Saturday, November 22, 2008

What blog are you?

In this world of 24/7 digital communication, that personality test in the back page of your favorite magazine is so passé.

Here is the new-age character analysis: a site that analyzes your blog to tell you what your personality is, based on your digital diary.

Since it spat out a paragraph-long summary of my character after going over what would certainly amount to over a million word treatise of my most visceral and profound thoughts on everything from religion to politics to little weird obsessions, I don’t necessarily believe it.

But it does beg the question, might technology be enhancing the profound human connections we make in our day-to-day life, as opposed to diminishing them, as so many traditionalists claim it is?

If I were to display to someone a comprehensive outlook of my character – both as reflected to the world, and as introspected by myself – I can think on no better testament to it than my personal blog, a one-stop shop for my thoughts, feelings, and viewpoints on a variety of different subjects.

If I spot an adorable puppy while crossing the street, I am no longer inclined to pick up my phone and call my dog-loving friend; my urge to relate the incident, and receive corroboration is satisfied by simply reaching for my phone and sending out a tweet. There is instant gratification there, without the disappointment of reaching a voicemail or interrupting a busy work day with a trivial squeal about a cute puppy.

This is not to say that person-to-person interactions don’t mean anything anymore – there is no technological equivalent to lending an ear to a friend over cocktails in a time of crisis. Neither can the sheer happiness of a graduation or wedding ceremony be transmitted over a celluloid screen or a BlackBerry monitor.

But no doubt social media and blogging and twittering have added a certain dimension to human relationships. In a world full of complicated individuals, each with his own set of tastes and penchants, it is good to find a niche, a group of people with similar interests to connect with, and relate to, based on the same esoteric things that inspire you.

Andrew Sullivan describes, as only Andrew Sullivan can, the unique relationship a blogger has with his readers in this month’s Atlantic. Since I’m too intimidated by his exceptional eloquence, I won’t attempt to say it better:

“Alone in front of a computer, at any moment, are two people: a blogger and a reader. The proximity is palpable, the moment human—whatever authority a blogger has is derived not from the institution he works for but from the humanness he conveys. This is writing with emotion not just under but always breaking through the surface. It renders a writer and a reader not just connected but linked in a visceral, personal way. The only term that really describes this is friendship. And it is a relatively new thing to write for thousands and thousands of friends.”