The days of the personal diary, of a journal kept with our most secret thoughts, fears and wishes, were numbered from the very first moment someone discovered that the Internet could be an ideal forum for personal writing, that it didn’t just have to be a mass of universities with learned books on offer, or websites offering discounts on this and that item which, to be honest, most people could easily do without. The Internet, perhaps as it was originally designed, is a massive medium of communication between anyone and everyone. The personal diary, with its fluffy cover, or an easily broken lock, with the dangers that Mom or Dad might discover it, or that a jealous little sister might read out innermost thoughts to all her friends in the clique at school, has been replaced by the Weblog or Blog, replaced by software which allows anyone with Internet access to share their thoughts with the world.
It is estimated that there are currently upwards of one hundred million Blogs on the Internet, admittedly not all of them active, but there nonetheless and available for anyone to read. Some are filled with fascinating insights, some with niche writing, poetry, erotica, photographs, business tips right down to the most obvious of scams and hoaxes. Within this vast array of possibilities are the Blogs written by teenagers from all walks of life. With so many Blogs already written, being written each day, it may seem hard for a newcomer, especially a teenager not used to putting words down on paper (so to speak) to find their place. The main problem for many is what to write about: everything that they do, see, experience is normal – to them – and hardly likely to be of interest to anyone else. The teenager’s weblog is likely to disappear in the morass, and then there is the problem of what to write about in the first place.
The setting up of a Blog is perhaps the easiest part of the whole. The budding writer merely needs to go to one of the many services, such as WordPress, sign up with a working email address, pick and theme template which suits their lifestyle and they are ready. But what to write about?
An absolute classic of literature, but hardly a work many teenagers are likely to have read or find interesting, is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Here, Robert M Pirsig gives advice to a student which is ideal for the teenage Blogger. Write about things around you, about your daily life. Take the city or town that you live in, explore it, write about what you find. If that is too much, write about a single street, a single building within that street. He goes a stage further with his student, and tells her that, if writing about a building is too much, if writer’s block is still there, a lack of ideas and inspiration, then pick a single brick from that one building, and write about the brick. Of course, the brick is a metaphor, merely used to illustrate his point, and can be replaced with anything else.
Teenage years are a time of change. We are no longer children, but not quite adults. We are faced with myriad problems but few viable solutions which suit us. Our generation is different to the generation before; we are different to our parents not just in looks, but in outlook, interests, ideals. It is a time of conflict, a time of exploration and, with a Blog, it is a time when we can find other teenagers experiencing the same emotions and share with them. A Blog can be used to express frustration as much as joy, to record the little things in life which give us pleasure as much as those which annoy. A Blog is something which doesn’t judge us, which we control completely and alone, and over which we have complete freedom to do as we wish. If a teenage Blogger writes about a spot in the middle of his or her forehead, their first period, a misplaced kick which ruined a football match, a good looking man or woman there is no one to say that they are wrong, no one to say that they can’t write about such things, or that they could write better. The Blog is an open book which welcomes any and all posts.
As a teenage Blogger, many will not yet have formed a set idea of what they wish to do or to be in their lives, and the Blog is an ideal forum to test out ideas, to write from the heart, to explore. There is no set answer to the question ‘what should a teenage Blogger write about’ but many variables: write about what interests you; about what is interesting in your friends, school, neighborhood; about music, concerts, shows, dancing, pets, little sisters. Initially any theme can be addressed, and as much variety as possible included in the Blog, with time an over-riding theme may well form, a niche, an area of real interest. Write about themes covered in other Blogs, give your own opinion, make your own comments.
The world of Blogging is practically unlimited, as are the number of subjects which can be written about, and the Blog is one person’s own private world just waiting to be built up, to be populated by posts. Write about what interests you, even those fleeting interests which last barely a moment, but don’t set any limits.