all write because of the dumbing down caused by emails and IMing and simply having an overstimulated society... that I think blogging is one way to draw kids back into how great writing can be. It doesn't matter if it's "good"... you don't have to be the next Shakespeare to blog. It's just good to get it out.

I began blogging as a way to journal and keep up with another friend that blogged. I got addicted. It's become a way to meet great folks (like yourself), keep up with my family and friends, and also manage my creative writing and share it with anyone that's bored enough to read. I don't claim to be an expert on anything but myself, and I (like you) am pretty sure nobody knows me better. :)

Posted by: Kate at June 17, 2008 8:18 AM

He's an asshat. I don't blog to have an opinion or a voice or influence other people. Not really. On some issues, perhaps. But it's nothing earth shattering and I don't claim to be the source on anything other than my own life, as you say. I don't operate a political blog, or a blog about midget rodeos: I blog because I like to write and it allows me to encounter all kinds of awesome people out there with their own blogs and opinions. I like 'meeting' people through their blogs just like I enjoy meeting people in real life.
If someone comes to my blog and reads my opinion on ANYTHING, it's no different from what they'd learn from me in a conversation if we were friends for a bit -- which we might as well be since they're here on my blog reading about my life.

When I think of blogging, I think of it as a community. It seems like this guy is threatened by it and that he's actually the misinformed one: If he was familiar with the blogging community I have a hard time believing he'd really have a problem with it.
That, or he doesn't want to take responsibility for not believing everything you see and hear. There's a lot of garbage in our world in general and you can't always trust what's in news and print and on tv either.

I have often said that blogging is the new therapy. My Mom always talks about how families and communities have become less nuclear over the years: kids move away, start new families. Suddenly you don't know your neighbors and everyone is kind of isolated. It used to be that you could go down the street and have a cup of tea with your sister or neighbor and share some face time, some interaction: people need each other. People need a community and support from peers. I think the blogging community is exactly that for our generation.

Posted by: Caitlin at June 17, 2008 8:23 AM

I have no idea who this dude is (...did not check out the links - how's that for being informed!!) but I would have to say for the most part ass hat.

Of course, I never take anything said in blogs for the end all be all to learning. Of course I check it out at other sources but even those sources have been wrong before as well. We are well informed but only as well informed as science (math, language, etc) can allow us to be.

However what I do love about blogs (parenting ones right now) is the learning from experience that I gain by reading them. Also, the interaction to some degree with people you might never ever cross paths with because for instance you live in VA/DC and I live in IN.

I think that blogging and the Internet itself is taking away from people who have dreamed about, went to school for and worked their rumps off to become "news people" only to find out that blogging/internet/my space, etc is eating away at the pie that used to be wholly held by those folks who are dubbed journalists. Those people who used to be considered the authority on certain topics. It is must feel frustrating to those folks.

AND to find out that perhaps writing an intelligent piece on something (sports, parenting, the world) does not require advanced degrees and world travel, just a deep love and passion that they perhaps themselves feel but have had to claw their way to the top to get to rather then just going to blogger and starting a page up for free.

Posted by: Christina at June 17, 2008 8:28 AM

Actually, your wife convinced me to blog. I've always liked to write and it's a natural reaction to that.

Why do I read? I find the writer interesting. I read blogs when the writer engages me.

I had the way the mainstream media treats bloggers. I was watching the tv show this morning and Meredith Viera was interviewing Billy Ray Cyrus about the uproar over Miley's photos....she said something like, "the bloggers said.." and he said with a sneer "the bloggers say a lot of things."

He buddy, I'm not pimping out my daughter.

Posted by: jodifur at June 17, 2008 8:28 AM

Yes, he is an asshat. I blog because it is a way for me to express the views that I might be too shy to say. Not that I write profoundly about anything, but I really enjoy sharing the good, the funny, and sometimes the sad things in my life.
As to others....if they are good I read )not I always check Cactus/Fish first in the morning)and if it's just crap, well I don't go back.

Posted by: Maribeth at June 17, 2008 8:42 AM

I could have written this (come to think of it I have) but not nearly so well.

