Essay

IN A FOG, NO TIME TO BLOG

PATRICIA PEARSON June 14 2004
Essay

IN A FOG, NO TIME TO BLOG

PATRICIA PEARSON June 14 2004

FEARFUL of missing the latest techno trend, more and more Canadians are blogging these days. It seems de rigueur, the thing to do. If you are Internet savvy, you blog. Nonetheless, much remains a mystery about this phenomenon, including a person’s sense of what he or she hopes to accomplish, beyond being out there, somewhere, in the crowded and boisterous town square of cyberspace. There are pet blogs and baby blogs, dating blogs and diet blogs, high school blogs and baseball blogs, and lots of news blogs. People keep blogs devoted to their knitting, detailing the progress of sweater sleeves, and blogs about their reading or their cooking or their beading. There are porn blogs and Björn blogs, hot blogs and knots blogs. There are in blogs and out blogs, spin blogs and spout blogs. There are columnists who are suddenly writing like Dr. Seuss.

As a matter of curious fact, Dr. Seuss may have been the first writer to use the word blog. In his story Scrambled Eggs Super, he penned the lines: “And those trout... well, they’re sweet ’cause they only eat Blogs / And Blogs, after all, are the world’s sweetest frogs.”

I found that quotation on a blog.

Another thing one finds on blogs is an odd public/private discussion of family life. Pictures of people’s babies and children, and quite open discussions of, for instance, their Ritalin medication. This has raised concerns about privacy issues for children, and also, the more remote worry that such freely posted photos will be appropriated by child pornographers. That being said, from what I can discern in my surfing, blogs by parents are relatively rare beyond the initial stage of pregnancy, with ultrasounds posted and much gabble about cravings. After that and the first flourish of newborn snaps, poof, they vanish.

1 have a fair notion as to why that might be. I started a blog a few months ago, because my Webmaster declared, “Without a blog, how can you gain fame and influence?” “OK,” I said, but really, I had no idea what I was supposed to blog about, or why anyone would bother to read it. I felt that a blog should be entertaining, or at least somewhat useful. Since these achievements are somewhat elusive, one assumes they require time. To think it through. What is useful and entertaining that I can post to the entire world through my blog? And being a mother, I don’t have any time. A typical entry by me might read: Dear Unknown Internet readers, Today I—

“Mommy!”

“Just a second, Clara, I’m blogging.” “But Mommy, Geoffrey’s feeding Gravol to the cat.”

“OK, gimme a sec.”

“Mommy, the cat’s having convulsions!” The end.

In preparing this column, I found one mom blog that linked to five others. I was wholly unsurprised to find that all of them had gone defunct. Mothers don’t have time to express themselves. A well-known fact. Yet, this is not to say that mothers aren’t using the Internet, because they are. A study conducted this spring by C&R Research Services in Chicago found that American mothers are now spending almost twice as much time on-line as they are watching television. And their main goal, surprise, is to save time. In other words, what mothers do online is shop for stuff they don’t have time to buy in stores, and grab the news headlines they cannot read in the morning over coffee, and plan vacations, and keep in touch with friends they don’t dare call, for fear of being on the phone too long at work, or at home with a small child attempting to sever the phone cord with craft scissors.

Mothers need to cut to the chase. They need to Google “Shrek playing when?” and “Internet banking” and “old boyfriend from college: where now?” in two seconds flat. There is a flaw in this timesaving system, however, that has to do with health research. Go ahead, just set Dr. Mom loose on a computer database that can access every medical library on the planet, and see if she doesn’t get as obsessed as any kid playing multi-player Dungeons & Dragons for 11 hours straight. One innocent symptom, like itching, can lead you like a torch into a haunting catacomb of demonic illnesses and all of their treatments and prognoses. By 2 a.m. you’re phoning a doctor: “My daughter is itchy, could she have onchocerciasis?”

Why mothers don’t have time to blog, but do have time to surf, by the way, is because blogging requires thought, while surfing just calls for a mounting wave of anxiety. Google “cat+gravol” and you’ll see what I mean.