Sunday, August 28, 2005

Who's reading your blog?

Incident 1
I was cleaning my room when I heard a soft voice croon on the radio, "I'm a professional blogger." It instantly caught my attention.

I couldn't help but wonder -- What the hell is a 'professional blogger'????
Someone who gets paid to put her thoughts online for others to read?
Or someone who gets paid to put "her" thoughts online for others to read?

Incident 2
A few days ago, someone I've known for about a year emailed me her blog url with the words, "Since I've been reading your blog, it's only fair that you should know mine." I was impressed. To give someone your blog url is a huge step. The moment you do it, you have sealed your fate as far as your relationship with that person is concerned. People may not realise it, but being a blog reader entails a lot of responsibilty. And I was glad she believed me to be capable of that.

These two incidents set me thinking again about the age old questions -- why do we blog? Who's reading our blog? And where do we stop? Here are my thoughts.

1. Why do we blog?

A blog (short for 'weblog') is an online journal.
A journal is private.
A weblog is public.
It doesn't seem to make sense.
But it does.

My blog has my thoughts. It is not a magazine. It is not a newspaper. It is my blog. And my blog is public because I chose it to be so. It is my decision because it is my blog. And because it is my blog, no one, I repeat, no one has the right to dictate what I blog about.

I blog to figure things out.
I blog to figure myself out.
I blog to figure life out.

2. Who's reading our blog?

When we set up our own little blog, we're all excited. We blog away to glory. On every single topic under the sun. Then we visit other blogs. We see comments, discussions. We yearn for them. We give our blog url to a friend or two. If they like it, they pass on the url, or blogroll us. In the beginning, it's all fun as everyone jumps in and talks about stuff that everyone has thoughts on. After a while, as your thoughts mature, you begin to realise that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to give person X your blog url. Person X has meanwhile, passed on the blog url to many more people. Many of which you wish you could kick off you blog.

Do you ever really know who is reading your blog? Your husband, your in-laws, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your boyfriend's mother, your ex, your middle-aged uncle in Gomtinagar, your sarcastic boss, that sniggering colleague you can't stand, the guy you fired last week, that junior you ragged in college five years ago, the guy whose heart you broke last month, your room-mate, your pizza delivery guy, your building watchman? And the list goes on. Last month, a guy who frequents my living room almost every weekend disclosed to me that he was a certain commentator Z on my blog!

So yes, it's safe to assume that everyone -- everyone you know, and everyone you don't know --- is reading your blog. But the best part is -- it's possible to reach that stage where it doesn't matter. The whole world can be reading it for all you care, but you don't hold yourself back.

3. Where do we stop?

Now since we're working on the assumption that everyone is reading our blog, where do we stop? Where do we check ourselves and say, "Stop, don't post that! Someone may be reading it!"

Do we have to stop in the first place?

A friend once asked me, "How do you do it? How are you so open on your blog?" It set me thinking. My blog is me. And I want to be open. Without having to mentally scan through the number of people who are about to read that eyebrow-raising-scandalous-horrifying post that I'm writing.

My take is -- if someone has a problem with you being open, well, it is indeed their problem. If we have to sense and monitor our thoughts before we post them, then that's the end of thoughtless thoughts, isn't it? If you're opening up your thoughts online, the least a reader can do is respect it, and not judge you. If your boyfriend wants to break up with you over a blog post, it is his loss, not yours. 'Cos that's you and he obviously can't handle that 'you'.

(Having said that, here's why I do not pass on my blog to my family. They don't know the blog rules. They will not hesitate before asking, "Why did you write that?" or "So what exactly happened after that?" or "Who was yesterday's blog about?" And when family asks such questions, it's hard not to answer.)

A friend once said, "The ideal blogging scenario is when everyone of the writers and readers are anonymous." No complications. But it's not possible to achieve that. The real world is not like that. So let's just blog away, bloggers. Without a care as to whether something you wrote is ringing a bell in someone's head, or raising a few eyebrows.

I write from my heart. Because that's the way I want to write. When I started blogging, I was writing things like, "Ok this happened." and "That happened." And then one fine day, I started blogging differently. Incidents became a platform for deeper thoughts. Honesty came to the forefront.

And the day I started writing with honesty, I felt a change within myself. I found myself getting closer to myself. I liked the new me. I may have angered a few people in the whole "I'm-just-being-honest" process, but I discovered something amazing -- the more honest I was, the more honesty I discovered in other bloggers and blog readers. And that kind of brought us all together, even though we don't know one another. To love, respect and admire things about each other. To identify with each other without judging each other.
To me, that's what blogging should be all about.

The winds are changing direction. Our thoughts on our blogs in the virtual world are slowly gelling with the words we say and the actions we carry out in the real world. The real us and the virtual us are overlapping to the point when there's no difference any more. Our blogs are slowly turning into the real us. No layers. And that's when life becomes exceedingly simple.

