Anon once said, “there are no silly questions: only silly answers”, an observation every blog writer must ponder on. Almost six years after creating what was then just a blog site I am looking back now at what I have done on BestQuest. These essays (“attempts”) I’ve selected below try to invite examination of their topic. There’s probably no answers to such questions, but why not ask them?
Why does music drive us apart not bring us together?
Ill wind blows good
Why do we talk about the weather?
The butterfly’s dream
Why do we need to have religious faith?
Could happiness be something we forget about?
Coming to our senses
Why do we have 18 senses and how do we use them?
What purpose do stories serve? my retelling of ones I can’t forget.
Is thinking for yourself more important than creating something new?
Feet of clay
Could we be over rating civilisation?
Weird wired world
Is emerging technology a help or a hindrance?
Congregation of one
Could wisdom be a dangerous thing if we are satisfied with it?
The eve of destruction
Are we worrying too much about our problems as a species or not enough?
In search of heaven
Heaven, grace, enlightenment: are the they interchangeable?
A gathering of coincidence
Are similarities in people’s lives a significant cause of their achievements?
Over the years I’ve written almost 300 essays for the site. Some of them ask questions, like the ones above. Others give my reactions to books, music or films that have been important to me. I’ve covered people and events that interested me. I have used the site to develop two subjects: mythology, which has confirmed my lack of interest in so-called ‘organised’ religion, and my awareness of personal faith; and the writing of stories from my family history. Nothing I’ve written has been particularly great. But all these explorations have been a valuable learning experience for me.
But why write at all? When I began a friend told me not to expect to be read. There were too many writing for there to be many to read he said. That preoccupation with self expression is at the heart of blogging, and I think it probably inhibits the sharing of ideas within a community which I was originally expecting to find. The Google search engine, which puts often requested items at the head of its search results and minimises unfamiliar subjects, means that gossip about TV actors and new technology will always take precedence over exploration of new ideas in search results. And blog hosts have a vested interest in writers over readers. For instance, WordPress, my site host, gains income from the number of blog sites it hosts, not from the traffic on each site. It provides statistics which imply each site has a readership. But if that readership existed as reported, the number of blog sites would decrease, and with it WordPress’ income.
It turns out blogging is a form of vanity publishing. Ideas can be clarified, arguments developed, writing skills refined. At the end of the day, if just one person reads something you have written, and is affected by it, then your efforts have not been in vain (I’ve been a teacher and I know how valuable that interaction is). Other than that, I, and I suspect others, write for the sheer love of writing. Funny to think though that the more we write (and the more we talk on the phone) the less we have to say. The medium becomes the message; not just transforms it but reduces it.
Blogging of course was originally a log or diary which helped groups communicate, not a general platform. In this sense it’s been replaced by Facebook, LINE, Pinterest and Instagram, which includes the mobile market (to name a few). These platforms help create a group and don’t rely on servicing already existing, usually work related, groups. But just as organisations like bulletin boards and usenet survive by adaptation, so blogging has changed over the years. A significant part of it is now vanity publishing, though many bloggers still simply keep an online diary.
Probably because I’m a journalist I think you have to try to engage with readers. Not just confess: I’m too shy to do that. But I have come out with half baked ideas in hope of some contribution from others.
At least we’re not trying to sell something that nobody else wants. Ideas are still free. Or rather the free ones are still better than the ones you pay for.
©2014 Original material copyright Phillip Kay. Images and other material courtesy Creative Commons. Please inform post author of any violation.