Lovink argues that “No matter how much talk there is of community and mobs, the fact remains that blogs are primarily a tool to manage the self.” Discuss.
I have to admit that I don’t read many amateur blogs – I read my friends’ travel blogs, or one or two literary blogs that I get linked to on Twitter, but overall I get sick of the irrelevant, ignorant, and inane that makes up the content of a lot of blogs out there. Geert Lovink’s assertion that “blogs are primarily a tool to manage the self,” (28) is exhibited in most amateur and professional blogs. Blogs are a way of publishing our daily diaries and blog cultures have made millions think that not only are their daily doings important, but that other people not only care, but they need to know all the details. The “wider culture that fabricates celebrity on every possible level,” (Lovink, 28) is displayed in the blogs of Perez Hilton and Tavi Gevinson who blog about celebrities and fashion respectively. Both have garnered huge followings and become a kind of meta-celebrity. Gevinson is really known just as Tavi and within 18 months of starting her blog she had designed her own t-shirt with some American designers!
Mia Freedman’s professional blog MamaMia highlights both the culture of celebrity and the culture of the self in the blogging world. Freedman moved online after a career in magazine publishing and has created a brand which now includes a book and television show. Freedman writes about her experiences as a mother and her opinions on news and current affairs. Lovink disputes David Weinburger’s argument that “Blogs are not even primarily a form of individual expression. They are better understood as conversations,” but the element of conversation is vital to the success of Freedman’ s site. Interactivity is a major part of the site, with hundreds of comments and comments on comments sharing experiences, opinions and advice. The blog basically brings the Mother’s Group online (this is not meant to be a derogative statement I think the site is pretty cool). Some of the more dedicated followers have their own blogs and use the comments to advertise themselves in a way, they have also become guest bloggers. Freedman and her staff often link to other blogs that write on similar themes (usually not professional ones) .
The challenge for bloggers, according to Lovink, is “how to overcome meaninglessness without falling back into centralised meaning structures,” (30). Some bloggers are are quite happy to post 20 photos of their cats each day without pondering a greater meaning but professionals and semi-professionals do have to grapple with the question of how much of a difference they can make by blogging and how insightful they really are. The value of a blog is in the influence it has on its readership and on the greater industry or area of interest. The three blogs mentioned here are highly influential and have created celebrity images for themselves. Although they do manage the self in a big way they do create conversations within the blogs and comments but also influence the conversations and issues in the wider media world.
Geert Lovink (2008) ‘Blogging, The Nihilist Impulse’, in Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture (pp. 1-38), London: Routledge.