Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Coz we need cyber equality...

Ok, so according to this social media “guide” I must be the worst blogger in the world because: I cover too many topics; I’m inconsistent; I write for myself and not for my audience; most of the time I make it all about me; there are copious amounts of formatting, spelling and grammatical errors; I don’t give my blog posts the attention they deserve because I’m not promoting it 24/7 blah blah blah...

The article or social media "guide" may refer or apply to businesses in particular, but this is not the first time I’ve come across websites that detail specific ways that we SHOULD be blogging. I find it interesting that there are suddenly all these rules we have to follow to be considered average or good or "worthy" bloggers. And I’ve heard several comments from many people in the past noting how certain blog content isn’t viewed as “blog worthy”. I’m sure I've mentioned this before... somewhere... I can't remember where though, see I'm an absolute shite blogger.

Now before I continue, let me just clarify: I’m not bashing anyone here, these are just my observations and the subject of social media etiquette has made its way into several other blogs and discussions in the past few weeks. If anyone chooses to take it personally, well then those are your sleepless nights innit... and if the shoe fits...

The first reputable bloggers were all about getting personal. Blogs like The Misanthropic Bitch are noted for being amongst the first of their kind in Cyberspace, offering personal takes on just about everything from Mother Theresa to McDonalds.

Some bloggers have even turned their daily rambles into money making machines... just ask Heather B. Armstrong, whose rants about her personal life on her blog Dooce became a cash cow of sorts. Initially, she just bitched and moaned about her colleagues into the empty space called Cyber, then she got fired because of those rants and it unleashed a blessing in disguise. Ten years later and she still merrily yacks off about her husband and children, and reportedly generates over USD$40 000 a month in advertising revenue for the privilege.

And here's the clincher, she’s not a journalist.

I want to know WHO exactly decided that every blogger has to be some kind of journalist or social and political analyst in order to share their views and opinions?!? Because as it seems (and especially here in pompous pretentious SA) that is exactly what everyone expects from someone who blogs regularly. Who decides what is blog worthy and what isn’t?

And again, I have to point out that blogs began as a platform for people to share and discuss the events and activities in their daily lives. So essentially, they are online journals and diaries for the average person and the entire point really was to get personal. That was before businesses began adopting blogs in their respective arena’s to promote themselves and interact with their clientele.

I’ve seen similar trends on Twitter. People who use twitter socially are often slated or criticised by their more anally retentive counter-parts for their “content”. Ironic because it's a SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE. Granted though, some people just tweet a whole lot of shit the entire day and somewhere in the recesses of the general public's mind everyone wants to tell them to shut up. But again, one has to ask, who decides what is tweet-worthy and what isn’t? Not everyone wants to be a journalist or professional commentator. And that’s why we have the unfollow button innit.

Then there are those who take to Twitter, but aren’t happy or feel guilty about existing on two social networks at the same time, so they feel compelled to drag their once beloved Facebook through the mud. Newsflash: this is not your Ex. It’s perfectly OK to like them both, you won’t betray anyone in the process. I’ve read many comments on Twitter stating that it’s "so much better than Facebook" and that "Facebook is so much more egocentric than Twitter".

Hello. Wake up call. If you follow Kim Kardashian and JeannieD and the likes of them on Twitter, you’ll see that ALL they ever talk about is how wonderful they are and how fantastic their lives are and how everyone should want to be like them. It's the epitome of egocentricity and narcissism to a degree I haven't seen on any other social networking platform.

But let's leave the celebs alone. Vanity is part of their job description. However, not so for those (much) lesser known individuals who are all competing for this years’ title of Attention Whore of the Decade. FYI, continual self-promotion and self-flattery i.e. tweeting about how lovely you are and re-tweeting how lovely everyone else thinks you are screams of unresolved psychological and abandonment issues. We get it ok, and we sympathise with the fact that your parents never loved you and now you’re trying to win the approval of anyone who spares an ounce of attention in your direction. But you look like an asshole.

