my love for the free forms of expression the interweb provides is profound. especially the manyfold nature of social media provides continuous moments of felicity and awe. the myriad of ways people digest and continue each other's contributions online feels admirable and often truly novel.
sometimes i also wonder how rigidly it is all approached: every time a blogger receives a comment that they should do something differently (improve pictures, write better, create requested content, etc.) in order to please his/her readers i am baffled by the boxes so apparent in the expressed desires. although blogs have existed for a very short time, there seems to be a inflexible set of rules which a proper blog should follow and standards which it should fulfill.
already blogging as a form of original self-expression – doing yer own thang exactly the way you wish – seems undermined.
as might be clear by now to my readers, i like to write and my photos are (intentionally) crappy.
although this sort of meta-discussion may bore those of you who do not actively create content for the web, it is a reoccurring theme in my mind's wanderings, and i am not alone. just recently, sugar kane expressed her anxiety about socializing in her blog.
for many a blogger, readers' comments are a crucial part of the blogging experience – given the attitude behind blogging is social rather than one-sided communication. undoubtedly the expectations of bloggers vary and some are happy without conversation, some even find it unpleasant especially if the tone is critical.
i take the 'social' aspect of blogging quite seriously, and find very little worthwhile about shouting out into the void. i find social media is akin to a large dinner gathering where people who know each other sit down together with others they know only superficially and some that base their knowledge on the other people present on mere hearsay. but it is a gathering.
the dynamics are tentative and careful listening is crucial. naturally, the form of interaction varies, but there is pressure in taking part. pitching in is important, but as in any social group there are bound to be individuals who never say anything. moreover, there will always be attendees at the party who cannot read the nuances of others, there will be a joker who intends to tell the same stories repeatedly no matter whether they fit into the conversation, there will be the one who drinks a few glasses too many, there will be the one who listens on the intent of gossiping everything at first chance, there will be the silent observer who shuts everyone up with a snarky remark on something touchy, etc.
blogging posits you as the one sitting at the end of the table, telling everyone a story about something you find interesting. receiving a wassail is always encouraging, but rather empty as a result. an echoing silence feels like you just made a complete fool of yourself. well, you get the idea...
the fact that blogs are still read – and often written – as collections of articles composed by wanna-be amateur journalists or photographers feels strange for someone like myself and, i presume, sugar kane, who consider blogging first and foremost as a form of interaction with actual people.
although i may repeat myself to exhaustion with this one, i want to encourage you, my readers. i adore every comment i find in the box, but often wonder the lack of questioning and critical points. it sometimes makes me think whether i could be considered the bully at the end of the table: the person who tells people at the dinner party about her thoughts and who only accepts praise for her self-assumed genius. the person i certainly do not think i am nor want to be.
examples from the blogosphere do, nevertheless, insinuate that the desire for genuine interaction and embracing the many folds of social media may not be as common for bloggers as i have assumed. it may be that people who love giving monologues are often behind blogs, but there might be something else at play here, as well.
direct comments are not the only form of commentary, but cross-linking and, as i am doing here, continuing a topic or combining a few topics at another site are common forms of internet socializing. seeking popularity is a driving force behind many bloggers, but there is also unfortunate evidence that achieving it may distort their idea about what enabled their success.
i thought i was alone in slowly disregarding the sartorialist as a prominent street style recorder; during the past year his photos have started to speak less to me and the people he shoots have become predominantly established fashion faces, not original dressers from the streets, that is, the "real people" he used to shoot. as someone commented: many of his street styles nowadays only appear on the street between the car and the entrance paved with a red carpet. in other words, it seems he stopped strolling the streets looking and expects his subjects to come to him when he posits his camera at a locale he deems worthy of fashion.
as a side note, it may also be that i find the phenomenon of recording fashion celebrities in blogs quite repulsive and boring beyond belief. as fascinating as anna dello russo is as a fashion connoisseur, seeing her picture in every imaginable style blog is nauseating mostly because it feels so unoriginal.
but back to mr sarto, scott schuman. i had inconspicuously stopped visiting his blog before reading about the sartogate. imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and, naturally, as the most recognized and applauded street style blog the sartorialist has inspired many imitation sites. unfortunately to mr. schuman's sentiments, some are ironic, such as the catorialist and some take the art beyond schuman's own vision, like the fake sartorialist.
i assume you were hardly aware of these sites before – as was i. the catorialist proves to be great parody. additionally, i find the collages at the fake sartorialist exponentially more interesting than the current photostream of the original. but mr schuman did not agree and asked the fake sartorialist to stop altering his original images, because he felt responsibility for his subjects and their presentation.
i catch his idea about respect, but i also sense an echo of arrogance over what kind of online production and commentary is respectable. publishing original photos is only one way of expressing oneself online out of a myriad of methods. some create content from combining input from others, and as long as credentials are clear and the tone isn't blasphemous (no need to diss for example perez whose idea of good taste is quite far from mine), who's to limit their expression? isn't social media about social commentary anymore?
because what, if not social media commentary, is creating a blog that utilizes a part of a recognizable source and transforms it to something original? i hope schuman remembers what enabled him to become a somewhat respectable photojournalist: turning fashion photography into blog form.
moreover, i hope more of social media thrived on interaction of all kind where success did not imply that certain content remain sacrosanct or that only certain forms become approved of. not every blog will be your favorite, but it does not mean there's something wrong with the blog. moreover, not every comment or the form it comes in may be pleasant, but that's kind of part of taking an active role in any conversation.
now, speak your mind.