If you throw a stone on college campuses today, chances are you’ll hit someone who keeps a blog (but don’t test it). This trend has increased exponentially in recent years, becoming a habitual part of everyday life.
Some of the aspects of blogging are obvious: free expression, for instance, and easy access to information. Others, though, are subtler, and might hold surprising implications for the ways in which we communicate and will communicate in future years.
First, the act of blogging requires no real formality in either thought or expression and, for college students, functions in a manner completely different from that of writing papers or preparing speeches.
Although some might still comply with the conventional forms of expression prevalent in academia —and indeed, all of us have been affected by our teachings in some way to adhere to at least some of these standards — for most, the freedom to break conventional rules and write as one pleases, stream-of-consciousness style, holds too high of an appeal.
This break in conventionality creates a radically different experience of thought and syntax for both author and reader than usual writing does. First, since word choice is less stringent, thought is presented the opportunity to become more lucid.
Writing one’s thoughts without worrying about eloquence, flow or sentence structure opens up possibilities for avenues of communication that hitherto were nonexistent. Ideas flow from the tip of one’s fingers, at the tap of a key, leaving room for initial reactions, Freudian slips, fleeting thoughts.
In that sense, to discard writing conventions via blogging is to touch more fully upon truth. In another sense, though, blogging might make communication even less effective than ever.
The words that flow from one person’s mind, however spontaneous and honest, might not successfully be integrated into another’s as smoothly because the very break in syntax that might allow one to write more passionately can erect a barrier before another.
People are used to expression in conventional structures; often, other forms are considered puerile at best; at worst, repulsive. Words are rejected on basis of their aesthetic appeal alone instead of being evaluated for the ideas they encompass.
The question remains, then, on which method is more likely to touch on truth: to express thoughts as quickly and lucidly as possible in order to encapsulate first impressions and reactions; or to reflect slowly upon ideas, to draw them out gradually, to make sure every word is placed correctly to communicate thoughts as carefully as possible?
The answer depends on the nature of the idea, the perceived truth in it by both writer and reader, and the openness of both to unconventional forms of expression.
Although the concept of blogging encompasses both sides of this issue quite nicely, the question goes far beyond one isolated practice and will remain prevalent indefinitely.
Allison Hight is a sophomore studying English and a columnist for The Post. If you’re a blogger, email Allison at email@example.com.