Bloggers, blog honesty is contagious.

Beware, you may already have caught it.

But if you dare to trust me, I will tell you that it rocks.


spamtaneous said...

my only reation after reading ur blog.... "SO??"

lagta hai iam the firast one to comment :)

spamtaneous said...

dont mind sayesha...somehow i felt bad after posting the above comment :- .... so this post is to cheer u up :)

virdi said...

i m happy if someone reads my blog... and puts a comments... thats all.. :-)

. : A : . said...

Point 2 can be a nightmare come true for some. It takes one person to spread the fire.

Then you forget about it, shut it off, and keep blogging.

Write and hit the publish button and forget about it. My blogging philosophy!


abhinav said...

A blog's beauty lies in this things sayesha.Its like u put your fingers to the keyboard , the thoughts gurgling in the head somehow arrange themselves , stream through , appear as words on the screen and you read the whole thingn say "yeah , thats what i think.that is me".a blog lets one know oneself.and teaches one to be oneself.neways , im leavin fr home now , so no cyberactivity fr the next week or so.till then , take care.

croondoodle said...

if the ones smitten by your blog include the building watchman or the uncle who runs the teh tarik shop down the lane,
its amazing cos you are feeding them sensible thoughts...=)...making them think, question and feel good about life.
In short you are being instrumental in changing society in a small way to start with. How about a multilingual blog? ;)...
just a thought.

Trust me, you rock! =)

tulipspeaks said...

"Write for yourself"

my principle..not only in the blogworld..but i often told myself in my daily life as well :P

have a great sunday :)


bananapen said...

hey, i caught the 'preview' for this post :)

patiala pataka said...

I only blog about 10% of the things in my head that I feel when I'm at the computer. It just a little peek into my mind and just like Virdi says I am happy too that someone visits and comments on my blog. thats all...don't get too paranoid Sayesha, or blogging will be a chore.

Manish said...

Hey I am alsao reading ur blog regularly!
Don't want to kick me out na :) :)

hmmmm couldn't agree more about what u told about honestrly airing ur feelings! Its real pleasure do so & still greater pleasure to find that someone also thinks on the same line!

Sayesha said...

Make up your mind man! Like me or hate me. Don't confuse me :)

Virdi bhai,
Don't worry, we'll all keep commenting on your blog :)

Couldn't agree more!

Thanks, Amutha! :)

Yep, the conversation with you inspired this post! :)

Pat Pat,
Don't worry, if my blog were a chore, I wouldn't be blogging so regularly, considering the number of chores I have in my list right now. The day it becomes a chore, I will stop blogging.

Naah, I like the strangers on my blog. Never wanna kick them out. ;)

Humour and last laugh said...

nice blog.

justme said...

found the link to your blog from GetAhead... Just read your post on Why You blog..!! you said it rite wen u said u cant always be anonymous on the web..:)

Love is Dead said...

Just found your blog by hitting next blog about 50 times. But it paid off when I found this post. Very interesting how I have similar thoughts running through my head about blogging. Like if anyone is reading what kind of perception do they get from reading my various post? Do they psychoanalyze paterns in what I write sometimes weeks apart? I think it would be interesting to get comments but also don't want someone to critize me when they don't even really know me. Hence the limited profile. Then I see your profile and wonder, where is she posting from? Anyway not to babble on forever, but I will be saving this page and reading more.

Chris Cardinal said...

Speaking as a former "professional blogger," I think that the entire medium is much too difficult to simply try to slap a label on. We're trying to accomodate for this influx of "people who've never been able to be heard suddenly making themselves heard" with phrases like the "blogosphere" and all of that jazz, but really, when a medium explodes like this, there's no sense in trying to define it.

Your definition would go dead in minutes flat, as everything we do is constantly redefined. Crazy calculus, really.

As far as using the title "professional blogger," I used to write for Gizmodo's a gadgets blog that gets between 150,000-250,000 readers a day. In that respect, it's much more like a news site than a blog. But look at how the content's structured, and you'll see it's comprised mostly of short clips about other things. It paid well, and got me into the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) with a media badge, so who am I to argue?

Plus, Nick Denton ( / owner of Gawker media) makes about $80,000 in revenue per month on Gizmodo alone.

Amazing how that works, really. Professional? Sure. I know at least six people making a living from that blog alone.

raven said...

check these :)

~everyone has doubts.. n solutions

Sayesha said...

Hey, how come I missed Abhi's and Croondoodle's comments??

You have a good trip, my friend! Try to blog if you can! Will miss you here.

