I have realised that I hold back at least 7 out of 10 blogposts because I can’t decide wether to write in english or german. Since quite a while I had decide to write in german over at Breaking The Waves but somehow it doesn’t work for me, there’s zero continuity.
The internet to me always has been a place that connected me with people that I share interests with and that means: no matter where from, the international pop underground. Be it on facebook or with search engines or international online magazines (I’m looking at you, VICE) – all the developments that make it more local/regional/national make me feel a bit awkward. I do not just want the content that’s just for the country/city I live in. As for facebook: Of course it’s nice to share things with friends and of course lots of my friends are local friends but. BUT! It turns the old metaphor of the ‘global village’ into a small gossipy CSU-ruled redneck town that sometimes gives me the same feeling as I had when I was a kid at family celebrations, stuck at the coffee table for endless hours, bored to death but just getting enough cake, gifts or funny stories to stick around.
Whenever I blog in English I’m aware that many of my german friends/acquaintances/readers won’t bother reading it, even if they understand English. Whenever I blog in german I exclude non-german-speaking people, and might miss out on some one who would engage out of interest in the subject. And: I really feel more at home in the english-speaking blog/twitter/magazine/paper-world than in the german.
I don’t even know since when this has become a matter of thought to me at all but at some point I sometimes had a potential reader on my mind and that totally blocks me. I like blurting out what comes to my mind, spontaneously connecting dots, mapping the world around me with words, trying to understand it a little better – that was the main thing I love about writing. I didn’t check stats, I didn’t use any ‘make your blog more popular’ tips, etc. Just like with my music I just posted it, added a link on facebook and then let it rest. If something happened, e.g. others give me interesting feedback about similar experiences or bring up interesting facts or artists I hadn’t known about or discuss other points of view etc. – it was great. If nothing happened with it it was fine, too, because I’ve always seen personal blogging as a bit of a diary thing, in which I am free to mix the personal with the political, the emotional with the theoretical. An exhibitionist diary, you might add, and I’d agree: a diary with lose ends for others to connect if they feel like.
The choice of language is just one bit in a puzzle of reader-awareness that has grown bigger in me over the last years. At it’s worse it was the notion of being watched in a surveillance kind of way. One experience that definitely was a cut in personal blogging was when I got forced to either delete something I had written about a guy who stalked me (even though I had kept it strictly anonymous) or his father (! – not even himself, that cowardish scum) would sue me. I deleted it because I was on the edge of my nerves because of that guys’ behaviour and didn’t feel I had the power to stand up to him in a public courtroom. I just wanted it to end. I still somewhat regret that and hope that no other woman got hassled by him afterwards. It’s kind of ironic that this was the only legal threat I ever had as I used to post so many mash ups back in the days. What I’m getting at: legal questions also have increasingly spoiled the ease of blogging for me. I like to cross-reference a lot, quote+link style, but there were so many discussions about changing german copyright laws if it comes to quoting and linking to news articles etc. that almost every kind of quote or linkage feels a bit weird. I don’t want to waste time on reading up on the latest law bits all the time just to keep my blog hassle-free. The latest fuzz: Is it illegal to embed a youtube video – read here in the Internet Law Blog.
Another thing that made me more careful of writing opinions online is the abuse you get – and of course you do get it, especially if you voice opinions to feminist issues. Most of the time I laugh or shrug them off. For example a few days ago a guy twittered “Fact = muslims are the number 1 threat to civilised society”. I replied “No, muesli is the number 1 threat to civilised society. You got it all wrong”. He replied: “shut the fuck up you self righteous occupy wall street cunt”. I got no big problem with such internet abuse and threats, and I’ve been called worse (one of my favourites was something along the lines of ‘your father should have ejaculated in front of a running train rather than waste his sperm on you’, and yes, I also had physical threats). As long as it’s with people of whom I know they don’t live around the corner I can deal with that and it won’t shut me up. It gets scary/sad though when you get it from locals – aquaintances or people that are friends of your friends on facebook. It’s one of the things I really despise about facebook – you realize you’re just a few people away from sexist/homophobic/racist/nationalist/ableist scum. It makes you realize how people you know do not speak up against such remarks. How little support there is when a gang of guys get you in their focus. That’s the kind of thing that made me shut up a few times and I’m not proud of it.
I understand people who say that one should not start discussions in facebook comments or on the internet at all cause there are too many people just trolling but I have already enjoyed too many positive, fun and inspiring exchanges and discussions to agree on that. I have been a net afficionada for far too long to let such things spoil the web for me.
Speaking of bad comments, let me digress with a german example of an explosion of such: The absolutely out-of-proportion rude reaction to a picture on the facebook page of a big german news show: it showed Claudia Roth, a german politician (Green Party), after she had been injured at Occupygezi – here’s the blog entry about it by heute.de’s editor Martin Giesler. At the end he asks how and why journalism should still try to open up to readers. Erbloggtes, another blog, has a sharp answer online here. Erbloggtes basically asks him if it isn’t journalists’ job that if they see a problem to reach out and research and thus contribute to understanding it. In the case of the prevailing horror of online comment culture Erbloggtes guesses that the answer could tell a lot about a desolidarised and antagonistisc competitive society, about people who otherwise have no voice, who feel they have nothing to lose. The latter also meaning – that’s where both agree – that a real name policy doesn’t help.
While that journalist point of view and that answer are interesting and I really wish there would be less theoretical talk about it but more approaches like the one Erbloggtes suggests it does not really help for my situation as personal blogger. As you can tell by this longish piece about changes I have decided to post in English again which – despite my clumsiness in using it as a non-native speaker – is the language I prefer for the internet and pop culture.