FOCUS ON BLOGGING Who needs drugs? I've got a blog

  Blogs have become the latest craze on the Internet. With over 50 million blogs in circulation, one thing should be clear: too many people have too much time on their hands.
Having run a blog for over three and a half years, I can testify that old bloggers never stop, they just start writing for more blogs. If someone bets on the home team, that's loyalty; but if someone has bets going on six or seven games at a time? That's an addiction. I contribute to or run seven blogs.
Blogs are basically a form of on-line diaries where people post whatever they want to let the world know how they feel. Some blogs comment on politics and current events, some blogs are venting grounds for stay-at-home moms (mommyblogs), others are groups of people who post on some common topic (group blogs), and lastly there are blogs about bloggers who are blogging about blogs. There are more than just text blogs -- there are audio blog posts (podcasts) and video blog posts (vlogs).
Strictly speaking, the American Psychiatric Association has not yet defined any "Blogging Addiction Disorder", but there are some telltale signs of people suffering from too much time with blogs. If you don't like blogging but continue to do it anyway, you could have a problem. If you blog on how much you hate your spouse (which seems to be an exclusively MySpace phenomena) you could be a blogging addict.
Blogging has broken up relationships, cost people jobs, and isolated people into depression. Centres for help in Internet addictions have cropped up, like the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, which, ironically enough, has a blog and podcast. Psych Central hypothesises that the reason people spend so much time on-line with blogs is for socialisation. If socialisation is the reason people blog, there are certainly a lot of anti-social bloggers out there.
With any group of anti-social people, the conspiracy theorists roam. There are conspiracy theory blogs about the "International Jewish Conspiracy", the "Religious Right Conspiracy", and the 9/11 conspiracy theorists. It isn't even big events that can set off wild speculation of conspiracies and subliminal messages -- the most mundane errors can set the blogosphere aflame. For instance, when a black X showed over Vice President Cheney's face during a CNN broadcast of one of his speeches, wild speculation began suggesting that CNN was saying that Cheney should be killed. The speculation lasted about 12 hours and quickly died when another blogger spent a few hours with Photoshop and found it to be a simple error. There's a reason bloggers don't publish retractions: there would be too many of them and it would take away from the next conspiracy theory post.
Henry Kissinger is supposed to have said that "academic politics are so spiteful because there is so little at stake." Blogging has far surpassed even the pettiness of college politics. This includes threatening the children of bloggers because they have differing politics and in return ending the careers of bloggers for similar reasons. Blogging has become a blood sport because it can hide behind the veil of anonymity. When people live to blog, any disagreement is bitterly personal. It has led people to quit blogging by shutting down their personal blogs and starting group blogs instead.
So strong is the anger of some bloggers that blogs have been formed strictly on those lines. No longer is the "angry man" blog confined to white guys. There are angry Asian man blogs, angry black man blogs, and angry drunk bureaucrat blogs. In fact, anyone angry enough with a little time on their hands can sign up for a blog at Blogger, TypePad, or a dozen other free blog providers. Ornery women can "stick up their middle finger" at the world. One blogger wonders if blogs are the next reality TV with bloggers posting intimate details of their personal lives on-line. There is even a term for people who post their lives on-line for all to see: "escribitionist."
In the blogosphere (what bloggers call the collective content of blogs and bloggers) you can find every conceivable possible collection of ideas. For instance, there is a feminist Mormon housewife blog, and she's addicted to blogs too. There is a blog about a ninja and a blog about someone whose family was killed by a ninja. Not only can you find blogs on every idea, you can find weekly round-ups of blog posts (called blog carnivals) on every conceivable issue.
No internet fad would be complete without conferences. Blogging is no different. There's Blogging Man and the Milblog conference (military blogs), for example. Even various industries are trying to queue into the hype of blogging such as the Higher Ed BlogCon and the Healthcare Blogging Summit. Apparently calling a conference a conference simply isn't good enough for the healthcare industry blogs… they need a summit.
While the problems of blogging addiction should be obvious to anyone, the blogosphere idolises blogging addiction. It's not enough for bloggers to waste hours by firing off their digital diatribes into the ether; they'll make special events of blogging. There are blogathons where bloggers will post every hour or half-hour for 24 to 36 hours straight. There are two overlapping types of people who have so little to do that they can spend 36 hours straight blogging: the unemployed and the addicted.
For a brief span of time, the mainstream media (or MSM if you're a blogger) was worried that the bloggers would topple them and reign in a new era of news and information.
Bloggers can -- without investigating leads, interviewing people, or thinking twice about grammar rules in writing -- post staggering amounts of information to their blogs, which seemed rather daunting to the MSM.
It wasn't, however, the news business that blogging threatened; it was the pundit business. In fact, with bloggers claiming expertise in almost every field of human endeavour, they seem quite similar to pundits. The know-it-alls who brought you blogs also brought you Wikipedia. Ironically, both are equally inaccurate.
As a fad, blogging has shown itself to be remarkably successful and remarkably addictive. So addictive, in fact, that at this moment I have conjured up several blog posts that need posting on one of my blogs. Besides, I'm starting to get the shakes.
John Bambenek is, among other things, a weekly columnist for the Daily Illini. He also writes for his own blog, Part-Time Pundit, as well as contributes to six other popular blogsites the likes of Blogcritics.


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