My favourite blogs

I’ve recently been in the mood to read blogs – not books. And since I didn’t know where to go for new ones, I decided I would reread my old favourites (is that even a thing?)

I remember when LiveJournal became a thing – we’re talking pre-Facebook now, maybe 2005. I was finishing off school. I had moved to Ireland then to live with my father’s side of the family, from Russia — leaving all my school friends behind.  Then I somehow found out that many of them are on LJ – and I was so excited, I literally couldn’t sleep. You know that feeling of dopamine, or whatever sweet chemical, the sort that you get on Christmas morning when you’re five years of age?

Since that time, blogging/reading blogs occupied a pretty important role in my life. Hobbies, even jobs, came and went, but blogging was more or less a constant.

I thought about what blogs I like and don’t like. Here are some things I do and don’t like in personal blogs. Let me know what resonates with you.

I don’t want advice

That’s probably a pet peeve. I’ve written at length that most advice online is either

  • a fact – and blogs aren’t the best for facts
  • a sales pitch – which may not be a bad thing, but often it is
  • isn’t applicable to everyone. One size doesn’t fit all.

In all cases, the blogger has no skin in the game giving me advice. If Medscape gets the dose of metoprolol wrong on their site, they will suffer reputational damage. If the author of a blog tells me that eating kiwis within 10 minutes of exercising is going to lead to some insulin/cortisol magic – and they’re wrong, it’s inconsequential for them.

I do want the author to share their experience

And if the author can be emotional and even curse. I don’t particularly want them to tell me about their tampons, but it seems that experience-based blogs are the most interesting. (Not really my own forte.)

As a derivative of the author’s experience, a how-to is good, but that’s not the same brand of preachy advice as in the above point.

I don’t want life lessons or rules

By and large, people’s conclusions – especially if they sound like generic common sense – are pretty useless. I am much more interested in opinions, thoughts and emotions — bias and all. I really don’t like it when people, or news outlets, say they are “unbiased”. They just look like they lack the insight into their own inevitable subjectivity.

I want (a) character

A blogger is basically a book character that updates him/herself every day — to me, that is. Or maybe a cartoon character, depending. I want to engage with them the same way I did with those addictive characters like Nick Carraway,  Jane Eyre, Andrey Bolkonsky, Scarlett O’Hara, Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Harry Potter. I care what happens to them and what they think and building up that puzzle of who you are is the best fun.

I don’t want the blogger to be politically correct

I also don’t want you to drink decaf coffee, down alcohol-free beer and have orgasm-free sex. There is nothing correct about opinion. Obviously, don’t be hateful, but political correctness is not an excuse for being bland.

In addition, I will never understand a person’s values if you don’t express some negative opinions. All those value statements at the back of corporate cups are meaningless. Why? They don’t alienate anyone. Nobody tattoos Procter and Gamble on their ass, but a brand that stands for something (and inevitably has at least theoretical enemies) has a chance of being meaningful.

I do want pictures

It helps to relive the experience. The pictures should be taken by the blogger. They don’t have to be beautiful, but they have to be relevant either to the story or to you. Funnily enough, Instagram never did it for me – it seems that writing something down is so much more personal. And when a lot of my blogging friends moved to Instagram, I really didn’t get it.

So who are these wonderful bloggers?

Friends of friends and their friends – all people I like in some way. Friends of former classmates, etc. It seems that the network effect is pretty important. And not in the sleazy marketing way, but literally, knowing that my friend Anna reads her friend Mary’s blog tells me more about Anna – and I want to understand her better (welcome to a cozy echo chamber). It’s probably not a good idea to bash Discover, but I do find it sort of bland.

But I am really on the hunt for more! 

Please recommend bloggers you like. They don’t have to be anything like the above. I am really lucky to have some amazing people commenting, so please do let me know who you’re reading.

The French nose triumphed over the Bashkir arrow

“During the course of an exchange of fire, we took prisoner a French lieutenant colonel whose name I have now forgotten. To this officer’s ill-fortune, nature had bestowed on him a nose of extraordinary size, and to make matters worse, this nose had been shot through with an arrow which was embedded to half its length. We helped the lieutenant colonel down from his horse and set him on the ground so that we could free him of this distressing adornment.

A few Bashkirs were among the curious people who gathered around the sufferer. Our medic grabbed a saw and prepared to cut the arrow in two so as to remove it painlessly from either side of the enormous pierced nose, when one of the Bashkirs recognised the weapon as one of his own and seized the medic by both hands.

‘No,’ said he, ‘my good sir, I won’t let you cut my arrow. Don’t offend me, sir. Please don’t. It is my arrow. I’ll take it out myself.’
‘Are you raving?’ we said to the fellow. ‘How will you get it out?’
‘Well, sir, I’ll take one end and pull it out, and the arrow will stay in one piece.’
‘And the nose?’ we inquired.
‘And the nose,’ he answered, ‘the devil take it!’
You can imagine the roar of laughter that greeted his words. Meanwhile, the French officer, not understanding a word of Russian, was trying to guess what was going on. He begged us to chase the Bashkir away, which we did; the affair was settled, and in the end the French nose triumphed over the Bashkir arrow.”

Memoirs of Denis Davidov

Are you good at writing stories, be they fictional or real?

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Photo by Henry Chuy on Unsplash