Twitter has given people a platform for middle management syndrome... y'know where people think they are more important than they really are. I've always said that South Africans in general are desperate for fame and approval; nasty by-product of post-apartheid racial and cultural low self esteem issues I’d assume; hence all the applause and pats on the back and "please look at me, look at me's"... these are just some of my personal gripes when it comes to social networking sites.

I do like Twitter on most days though... I get to stalk and chat to all my favourite people. How else am I going to chat to Nia Vardalos and where else am I going to hear that Ian Somerhalder is in JHB before most of the media gets wind of it?? But for the most part Twitter is nothing but a Glorified Chat Room for most people (some just don’t know it yet). Sure some people take it more seriously than others. However, personally I simply cannot – information overload see.

When I want the news, I’ll happily trollop over like a Billy Goat to one of the many news sites like BBC or Al-Jazeera. I really don’t need or want to know all the useless information churned on a per second basis. But that's not to say that there's something wrong if that's what someone else prefers to do with their time. To each his own.

I do love to chat though. Nothing like an old fashioned chat room – remember those? Back in 2000 I spent hours and days connecting and re-connecting to my time consuming dial-up modem so that I could chat to the whole world and their grannies. It’s nice to see that Twitter has revolutionised what I thought I’d lost forever.

For the record, I have nothing against journalists or analysts or commentators, like I said to each his own. But I do have a problem with, and resent those who criticize others for not complying with some non-existent unspoken rule that we should all graduate from some imaginary mandatory school of Journalism to warrant our places in Cyberspace. We all can't or don't want to produce literary masterpieces and we shouldn't be judged based on our preferences. As of February 2011, there are 156 million blogs in existence on the Internet. And we all can't be Journo's now can we.

As for me, I'm happy with my little corner in cyberspace. I thoroughly enjoy meeting and connecting with people from all over the world. If I had it my way, I'd be doing it personally especially because I LOVE long-haul flights. And I love flags... they're so pretty. But I don't have any aspirations to become a famous blogger spewing forth my 2 cents worth on everything for a dime or a dollar. Not that there's anything wrong with those kind of aspirations. But for me, it would be too much responsibility and not enough authenticity. I've always maintained that this blog is mine and I write for me. I write so that in 10 or 20 years time, I can laugh at the stupid ass I once was, or marvel at how I've grown or changed over the years. And frankly how or what you write is your business. 

I do believe that people should be entitled to blog about whatever they want to... however genius or moronic that may be. We don’t have to like it. And we certainly do not have to read it or be a part of it. But we should respect it and their place in Cyberspace.


  1. The following are my personal preferences:

    Blogger: so I can share bits of my life to cyberspace. It is very personal and sometimes down right absurd. But hey, that was the intention of a blog - web log - some thing like an online diary of sorts. Since other social media platforms became popular (Facebook and Twitter) there is this need to market yourself. That does not go down too well with me. If I have something to share, I share it, but no need to share something for the sake of sharing it just to gain a response.

    Facebook: Since most of my dear friends are not in South Africa, it's become my way to communicate and share things with them - like holiday photos and other random moments. This is something between my friends and I.

    Twitter: This is the perfect tool to share interesting media bits, blitz updates and so on. And this is a good way for celebs to share their personal lives with fans, market themselves and share media bits they find interesting. I know it is used for much more lately though.

  2. Can't beat what Prixie said

    As a journalist, I feel 'guilty' for not blogging seriously. I've been told I need to promote myself & all that, but I can't. I'm not an 'attention whore' as you termed it.

    Blogging is personal, & is whatever one wants it to be. I like reading blogs of a personal nature.
    Forget the formal social media 'guides', people should blog as they feel

  3. As bb_aisha said: as a journo I also feel guilty for not being more serious. but hey, it is a blog of choice, not what people think it should be. and it is not a just a product, it is my heart and soul and essence.