Someone, I can't remember now who it was, posted 10 rules for bloggers. I was already breaking at least 3 or 4 of them. I do remember one was "nobody wants to hear about your pets" and another had to do with pictures of your kids.

Which reminds me, I finally learned how to put a link to pictures on my sidebar. Shame on me.

Anyhow, what everyone else has been saying. There are no rules. If you don't like the blog, that's why we have that neat little X at the top right of the screen.

Keep on doing what you're doing and so will I.

Posted by: Ann Adams at June 17, 2008 8:47 AM

My blog is my virtual scrapbook, or journal if you will. It is also FREE therapy!

I enjoy reading other blogs to get ideas, have a few laughs and of course, some tears.

I don't think you are overreacting! It is kind of like people eating a Big Mac and suing McDonalds for making them overweight. Or smoking and suing the tobacco companies for giving you cancer.

We make choices. Read it or not! The choice is all their own! It is certainly frustrating when people mock others for blogging. Whether the reason is because they cannot understand why bloggers like to share their lives with 'strangers' or because they disagree with the blogs content. Either way, don't click if you're gonna bitch! Most bloggers don't claim to be experts on any topic. They just want to share their stories and thoughts in a creative arena.

Posted by: Amber at June 17, 2008 8:49 AM

You hit it right on! We all have the power to click the x if we do not like what we are reading.

I read for perspective, reading blogs has certainly widened my otherwise narrow mind.

Posted by: steff at June 17, 2008 9:07 AM

I come here because you are cute.
The end.

It has nothing to do with the fact that I have a girl crush on your wife and I want to be her when I grow up and FINALLY have a baby.
Nope nothing

Posted by: Dee at June 17, 2008 9:11 AM

1 - Asshat!

2 - Boredom!

3 - They're interesting!

Honestly, people lead more and more sedentary lifestyles. Even the busiest of us (case in point, you) have the time to putz around on the internet sometimes. It's this, or porn. And this costs less. And is more office friendly.

We also live in an increasingly solitary society. It's also a way to connect with people, in a way you don't always get to do.

Posted by: Caleal at June 17, 2008 9:14 AM

Here's the ultimate explanation of why Buzz is such a douchebag.


Posted by: Aaron at June 17, 2008 9:38 AM

I'm going to be in the minority here, but I do think he has a point - to an extent. There are a lot of blogs written by uninformed, crappy writers who at times use their anonymity as a shield. I can definitely see how, to people who have worked and trained and dedicated their professional lives to journalism, this could be frustrating. That said, there are also some uninformed, crappy writers in the mainstream media, and, as you pointed out, there are bloggers discussing issues that the mainstream media continually ignores.

I don't blog, but I do read a bunch of blogs and I enjoy them for a variety of reasons. The bottom line though is that if I don't enjoy a blog I won't read it - it just isn't worth my time. But I don't begrudge people their right to blog.

Posted by: erin at June 17, 2008 9:39 AM

I don't really read blogs that are about anything other than people's lives and their opinions on what they encounter. People amaze and inspire me, so I keep reading.

I blog b/c someone told me all the cool kids are doing it.

Also, Bissinger is an asshat. Anyone that will go on record stating his opinion about people stating their opinions, and call them stupid, is an asshat. Just because someone finds themselves in a position of authority doesn't make them an authority. Maybe he should find a blog about Free Speech. Asshat.

Posted by: Mymilabean at June 17, 2008 9:41 AM

I vote on he's an asshat.....

And like Dee, I come b/c you're cute ;) And also b/c I read your wife first and was sucked in and thus sucked into you as well....(that sounded a little odd lol)

Posted by: Kris at June 17, 2008 9:57 AM

The best way to improve at writing is to write. It sounds like Bissinger would rather we still lived in an age where old-style media prevailed and the only people who got any exposure were those who had busted their ass (or kissed someone else's) to work their way up the ranks of various publications until they were allowed to write articles with their own byline. Luckily for us, he'll never get his wish again.

