So maybe we can think of blogs—at least the good ones, and maybe even ones like these—as letters, if not to friends, to everyone, to the future: here is who we are, as it unfolded in real time; here is what we were thinking, even when it turned out to be wrong; here is how we thought about each other and about ourselves; here is what we made of our world. Sometimes it won’t be worth saving, and often it won’t be thoughtful. Some day, when they edit our lifelong blogs and put them in a volume (like, say, we do now with the letters of a famous thinker), they’ll edit out the useless pieces, fix our grammar, add clarifying footnotes about confusing allusions. It won’t be a complete, accurate, well-thought-out view of life, but it will be a pretty good picture of what it was to be us.
That’s a helpful way of thinking about it. The best blogs have always managed to combine a fierce dedication to exploration, an unswerving devotion to intellectual integrity, and a belligerent refusal to be boring. The “typical” stuff of great writing, those.
But add in the transitory nature of the medium and the possibility that the thought might be fleeting and forgotten and blogging can become downright exciting. Lower the stakes and sometimes let an idea out that you might have been storing up for a cocktail party (as a manner of speaking). The thought might just need a group of people to hack away at the dross to determine whether there’s anything left keeping around.
Of course, all that depends on not taking blogging quite as seriously as we might a book or some other medium (and, I would note, a resolute willingness to occasionally utter “I was wrong”). Treating the exercise as letters to our future might help deflate some of the self-pretentious seriousness that always creeps in, particularly if we remember that at the end of it all, there will for most of us not be an editor waiting to collect and collate our correspondence.