Thursday, 12 April 2012

The downward spiral

Blogger has introduced a new layout. This blog might look the same as it did before, but deep in the inner workings of the site, in the 'create new post', 'edit posts', 'consider having a fuckload of adverts' sections it's all been re-jigged and made prettier. And they've also got some new features. One feature in particularly, particularly is particularly terrifying. Particularly.

I'm caught in a trap, and I can't walk out, because I love it too much baby. The trap in question is the new 'Stats' section, where you can find out how many views you have, where they're from and what links led them to your page. It's 98% from Facebook and Twitter, so presumably my own shameless self-promotion, 1% people typing the address of this blog into Google, and 1% someone in Russia typing the address of this blog into this Russian search engine. Coincidentally, the return result isn't "oh yeah here's that blog you were looking for", it looks more like the result is "did you mean to type that into the address bar?"

I've becoming hopelessly addicted to seeing how many views I have, and keeping the Stats tab open ready to refresh it at any second I suspect someone may have visited the blog. Some study recently warned that the internet was fuelling socially destructive and aggressive narcissism, and the rush of pure unadulterated joy I get from hitting F5 seeing that I've had nine more hits is definitely just that. I might delude myself that the fact I sometimes write in paragraphs means I'm practically Jean-Paul Sartre, but on a deep emotional level I'm the same as a 13-year-old girl taking a picture of herself in the mirror and putting it on her Myspace.

(Further proof I'm not Jean-Paul Sartre is the fact that I just had to Google him to be sure I was in fact referring to a writer and I wasn't getting his name mixed up with somebody else. And if you're wondering why not go for a writer you know a little bit more about or have possibly read at least one of the works of, then that's beside the point. Jean-Paul Sartre seemed to fit the sentence well.)

As a child I never managed to stick with writing a diary for longer than about three days, the thought of being incredibly emotionally honest and pouring all my hopes and fears and dreams into a little secret notebook used to terrify me. Not just because someone might read it, but more in case I read it a few months later and wanted to die of embarrassment at what a damn fool I was. The nice thing about broadcasting your thoughts over the interweb is that it might teach you to get better at writing. You also can forget about being emotionally honest if you don't particularly fancy it - everything I write is either a lie or a joke (if the joke isn't funny then it's because it's a joke I'm making to myself, and it's only intended to make me laugh. Or you're just humourless).

I've been enjoying myself so far and although I'm only writing about mundane nonsense (or, writing really badly about serious stuff) it feels like it's possibly good for my brain. There are lots of things I like looking at on the internet that definitely aren't good for my brain (admittedly a lot of what I write isn't exactly high art - but hey, I'm stringing sentences together) - I'm not just talking about staring at the Mail Online, no - I have another obsession, and that is tumblr blogs covered in loads of weird flashing gifs and 80s/90s nostalgia and loads of gay (occasionally straight) porn and pseudoporn - here's an example. *ADULT SUBJECT MATTER ALERT*

The word 'porn' is maybe a bit misleading as I wouldn't say these are 'porn blogs'. Despite the abundance of nudie pictures they're surrounded by other images and I'm now going to wander into pretentious art critic mode when I tell you that this tumblr blog is basically the internet living out the postmodern dream. Staring at it is like staring at a car crash, like the internet fell asleep at the wheel and this is what crawled out the wreckage. Flashing glitchy images reminiscent of broken vcr tapes, famous people from now and 20 years ago, really 80s-looking science-fiction illustrations, fashion editorials, etc.

It's like the curator of this blog is simultaneously saying something and nothing at the same time. It would be easy to sound really pompous and suggest that they're offering a critique of our sex-obsessed celebrity culture and the ridiculous levels of optimism expressed about new internet technology, but maybe they're just saying "hey look at this". What makes the whole tumblr philosophy seem especially nihilist is the way the platform works- users can 'reblog' anyone else's post, so you can end up with there being several blogs running really similar themes - this one seems to have almost exactly the same subject matter as the one I posted earlier, and here's one that's a bit more focussed on video games and Japanese cartoons.

I don't have any desire to make my own tumblr blog because there's already a million people doing it and I'd only end up spending more time staring at a computer screen, and I'd just be recycling the same pictures people had already posted - but I think this is supposed to be the point. But maybe once you start you just get addicted to it - this isn't something I approve of really, but I've spent enough time talking about tumblr blogs. It's definitely time I had a look at my stats page.


  1. Philosopher really - writer implies novelist more methinks, and I'm not going to sully my innocence by following the links. By the way do you automatically delete my comments because it's so uncool to have your mother commenting?

    1. No, that must just be blogger being rubbish - totally haven't seen any comments from you before.

      In all seriousness though, it is very uncool to have comments from my mother on here. Stop it you're embarrassing me.


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