By increasing the quantity of people who can publish their work publicly, you are bound to get a distribution of writing that spans a huge range of talent and interests. Before, publication editors were the ones who got to decide what the public could read - now that freedom is passed on to the readers themselves. Although this creates some extra work on our part (to decide whether a blog/writer is interesting enough to follow), it's well worth it when you make that accidental discovery and find something/someone you never would have been able to find in the traditional publishing structure.

Posted by: Ross at June 17, 2008 10:00 AM

You're not overreacting. I read blogs because they're entertaining and sometimes *informative*, but that doesn't make a blog *authoritative*. Self-expression is an important part of the human psyche. We've always done it, in various forms and mediums, and this is just the next step in creativity and creation.

I blog because I feel like it. I never say anything particularly wonderful or enlightened but who cares? No one is being forced to read it, no one is being forced to agree with me. I think I like blogging so much because I can chose, quite easily, how much of my life I want to share. I'm a fairly private person but there are aspects of my life I don't mind letting people know about -- it's easier online, of course, because if someone disagrees with me or thinks I'm stupid, I either don't know about it or I delete their comments :D

It is unfortunate that the anonymity of the internet allows people to bully/infect the internetowebosphere with their lame ideas, but I don't know...it hasn't been enough to stop me yet and I doubt it ever will.

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at June 17, 2008 10:01 AM

Honestly, I blog because I love to write, and even as a kid aspired to become a writer. Until I realized how manipulated and watered-down the world of publishing really is. Hence, I blog. To write.

That jerk needs to stop reading if he doesn't like what he's reading.

Posted by: C-Rah at June 17, 2008 10:02 AM

Bissinger is an asshat.

I blog because I love being connected to people I wouldn't normally meet in Real Life. I read other people's blogs because A) they amuse me, or B) they touch my heart, or C) I'm bored. But the reason I LOVE blogs is that they give me insight into real people. They open my mind to new ideas, introduce me to books, albums, artwork that I couldn't find on my own, and they remind me that, regardless how f'ed up the world is, at the heart of it all is people who have the same concerns, the same hurts, and the same feelings as me. Or different feelings. Whatever.

Posted by: GreenCanary at June 17, 2008 10:09 AM

I read blogs because I'm nosey. I want to see what everyone else is doing. I blog because it's a great way to journal my childs life and mine. My blog may not be the best but I'm not looking to be the best. I'm just looking to be me.

Lastly, I blog in hopes that my son will be able to relive his childhood through my blog and see how much I loved him long after I'm gone from this world.

Posted by: Darla at June 17, 2008 10:10 AM

I read blogs because I'm nosey. I want to see what everyone else is doing. I blog because it's a great way to journal my childs life and mine. My blog may not be the best but I'm not looking to be the best. I'm just looking to be me.

Lastly, I blog in hopes that my son will be able to relive his childhood through my blog and see how much I loved him long after I'm gone from this world.

Posted by: Darla at June 17, 2008 10:11 AM

Well said, Chris, as always!

You hit the nail on the head with "Blogs should never be considered the authoritative source on anything except the lives of those who write them."

I could go on and on about how that is right, but you said it so succinctly I'll just say: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

Posted by: SpaceCase at June 17, 2008 10:16 AM

You are certainly not overacting - that guy's an idiot.

"And the most important rule of thumb - if you don't like it, don't read it. Problem solved."

Well said and why is this so hard for people to get? And really on more than just the blogging level. On everything.

The statement if you can't say anything well don't say it is asinine. How the heck is America supposed to get better at writing if we don't do it? That's like telling your toddler to learn how to walk but not ever putting them down on the floor to practice.

I guess what popularity has come down to is this - if you can't get popular doing something well, get popular by bashing those that DO do something well.

So, I realize I'm ranting in your comments - many apologies. Why do I blog - a number of reasons, it's entertaining, I like being connected to people, I don't have to bore my poor husband with all the things floating around in my head (just most of them), it's an opportunity to write that is engaging (unlike the papers for my Masters classes *grimace*), and oh yeah, it's fun. Not to mention its a good way to get started on the autobiography that will be in such demand after I'm dead. Why do I read them...for many of the same reasons but mostly being connected and the entertainment value.

