Monday, March 11, 2013

Say Everything and The Philosophy of Blogging

Say Everything is a book about blogging and it's history. I started a blog in 2004 because I wanted to write. I bought a domain and linked it to my blog. I was mostly interested in writing fiction, but I had also studied journalism and was an avid news consumer. I read a lot of news stories that ended up on my blog. I got a few readers and it was just cool to have my own space on the web. My mistake was I didn't interact much with people on my blog. I'd posted my thoughts and stories. I welcomed comments, but I wasn't going out into the web and commenting on other blogs. Mostly I read a lot of news and books. Say Everything by Scott Rosenbrrg helped me see  my mistake. Blogging isn't a one way communication like a book or a newspaper. It's a conversation.

Eight years later I was still posting to my blog sporadically. Sometimes months would pass without a post and then I'd pick it back up again. I didn't understand why I kept losing interest. I knew writing was my passion, but my blog was floundering. What was I doing wrong? The problem was two fold. I wasn't ready to tell the truth and I was not engaging my audience. I wasn't talking about my sexuality when it's at least sixty percent of my thoughts. How could I exclude so much of myself from my writing and expect to have anything to say? When I read this book I also realized that I needed to be reading blogs and participating in social media to really grow my audience and generate new ideas. After two months of The Male Media Mind I think I've adressed both of these issues and gone far beyond my expectations.

After meeting James and reading his blog he convinced me I was doing it all wrong. His blog was just about the things he liked. I realized that if we combined my love of writing with his passion for the media we could really make something beautiful happen. It took us a few months, but soon after the new year we started taking concrete actions to make the blog a reality. He gave me the courage to tell the truth and the perspective and encouragement I needed to persevere when things got difficult. He was my muse. I knew that at least I had an audience of one. That if no one else read my writing, he would, and that was enough for me.

At first I was afraid of exposing myself and my desires. I never talked about my sexuality so publicly. So when I read Say Everything I learned that this was the very essence of what it meant to be a blogger. The only thing we have to offer strangers is ourselves. Everything else they can find on Google. What we offer is our personal views on what's already out there.  Since my old blog never mentioned the fact that I was gay or ever included any sexually explicit material I was stepping into a whole new area of writing that I'd left unexplored. I could talk about my celebrity crushes and love of big hairy bears and not feel like it was off limits. Soon I found it expanded my creativity and voice in other areas as well.

I thought the blog would be more difficult to create, but so many people have come before me and have shown the way. The tools on blogger are made easy enough that with a little trial and error anyone who can write an e-mail can write a blog. For the more difficult technical aspects I researched it on YouTube. People loved talking about their blogging experience. By no means was it easy to make this blog happen, but it's not impossible for anyone who's passionate and determined. It also doesn't hurt to have the help and support of a hot chocolate teddy bear.

In the early days I was frustrated by people's lack of enthusiasm for writing and promoting posts. The behavior hasn't changed that much, but I've come to understand it better. My enthusiasm for making this blog work is always going to be greater that any individual writing for it. People also just have to live their lives and they get busy and this blog isn't always going to be on top of their priorities. What I've discovered is that over time, given enough space and support, contributors step up to the challenge and write some excellent material. Their overall enthusiasm begins to match my own as they see their own success in publishing online. Still there are days when I felt like quitting, but then I'd find some bit of knowledge I wanted to share, or a contributor would surprise me with a brilliant gem of writing or video and I was so happy that I had a place to publish it.  Reading Say Everything gave me much needed perspective and made me appreciate the tools that we have available. That keeps me going too at times, just the appreciation of the opportunity we have in front of us.

The philosophy of The Male Media Mind is that thick gay men of color shouldn't be ashamed of what we like. We're mature and intelligent, but that doesn't mean we don't know how to have fun. While showing images of hot men and entertainment news, we also want to elevate the voices of bears who have some sense and something to say. So we share our views about politics, society, and philosophy mixed in with links to porn, comics and manga, and television and movies. We don't have to limit ourselves. In this space we can say anything and everything we want to and no one has the right to tell us to shut up. We don't look down on porn then turn around and watch it while no one is looking. Why not celebrate what we like and still try to be substantive? It's possible and the history of blogging told in Say Everything shows that it's been done before.

What's the purpose of a blog? I mean why can't we just share what we like on Facebook or Twitter? As a writer there wasn't enough space to express myself. And on a blog we own our material.  A blog is a way of self publishing. I wanted to write substantive material  but it doesn't mean we can't be on Facebook and Twitter, in fact that's one of the big changes I've made to my approach to blogging. We're doing it all.  Newspapers make a lot less sense to me now, though I still read the New York Times every morning, but I also read my Facebook and Twitter feeds. I'm surprised it's taking so long for newspapers and television to go the way of the radio, but the Internet is still the future of news and entertainment. The biggest reason I think it's true is because of our false standards of decency.

The Internet lets us look at the things we really like. Censorship is necessary to a certain degree, but the old media overdoes it and has been for a long time. The problem before is that we couldn't get around it, but now we can and often we do. We have to expect the people around us to increasingly come to the same conclusion. Telling the truth is the greatest value in the media we consume. Truth isn't censored. The people in our life my run across our dirty thoughts and be offended, but that doesn't mean we have to be dishonest. There's a difference between private information and personal information. We're going to be personal and still maintain a wall between our private lives and a very personal body of work online. I have to be clear that were going a further than most will feel comfortable doing so we can get to the truth. So far it's working.








MALCOLM TRAVERS
Male Media Mind