Rolando Tolentino’s thesis that everything today can be ‘sachet-ed’ seems to be becoming more evident. From shampoo, soap, toothpaste, vinegar, to corned beef, this economic/ cultural phenomenon definitely signals the fragmenting effects of the global neoliberal economy.
How about microblogging? Popularly understood today as literally a miniature form of the traditional blog, it is an online social form of interaction and expression of subjectivity, among other uses. Twitter and Plurk as considered the best examples of microblogging sites.
Some consider the emergence of microblogging as a threat to the blog form, holding the assumption that the blog as a form is essentially expository and hence has a potential to become a venuw of critical discourse. Microblogging, on the other hand, strips the semantic excesses of the traditional blog to make the nutshell of the post/status easier to digest and transport. Microblogging, then, is utilitarian and transient in form and content.
For instance, news tweets are based on the idea of ‘instantaneous reportage’, that is, the news ‘tweet’ is not really a complete news article but rather only a fragment of the ongoing action. Personal microblogging, such as those offered by Twitter, Plurk and Facebook, on the other hand is focused on the ‘now’ situation of individual, what s/he feels, what s/he wanted to share to other users, etc. Despite the speed of this form in terms of delivery, some felt rather threatened with the absence of critical discourse and the tendency to focus on ‘immediate relief or as some might call ‘social online masturbation’ in this form of online interaction.
Separating the wheat from the chaff
Despite this apparent threat, I am tempted to say that this concern would be rather unnecessary. Let us first establish this assumption: the realm of traditional blogging is a multi-faceted area. There are many kinds of blogs, molded according to their utility. There are business-oriented blogs (which not many read anyway), public diary/journal blogs which often are read by typical readers and teen stalkers, political blogs, humor blogs— the list is endless, and the genres I said are not really hard-and-fast categories for many blogs are a mixture of one mode and another. Following this claim, we may then say that the emergence of micro-blogging is not a transformation of the blog as a form but a manifestation of the (vain) effort to compartmentalize types of social interaction. The microblogging communities are created to accommodate bloggers who prefer transient interactions. Indeed, the emergence of microblogging streamlined the blogosphere and purged it from users who do not really seek committed interactions through their blog (the crude term would be ‘masturbatory blogging’. No wonder that many of these kinds of ‘bloggers’ have abandoned their previous accounts to enter into the microblogosphere. This is not to say, of course, that blogging should be a bourgeois-elitist endeavor (although of course one must admit that this appears to be so). On the contrary, I would claim that the emergence of this new species of social networking enlarged the area of online interaction, paved a way to new avenues for discourse and also provided new tools for information dissemination and mobilization.
This technological mechanism created to ‘pacify’ critical discourse, or to ‘sachet’ it, as Tolentino may say it, I believe is not a total woe. I think that the challenges it offers will not limit the mobility of progressive elements in the cyberspace.