Blogging has always seemed to me to be a perverse, audacious and narcissistic act. You write something that is explicitly for broadcast, that has not been edited by anyone but you, that no one has demanded from you, and that quite possibly no one else will read. Ever.
Tonight at the Casbah in downtown Durham I was reminded why none of that matters. In an intimate gathering that was a strange but appropriate mashup of a cocktail party, 12-step meeting and Moth Story SLAM, blogger after blogger stood up and explained how and why she did what she did. Someone read a moving post about how a school-board sponsored program helped her family cope with a difficult child in crisis. Someone else used her blog to work through the loss of a job and deaths in the family. A marine biologist described how his blog allowed him to construct a world that would fulfill his expectations in ways that his professional life never could.
In the middle of it all were Bora Zivkovic and Anton Zuiker, twin sons of different mothers, who have been doing this online thing for what seems like forever (in internet time it basically is forever). Anton, who at one time contemplated being a priest, was honored with a lovely song by our own David Kroll, entitled “Minister of the Ether.”
And Bora spoke movingly about his parents, both of whom would have been avid online media users had they come of age a little later. They were open and generous, like Bora. When I saw him earlier in the day I asked him about his new gig at Scientific American and he seemed genuinely abashed. “I can’t quite believe how seriously they take me,” Bora said. He was grateful: for the ability to support his family, for dependable health care, and for the opportunity to continue to do what he loves, which as you surely know if you’ve spent any time on the science interwebs, is blog and tweet and facebook and friendfeed and God knows what else.
So yeah, maybe bloggers can be audacious, perverse and narcissistic. But they can also be something else: part of a living, breathing, giving, human community.