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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Tell Me This is Human Nature

"In our personal lives when we find signs that we are speaking in our own accent, speaking our own minds, living by our own opinions, we feel the pulse beat of our own personality coming to life again. We feel that in having discovered or arrived at ourselves, we have discovered a continent which is all our own".

Irwin Edman


I have been reflecting lately a lot about blogs and the solipsistic aura around them. There's my favourite word again. Used one before in reference to something, which I traced back to a Guardian writer's description of Tarantino.

Which takes me very quickly to Denzel Washington whose site on IMDB I visited last week. There was something that struck me--the word "cerebral" about his work, his technique, etc, and it kind of devolved to my journal writing also. I think I have actually used it in a blog entry the past couple of days.

Cerebral.

I love that...

But back to the blogging, I thought I would use Michael Jackson's song title not because the guy is slipping off the news over here, so I would like to see him back, but because that was appropriately the song playing on CITI-FM97.3 "Brunch in the City"...;-)

Just a small coincidence, but I thought apt, cos the more I think about blogging, the more I think it's a way of enabling people to become voyeurs into our private lives. Are our lives therefore no longer private once we divulge almost all onto the big world wide web?

Just a rhetorical question...

Nonetheless, at what point does blogging become just a reflection of what's going on in your world and more about *hyping up* the mundane in your life...

Then I think about blogging some more, and I scratch my head in wonderment, and think, if people enjoying reading other people's blogs, why is it that people care so little about other people and their lives?

My experience in the West --Belgium to be precise -- for circa 24 years told me a bit about human nature over there: the people out there in mostly suburban Belgium so enjoy their comfortable lives and, despite there being inevitably poor people locked inside the gritty areas of the city outside the European Commission area, the people are so obsessed with their small and big luxury cars (the BMWs, Mercs, VWs, etc) and their small gadgets that make their life ostensibly more fulfilling than the harsh realities of life that characterise much of the world.

In short, life becomes an indulgence in hedonism, and that, for me, was one of the reasons leaving Belgium to come to a developing country like Ghana (as much as it is my home after all) was so appealing. I was fed up with the all-so-neat and compact lifestyle, which started to become so increasingly irritating.

I know much of the world will never see what I have seen, and for that reason I am very cognisant of my priviledged lifestyle (Dad an int'l civil servant/diplomat; my brother Sam and I living in a suburb (replete with many houses owned and rented by EU officials, int'l organisations, embassies, etc, as well as the more affluent Belgians) for most of our lives; my brother having attended, as a black young man, a European School where now, in 2005, practically ALL the pupils are EU/EC official's children; blah blah...

Point is: the perfect now started to become the horribly annoying. Because tolerance levels of foreigners, especially with the accession of EU countries, started to plummet, and that effing scared me. WHy should I have to put up with bigoted people who smiled with me because I was living in an area that made me almost equal to them--bar my color?

THis isn't so much about racism as it is about what I think to be the inherent contradictions of blogging: making a normal, private life {of citizen 5 million and something of Planet Earth} so accessible by way of the 'Net when that same private life would have meant nothing to all those blog-readers had you been just a person walking down the street.

Oh, and it's a bit of a rant on Belgium too...as much as I consider it my second home...

Having said all that, I still occasionally check FREEMETRO.be to find out what's happening on the ground in Belgium, and get Belgium news by way of expatica.com

So what am I? A hypocrite or what?

Maybe I just like to see my name in print--as I intoned in 2000 for a Vernacular issue--and for which Daisy(Rana Jawad)--editor of the Vernacular from 1999-2001(?)--offered me a column.

I'd like to put it on record that she saved me from failing a Stats exam.

God bless the woman.

3 Comments:

At Monday, March 21, 2005 7:36:00 am , Blogger laura said...

i get along with the people around me just fine--i see blogging as a way to reach out to people from far away that i would never get to otherwise meet. i'm a very social person, but i want to know more than the people i live and work next to. i guess blogging is the communications highway that connects us all (at least those with a pc and an internet connection). i suppose it's about expanding my horizons.

we do get some foreigners down here, but they are mostly tourists who are just doing some one stop shopping.

a big pet peeve--i've read some blogs by some fantastic writers, and they can't seem to translate their way with the written word into meaningful conversations with the people around them. i've read a few excellent blogs by writers who are having intimacy issues and have problems in a social setting where they have to carry their end of the conversation. i'm like--if you ahve the balls to write like this, why can't you converse with conviction? but too many people are too shy to speak--they let their true self out on the blog and hide from others around them. oh well.

 
At Monday, March 21, 2005 4:29:00 pm , Blogger Emmanuel.K.Bensah II said...

Laura, I think what you say -- "blogging is the communications highway that connects us all"--should be put in huge quotations and posted on blogspot's main pager:-)

Seriously speaking, I admit that to a large extent, you are right, and pls, I was in no way dissing anyone-least of all you-in my rather explicit pronouncements about blogging (after all, if we're pointing fingers, I am equally to blame, too!), but it just strikes me that it's people like you and bustygal, etc that are making the difference.

I have equally read many people's blogs that are seriously inane scatologies masquaraded as solipsistic originality...

Great to be original, but as long as you're not enhancing your mundane life just to get hits, you know. I cannot tell u how it feels (I think you can empathise here!) the buzz you get when u know people are checking your blog or your website.

But that is inversely proportional to the creeping worry that comes with that buzz--that merely for the buzz of provoking thought, you start losing that qualitative streak that attracted people in the first place...

Just thought I'd point it out--that being a victim of one's own success is something that gives me the shivers.

It's perhaps the reason why I keep coming to you and bustygal's -- but imn particular yours, Laura, cos I know I will get erudite info, leaving me more educated than when I first edited.

So: thankyou for your comment, and keep on blogging!

 
At Monday, March 21, 2005 11:16:00 pm , Blogger JeN said...

Hey there, I wanted to say thanks for leaving comments on my weblog : )

As for people seeming to be better at writing opinions online than speaking about them in real life, I think it seems to be that way because, in the written word, one can always go back and edit what one has written. In the spoken word, one cannot do that. You can't take back what has already been said.

If people choose to be their real selves online, I do think that is easier because the internet can be anonymous. If people don't agree with what you say, that's fine because they don't know who you are. In real life, you run a risk saying something people may not agree with.

However, keep on writing whatever is in your head/heart. I know it makes me feel better to write : )

 

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