  4. Prixie & BB-Aisha - I think the difference between you two and others would be that you girls actually are journalists... I don't know if it makes your predicament better or worse to be honest - because being Journos I'm sure you have certain expectations from others in the field... as BB-Aisha stated. I too agree with you Prixie on what you said about how you utilise Blogger and Facebook etc.

    It's slightly different for people like me because I'm not a Journalist or a Writer. I'm just your average corporate drone and to be constantly "reprimanded" (I use the term very loosely) for not putting out cutting edge award winning literary masterpieces frankly pisses me off.

    Even as a Journalist, I don't see why you can't have your own personal private space where you can talk about your life as you feel... why does everything always have to be this ceremony?

    I find that too many people (generally speaking) are focused on the fame and celebrity that comes with certain successful social media personalities. It's like everyone wants to be famous. I supposed everyone always wanted to be famous in the past, it's just that now social media platforms have made it that much easier to have your name out there. Everyone wants to be Heather B Armstrong. It's exhausting.

    But the crux of the matter is, people should go ahead and blog what they want to however they want to, without discriminating against others who want to do the same in their own way... we shouldn't have people telling us that what we're putting out on our personal blogs are "not good enough". If they want to run a race, that's fine, just don't force the issue down everyone elses throat.

  5. I don't know if I'm coming across coherently here... I seem to know what I want to say in my head but I'm not sure if its coming out the way I intend it to... see pathetic blogger I am :)

  6. I actually think you put everything very eloquently, actually. And I concur fully.

  7. Hah! The only rule in blogging is don't do anything that gets your blog closed down. I've seen some genuinely crazy blogs that were popular and here is one of them.
    "Kiss my behind" is the best response to anyone who tells you what to blog about.

  8. I totally agree, we should all be able to use our little corners of the web for whatever we please...Isn't that the point of having our own space?

    Who are these people who are coming up with these rules, anyway?

  9. Prixie - Glad you understand me :D

    Mr. GB - Thanks for the link. I think its a cultural thing... Both BB-Aisha, Prixie and I have been first world ex-pats before... and I find this irksome trend common amongst people who haven't left SA in that sense. Young saffans feel like they need to prove something to the world and psychologically, they need to see other people doing the same thing so that they feel reassured and validated and on the right path. In a sense, they need to justify their aims and objectives to themselves.

    Diedre - Alot of this "info" comes from random sites that offer social networking advice and tools to make your blog successful. I think alot of the info actually pertains to businesses and enterprises, but some individuals have taken it up differently and suddenly everyone has this need to market themselves like cattle on the web. Thanks for visiting :)

  10. Well I've gone and Tweeted a link to this here piece. Don't know whether them tweet-o-sseurs would consider it tweet worthy tho :p
    agree with everything. But you knew that :)

  11. Saaleha - :) I don't think many people will be happy but I appreciate your efforts anyway :) But Winston Churchill said that if you have enemies, then it means you've stood your ground on what you believe in... or something like that. I think it was Churchill... ;P

  12. And I'm so happy for my little corner in cyberspace because I got to meet awesome you!! :)

    "...essentially, they are online journals and diaries for the average person and the entire point really was to get personal." EXACTLY. I used to blog back in 2005 until 2008, and when I returned just last year, I was AMAZED at how much the blogging world had changed. All of a sudden there were all these crazy standards and soooooo many more people - it was both refreshing and overwhelming at the same time.

    I enjoy FB since it helps me keep in touch with friends and family, and they can know what I'm up to without me having to email everyone individually like back in the day. Twitter I would say I only use for my blog though. I still haven't gotten the hang of it 100%. I'm so slow when it comes to modern technology!!!

  13. Michi - I definitely prefer Facebook over Twitter because it's more interactive, friendly and warm. I use Twitter for informative stuff and to stalk my favourite people :) I think Facebook is brilliant in allowing you to keep in touch with those people you'd like to keep in touch with but are no longer in your social stratosphere... we all move on in life but would still like to keep up to date with the wonderful people we've met or worked with etc every now and then.