Social Distortion: Every Blog Has Its Day

Stardate: 1999 (or 02254.5, if you're nasty). Also known as Pretty Much the Stone Age, when talkin' 'bout the internets. Al Gore had barely invented the term "social media," and no one called themselves social media gurus. Yes, those were the good ol' days. Amidst the tumult that climaxed in the dot-com bust, a new species of online content creator was swiftly emerging - the blogger.

What'd "blogger" mean way back in the paleolithic past? To the world at large, blogging was a stupid, self-important waste of time. To the writer, it was a highly personal authorship role by which some defined themselves. Bloggers wantonly entertained, persuaded, enraged, and educated anyone with willing eyes. Bloggers created communities around their blogs, engaging in the functional equivalent of fellatio - leaving comments and adding each other to their blogrolls. Bloggers became intertwined in each other's online personas, and eventually, their daily lives were indistinguishable from their blogging lives. It was an almost impenetrable cult that only required a David Koresh to command it.

In this land, noms de plume ruled the roost. That way, if your boss stumbled upon exploits of your long weekend in Seattle when you were "out with the flu," at least you had the anonymity force shield to insulate you. Even blogging under your real name - as long as it wasn't your full name - still offered a protective bit of safety gauze over the lens. 'Cause seriously, who actually googled anyone back in the Stone Age? Was it even a verb then? Gosh, it really was so long ago! The blogosphere was a hedonistic, no-holds-barred domain, where you could allow every minutiae of your existence to be stroked or hateraded. That rico suave engineer you hooked up with outside Tacos A-Go-Go actually looked like a middle-aged dentist? That valuable feedback would've gone unaddressed if you hadn't blogged about it.

But after the spit-or-swallow debates died down and you'd invented your latest fictitious name to protect the innocent, most bloggers discovered that this approach was unsustainable. Executive decisions loomed near, like Mitch Buchannon patrolling the beach with his red rescue buoy. Did the blogger want to formally attach her given name to that treasure trove of failed dating escapades? Did the blogger want to go down in Google-cached history as the only man that fantasized about Richard Simmons' afro while sitting in sales meetings? A resounding "No fucking way!" rang through the blogosphere. As liberating as it was, it seemed that public flagellation was going out of style. Except in Singapore.

Stardate: 11166.2 (that's supposed to be today, non-trekkies). The majority of bloggers use their real names in all forms of online communication. Hell, your company even has a blog now, doesn't it? And it ain't juicy, either. Without the veil to hide behind, bloggers were - gasp! - forced to take more responsibility for their words. They hadn't been irresponsible in the past (they'd always used the morning-after pill, mind you), but real-name blogging made it clear that detailed accounts of singleton trysts would be suctioned to their infinitely searchable selves. Just like sex with an ex, it was a big, fat no-no. It was time to strap on an iron-clad set, and graduate from cyber diapers to cyber boxers. The self-analytical, sacrificial lambs were gated for the preservation of the Blogger bloggerius species. There were better venues for those thoughts and observations. Like Twitter.

But the struggle remains within every formerly pseudonymed blogger when pondering, "Potty training pointers or techniques for removing the hair from your asscrack?" for potential blogpost topics. After all, what is the dill pickle fetishist without regaling her tales of unconventional juicing experiences? Who is the amateur baseball enthusiast if he can't admit he stuffs his jockstrap with jelly beans for frictional pleasure? If sharing the shit most innate to bloggers is invariably off-limits, what is there for them to say with any sort of authority, know-how, or conviction?

Using a real name necessitates a cockblocking, blue balls-inducing exercise of restraint for bloggers when it comes to what they do and don't post on their blogs. It's an awkwardly large, um, ahem, to, um, swallow, but unfortunately, it seems the intern's stained blue dress can hang on the public clothesline nevermore.

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Fayza Elmostehi
Contact: Fayza Elmostehi