Saturday, August 8, 2009

Writing A Blog Is... Weird!

I started writing this blog about two months ago and immediately found it to be strangely addictive. Blog writing is a socially acceptable form of graffiti. If I use a black marker and scribble “St. Francis was a Sissy” on the side of a building, this is not only wrong, but illegal. Yet, if I write absurd gibberish on a blog, somehow this is not only socially acceptable, but is considered creative.

There are blogs out there that will help you worship a mailbox, tell you how to turn vegetables into nuclear power plants, and reveal the “real” truth about any number of government conspiracies. It would be absolutely impossible to calculate how many blogs have pictures of cute pets. If you look long enough, you will find a site that juggles pets, tortures them with forks, or hollows them out to make purses.

“But, if I write a blog,,” you say, “I can write one that is much more intelligent. My blog won’t be a train wreck into mediocrity like all the others. My blog will be one of the good blogs.”

Trying to improve cyberspace by writing one more good blog is probably the equivalent of trying to close down a whore house by sending it one more virgin. Good luck.

I’m not sure why I started writing this blog, but I quickly found it satisfying. As a history professor, I spend a good part of most working days trying to find a way to explain the complex in simple terms. Unfortunately, this sort of limits what I can say. The university, inexplicably, wants me to stick to the truth. This could be a mistake, these days “truth” is a valuable asset, and perhaps we should not waste it recklessly. The athletic department sure as hell doesn’t, or they wouldn’t keep using the phrase “student athlete.”

Writing a blog is different. For me, at least, it is very liberating to suddenly be able to say anything, about anything, and feel no restraints. And trust me; everything I say here is the truth. Really.

Anyone can write a blog. Google will let you have one for free; you give it a name, then start dumping your pearls of wisdom on it. Stop reading this and 15 minutes from now, you can be a blogger. And about half an hour after that, you will face your first dilemma. How do you get someone to read it? You pester your friends until they give in. If they read it, they tell their friends, and before you know it… you get hate mail.

Damn! I’m starting to get more hate mail than spam. I wrote about rabbit hunting and some lady thinks my son should be taken from me. (Hey, Lady! That was 24 years ago. He’s married. If you want to take him, ask his wife.) I got furious hate mail from people who thought I had made fun of the Special Olympics. Wrong! I made fun of the regular Olympics! Evidently, people get furious if you even mention the Special Olympics.

About the time you get regular readers, it suddenly occurs to you that if you allow Google to put ads on your site, they will pay you. Amazing. See those ads to the right of this column; those are wonderful companies who sell outstanding products that you desperately need! Click on the ads! Click on the ads!

Those ads crack me up. Google is trying desperately to figure out what to advertise. I wrote about my first disastrous attempt in a sailboat and suddenly there were ads for yachts and replacement sails. I wrote about teaching and you saw nothing but ads for mail order degrees. I mentioned the Trojan Horse, and for a week there were condom ads. I swear, I’m going to write about Wonder Bras just to see what shows up.

One last thing about ads. Since the more people who read your blog, the more money you make, you naturally want people to read your site on a regular basis. Strangely, the same people who write you hate mail are the people who read your blog every day. I guess to see if there is something new to hate. It doesn’t take you long to figure out that if you insult people, you make money. Special Olympics. Special Olympics.

A friend of mine has argued with me all week trying to keep me from writing the ultimate insult blog. He didn’t mind that I had planned to attack Mom, apple pie, and the American flag, but he was horrified when I told him my plan to confess to beating Dale Earnhardt to death with the family bible. He believed this would be suicide by redneck. Four guys from Arkansas would take turns driving to New Mexico in a pickup…

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