Mittwoch, Oktober 19, 2005

Ego Tripper


"She is an ego tripper, one-way traffic yeah. Didn't take me so long to find out, and I found out." (with apologies to the late John Lennon *grin*)

"It's also a huge ego trip. A blogger in Norway made a button that says "I love Wendy's Blog" and a number of my fellow bloggers have displayed that on their sites. I can't begin to tell you how immensely flattering that is! I don't think I'll ever stop being amazed at how 'famous' I've become."

Not to be confused with Singapore's own enfant terrible blogger, Wendy Cheng (Xiaxue), it was Wendy Johnson of Alexandria, Washington--a knitting enthusiast and owner of the hobby blog/website http://www.wendyknits.net/ (since 1996)--who said that. Her blog has received over 3.5 million hits since April 2002, and she has sponsored numerous “knit-alongs” for fellow hobbyists.

Johnson made those comments in a newsletter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) a few years back, when asked about her online journals.

"A sense of community, for one thing. I'm a solitary knitter, don't go to guild meetings, don't shop in [local yarn stores], don't hang out with other knitters in person. Since I started my knitting blog, I've made a lot of new friends."

In all honesty, ego trips have been around on the Internet, long before personal blogs turned them into a popular pastime. People were sharing their own thoughts and putting up personal photos onto their homepages in the net's Jurassic period; a few friends of mine even uploaded their wedding videos onto their personal website (registered with their own domain names). Justin Hall, considered the “founding father of personal blogging”, was already penning his online journal way back in 1994.

For me, it's fairly easy to relate to how Johnson feels about her online fame. After all, I've been running my own hobby websites since 1994, and like her, it feel good when strangers give you a pat for the back for all the hard work you've put in; it's even more flattering (kind of embarrassing, though) when fellow enthusiasts recognise you on the street.

However, you won't find Johnson rambling on about herself and her achievements, nor will you spot too many photo on herself on her blog, since most of them are devoted to her knitting projects and pet cat.

I don't put my photos up on my websites either, and the only time I didn't use a pseudonym was during an online interview with a US webzine.

Everyone likes to be appreciated for a job well done. You don't just feel good about yourself, but more importantly, about what you've achieved. It's about pride, since your work's an extension of your ego.

Like they say, you can insult the artist, but never his work. =)

So, yeah, we all had our occasional ego trips. But few ever got carried away with over-personifying their egos.

How things have changed with vanity blogs. And now Wendy intends to take her online narcissism to new heights/depths by commercialising it.

I don't like picking on people, I really don't. But I've never seen someone so conceited as to spend her waking hours building an altar for herself so she can sit on it. And if that's not bad enough, she even intends to make a living out of it.

Wendy has just revamped her blog—what she professes to be “possibly the most beautiful blog in the WORLD”—and with it, added new claims to greatness.

Here the pick of the crop:

I am Xiaxue, and I am your mother.

I am Xiaxue, and I'm a great spirit because Einstein once said that great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

I am Xiaxue. Thus behold the best blogger in the world.
(yeah right, tell that to Cory Doctorow and a lot of other bloggers out there)

The "world" in American sports is usually confined to North America (the World Series in Major League Baseball, for instance); the "world" in Wendy's dictionary must be a hell lot smaller even, perhaps something like a red dot....

However, the one that irked me most was this: "I also give talks about blogging, because someone killed the oldest blogger and made me the ultimate expert."

If Wendy thinks she's the "oldest blogger" and "ultimate expert" around, then what does that make professionals who have been in this industry even before she discovered her first webpage?

For all the hype surrounding blogs being a "new phenomenon", let's not forget that weblogs--like websites and community portals etc--are part of an ongoing Internet "evolution" that began years ago.

As John Grohol, a psychologist who writes about weblogs, observes: "The content and purpose of a blog is no different than a Web page, a Usenet discussion group, a mailing list or anything else adapted to a specific purpose."

A few years of frivolous blogging don't instantly make you an expert. Neither do a few weblog awards (we used get inundated with website awards too until we all got sick of them). It takes years of accumulated knowledge and experience to make someone an "expert" in his or her field--and Wendy has neither.

Oldest blogger, ultimate expert? What arrogance!

A lot of people have achieved far more than her--IT professionals, marketing people, designers, editorial staff etc who worked their butts off getting the online community to be where it is today--and they don't even openly make such claims.

You really have to ask yourself, how can someone's ego possibly grow so big for achieving so little? At 21 she's got little (if any) working/life experience under her belt; she's hardly a qualified webmaster, and has others to do her blog design and graphics; her articles are condescending, and hold water like a broken sieve; her looks are average, her personality worse.

And yet, she has a legion of groveling fans who can see no wrong in whatever she does, while the media and brand names are contented just to keep a symbiotic relationship with her.

