No need to curb your views in the web of online opinion
Ramburglar. Thewayiseeyoulove. Theonewhosaidheshallnotblog. These aren't horrible misprints but names. Blog names to be precise.
Since the advent of blogging in the late 1990s this form of internet networking has grown across boundaries and given everyday people a space to post their thoughts on nothing in particular.
Ramburglar's black-and-yellow-themed blog gives it a comic book touch. A black background with colourful pictures and personal accounts fill up theonewhosaidheshallnotblog's page. And at thewayiseeyoulove there are quotes on love, pictures on fashion and songs that describe the blogger. A teenage dreamer for sure.
If Facebook brings people who know each other closer, then Tumblr and Blogspot bring complete strangers into the same orbit. An egalitarian orbit at that.
"Tumblr is a very socially acceptable place," one blogger tells me. "Colour, creed ... doesn't matter here. It's nice to see how everyone can come together without any differences, even if it is just on a social networking website."
Blogging allows these individuals to be who they are without having to worry about being judged. Sure, these spaces can be tools for activism. In recent times they have served as real-time diaries for the unrest that has swept various parts of the Arab and European world.
But more often than not these are spaces for senseless musing with no real point but to just share.
"I can write about life and my point of view without anyone else's opinion being needed," another blogger tells me. "Whenever I blog people tend to be very encouraging and positive."
There are some bloggers who find acceptance only on blogs, and seek others of similar mind. Sociallyawkward4life is one such personality. She is shy and a high school misfit; blogging allows her to say it like she thinks it.
Blogging has become a way of life for some regular contributors. Thewayiseeyoulove posts several times a day, as do theonewhosaidheshallnotblog and many others. Says one: "It's allowed me to meet new people, and to expand my insights on topics that I didn't know much about."
Ramburglar's author says he learned what makes people similar. And there is also a sensitive ear on the ether. If no one around them understands what's going on in their lives it's easy to find someone on a blog who does.
"If there happen to be others who share (and) relate to my posts, it provides closure that I'm not the only one out there," offered another regular poster.
These people, like me, can hide behind a veil of anonymity, or if we choose to, pull back the curtain and offer more of ourselves. It's up to us. We come from different parts of the world and share bits of our lives with complete strangers.
Many may think blogging is the sole province of loners or teens with too much bandwidth and nothing else to do. I too once thought this way.
When I decided to try blogging not long ago it was pleasantly surprising to find how nice random strangers can be in the online universe. These forums are about accepting people for who they are and letting them be just that and more.
Respect in this online space is critical. If you don't like what they have to say then move on. There are more than enough blogs on various interests for everyone to follow.
As theonewhosaidheshallnotblog says, people should blog for themselves and not for popularity. This is a critically important point. At the end of the day blogs are a little patch of the web where judgments matter little. Laugh, cry vent or throw tantrums - it is the blogger who sets the agenda. As trivial as one blog may seem to you, to its author and its followers it rings with truth.
It is that space where they can be whoever they want; ramburglar, thewayiseeyoulove or theonewhosaidheshallnotblog.
Ruqayiah Al Usman studies mass communication and journalism at the American University of Sharjah
Published: August 23, 2011 04:00 AM