Whoa, that's a big honour! Now I'm a bit embarrassed :P

Humour and last laugh,
Thanks! :)

Welcome :)
Yeah, it's too much of a pain to consciously try and stay anonymous... I've reached the "don't care anymore" point :)

Welcome to Sayeshaz! You mean pple do the 'hit next blog' thing? Wow :)
Yeah, the biggest fear I used to have initially is that someone somewhere is reading my blog and judging me. But I realised that those who judge you will judge you anyway, so no point losing sleep over it. Pulp it, I say! ;)

When I first heard the term "professional blogger", I was wondering what it meant. What you're talking about is a news or review website. This professional blogger on the radio has a normal blog about happenings in her life and her thoughts, and yet she is a professional blogger. That made me wonder about how people define the word 'blog'.

Went missing eh, you? :)
I say forget what people are gonna think, man. You wanna put it on the blog, do it. You wanna hide it in your heart, hide it. No one has the right over the expression of your thoughts.

Handa said...

i think the basic problem in he blogworld is the fact that everybody is somebody which leads us to a situation where nobody is anybody.

croondoodle said...

sayesha, when things around look a l'il bleak, there's one place where you feel good...n that's your blog. so many fans with so many thots going thru the rigmarole of life! Ain't you blessed? =)...and aren't we blessed? =)...God bless! ;)

Arnav said...

Yeah, one never knows who ends up reading your blog! Maybe even a junior from school who always compares what you write with the little he remembers of you from a period 8 years back! :)

"Our blogs are slowly turning into the real us" - I should have copyrighted this statement when I said something similar a few days back.

Arnav said...

And what a coincidence, even I have an uncle living in Gomtinagar!

spamtaneous said...

i was just wondering...what u will write in ur next post... :D

Sayesha said...

Wise words, my friend, wise words.

Like I said before, I blog for myself but yes, I'm blessed that I have people who are willing to read and with whom I can discuss the oddities of life :)

I KNEW I should have ragged you in school!!!
Chal bata, what do you remember of me from 8 years ago??
ps: Hey, but if it's scandalous stuff, email me outside of this blog ;)
pps: People here already know of the time when Dutta Sir saw our whole class standing outside the classroom (thanks to Mukherjee Sir) and sarcastically said to me, "Aap is school ki head girl hain na?" So if you wanted to write that, hah! :D
ppps: I have no uncle in Gomtinagar! That was purely hypothetical, man! And you mean there actually IS a place called Gomtinagar??

How would you know that, my dear? Even I don't know that :)

Ram.C said...

hi Sayesha

Did you chk this rediff article? Good show...

Sayesha said...

Hi Ram.C
Yes, I did. Rediff emailed me to tell me. Thanks! :)
ps: Ah, another early riser! :)

viv said...

write on...! :)

Mike Panic said...

There was a great article on a while ago on how to blog. One of the things it said was to never hold anything back, speak freely about everyone and everything and give no one your URL. If they want, they can find on their own.

I've taken this to heart when I blog, but I generally only bitch and complain. I'm sure some people I work with know I have a blog as the term blogger has come up a few times, my girlfriend knows I have one but doesn't know the URL to it nor do any of my other close friends.

I'm extremely honest about everything, and overly vague about other details, as I'm a very private person by nature.

What it has helped me to do is recall certain feelings / emotions / thoughts that I've had in the past at a later date, simply by reading them.

Without a doubt my blog will get a google page rank and people will start to see it, from commenting on other blogs like this one, and because it is actually parked on my host w/ my domain name in it, it will start to show up in search engines sooner or later. O well... nuff w/ the random ramblings - nice write up

Sahil said...

I also have noticed the change from your earlier blogging days, when you only blogged about what you did in the day. Now you blog about what you feel, and your thoughts. Its a much more intimate experience, readers have an insight into the mind, heart and soul of Sayesha. And that's what people love about your blog. It's just totally you, you have no qualms about expressing your thoughts - joh bhi ho saamne dikhte ho.

And if a blog should be written, it should be written this way. Not for others (thats just the bonus), but for yourself, so you can express what it is you feel inside. It really does help to figure things out.

Blog honesty. I like it.

Anonymous said...

New generation of impersonal personals
I check mine at least twice a day. Why? To see the number of times it's been accessed, to see what other people post and for no reason whatsoever.
Nice to see some decent content for a change. FYI, I log on today and see that we've got a new feature, the 'Flag blog' button, which is inconveniently located between the 'Get Your Own Blog' and 'Next Blog' buttons so that we would presumably be getting some flags on error alone (although if one happens to notice it, you can unflag a blog) But that's a trivial matter. What concerns me is this: When a person visiting a blog clicks the "Flag?" button in the Blogger Navbar, it means they believe the content of the blog may be potentially offensive or illegal. We track the number of times a blog has been flagged as objectionable and use this information to determine what action is needed. This feature allows the blogging community as a whole to identify content they deem objectionable. Ok, see the problem with this? What's "objectionable." I'm guessing there are a good deal of people that would likely deem my blog to be objectionable; and there lies the problem: what is objectionable and what is subjective. Just my 2 cents, Custom Embroidered Patches

Marcia said...