Whether it's the media attention she gets, our youth's obsession with hype, or a deadly concoction of both, things are working out fine for Wendy. Also, credit where credit's due--she does seem to understand what makes the brat culture tick, and knows how to use the medium to work the crowds.

However, given her "success", it's only a matter of time before dozens of Xiaxue-wannabes start jumping on the bandwagon and imitating her.

Now that's worrying.

Yes, it's worrying when flaunting one's ego on the net can be considered a professional career--let alone an achievement. It's worrying when youngsters are encouraged to value show over substance, moreover by adults who should know better.

And it borders on the absurd when I can get accused of jealousy (and all sorts of silly things) simply for voicing my concerns.

Global village, global community, my foot! The Internet has devolved into one monstrous and expensive ego trip.

Welcome to the grave new world.

13 Comments:

  • At Mittwoch, Oktober 19, 2005 11:19:00 nachm., Anonymous delia said…

    well said

     
  • At Donnerstag, Oktober 20, 2005 1:01:00 vorm., Anonymous Hel said…

    Her podcast is a lame attempt to gain public sympathy. It's just one of those "poor me, I'm really a nice person" acts.

    I really think her ignorance and inability to form clear arguments & stand her ground are due to her lack of education. By education I don't just mean academics, but also extracurricular activities like finding out about the world, reading, meeting different kinds of people etc. At age 21, you would think she could have done plenty of that by now.

    But no, she sits in her crappy bubble spouting off things that make me cringe in embarrassment for her.

     
  • At Donnerstag, Oktober 20, 2005 3:24:00 nachm., Blogger Yours Potatoly said…

    You go girl.

    (I presume you're a girl. From your template. By why a 'copy' of Sandralicious' blog? Is there any special reason?)

    ~ www.potatomusmaximus.blogspot.com

     
  • At Donnerstag, Oktober 20, 2005 9:29:00 nachm., Anonymous Anonym said…

    cuz simplesandra sucks. she is a wannabe and another attention seeker. some cheap girl who strips for fame. Does that answer your question?

     
  • At Donnerstag, Oktober 20, 2005 9:54:00 nachm., Blogger simplesandra said…

    To Anon

    Yup, this 30-something IT professional/writer sure is some "cheap girl" all right. =)

     
  • At Freitag, Oktober 21, 2005 7:15:00 vorm., Anonymous Anonym said…

    hey have u heard of all the drama going on at pinkshoefetish?? she wrote bad stuff about her ex on her blog and now all their friends at purdue have set up a blog to present his side of the story- thepurduediaries.blogspot.com.

    people like daphne and wendy are shameless.

     
  • At Freitag, Oktober 21, 2005 1:14:00 nachm., Blogger Yours Potatoly said…

    Anon (1st one): Limited, shallow vocab, eh? Limited grey matter too, eh? Or is there any?

     
  • At Freitag, Oktober 21, 2005 2:32:00 nachm., Anonymous George said…

    Setting up a website to build a shrine for oneself is not as bad as setting up a website for the SOLE PURPOSE of dissing another person.

     
  • At Freitag, Oktober 21, 2005 5:13:00 nachm., Anonymous insens said…

    Sadly, what you've wrote is not just true of Xiaxue, but of most teenage singaporean bloggers in general.

     
  • At Samstag, Oktober 22, 2005 3:19:00 nachm., Blogger simplesandra said…

    Anonymous wrote: "hey have u heard of all the drama going on at pinkshoefetish??"

    Haven't been there for a while, but what a mess it's become... as much as I disapprove of Dahpne's showboating, I'd rather that it didn't have to come down to this.

    I really can't emphasise enough: there's nothing private about a "personal" blog that everyone can see. Hang your dirty linen out to dry on the net, and you're bound to have it thrown back into your face....

    George wrote: "Setting up a website to build a shrine for oneself is not as bad as setting up a website for the SOLE PURPOSE of dissing another person. "

    You must be mistaken. Dissing people (from her shrine, too) is Wendy's speciality, not mine. =)

     
  • At Samstag, Oktober 22, 2005 11:47:00 nachm., Anonymous Linggie said…

    is this the real sandralicious? OR?????

     
  • At Freitag, Oktober 28, 2005 8:57:00 nachm., Blogger Aragorn said…

    i rate Sandra as better than XX

     
  • At Dienstag, November 01, 2005 3:29:00 vorm., Anonymous Anonym said…

    hi sandra, i noticed that you have labels for such bloggers as "vanity writers". would you consider upcoming blogger clapbangkiss (xanga.com/clapbangkiss) as one or not? & what do you think of her encouraging the advantages of cosmetic surgery among her readers who over see the fact that she is a plastic beauty?

     

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