Say it five times in a row, preferably out loud: Blog. Blog. Blog. Blog. Blog. Has there ever been an uglier word? You don’t say it so much as you expectorate it. As though it carried some foul toxin that you had to get out of your mouth as quickly as possible. Blog! I think it must have snuck into the language in disguise. Clearly, it was meant to mean something very different. I’d guess it was intended to be a piece of low slang referring to some coarse bodily function.
Like: “Can we pull over at the next rest area? I really have to blog.”
Or: “The baby was up all night blogging.”
Or: “Oh, Christ, I think I just stepped in a blog.”
But somehow it escaped its scatological destiny and managed to hitch itself, like a tick, to a literary form. Who’s to blame? According to Wikipedia, which, needless to say, comes up as the first result when you google blog, Peter Merholz is the man whose name shall live in infamy. While Jorn Borger introduced the term “web log” – on December 17, 1997, to be precise – it was Merholz who “jokingly broke the word ‘weblog’ into the phrase ‘we blog’ in the sidebar of his blog Peterme.com in April or May of 1999. This was quickly adopted as both a noun and verb.” A passing act of silliness for which we all must now suffer. Thank you, Peter Merholz.
It doesn’t seem fair. No other literary pursuit is saddled with such a gruesome name. No one feels ridiculous saying “I am a novelist” or “I am a reporter” or “I am an essayist.” Hell, you can even say “I am an advertising copywriter,” and it sounds fairly respectable. But “I am a blogger”? Even when you say it to yourself, you can hear the sniggers in the background.
Imagine that you, a blogger, have just become engaged to some lovely person, and you are now meeting that lovely person’s lovely parents for the first time. You’re sitting on the sofa in their living room, sipping a cape-codder.
“So,” they ask, “what do you do?”
A tremor of shame flows through you. You try to say “I am a blogger,” but you can’t. It lodges in your throat and won’t budge. Panicked, you take refuge in circumlocution: “Well, I kind of, like, write, um, little commentaries that I, like, publish on the Internet.”
“Yeah, you know, like, commentaries.”
“Well, generally, they’re commentaries that comment on other commentaries.”
You’re getting deeper into the mire, but you can’t stop yourself. “Yeah. Usually it starts with some news story, and then I and a whole bunch of other people, other commentarians, will start commenting on it, and it’ll just go from there. I mean, imagine that there’s this news story and that a whole bunch of mushrooms start sprouting off it. Well, I’m one of those mushrooms.”
Face it: even “fungus” is a nicer word than “blog.” In fact, if I had the opportunity to rename blogs, I think I would call them fungs. Granted, it’s not exactly a model of mellifluousness either, but at least its auditory connotations tend more toward the sexual than the excretory. “I fung.” “I am a funger.” Such phrases would encounter no obstacle in passing through my lips.
But “I am a blogger”? Sorry. Can’t do it. It sounds too much like a confession. It sounds like something you’d say while sitting in a circle of strangers in a windowless, linoleum-floored room in the basement of a medical clinic. And then you’d start sobbing, covering your face with your hands. And then the fat woman sitting next to you would put her hand on your back. “It’s all right,” she’d say. “We’re all bloggers here.”