Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Inside The Blogging Studio Part II

Hail, Strong Amazon Sisters! Below is Part II of GayProf and me's blog conversation. In the interests of fairness, I'll warn all of you who tuned in excited to hear GayProf's secret to coffee ring removal: the secrets are not revealed below. He's just a terrible, terrible tease.

Bourgeois Nerd (BN): What is the difference between your blog personality and your real one? In my case the two are similar, but not identical. Internet anonymity definitely allows me to feel free to say things I’m definitely too chicken to say in real life. But blogging also highlights and magnifies certain characteristics that I don’t think are as noticeable to anyone who knows me in real life, at least maybe outside of my family and closest friends. Writing allows me to express my interior life much more freely. I’m quite neurotic, but most of that is inside and not really visible without careful observation over a very long period of time, whereas I think judging by the blog you might wonder why I’m not in therapy five days a week (and I probably should be).

GayProf (GP): Well, I think we sorta established that my blog started as a cheap form of therapy.

I agree that blogging magnifies more subtle elements that are in your personality. In “real life,” I am quite shy. When my blog was in full swing, the two most common comments that I would get when I met people from the blog were “I thought you’d be funnier” and “I thought you’d be taller.” Truth be told, though, I am sooo much better looking than GayProf.

BN: Funny, I’m much uglier than Bourgeois Nerd. Seriously, though, I totally relate to the “quite shy” thing, though I’m much, much less so than I used to be. At one point in my life, I literally didn’t want to buy things because that would mean going to the register and interacting with the cashier.

GP: Sadly, I prefer the self checkout stands because it means I don’t have to interact with an actual person. Maybe I am more of a misanthrope than GayProf!

BN: Oh, while I do have a bit of a misanthropic streak, my cashier-aversion was so much worse than that: I was afraid they were judging me and laughing at me. Truth is, they don’t give a shit, but I was afraid anyway.

GP: That sounds like some intense social phobia. Have you worked through that?

BN: It’s not nearly as bad as it used to be, though occasionally it flares up.

I’m curious as to whether or not your “real friends” know and read about your blog. The only friends I have who read it are friends I have FROM blogging, none of whom I’ve actually ever met. I know some people are really paranoid or at least wary of people they know in real life discovering their online writing, not without some justification. It’s never really come up for me, so I’m not entirely sure how I feel.

GP: My original intent was to keep the blog totally pseudonymous. As a friend who once stumbled on my blog told me, however, “You’re real identity is as transparent as a certain superheroine’s plane.” Let’s face it, there just aren’t that many gay men who also happen to teach Chicano studies in the Midwest. So a few people who I know beyond the blog have stumbled across it at different times. There have only been two posts that I have ever deleted on my blog that had to do with me rethinking who might be reading it.

I have had the opposite happen quite often, though. My blog has resulted in some really great friendships off line.

BN: How have we lasted as long as we have? I celebrated Bourgeois Nerd’s fifth anniversary in December, and as I said then, it amazes and humbles me how many other, better blogs have come and gone while I’m still around.

GP: We have lasted because we clearly don’t have anything better to do with our time. I kid, I kid.

BN: You kid, but it’s pretty much true in my case!

GP: The blogosphere is a funny place. At just five years, I feel like a seasoned veteran. People should call me Dame GayProf.

BN: “There ain’t nothing like a daaaaaaaaame…” Sorry, that just popped into my head.

GP: I have some ideas, but I’d love to hear how you think that blogosphere has changed over the past five years. What about gay blogging?

BN: I mean, I don’t have proof or anything, but I think gay blogging has gotten more political over time. Joe. My. God., for instance, has gone from stories of Joe’s life to activism and news aggregation. Even the gossip bloggers are much more “militant,” I think. Considering the times, it isn’t surprising. It’s almost impossible to be a non-porn gay blogger and not be political today (and even a lot of the porn blogs are political). I really miss Joe’s stories, though.

GP: It seems to me that gay blogging has become less personal. Though I actually think Joe’s personal stories were political (And, just to be clear, I think being political is a good thing). He discussed a point in gay history that too many people have forgotten. The act of remembering itself was a political gesture.

BN: That’s what I liked most about his stories: they were recording a history that needs to be remembered, especially since relatively few are left who can do so. My friend, and big blog brother, Scott at Bill in Exile [NSFW] does the same sort of thing. They’re very hard for him, though, I know. After a few of them, he’s too emotionally drained to do it for a long while. I can understand that; whenever I read about that time, I’m amazed that those who did survive aren’t just totally insane from the loss. I’m glad I didn’t live through it. But I’m just as glad that there are those who can tell me about it.

GP: I do like that the current gay blogging is often geared to being vigilant about news and issues related to the queer community. At times, though, I wonder if my ol’ fashioned style of blogging has gone out of vogue. People would rather have the news aggregates that are updated several times an hour than a post that appears every few days. It’s the CNN effect on blogging.

BN: No, GayProf, it’s not you, it’s the blogs that got small! Actually, though, while perhaps “out of vogue,” I think there’s still an audience for longer-form, more personal narrative stuff. It’ll probably make a comeback any day now; you’ll be at the vanguard!

How do you feel your blogging has changed?

GP: Uh – Well, it is a lot less frequent.

Like others, I think my blog also became less personal. In the early years, I tended to mix together a combination of things that were happening in my life with thought-pieces about media. Now I rarely write about personal details in my life. That is also linked to the flimsy pseudonym.

BN: Yes, there is an air of mystery, now, to GayProf’s life. But since my lurid fantasies are probably more salacious than the reality, that’s okay.

I like to think I’ve improved my writing, but I’m not really the one to judge. As I prepared for BN’s fifth anniversary, I had to go back and reread everything I’ve posted, and I think I’ve definitely become more discerning. I don’t feel like I have to post three times a day anymore. (I also don’t have the time now to do that, of course.) Not everything I read that is even vaguely interesting has to have a post and a link, either. I also feel freer to do different things. My recent posts on Nothing and Infinity were something I don’t think I would have done four years ago.

GP: The simple act of having to produce content keeps the mind turning. I notice it is hard for me to sit down and write a post if I have been away. Once I post once, though, it does gear me to think about other ideas for posting.

Tune in tomorrow for the next exciting installment of Inside the Blogging Studio on the GayProf Blogging Network!


susurro said...

glad to meet you bourgeois nerd.

this is such a fascinating conversation about the meaning of blogging over time; for me, I think part of the shift has to do with blogs moving from alternative media to mainstream, now that it's the go to place (& the place newspapers are trying to resurrect their dwindling readership) it's become a launchpad for book deals, pundit jobs, etc. and the personal has become the commercial.

I do like this line "The act of remembering itself was a political gesture." will be referring to that when I teach my course on narrative methods this fall. :)

GayProf said...

Susurro: I think the "mainstreaming," as you call it, has shaped the blogosphere. Before many people blogged because they were bored, or frustrated by the mainstream, or just had something to say. Now so many people seem to want to be famous and rich from their blogs.

Frank said...

A pleasure likewise, Susurro! I think you're definitely on to something about how blogging has evolved. It's definitely become increasingly professionalize and commercialized. It's about SEOs (so talking about Miley Cyrus and Robert Pattinson), not emo LiveJournals.