October 29, 2007

USS Chizumatic

Back in the day, I was a pretty high profile political blogger. I was in the Technorati Top 100 for quite a long time, for example. I used to get linked to by other high profile political blogs. I got a lot of attention. A lot of people liked the stuff I wrote. A lot of people despised it.

And some people came to feel ownership over me and my blog. This is peculiar, wouldn't you think? But I guess the idea was that I had come to have a high profile by expressing a certain political point of view, and that meant I came to have a responsibility to represent the other people who held that political point of view, to use my tall soap box to speak on their behalf -- even if what they wanted me to say was different than what I myself felt like saying.

They felt like I owed it to them to toe their party line. They didn't have a tall soap box, so I owed it to them to use mine to say what they told me to say. This manifested often as emails where they offered me advice on what I should have said in a particular post, things I left out, and mistakes I made.

Part of what's peculiar about this is that they expected me to be grateful for the help. They never understood why I resented it. Hey, guys, it's my blog. It's there for me to say what I want. I don't represent anyone except myself. If you disagree with me, get your own damned blog. No, that wouldn't do -- such a person knew that even if they did start blogging, they'd never had the audience I did. It was vital to change my message, to take advantage of my high profile.

That is one of the biggest things that eventually made me get fed up with it all and to stop blogging on USS Clueless. Having people constantly write to tell me how they would have written my posts better than I had actually done -- more in sorrow than in anger, of course, and ever friendly and helpful -- was infuriating. Beginning of August 2004, I simply had had enough.

After a couple of months of cooling off, with some of the bruises healing, I thought that I wanted to start blogging again. But I didn't want to go back into that same lion's den again, and face all that horseshit. The solution?

Blog about something totally inconsequential, something so trivial and unimportant that the self-important people who Had A Mission would never pay attention to me. Write about something fun, something I enjoyed, and something that made no difference at all. In so doing, I would attract people with similar interests, I hoped, but chase away all those who suffered from excessive earnestness.

Anime! The perfect choice!

And it's mostly worked. But not completely. There are still otaku around, with "otaku" used in the pejorative way that the Japanese use the word, for whom nothing is too trivial to let pass. They, too, are on a mission -- to preach the True Faith of the utter brilliance of "Full Metal Alchemist" and how every living, breathing person should watch it because it would change their life. I'm really glad that girl stopped writing to me.

I've learned a lesson: there is no subject so trivial that you cannot find someone who takes it too seriously.

Folks, this is an anime blog. It exists because, and only because, I have fun writing for it. I write what I want to write. Sometimes I say things that are unfair. Sometimes I post things that are wrong. I do it because it's fun. Sometimes I do it in jest. But ultimately, I do it because I want to. That's what my blog is for. It's what any given person's blog is for. It's the voice of a single person -- or a group, if it's a group blog. But this is not a group blog. It's mine. Mine! Mine! Mine! It's my opinions, and it's what I think -- and it doesn't matter. Anime doesn't matter. It's just a diversion.

I'm not trying to be accurate. I'm not trying to be fair. I'm sure as hell not trying to be comprehensive.

Don't take this stuff seriously, OK? And for God's sake, don't tell me what I should have written. You write what you want on your blog, and I'll write what I want on my blog, the one you're reading right now.

Let's have fun!

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Site Stuff at 02:51 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
Post contains 771 words, total size 4 kb.

1 I have to admit, I was getting a little crabby about everyone telling me that Clannad was the bestest thing out there.  I mean, I'll admit to having questionable judgment, given Shana II's nosedive and my probably-eternal fascination with Mayu (who is getting stupider by the episode).  But c'mon, Potemayo was too much for my tender psyche, how am I supposed to watch sad girls without some snow?

Snow makes everything better!  (Except the yellow snow. Avoid that stuff.)

Posted by: ubu at October 29, 2007 03:34 PM (08nnO)

2 I'm glad you post a message like this every so often.  It reminds me to abide by the rules, and hopefully does the same for others.  I've caught myself several times starting to post a comment here or at a few other sites, and then said "wait, I may want to say this, but does this site owner want me saying it?  Do they or the readers here care?  Will I just annoy them?"  Not only are the comments at those sites probably better for taking a minute to edit a post or not make it all, but the comments I have made are much improved for it.

