I spent most of this last week at the Kala Ghoda festival. There were many panel discussions by many friends and two by me (which were totally last minute because of a mix-up so I couldn't tell you guys about it) and basically I've been a schmoozer. Schmoooooooooooooooooooozer. Good fun. Although I do have a bone to pick with Naresh Fernandes, editor of Time Out Mumbai, who was on the online writing panel with me. In fact, I have several bones. (I realise I should have just said these things at the panel, but I have acute stage fright, it's horrible. I just about keep it together. And by the time I muster up my courage to say anything it's time to leave. Sigh. Well I'll be speaking at the Kitab fest this year in Mumbai, so hopefully, I'll be able to not make a complete ass of myself then.)
ANYhoo, back to Naresh Fernandes (who says he doesn't read blogs, but if he's here, hello and welcome!). On the panel he said that blogs for the most part, were narcissitic, self serving, and really, who wanted to read about your visit to the store anyway?
I'll tell you who, Mr Fernandes, on this blog alone, about a 1,000 people every day. That's quite a few people, isn't it, who are interested in what store I shop at? My hit counter is now over five lakh people in three years, from all over the world.
Could it be the reason I'm getting so touchy is because maybe somewhere I think you're right? Some blogs are boring yes, sometimes I am filled with wonder that people read MY blog, seeing as the only topic of conversation is me, how fun can that be for anyone else? But, you know, I read memoirs. I read diaries of authors I love. I read other people's blogs to see what they've been up to. Sometimes, if I'm in a new city and I see something that's been mentioned in a blog I read, I visit it. Similar to what your magazine does, pointed out Annie at the panel, but then you said that your magazine had reporters who were writing what they thought the reader would like to know, as opposed to blogs which just meandered through the blogger's personal experience of a place.
Um, wouldn't you rather read a personal opinion? I know I would. I like food reviews and club reviews and things, and your magazine DOES do a good job with those places, I agree, but when I visit a place and write about it, I'm doing pretty much the same thing, I'm talking about what I had to eat and drink and whether a place is worth visiting. I think, from Google search stats that people listen to what I have to say on the subject as well, perhaps even more than they would with an established media brand, because I don't have an axe to grind. Perhaps, even more basically, because I'm not getting paid to write about any of these things. And because I'm not getting paid to write about, oh, say, a night at China House, you know when I say I love China House it's because I actually feel that other people should know that I love it for whatever reasons. Am I making any sense?
You don't read blogs, Mr Fernandes, which is what makes our opinions different because I DO read the mainstream media. Hell, I'm a PART of the mainstream media. I like to read reports in newspapers and magazines and then I like to read what bloggers have to say about it. It helps balance my opinions. It's also nice to see what other people have to say, other people who are writing because they LIKE to write. Are you not reading blogs because they're boring or because you actually don't want to know what a significant amount of people are thinking? I'm really curious, I swear I'm not asking just to be all in your face, but I'd like to know. But there's no point asking you these questions because (lalalalalala) you don't read blogs.
I would never define myself as a 'blogger' though. I have a blog yes, but I also have many other identities. The fact that him and I were on the same panel on online writing maybe should have told him that OTHER people took the medium seriously. Personally, I don't think you should take blogging TOO seriously. It's immense fun, yes. Reputations can be shaken, yes. But at the end of the day if you're writing something you wouldn't want to appear with your byline on it, then, well, you've crossed a line. And a lot of people don't get this. But I don't think you should be dismissive about blogs either. They're here, WE'RE here, this mass of people writing about everything from politics to books to personal lives. And well, most popular blogs in India and abroad have a far greater readership than a lot of magazines and newspapers. That says something, surely?
ps: I've been getting a lot of Facebook friends requests from people I don't know. If you read my blog and you add me, great, please just mention how you know me so I don't automatically ignore them all.
ps2: Please, I IMPLORE you, go read this post by Scout. Oh, scout, how much do I love you? Let me count the ways. Tee hee.