Something Worth Remembering About Blogs

When you write about a blogger, almost by definition, the blogger has an easy way to reply.

Thus: Paul Boutin writes about Jorn Barger for Wired; Jorn Barger replies via Wikipedia.

Corollary: If you have a weblog yourself, you have an easy way to reply to the reply.

Thus: Paul Boutin’s further update, noting that Barger wasn’t living on the street, just on Andrew Orlowski’s couch.

Thus Also: Nanny tells the mother who hires her about her blog. Mother gets sketched out by nanny’s posts. Mother and father fire nanny on pretext. Mother writes about the episode in the New York Times. Nanny replies via blog.

It’s almost remarkable how easy it is to analyze this last one in terms of queer theory categories of multiple identities and the self as performance. (I’m even going to leave aside the discussion of bisexuality in the article and the blog; bringing that in would make this exercise trivial.) Try reading the stories this way:

A adopts role of “nanny” for her job watching B’s children. A adopts role of “Tessy” for her blog. These roles have different contexts and audiences. A mentions blog to B, who reads blog, and becomes uncomfortable with this mixing of roles. B finds herself increasingly unable to maintain the role assigned her in the narrative of A as “nanny.” Further, B and her husband, guarding their roles as parents, resist being incorporated into A’s “Tessy” online role. (As A writes, her husband “does not … care to find himself a character online”). After B’s New York Times piece, A responds in similar terms—B’s role as “Modern Love columnist” is dissonant with her role as “nanny-hiring mother.” But more unforgiveably, B has misunderstood A’s “Tessy” performance, has misread the identity A was offering to the world through her blog.

Blogging can function as an act of identity construction, as I’ve argued before. What’s interesting about these more recent stories is how much more effective blogging is becoming as a way of countering someone else’s attempt to make assertions about your identity.