Blogging 101 (for Tito Sotto, among others)

If you can't beat them, join them, so they say, so here's a primer for you, Titosen, just in case you decide to join us.

What I'm doing right now is called blogging.

Back in the day, if I wanted my writings to be read by people, I need to be writing for a publication, or have access to loads of paper and a photocopier. With advances in technology - wider access to the Internet, mostly - anyone can have their thoughts published for everyone to access. Once a writer like me would only have a potential audience of, say, the forty people in my class, which was the case when I made newspapers from folded pad paper. Now, I have a potential audience of seven billion.

It used to be that blogs were treated like diaries, a place for people like me to write down their thoughts on life. And it still is the case for some. But for others, it has become a way for them to write about their interests, their passions, their beliefs.

I've written many blogs in the past decade. This one, my primary one, is mostly an avenue for my thoughts, but it evolved from a straightforward diary into a repository of essays. I may sound like I'm giving myself too much self-worth, Titosen, but I take my writing seriously. In the seven years I've been blogging I've been experimenting with my writing style. I've been exploring fiction, even, if you'd want to check my entries in the last few months. I've been inspired by the likes of David Sedaris (who Lizette, my fellow blogger, said I wrote like - style-wise, not humor-wise) and Andrew Collins, and I've been listening to This American Life, and I've applied what I learned to my writing.

In between, I've also written about current events, including a (supposedly) acclaimed blog on the political scene in my alma mater, De La Salle University. Currently I write a blog about music, mostly, and radio, partly. Blogging has, at the moment, also become an avenue for original journalism, original feature-writing, from serious stuff to the more accessible lifestyle items. Lizette, who I mentioned earlier, has a beauty blog. My friend Jill runs a food blog. Another friend of mine, Isa, does a mix of both on her blog, but she also curates this blog where twenty-somethings like me can express our thoughts.

Also, ask your staff, Titosen. Chances are, they read a blog or two about their interests. Gadget blogs, celebrity blogs (ask them about Perez Hilton), even porn blogs. But maybe that wasn't the right example. But my point is, blogging is a big thing now, if not bigger than the printed word, and no matter how pointless the things we write may be for some, we have become an important part of this society.

Sure, not every blogger gets it right. I've heard of people who take whole blog entries from other people, post it on their blog and pass it as their own. I have friends whose concert photographs were stolen and posted as their own, without attribution. It's still the Wild West here, more or less, but Titosen, that doesn't mean we're uncivilized. We try to uplift this... this thing, for lack of a better term. We try to kick it up a notch. And I can tell you with all certainty, Titosen, that we try to come up with things that are our own, and if all else fails, we tell people about what other people think, and not tell people that we thought of it ourselves.

And no, blogging is not a self-important thing. It's not an exercise in putting ourselves in a pedestal, at least not most of the time. At the very least we make people think - about their options, like whether they should go to this restaurant or that restaurant. We help them cook ginataang mais the right way. Discover things they wouldn't normally discover by themselves. During the recent monsoon rains, we helped spread the word around, our blogs and our Twitter feeds, Twitter being like blogging, only with a 140-character word limit.

And most importantly, this gives us a voice. Back then, I'd only have a voice if I got published. Now, I have a stronger voice all the same. We all do, the same way newspaper columnists do. We complained about your plagiarism in our blogs, Titosen, the same way they did in their columns. We applauded your judging in Eat Bulaga! the same way they did in their columns.

Were we too harsh? Perhaps. I'd admit again, this is a bit like the Wild West. We still learn things. But it's nothing that you wouldn't encounter in real life, Titosen. People criticize you offline. People fight your assertions offline. People present you with their realities offline. We do it online. Different avenue, same thing. If we were too harsh, then I apologize on their behalf, but you know more than anybody, as a public servant, that you don't just get away with doing something stupid, especially with all these eyes looking at you. Your colleagues know that. Ask Pia. Ask Chiz. Ask Miriam.

We have become overwhelming in disagreeing with you, but that does not give you permission to clamp down on us like we're lesser citizens. We weren't bullying. We were just defending ourselves. Presenting our side of the story. Telling you that what you said is wrong, what you did is wrong, asking that you apologize so we can all move on... is it that hard, Titosen? You've been doing just that in the halls of Senate. Can't we do it in front of our computers? We all make mistakes. We even make it up as we go sometimes. But we, we bloggers, we are not lesser citizens than you.

And your responses...

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