Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Suppression and Expression

An aunt from our family friends circle is a journalist. She contributes to international magazines. She writes mostly about social issues in India.

Recently we were all recipients of a mail from her with a link to her blog. She requested the recipients of the mail to take a look at her blog. I opened the mail rather late and saw that she had very few hits and no comments. She sent the mail out again. But the post was not getting the attention she was seeking.

She was surprised. Her article in magazines always led to comments and discussions. Finally this Sunday I went over to her blog and was surprised to read some very tepid post on violence on women. I called her and told her that she had got blogs all wrong. She had married reporting with a narrative style and made a hash of the topic in the process. It was also obvious she and chosen the topic because she thought it would arouse interest. Her thinking was very journalistic with an eye on webhits.

Now this aunt has not been to my blog, but I do send out my posts from this blog to a group of people in my family and friends circle who prefer it by mail. And this aunt is one of the recipients. She was encouraged by the discussions and comments in the mail thread to take to blogging.

Aunt called me for some tips and tricks and I told her that unlike her articles in magazines, her blog was a medium to express her personal views on matters where she hold strong views. Tips and tricks would not help her. She was clearly looking for a medium for ego massage.

She didn’t say anything about my advice. She clearly didn’t like someone with no experience or legacy in the professional writing field advising her. Her ‘made-up’ posts continued with no responses. Finally she admitted that blogging was way too difficult for someone like her who was used to mere reporting. She had no concept of a personal view after so many years in the field.

Journalists like her are not comfortable with the new popular mediums like blogs, twitter etc. And they cannot understand how ordinary people can write on topics without formal training and evoke interest, create an interactive readership than reading people like her. She has no appreciation of popular views and is used to manipulate popular views. After a few more tries she gave up blogging.

I am not saying that journalists cannot blog. There are many who are really good bloggers. And these are people who understand the distinction between paid writing and sincere expression.

This whole episode reminds me of a once popular television (whose reputation lies in the ditch today) and her rising alarm over ordinary junta beginning to express their views on everything (including her spotless reputation) which made her go on a rampage in her insecurity to portray bloggers as some kind of underground movement that might be a threat to the society. Sadly for her, the very audience she tried to instigate turned the tables on her making her look like a fool.

While celebrity bloggers have a default readership, ordinary bloggers like us have begun to perhaps crack the hard shell of apathy that grips our nation. Having a medium to express ones views is like an outlet for people who were simmering without a voice for so long.

The new IT Act will however take care of that too by coming down hard on bloggers because we cannot be bought like the media. And that is the day I will quit blogging.