Fact Blogs Are A Cop-out

(should I have capitalised both the ‘c’ and ‘o’ in ‘Cop-out’?)

I’m a terrible human being; my descriptions of myself on this blog alone have been a testament to that. However, recently, I’ve noticed an alarmingly frequent number of formatted posts on this blog, specifically the numerically-alliterative fact blogs, the rigid pro tips blogs and yesterday’s stolen questions. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a more formatised structure to a post, as they can be easily produced if ideas are in short supply. This is the very problem, however: I have a full-page sticky note on my computer exclusively of blog ideas.

I feel that I have a fear of my posts at this point; my work here has hardly been degree-level sociology or cultural commentary (and it’s barely been GCSE-level literary analysis), but posts like Why Sports Are Stupidly Cool and I Don’t Understand Women were, I feel, intelligent reactions to our society, based around my reasonably creative opinions and expressed in a readably eloquent manner. On a website built to allow for the exchange and discussion of ideas on any conceivable topic, I’ve fallen back on telling you what my favourite birthday card was, which is a bit of a step down.

This idea of fear is important, as it contrasts directly to my initial intention for this blog: to be something I do with little effort, but great enjoyment, in my spare time; I can’t relax and enjoy writing if the Damoclesean Sword of ‘Is this as good as my second-ever post?’ hanging over my head.

I end up worrying if my topics are ‘intelligent’ or ‘sophisticated’ enough, perhaps a subconscious response to my History teacher’s criticism of my essays that my arguments are too simplistic, with it now being four days before my history exam, which means I spent up to an hour discarding possible topics for their basicness, and up to another hour trying to tie my simple, easily-arguable observation about my life to some broader purpose for humanity, or a wider criticism of society.

And this means that blogging becomes difficult especially on weekends, when I’m painfully aware that I have two hours free, but am only spending half an hour on writing, and ninety minutes on Football Manager.

I thought about writing ‘intelligent’ things on the weekends, therefore, and dumb attacks on strangers that encourage me when I run during the week, when I’m tired from school, or actually running, but I felt this would lead to a severe predictability in my posts; ‘Hey, that guy whose blog about the role of women I read posted again today! Aww, it’s Tuesday, it’s all about why monkeys should play Chess professionally.’

Furthermore, the need to at least entertain, if not provoke thoughts, has come to my attention; you’ll notice that on ‘simple’ days, with more light-hearted topics that I can write in half an hour, I launch into a paragraph-long sentence, with more clauses than I have readers, denouncing everything I’ve just mentioned to such an extreme extent that you’d think they had murdered my family, eaten my sister’s Geckos, shat on my PS3 and turned all of our computers’ backgrounds to this, instead of their actual ‘crime’ of existing to fulfil their own needs, as all animals fundamentally do, in a manner that differs slightly from my own.

Hell, I did it just there! Even in self-reflection I’m a hypocritical dick.

However, it is entirely possible that I’m over-thinking this; in worrying about whether I’m no longer doing this exclusively for the fun of writing, I’m actively not doing it exclusively for the fun of writing, as the quality of the end product becomes the goal, which can never be the case with a daily blog, where the emphasis is on quantity, and not necessarily quality.

And before you suggest it, daily blogging will continue as normal. So shut up.

Also, a lot of real-life friends have commented with approval of my ‘ability’ to take mundane observations about my life and expand them to wider social commentaries, so perhaps people like this, even if I think it’s a total cop-out as far as the production and explanation of intelligent ideas is concerned.

I suppose the fundamental question is that of reader-response theory: are my posts intelligent because I think they are, or because my readers think they are? My blog will hardly be analysed like the diary of Samuel Pepys after I’m gone, but surely it is the latter, as you guys will be able to judge the posts for what they are, as opposed to my judgement, which is always framed by the fact that I’m applying to the highest-ranked University in the country for English, yet I can’t independently think of anything more profound to say than Printers are Bastards.

I like the variety of this blog; it’s named after me not for egomaniacal reasons, but to keep the content produced open – it’s whatever the Hell James Patrick Casey wants to write about, be it literature or cynicism; I think that’s okay, as long as the blog doesn’t go too far one way or the other: constant philosophising will alienate people from reading it, as my unsuccessful and now-cancelled Wordsdays series did (more on that on Wednesday), and too much silliness will make me lose faith in the validity and intelligence of my own blog.

But obviously, the possibility of alienating you folks is determined by you, so let me know what you think of the balance between societal observations and mindless anger, if nothing else so that my blog gets more comments on it, which I can brag about to my family, who will think that I’m a world-famous e-Journalist on this site. Hey, I’m known in Kenya!


It’s a sloth!


4 thoughts on “Fact Blogs Are A Cop-out

  1. From my own experience, if you want to produce quality work, you have to also take time for meaningless stupid things that you enjoy. I got a degree with honors in Molecular and Microbiology, and xkcd.com, Hot Rod and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along blog were the types of things that kept me sane. I am taking the same approach for grad school. Use your free time to do things you enjoy, and don’t judge yourself for whatever they may be. You’ll be happier and more productive in the end.

    1. Thank you! I was genuinely encouraged by that – well done, more than anything else. I know what you mean about doing stuff I like and not worrying about judgement, but I’ve been evaluating and improving myself since I had to sit entrance exams for secondary school when I was ten. I know I should stop worrying about it, it’s just hard for me not to.

      I’m also stuck between making blogging a purely leisure activity, in which case I’d just write about silly topics, and something I seriously work on and improve to make it into something intelligent and meaningful that I can be proud of in a more serious way. I think this indecision is preventing me from picking one side or the other and developing the blog a particular way, which doesn’t help.

      1. I’m the same way. I read books for leisure, but that wasn’t good enough so now 1/4 of my reading choices are in Spanish. I have to constantly improve, but sometimes it’s good to take a break from that.

        Who says you have to do one or the other? It’s your blog. You do whatever you want. Confession: I’m biased because I combine way too many things into one blog, both serious and silly.

        1. I’m the one who’s saying I need to do one or the other – I like being decisive about things, apparently even if it confuses me.

          I’m thinking I’ll follow your biased advice (biased things are way more interesting than objective ones) though, and continue to write things as I think of them, and we’ll see how that works out.

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