Asshat is a good word.

Posted by: Jen at June 17, 2008 10:20 AM

I started blogging to reconnect with my highschool girlfriends. They were all getting married and having babies while I was out destroying my life. Now that I'm back in the land of the living, I so much enjoy reading about their adventures in parenthood and wanted to share a bit of my life with them too. Turns out it has been a wonderful place for me to work through some emotional issues with feedback. The death of my fiance, getting sober and being in recovery, all that stuff. IT's been good.

Posted by: k8 at June 17, 2008 10:21 AM

Amen, Chris!

I used to write on a blog of my own, but I truly sucked and it became more stressful and chore-like than a good outlet for me...so I stopped. But I do love to read me some blogs though! I have about seven blogs that I read everyday (yours and your wifes included; since about a year and half before Mia was born). The great thing about the blogs that I am forever addicted to is that they are all people that are very unlike me in many ways. I get to peek into the lives of people who made choices opposite than me or are different than me and it is rewarding in that I can experiance things through them too and see things as I might not have before.

And sometimes they just make me laugh.

I think the people who share the same view as Mr. Bissinger are people who are afraid that this whole blogging thing may hurt them where it really counts one day.....their wallets!

I say do what makes you smile, as long as your not hurting anyone the rest can fuck off!

Posted by: Kelly M. at June 17, 2008 10:29 AM

I'm assuming the afternoon show was Mike O'Meara's (I remember us sharing an affinity for Don & Mike, so I'm assuming you kept listening after Don left. Not that I'm stalking you or anything. You wore a nice tie today, BTW). I heard his interview, too. I agree with you that encouraging people to write is a good thing, in that through this practice it also encourages them to really consider what they're thinking about and if there's anything our society needs to do right now, sweet merciful jeebus, it's to THINK! A LITTLE! HARDER! At the same time, I agree with him that there are asshats who exist only to spread vitriol and gossip. These are the people that give the rest of the blogging world a bad name and they're deserving of people's anger and exasperation. I think he was wrong to paint the blogging world with such a broad brush, though; he shouldn't condemn all through the actions of a few.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at June 17, 2008 10:33 AM

Asshat. 'Nuff said.

I don't blog myself but I read a lot of blogs. I started reading them when I was pregnant with my first child and a friend of mine sent me Dooce's birth story. Once I had my son and was home on maternity leave (1 year here in Canada) I started reading a lot more blogs. We have no family or friends with kids here and so it was a way to feel more connected with people and a way to learn that I wasn't alone with these "parenthood can be scary & frustrating as well as wonderful and life-fulfilling" feelings.

Posted by: Carmen at June 17, 2008 10:37 AM

It sounds like the "old school" is threatened by the "new school". He can't accept the changing of times and situations and technology that allows people to get their "information" from a source other than a book that's published. Of course I use the term "information" loosely.
I started blogging a few years ago because I feel like (well I KNOW) I'm always having a conversation with myself in my head. But I'm very sporadic and no one ever comments and I wrestle with whether I'm doing it for me or in the hopes that someone will read a post and say "A-ha! I knew someone felt just like I did!" I have maybe ten blogs on google reader that I read and check it twice a day.

Posted by: NancyB at June 17, 2008 10:48 AM

I still know people who think the blogs are THE source of information and buzz so much so that a few burn comments on someone's blog was the reason why we didn't implement a blog for work.

And then there are those who showed up questioning personal blog like mine for its "resourcefulness". "What could I possibly get from your blog? This is stupid." Um. It's a PERSONAL blog. Mine is completely senseless and I didn't claim that it does differently.

On the opposite end, there are people who think blogs are ALL personal and that it's stupid for people to share their thoughts, life stories, and opinions.

Yes, there will always be some cowards hiding behind anonymity of the internet. There will always be somebody who would comment with the tenacity they wouldn't have in real life. There will always be writers who flame others. You're not going to escape that.