Hi guys
You have a big whole community around here! Sayesha seems to be popular (doesn't matter comments are good or bad, if they are there, you are popular!). Off course I have a blog of myself but initially I didn't know there are soooo many people blogging their lives away. I felt special and proud to have created a blog of my own. Then I started to see the incredible number of blogs that occupy the net. And then finally I started to see how much talent we had out there, which amazes you and worries you at the same time. Worries because you realize you have a long way to go before you manage to look the way you want to look like on your blog...before you make your blog matching with either you actual personality or the one you aspire for.
In short, Sayesha, honestly you are far better than me, but you have a long way to go too. You are doing a great job for sure, so keep going!

Arz000n said...

When I started bloggin, I instantly downloaded this popular book titled, Why do bloggers blog

This post reminded me of that book :)

Sayesha said...

All write-y captain! :P

Mike Panic,
//What it has helped me to do is recall certain feelings / emotions / thoughts that I've had in the past at a later date, simply by reading them

Yeah, I agree! Another use of the blog!

Thanks, Sahil!
There's thoughts aplenty up here.

I will blog on.
I hope you stay on.

Just when I thought you're a real blog reader... why are you selling me custom embroidered patches??

Thanks. However, I feel that blogging is not a contest on who's the best writer or who gets the most comments. A blog is about connecting. Connecting with yourself and connecting with others. The important thing to remember is that you make your blog and your blog makes you. And there is no other 'you' in the world.

Send me a copy of the book along with the shoes! :P

Anonymous said...

Hi Sayesha,
Hey just read ur blog as it's featured in Rediff!! Yep some gr8 true postings.. though 1 day is too short to read completly.. could get some picture abt ur personality..
Hey Not much posting abt Malaysia.. I stayed there for more than 1 yr.. though now I'm in singapore..
Well thanx for leaving it to me..
I'll start blogging abt them soon..
Is it too tough to start blogging?????????????
Raj-- The Lost King..

Sayesha said...

Hi Raj aka lost king,
Thanks for dropping by! :)

//Is it too tough to start blogging?????????????

To me, blogging is joyous and relaxing. And a process of self-discovery.
Don't pressure yourself. Remember, it is not a chore.
On some days, you won't feel like blogging. Don't. :)

Jagan said...

since you brought my notice that people I know might read the blog , I am definitely gonna write a post about my boss.I just pray he looks at it ;-) .

Sayesha said...

Hi Jagan,
I just pray you don't get fired tomorrow. :)

ashy said...

>>your middle-aged uncle in Gomtinagar,

looks like you or your middle-aged uncle are from Lucknow :) (guess-work, might be wrong)

Sayesha said...

Gomtinagar is in Lucknow?? Didn't know. Like I said, it's supposed to be a hypothetical thing, I didn't even think Gomtinagar existed.

And don't try and guess my origins man... I am too much of a 'shuddh hindustani' to belong to any state as such! :)

ashy said...

since Gomti (river) couldn't be anywhere else but Lucknow so GomtiNagar is in Lucknow.

>>And don't try and guess my origins man..

no such intentions....

>> I am too much of a 'shuddh hindustani'

Yaar Shuddh Hindustani !!
India ki rivers ke barey me kabhi histroy/geography me nahi pada tha kya??

Reminds me of the scene from Swadesh where the lady asks SRK about the rivers in India :)

virdi said...

i believe people we should all write comments and not blogs in reply to sayesha's blog...
hehehehe... anyways it is free.... we can spam her...
PS: no i am not anonymous... sorry i said thw word spam..

Sayesha said...

I studied in India till my A levels, and they never taught us anything about Gomti or Gomtinagar, man!
ps: Arre histoy geography se koi hindustani hota hai kya? Hum toh hindustan ko apne dil mein lekar ghoomte hain! :)

Virdi ke bache,
You dare spam me! I will hunt you down and kick your ass! :D

Ravi said...

sorry for commenting so late..

this is what i thought about my blog when i started blogging...

"It will contain stuff that is important to me; stuff that my mind will be occupied with at the point of writing the blog. I don’t know how else to describe about my blog. Perhaps this blog gives me an opportunity to be totally frank & express all my inner thoughts that I otherwise wouldn’t be comfortable expressing."

and i share your view about giving the blog address to family. my family & close friends do not know about my blog.

Sayesha said...

Hey Ravi,
I know exactly what you mean. I don't want to reach a point where I actually regret giving my blog URL to someone.

So my stand is -- give your URL to no one. Let people find it on their own if they want.

work opportunities said...

You gave me an interesting idea. Thx.

Steve @
work opportunities

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