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9 Apr

The “b” word – In a recent entry, I forced myself to embrace the term “blog,” going so far as to call Liminality one and using the word so many times in one entry that it is actually somewhat painful to read. Interestingly enough, this entry drew some of the most forceful feedback I’ve ever received. One reader, known only as “a fan” (I must admit that made me smile), wrote that my entries contained too much substance to be “merely called blogs.”

“I pour my heart and soul into Liminality—there’s no way I’m going to demean that by calling it a mere ‘log.’”

A friend of mine put it far more succinctly in an ICQ conversation: “Blogs suck. So don’t have one.” I must admit that made me smile as well. “No matter how things are viewed,” he said, “don't consider what you write as a blog. Be witty... be different. Blogs are ‘I fed my dog today.’ Call it a thlog or something—a ‘thought log.’”

“Thlog” does have an interesting ring to it, but the “th” sound makes it a bit difficult to say. On the other hand, it does have the novelty factor going for it. To be perfectly honest, though, I always liked “online journal.” It’s a bit mundane, but it describes perfectly what I do here—I write in my journal, which happens to be online.

So, with a perfectly good term for what I have here, why did I decide to call it a blog? Well, a lot of people had begun to refer to it as a blog, and they did this as if it were completely natural. To be honest, I felt a bit embarrassed at my reticence. I felt old-fashioned, conservative, elitist. Never mind the fact that I actually am all of these things, it’s just not hip these days to be perceived as such.

Thus I bent to the pressure and demeaned Liminality and its content. Now I feel equally embarrassed, this time because I didn’t stand up for what I believed in. Yes, I know that sounds very silly—mountains out of molehills and all—but the fact of the matter is that I decided to call Liminality a blog, not because of any change in thinking on my part, but because I felt it was what other people wanted to hear. The very thought that I pandered to the lowest common denominator here makes me sick to my stomach.

I realize that sounds extremely elitist, so I suppose a bit of clarification is in order. There are plenty of talented web writers out there that have no problem referring to what they do as a blog. I enjoy many such sites on a daily basis. The term “blog” however, is not for me. I have never liked it and, no matter how valiantly I may have tried to convince myself otherwise, I never will like it.

“Blog,” as mostly everyone will know, is a shortening of “web log.” OK, I can buy the web part, but where did the log come from? According to Merriam-Webster, a log is (in the sense we are using it here) “a record of ... day-to-day activities.” In other words: “What my dog ate.” I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t begin to do justice to what I do here. I pour my heart and soul into Liminality—there’s no way I’m going to demean that by calling it a mere “log.”

There are numerous words in the English language that have changed significantly from their original meaning (the word “nice,” for example, comes from the Latin word for “ignorant”). To some extent, the meaning of “blog” now goes beyond a mere online record of daily activities. Unfortunately, the vast majority of blogs remain vapid and mind-numbingly dull—an all-you-can-eat buffet where everything tastes like cardboard. Even if I am throwing a few babies out with the bathwater, I do not want to be associated with these sites.

As with most of my little anxiety attacks, I discussed this issue with my wife. When I asked her what she thought about blogs, she said, “You know I hate blogs.” My next question was, “Well, do you think my site is a blog?” She laughed and said, “How would I know?” It was a silly question, of course, because my wife doesn’t read my site—she tries to read as little English as possible (I can understand this, since she deals with English all the time at work). When I heard her reply, though, I was struck with a sudden, despair-inducing thought: “For all she knows, my site could be a blog!” That’s when I realized there was no way on God’s good earth I was going to get away with calling Liminality a blog and still be able to sleep at night.

I am not alone, of course—many fine writers out there also refuse to call their sites “blogs” (they generally also don’t carry on about semantics as much as I do, but that’s only because they’re not as neurotic as I am). In fact, looking through the bookmarks of the sites I visit on a regular basis, I find that most of them do not use the word “blog.” We have thoughts, daily reports, musings, and stories, among others. Most sites don’t even bother with terms, letting the writing speak for itself.

So why am I writing this? Is it really necessary for me to carry on like this over something that, ultimately, seems rather trivial? Most surely it is not. However, it makes me feel better, as if I have exorcised the idea of “blog” from Liminality. I made a public statement that I was going to call Liminality a blog, so I think it’s only proper that I should make a public retraction as well. This may not have been the most interesting or insightful entry I’ve ever written, but it was something that needed doing. Nobody ever won an award for taking out the garbage, but think of what the house would smell like if no one ever did it.

So there it is. This is my online journal, and Liminality is a union of this journal, my photographs, and my writing, with some supplementary materials thrown in for good measure. In a word, it is an expression of me. As elitist as it may seem to shun the blogosphere and all it stands for, I think that ultimately I will benefit from holding myself to a higher standard, and hopefully it will make for more interesting reading.

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