Posted by: oakley at June 17, 2008 11:06 AM

I vote for asshat

Posted by: That Girl at June 17, 2008 11:30 AM

I totally agree with what you wrote...although part of me wondered if you were badmouthing my research...but when I reread it, I realized that my research is not about how to blog, but why people do it, so it wasn't a personal attack. However, I would love to use some of your comments from today's post, as well as some of your readers' comments, in my research as it really explains why we blog...and it's not because we think we are experts on everything...we are experts on ourselves and our opinions and that's what most bloggers share on their blogs.

Posted by: Krush at June 17, 2008 11:30 AM

I completely agree with you. The long and short of it is that there are NO RULES to blogging, and if you don't like it, DON'T READ IT. Some blogs are boring, others way too political for my tastes, and others I just don't get... so I don't read them. Then there are the ones I love (the Cactus being one of them, natch) and make sure to visit daily. I never take what is said on a blog about anything but the person themself (and perhaps their family, etc.) with more than a grain of salt. I usually do a quick bit of fact-checking (if it's a newsworthy story) before believing it 100% -- IF I care that much about it.

As for me, I blog because I can. Well, more precisely, because it gives me an outlet for the shit that crams up inside my head. I don't care who reads it, though I generally keep identities to a minimum, and I don't blog to gain an audience. It is what it is -- I don't sit here and compose posts and edit and revise and edit and revise before hitting the publish button. Sometimes, I'm eloquent, and most times, I'm not.

I read blogs because they give me an insight on people I find interesting, whom I'd never encounter in real life. I also read for the entertainment -- many people have (sometimes fantastic) stories to tell. I NEVER read blogs for the latest news. I have my news websites that I visit for the latest media scare.

In short: Bissinger is an asshat. You are 110% right on this one.

Posted by: ironic1 at June 17, 2008 11:44 AM

*shaking finger* Those crazy kids and their writin's today!

I've learned a lot about life through the tales of other people's experiences on their blogs. Like you I've never gone looking for the definitive source on anything in a blog. I think it's the same as understanding that some (read: all) news stations sensationalize for effect. I evaluate the source of everything I read or hear before assigning a value to it.

I think he's just pissed because you don't have to go to journalism school and pay your dues in the trenches to be heard anymore. The only thing that matters is that you have credibility in a topic, and something interesting to say.

Posted by: Brad at June 17, 2008 12:00 PM

I blog because I am under the mistaken impression that the whole world cares what I have to say. That, and because I can. I just like talking about myself and my life, and if someone finds it and likes it, cool. If not, also cool. I suppose that's why I also read blogs - I like reading what intelligent people have to say, people I never would talk to if not for the internet. That's so cool to me.

Posted by: Stephanie at June 17, 2008 12:21 PM

I think you're right on the money. The problem is: People think that because it's on the intwartubes that it is indeed fact. I can't tell you how many times in my recent English class that the teacher had to remind students that wiki isn't an acceptable, academic source for citing.

Posted by: rai at June 17, 2008 1:00 PM

Yep, Bissinger is an Asshat with a capital A. I agree that there are a lot of blogs out there that put out misinformation. But there are also quite a few blogs that have very good info. Hell, bloggers have helped break news stories before.

No I probably won't base my life on something I read on a blog. But I will use that information I get and research it. If it has even a sliver of truth in it, I will be happy.

Now all these Liberal blogs... ;-)

Posted by: Jeff A at June 17, 2008 1:09 PM

I read blogs for entertainment. I read blogs to get a sneak peak into the lives of others. I find it very validating. I helps to know that I'm not the only ape-shit crazy one out there. I read blogs because I start to feel like they are "friends."

I write because I need the outlet. Writing has always been a form of therapy for me. I'm also often proud of what I write and like the idea that others might enjoy it. But mostly, it's for me. A way to process the ape-shit-crazy going on in my head. Getting it out lets me look at it, analyze it, learn from it and/or throw it away.

You are dead on about being an expert on your own life. Anyone who is looking for anything else should do their own research.

Posted by: SassyPants at June 17, 2008 1:20 PM

Blogs are my extended community. As such, I treat them the same way that I would a person in real life- if I like them, I pay attention. If not, I don't.

