Wednesday, June 22, 2005

[Blog Entry] "Okay Lang", Blogging Propaganda

"Okay Lang"

I’m sure some people are annoyed by it, but when people often ask me a general question such as how I’m doing or how’s work, I often respond with "okay lang" ("it’s okay). Actually this is just my way of telling people that the real answer is way too long and complicated to be discussed in just a single statement. Or you could interpret it as "it could be better, but I’m not complaining ‘cause it’s all I’ve got".

Of course my "okay lang" answer only adds to my NR (no-reaction) personality. I mean people seldom see me as the talkative type. And in certain ways, I keep it that way. The more I talk, the more I tend to blunder. Unlike writing, there are no take backs, edits, or corrections. With words, you can just as easily humiliate yourself. All it takes is the wrong word, tone, or comment to change how people view you.

I like to elaborate on my views. Maybe it’s because I’m too introspective. But in general, I don’t just take one side. I try to see things from all sides, and usually phrase my answers in that way. I often qualify my statements. I mean a question I often get asked is "what’s a good book to read?" My immediate reply would be "what are you interested in?" because I have no illusions that what might be "good" for me might be different from the other person’s standards of good. I’m sure some people also find me annoying in that sense. They want straight answers, not a question phrased back at them. But hey, life isn’t simple. If you want a simple answer, you’ll just have to settle for "okay lang", as inappropriate or nonsensical that is.

Blogging Propaganda

In a certain sense, blogs are personal propaganda machines. I mean when was the last time you read an entry that downplayed the author? We might admit personal mistakes, but it’s usually to garner reader sympathy. Seldom do bloggers shoot themselves in the foot (unless they’re total idiots).

Of course having said that, for me it isn’t really surprising that people air what others might term as "dirty laundry" over the Internet. I mean hey, it’s your blog. It’s your personal propaganda machine. I don’t see how you can tell your own side of the story without portraying the other side as the villains. Obviously, it’ll be public. The other side’s only consolation is the fact that they’re free to air their side of their story as well. While I’m not saying that everyone should air their private grievances publicly, I think it would be naïve of us to expect others to follow the same rules as us. I mean public whining is a big possibility, especially in the world of blogging. Just because we don’t resort to it doesn’t mean other people wouldn’t (or even shouldn’t). Should we be mad at them for doing so just because we didn’t consider it a viable option? I don’t think so, especially in light that in certain ways, their own propaganda can put them in a bad light as well (hey, I get the occasional flame for my entries and comments, which I must admit can be provoking at times, especially to guilty parties).

I’m not saying that you should air everything publicly. Hey, if you want to play it safe, make everything private journal entries (if your type of account allows that). Of course that’s no guarantee that you’ll avoid controversy (your friends, after all, can have their own opinions and might get offended at your own entries), but it does reduce the risk. But I’m also not espousing that everyone make private blog entries. I mean part of the reason why blogging is such a huge community is the fact that it’s public, and that people are able to voice their own experiences, concerns, and opinions. Some people might even get in trouble for their blog entries. But similarly, they can be famous for that as well. Or more importantly, it’s what often makes an interesting read. Someone’s personal drama might be more entertaining than the local soaps we see on TV (and honestly, I’ve seen relationships that at times are more absurd and surreal than the local telenovelas).

Inevitably, we’ll come around the subject of slander. Or avoiding the use of real names. In the case of the former, well, as long as it’s true, mention it if it’s appropriate. This is your personal propaganda machine after all. Be accountable for it though. I mean if the other person gets angry that you posted this and that, mention that it did happen. Unless of course you were s worn to secrecy (which is the case of some business-related blogging issues). Or if you’re lying or embellishing too much to simply put yourself in a good light. Don’t do something you’ll inevitably be ashamed of, and this applies to both parties (the author and the person he or she is talking about). The latter is more tricky though. To be on the same side, use pseudonyms. Pseudonyms, however, can detract from the reading experience. Unfamiliar readers don’t know who the hell you’re talking about and will be baffled by your post. To your close friends who know the identity of the person you’re talking about… what’s the use of pseudonyms if the person’s identity you’re trying to conceal is known?

Having said all that, I think we should take people’s blog enties, including mine, with a grain of salt. It gives us a glimpse of the other person’s side, but in the end, it’s up to us to judge the actual scenario. We’re the jury in a court case. Personal blog entries are just witnesses brought to the stand. Some will obviously lie. Others will simply detail their side of the story. More often than not, there’ll be a misunderstanding somewhere. But obviously, most people will plead not guilty, and will try to tell the story in their favor. We can blame them for dishonesty, but we can’t blame them for that.


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