Posted by: David at October 29, 2007 04:53 PM (K0q+2)

3 The compulsion to send someone a "you should write about my favrite topic, X" post can be very strong at times. More so when you're looking to have your opinion validated by someone whose opinion you respect. I know I've felt that urge at times, but I've got the added reminder of seeing this topic materialize at least twice on USS Clueless, and I'm sure a couple times since the birth of Chizumatic.

Posted by: Will at October 29, 2007 04:58 PM (E3UGR)

4

I actually just left a comment in that other thread, apologizing if you thought I was telling you what/how to write.  As I said there, I didn't intend for that to be the way it came across.

Anime doesn't matter. It's just a diversion.

Anime blogging: serious bidnez.

Posted by: Wonderduck at October 29, 2007 05:02 PM (CJ5+Y)

5 Wonderduck, it wasn't you who inspired this rant.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 29, 2007 05:44 PM (+rSRq)

6

Call it 'just in case,' Steven.

Posted by: Wonderduck at October 29, 2007 05:48 PM (CJ5+Y)

7 Clearly, we need more alternative energy posts.

I'd say something about the Internet being serious business, but that's a parody of a cliche by now.

Fortunately, it doesn't have to be.  At least not everywhere.

Bring out the catgirls with glasses!

Posted by: BigD at October 29, 2007 06:06 PM (JJ4vV)

8 Honestly, I don't understand why my comment annoyed you so much, Steven.  All I did was point out how silly it is to offer an opinion on a show without having watched a single episode, all the while comparing it to ANOTHER show you've never watched a single episode of.

Yes, it's your blog, and you can write whatever you want, but as long as you have comments enabled, you should be prepared for people to speak up when you say something stupid.

I understand your desire not to get beat up by your readers (I don't enjoy it getting beat up, either), but if you honestly expect them to just roll their eyes and think, "Oh, that's just Steven," every time you write something that's "unfair" or "wrong", you're delusional.  If you go out your way to make a fool of yourself or piss people off, what do you expect?

Of course, you and I have been through this once in the past, so I don't know if you'll give me the time of day here, but I'll say this:  before blaming your readers for not responding the way you'd like, take a good, hard look at what you're writing.  It's not like I make a habit of going around leaving nasty comments on other people's blogs.

Posted by: Jeff Lawson at October 29, 2007 06:22 PM (VgF1Y)

9 Long term reader here. I think I started closer to 2001 then 2004. I have greatly enjoyed your work. When it agreed with me, it boosted my ego, because I respect your thinking. (I do not and didn't need the ego boost.) When you disagreed, it helped my thinking, even if I rarely changed my mind. Either way, I found valuble details, arguments, and mental approachs. Your use of engineers' thinking helped me to appreciate it, and was a major influence in my decision to try to become an engineer.

Will: I agree about the benficial effects of these posts on myself.

BigD: Please no alternate energy posts. Hearing people recomend perpetual motion machines of the first and second kinds makes baby engineers emo and angtsy. Please think of the baby engineers. I do not want to have to get a MySpace account and write poetry about suicide and cutting. Except for Kipling, I hate poets and poetry, and I have no self-destructive tendencies aside from laziness.

Posted by: PatBuckman at October 29, 2007 06:41 PM (DZ471)

10

Jeff, if there's any reason at all for you to read my blog, it's because you want to hear my editorial voice. I am what I am. I think what I think. I write what I write. And the point of this blog is to be opinionated. It's a review  blog. It's here for me to express my opinions.

Remember this?

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: the anime bloggers I enjoy reading most are those who write with a distinct personal voice. When an anime blogger can effectively convey their passion for anime in words, I pay attention. And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that way. If you collected the authors of the most popular anime blogs in a room, I think you’d find yourself amongst a pretty opinionated group.

But apparently you aren't happy if those opinions disagree with yours.

I don't need to read what I wrote; I knew what it was when I wrote it, and I still know what it was. Yes, I do expect people to roll their eyes and say, "That's just Steve". Because if it wasn't "Steve" it wouldn't be my blog, my distinct personal voice. If you don't like that, go away and don't come back.

(I'm closing this thread now.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 29, 2007 06:52 PM (+rSRq)

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At Chizumatic, we take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately.

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