To Blog, Or Not To Blog? Students Weigh In On Latest Trends

Mehak Bansil

By Mehak BansilContributing Writer

As Blogger Patrick, i.e. P. Diddy, commented on Dangerboy’s blog, “I say, BLOG or die.” There was a time when the word “blog” elicited thoughts of long-winded diary entries concluding with a hyperlink to readers’ equally lengthy comments. However, as Communication sophomore Sarah Welbourn points out, “Blogs that talk about what someone did all day are really self-gratifying.”

Truth be told, at first, most people weren’t interested. Now, with the online blogging community expanding from a few LiveJournal users to Web sites like Blogspot and MySpace, the word has taken on new meaning. Blogs now have uses ranging anywhere from political forums to online magazines; uses which provide the word with a heightened sense of credibility, converting skeptics and solidifying followers.

For example, as SESP junior John Webber finds, “Political blogs, i.e. those that discuss political issues, events, or people or deal strictly with international or national issues, are powerful forms of citizen journalism that can make a difference in national campaigns.”

This new generation of blogs has had an impact closer to home as well, with Northwestern students and organizations using blogging for public forums, communication with their friends, announcement boards, and Web sites. Included in this list is the student-run Gossipdesk blog, which provides information and occasional humorous commentary on upcoming events and happenings both on and off campus, which, as the authors of the blog stated, “with any luck would have the runaway success and glossy critical appeal of similar sites like Gawker.”

Speaking of gawking, the idea of combining professional journalism with blogs may elicit such reactions from skeptical bloggers. But Medill sophomore and blogger Tom Giratikanon feels otherwise.

“We use the blog style of writing because it feels more informal, more like a conversation with our readers instead of ‘here’s what we think,'” said Giratikanon.

Not convinced yet? If Weinberg sophomore Chelsea Thompson’s blog entry about “how Northwestern is an amazingly good-smelling campus because everyone has the best colognes and perfumes” or Weinberg junior Anu Gollapudi’s economic discussion about the “way in which pricing draws a racial line between crack and cocaine” can’t change your mind, maybe the opportunity to share your innermost feelings in a textual form will.

But, for some, the dangers associated with those sorts of entries outweigh the benefits. As Weinberg senior Nirav Shah fears, “The temptation to write everything you want and wash your dirty laundry in public can get people in trouble. The reality is that you could get fired from your job or arrested for what you say in your blog.”

Another reality, at least in Thompson’s opinion, is that with which LiveJournal was originally founded: “It’s an online stress ball where you can express yourself in any form you choose.”

Reach Mehak Bansil at [email protected]