Try to remember the days before writing or even reading blogs became a part of your life. For some of you, if there is a teenage reader here, it might be something you’ve never known. For people in their twenties onwards, there must have been a time where you depended solely on print journalism – newspapers and magazines – for your readerly fodder for thought. Newspapers and magazines are still alive, though nearly not as well, but they have learnt to adapt to modern times. They are all available online, they even provide archives for scholars and enthusiasts. They are a bit more glossy and colourful because the traditional layout of black and white with miniscule font(such as the one I have adopted here because I SOOO want to attract readers) have to give way to attractive pop colours and fonts to capture the attention of those inundated by infinite options for free and entertaining information. While you are actually obliged to shell out the few pennies you get when you buy a hard copy at a news stand, which again obliges you to read and get your money’s worth, online versions of print journalism are still today’s newsletter in your inbox, tomorrow’s virtual trash can. Or if you are a little too kind or lazy, simply a “read” email.
However, there is one aspect of that old system that I think we could have retained. In those days, because there wasn’t such a barrage of articles, because there actually were specialists with degrees and experience writing those articles, because there were a long line of editors helping in the perfecting and readability of those articles, and because there just were so few articles given the limited platform, the feedback culture was a whole lot different. Back then, for example, you couldn’t do the monumentally important act of “like” an article. Yes, I should have written liking instead of like but you know what I am talking about. Those were the days when the thumbs up gesture was an individual thing, meant for individual people and was way less in frequency, unless it was on a commercial. How do you translate a “like” and a thumbs up gesture in the real world? Do you do it more often than before? I am not talking about the conversation filler “like”(which, like “you know” is one of those things modern English conversationalists hate to find themselves in the habit of doing. And yet, it is a disease I don’t see getting eradicated, like, anytime soon, you know?). What do you do when you do or witness something you would press a “like” button for if you could? You, most ordinarily, smile to yourself, let a warm flush in your cheeks flow to your brain(or the other way round, I am not a biologist) and for a few moments you just feel good.
But the aspect I truly miss is the commentary system. Of course it exists in the online world. Even the newspaper websites carry a “leave a comment” system after every article. But in the olden days, if you liked an article, you would a)think about it b)talk to your friends, family or colleagues about it or c) write in to the editor of the newspaper with an old-fashioned salutation like “Dear Sir/Madam” follow by all the elements of a traditional formal letter. A salutation, of course, would be ridiculous in the world of online “leave a comment”. But I am sadder for the duration of time between the reading of the article and the writing in of the comment. Online, even if you want to re-read an article numerous times on different days to solidify your opinions before writing them, you at least have to “like” it or “add it to your favourites” which itself is a comment, a communication. The worse is the scenario of “dislike”. I am sure the frequency of thumbing down is even less than thumbing up in the real world. And what about articles that are about truly disturbing things but are written competently? Do you “like” or “dislike” it? Do you “like” it because of its journalistic competence at the risk of others thinking that somehow you enjoy the suffering of others? or do you “dislike” it because of its subject matter and ignore the journalistic competence? Or maybe you “dislike” it because it has been poorly written. Maybe it does not deal with the subject with the required sensitivity. Whatever be the reason, a “like” and “dislike” button just isn’t enough.
But actually writing in, preferably after sessions of reflection and discussion, would actually even be helpful for the writer to understand how well he/she has been able to communicate. I won’t lie. Every writer lives with the conflicted acceptance that while commentary might prove elusive and detrimental to his/her writing and he/she must ignore the idea of them when writing and letting his/her work exist in the world, he/she is extremely desirous of an audience, witnesses of his/her intellect and mind and especial writing quality. In short, writers want approval like any other human beings. So, sometimes, a “like” would actually help the writer grow, instead of constructive criticism. That is why blogging is an amazing medium for amateur writers who wish to learn from their mistakes through consistently writing for an anonymous audience, something that has never been possible before for writing always had to be monetized and therefore was for a polished few.
I haven’t received any comments on this blog so far though the “likes” and followers have been very encouraging. I write with the intent to communicate but until I have gained enough consistency and confidence I still would like to elude the commentary. However, if you have stuck through this entire post, I would love to know your views on this subject.