Friday, May 6, 2005

Voice Bloggers

I know it's a misnomer. "Voice blogging" has nothing whatsoever to do with the keeping of a weblog. But it's a convenient term, and one that makes sense to me.

What do we do when we blog? We write stuff. Mostly we write stuff that is somehow about ourselves. If it's not an out-and-out navel-gaze, we're at least writing about our families, our interests, our beliefs, causes we feel strongly about, news items that interest us, or whatever. The pictures we post (particularly us "personal bloggers") are of our kids, our cats, our flowers, our news items of interest, and such. Nothing wrong with that at all, in my opinion. Particularly if the things we write about have some significance in the great scheme of things.

This is one reason I think blogs are good. They allow us to write all this stuff, and to put it out there for people to read ... if they want to. Nobody has to read it. Uninterested readers can just move on to another blog. Meanwhile, those who find our ramblings, our philosophizing, our cat pictures, and our profound wisdom interesting, who approve of our good taste in linking ... well, they'll stick around. They may even become genuine blogfriends. They'll read and comment on our most mundane posts, even the upteenth one on our sore thumbs and our boring jobs (ahem...).

That's just so cool, the way we can pick and choose which posts to read. You can skip over my piano-practicing posts, or you can read only the piano-related posts. Either way is fine with me. 'Tis good for the ego, it's true, to have readers, but it's also nice to feel like you're actually communicating with people, like there are others out there to whom you can connect on some level, however obscure. And most of us want to connect with others, to some degree.

Now. About those voice bloggers.

Voice bloggers blog aloud. In other words, like us webloggers, they share a wealth of information about their interests, their family, their philosophies, and themselves (including their sore thumbs), only they do it ALOUD and IN PERSON. The trouble with voice blogging is that, when a voice blogger begins a one-sided ramble you find uninteresting, you can't just click the next link in your blogroll. Voice bloggers are also fond of tangents (voice-links). Unlike with a regular weblog, you have no choice but to go on that tangent with the voice blogger, who, more often-than not, has the voice-comments turned off, so it's fruitless to try to change the subject.

We had dinner with a voice-blogger last Saturday night. "Ned" is a lonely old man in our town, and he asked us to dinner, so we went. He voice-blogged for two and a half hours about how much he hated (1) women, (2) southerners, (3) cats, (4) those "godless liberals," and (5) the Navy. His voice blogging was peppered with sailor-like cursing (despite his professed dislike of the Navy). We felt bad for him, being a lonely old man and all, so we smiled and nodded and thanked him for a nice dinner when we finally parted at 9:45 p.m.

Now, we all want to connect, and we all talk about ourselves from time to time in hopes that we'll find something in common with others, but Ned's one-sided voice-blogging post went on far too long. He took us to every voice-link (links we would never have clicked, were they on a weblog), and he often linked the same things two or three times, which had us revisiting the same tangents several times throughout the evening. When we tried to politely insert voice-comments, they were either ignored or disputed. Clearly, this was a guy whose voice-comment feature was turned off.

I have a voice-blogging acquaintance, "Bernice," whose ponderous voice-posts are rife with unrelated links. Bernice begins on a topic that I'd probably skip, were it titled on an actual weblog. But I sit, smiling and nodding dumbly, as she clicks voice-link after voice-link, taking me on a real-life journey to all different voice-blogs that do not interest me, and sometimes clicking those voice-links. Talk about tangents! Bernice's voice-comments feature is also in the off position. Poor Bernice rarely remembers what her original voice-post was about, so she'll occasionally turn the voice-comments feature back on to allow her listener to provide the original title of her voice-post. Once her memory is jogged, the comments feature goes back off.

This is why I like weblogging. I can write paragraph after paragraph about piano-practicing, or my cat, or J.S. Bach, and no one has to sit through it if they don't want to. I can provide links, but no one has to follow them if they don't want to. It's the ultimate freedom. When I blog, I try to make some sort of a point, even if that "point" is merely the cheap entertainment of my unsuspecting audience. But I'm perfectly aware that many of my own posts are pointless to all but a very select few. :)

If your voice-blog has a point and welcomes voice-comments, it's one thing. But I have little patience for lengthy, pointless voice-blogging in which voice-comments are ignored or are not encouraged.

Do I feel this way because I'm a curmudgeonly introvert? Is it my Scrooge-style personality that makes me wish the voice bloggers in my life would renounce their voice blogging altogether and just get a weblog already? I do wonder.

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