Blogs are like backyard yentas crossed with passive-aggressive ennui. They’re the perfect tool for letting off steam towards that obnoxious co-worker you’re too gutless to confront — or for clinging onto passionate interests that you’ll eventually let go of once you’re paying mortgage on a comfortable suburban home and have children.
If you blog, there are no guarantees that anyone will give two shits about what you write. But at least a few readers, who are as bored at their day jobs as you are, will stumble onto your blog. Because they are determined to find every URL that exists on the World Wide Web. While rational people, even courageous people, might use the weblog format, signing their posts with their real names, pursuing passions and righting wrongs with integrity, let’s face the facts: chances are that you’re not up for a challenge. You’ll waste much of your time uploading photos onto Flickr or writing passionate essays about how cute your pet cat is.
The point is that while a handful of people can exercise control in the TMI department, most bloggers (including Ayelet Waldman) can’t and won’t. These realities shouldn’t stop you from unleashing a mad torrent of inanities. If you can’t download porn on the clock, well at least you can complain about things that most level-headed people come to terms with.
We here at the Electronic Fanatic Foundation offer a few simple precautions to help you blog spinelessly. Because we firmly believe that even casually mentioning your appreciation for the new Beck album is an invasion of your personal privacy. If followed correctly, these protections (rather than precautions) can save you from the black helicopters or the despicable co-workers who are spying your every move and reporting your behavior to the Department of Homeland Security.
The best way to preserve a spineless presence on the Net is to blog anonymously. Of course, being anonymous isn’t as easy as you think.
Let’s say you want to blow off some steam about Alice, the human resources manager who puts two cups of cream in her coffee every Tuesday. Why Tuesday? Why can’t she do this every day? And why does she drink it black the other four days?
Weblogging is about you and not about Alice. Nevertheless, she is Alice and you are you. And you are an anonymous blogger with carte blanche. You are in the position of becoming a spineless observer. Develop delusions of grandeur. Consider that you might be today’s answer to Proust! Alice’s coffee fixation could very well be the madeleine tea that gets you noticed by the cognoscenti.
But be careful. There exists the remote possibility that Alice, even though she puts in long hours at her job and doesn’t have time to surf the Internet, could Google you sometime in the future.
You don’t want to take a chance. So be sure to replace Alice’s name with something benign like “The Tyrant.”
If that level of specificity, however ambiguous, intimidates you, write about how much you enjoyed the latest cultural phenomenon. For example, “Sin City was great! I loved it!” is a nonspecific post that not only prevents you from explaining anything further, but puts you in with the cool kids. It guarantees a clean slate and a comment from a reader that states, “Fuck yeah!”
That sort of banality is what the blogosphere is all about. Play it safe. You don’t want to ruffle any feathers, much less influence your friends and neighbors.