And dumbing down? I fucking think NOT. Sure there are dumb people, but they have ALWAYS been there. I've learned more and been spurred to more independent research by the bloggers I read than ever before. Increased knowledge and awareness of the world around you? How is that bad?!

Posted by: heels at June 17, 2008 1:29 PM

There are so many people who just don't get blogging. It appeals to me on so many levels. First of all, I've "met" so many interesting people through blogging. I love the windows blogs open in to other people's lives, ways of thinking and approaches to life. Second of all, I love blogging simply because it gives everyone a voice. So what if not every blog is a masterpiece? At least people are out there, trying something creative. Some will be better than others. And yes, it is great that there are no rules.

And for every stupid story that gets overblown because of bloggers hyping it up, there is at least one story the conventional, official media were ignoring that gets attention because someone was willing to start the conversation on their blog.

Finally, I'd like to point out to Mr. Bissinger that there are plenty -- PLENTY -- of uninformed, crappy writers in print. Getting published doesn't confer superpowers or make one infallible.

Posted by: bad penguin at June 17, 2008 2:52 PM

I started to blog because I became a mom and family/friends were always asking me what my son was doing now. They wanted pictures, stories, etc., while others were just being polite.

Since I know what it is like to listen to someone wax poetic about their perfect angel, while secretly you know they have satan's spawn for a child, I didn't want to be the mom at which everyone would just nod politely while I yammered on and on about him.

If they are interested, truly, they can check the blog. If not, I have not imposed my enamored mommy stories on them, because they don't have to read it.

Now I have a neat little network of folks that I've met, and I enjoy comparing stories. Some are brilliantly creative writers, while others could really use some work (A LOT of work). But we are all sharing stories and it is in good fun.

I don't keep a journal. I don't scrapbook. I have a hard time keeping up with my son's baby book. But, I blog. I am keeping a record...

Mr. Writer/Reporter needs to get a life and clearly feels threatened by bloggers for some bizarre reason. Whatever.

(I read blogs because I love to see how others think and express themselves.)

Posted by: RC at June 17, 2008 3:24 PM

Reminds me of that one Top Chef contestant who was angry about all the negative comments about her in the blogs.
"Oh no, I don't read the blogs—you couldn't pay me to read the blogs. I don't want to know what people who can't even afford to eat in my restaurant, let alone know how to cook have to say about me"

I have no idea why I read blogs. I have no idea why I have kept one for almost 10 years. It's just something I like to do.

Posted by: Denise at June 17, 2008 4:16 PM

I'm still new to the blogosphere. I started reading family blogs to keep in touch since we're spread across the country. I decided it would be easier to post pictures and stories of the kids than to feel guilty about not sending pictures and letters - so I started my own. And that's still what I do. I can't compete with the good stuff so I don't try. But I really enjoy a lot of what's out there.

I agree with the whole turn it off philosophy. I think there are tons of ways that people can be dumb without turning to the internet. Have you ever watched Fox News? I don't even know how the anchors don't just bust out laughing when they say some of the stuff they say. I don't believe they're dumb enough to believe some of the things they say. And what about Ann Coulter? Does crazy count? There are people out there that believe things because IT'S ON TV. (Seriously, I've met some of them. I'm always a little shocked when it happens.)

I found your blog shortly after Beth posted something along the lines of "Mommy is not fucking around". I thought anyone who would marry that lady would probably be someone who might make me laugh. So I checked out your site and I've been hooked ever since.

Posted by: sunshine at June 17, 2008 4:28 PM

Bissinger is an asshat. And - insecure. Maybe people won't pay to read HIS shit anymore if they can read sports stuff for free elsewhere. Ya think?

I'm a self-proclaimed expert on many things, including my own life. I write to stay in touch with friends. I write for the outlet. I write because I love to write.

I read to stay in touch with friends. I read to be a voyeur. I read to find out how other people handle this thing called life.

Posted by: Mindy at June 17, 2008 4:44 PM

I started blogging about three years ago to keep in touch with a group of regular life friends. It's turned into a really good way to journal and you wouldn't believe how useful it turned out to be in a custody battle. Sometimes the benefits aren't immediately obvious. It's my way of making a record of our life, my kids milestones, and a agood cake every now and then. And as I suck at baby books and scrapbooking? It saves me from that. The blogs I read are all people that I have come to like or respect based on what they have to say, but I don't think it's any different that liking John Cusack. I don't know the guy, I just like him. I have a job and a second job and two kids and zero free time. Blogging and blog reading are a really warm fuzzy patch on my pitiful social life. I don't know my neighbors but I always manage to stop by my favorite blogs every day. Tides me over between my six or eight dinner parties a year.

And, yeah, asshat. I defy anybody to be a better expert on real life than real people. And goddamn if we don't already have enough places in our society telling one group or another that they aren't good enough to play.

Posted by: OS at June 17, 2008 4:48 PM

We have four blogs in our family. The hubby and I each have one where we can spout off and not scare our family and friends away from our home blog. Our home blog and our boy's blog isn't readily out there for everyone to read and comment on.

I find blogging fascinating and I should note that I was one of those initial doubters that thought blogging seemed stupid and not worth the time. I haven't got a clue about this dude that you mentioned, but I totally trust your judgment. If you say he's an jerk or whatever--I believe it.

Blogging to me is information, fun, sharing and bonding with others and building a sense of community. I have more than a few people that I consider friends despite never having met them in person that I've come to know and relate to quite well.

Blogging is like anything else, no one is forcing you to read it. If you don't like something, don't read it. It's no different than with books and television.

Posted by: Diane at June 17, 2008 5:43 PM

Initially I set up the blog for friends and family OS to see the development of our baby. It has become so much more. Like you said a voice. Like what others have said a community. A place to get/share ideas and advice. It makes the big wide world seem a little smaller when you realise that people on the other side to you are going through exactly the same thing as you and what a great thing to be able to share/communicate with each other. It's also the PERFECT way to ease myself into the working day with a coffee and a read through my favourite blogs. Far more interesting than the news!

Posted by: Beth at June 17, 2008 6:45 PM

I love your 'no rules' approach. Even on the internet I sometimes don't feel good enough. Then I grow up. Who cares ? No one !

We all have the power to close our browsers.

Posted by: Heather at June 17, 2008 8:48 PM

I'm with you on this one.

Posted by: Angela at June 17, 2008 10:05 PM

I read blogs for the same reason I like having lots of friends. I like people. I find them fascinating. And I write, well, because I figure there are others out there like me. And I think, the only reason one would fear the blogging world, is because they fear the world. But as I'm just about to break out in a "We Are the World" chorus, I'll stop here with a, "Yeah. You're right."

Posted by: Kellyology at June 18, 2008 12:04 AM

My thoughts exactly. I also think it's ridiculous when "real" photographers complain about how anyone can get a good digital camera and take good pictures now, as if that's a bad thing. Art is not for the elite, and I agree 100% with you- If you don't like it, don't read it!

Posted by: Jess at June 18, 2008 1:43 AM

SUCH a great post, Chris. I'm linking to it from Gridiron Goddess.net, my big bad sports blog. LOL

Posted by: MazingAmy at June 18, 2008 3:24 AM

I blog because I'm a motherfucker.

Posted by: Black Hockey Jesus at June 18, 2008 9:48 AM

I started blogging because I'm creative and always have enjoyed writing in some form or another. I write about baking-not that I'm an expert, but then again...just ask the people who are constantly requesting the goodies I make. I blog about travel-not because I'm an expert, but I do have experience and like to share.

In my experiences parenting, for a long time, I felt very much alone. Dyspraxia is not a common disability and even as a seasoned special ed paraprofessional, I had never heard of it. Jake and I decided at one point that if telling our story (his story), helped just ONE person, it would be worth it.

The rest don't even have to read it.

Posted by: Scattered mom at June 19, 2008 12:54 AM

Do not money to buy a building? Do not worry, just because it's real to take the loans to work out all the problems. So take a auto loan to buy everything you need.

Posted by: MichaelTanisha at December 8, 2010 6:57 PM