The Self-Description by Massage Milk
In this Lifeweek article, eleven Chinese bloggers were featured. Here is the translation of a portion of the section about Michael Anti:
Anti classifies bloggers into three types: media bloggers, IT bloggers and bloggers who record their ordinary sentiments. When blogging first got started, the IT people had the technological advantage and they grab the right to speak first. Some of those IT people have recorded several millions of hits. "But these millions were accumulated over three or four years, so it is no big deal," said Anti. The most popular bloggers of 2004 were Beijing Female Patient (北京女病人) and Meize's Food Diary (梅子写食日记), and those blogs were just journals about standard daily life with plenty of repetitious content. When the many media bloggers showed up, the "sentimental journals were totally vanquished."
According to Anti's analysis, the media bloggers focus on the effects of communication. They did not undergo their training for nothing, and they knew too well how to write for their readers. They have the advantages of language and communication. They use the appropriate language to attract attention, and then form a circle of colleagues to become known. Anti offered the example of the blog of Milk Pig, who is an entertainment report at Southern Weekend. Her blog posts are short with only a few lines and she likes to use words like "一砣" to mean "one of." Anti described her as a "shitty blogger." But those few lines are even better than what she wrote for her newspaper. For example, when she wrote about what happened to Andy Lau after he received the award, her few sentences were better than a long report. "She has the shit on the celebrities, and that is the advantage of the media people." They come into contact with the celebrities, and they can show the people about what happens behind the official articles. The best bloggers this year are like mini-media, or at least they look like columnists.
This year, Anti served as a judge for both the World Best of Blogs and the Sina.com blogger competitions. At the German competition, he has a great power in that he recommends, interprets and translates the Chinese-language bloggers. Among the final eight bloggers which were nominated, Anti likes Wang Xiaofeng's Massage Cream (按摩乳) and Keso's photoblog. But he said clearly that Massage Milk is not the subject of high recommendation because foreigners cannot appreciate the subtleties of the Chinese language. "The use of language that would make Chinese people marvel at would be totally unappreciated by foreigners. Last year, the 'Dog Daily' won a prize not because it was good, but because it was easy to understand and accept by the world."
So what about Massage Cream? There is the translation of an accompanying article in the same issue of Lifeweek, which is the magazine where the blogger Wang Xiaofeng actually works. Here is how the blogger describes his blogging.
I am a very forgetful person. I can meet someone yesterday, and I won't remember it today. A worse thing is that I earn my living as a writer. Sometimes, I get an idea in my head but I can forget it as soon as I turn around. I was coming home one night and an idea suddenly came to my head. I felt that I should write it up. When I got home, I had already forgotten what it was. I sat in front of the computer all night, and I just could not remember it. This is probably what people often say about "inspirations arrive and then fade away immediately."
Usually, in the car, on the street, making meals, chatting with friends ... something strange would pop up in my head. But as soon as I formally take out a pen and notebook, my mind has gone blank already. I feel that it would be great fun to record these things. Many years later, when I take the notes out and look at them again, I may think that my life had not been in vain.
For me, the blog is the tool for recording these miscellaneous things. As I got familiar with blogging, I found out that the blog was even more suitable for me to relax myself. Having been a reporter at Lifeweek for several years, I have developed a psychological problem. Whenever I begin to write, I get very nervous because our editor-in-chief is difficult to hoodwink. I find that any article that I feel unsatisfied with will basically never get pass the editor-in-chief. So the more concerned I get about writing poorly, the worse I write. When I have to do a long report, I have no idea what to do before I start. Previously, before I started to blog, I had the habit of cleaning up my house as a way to relieve the nervousness. Sometimes, I sweep the whole place twice already and I still don't know how the article should begin. After I started to blog, blogging became my "opening battle" before I write my proper article. It can relieve my tense nerves and it can broaden my thoughts so that I can get ready. Thus, my house is getting more and more messy.
Up to now, I still have not done much research on the idea of blogs. When I read the analytical reports from people in the IT industry, I don't understand them. Someone even analyzed my own blog, but I still did not understand it. It is a very simple thing, but their analyses made it much more complicated. When this blogging thing got hot, people loved to analyze its meaning and functions, search for the commonalities and specificities and then summarize the rules. But if one looks at blogs from the viewpoint of traditional media, it is only gets more confusing. The characteristic of a blog is that it is completely different from traditional media.
At least, I have treated the blog as an extension of my work. I blog about the things that I cannot usually publish in the printed media. The reason that I get nervous writing for the printed media is that another person who does not and cannot fully understand you has the right to edit your article. You spend such a long time to come up with this phrase, but the editor just deleted it when the time comes to publish, or else he amends it into another form. After a while, this becomes of a test of wits with the editor in the psychological sense. I found that this was hard for me to take, just as no one would feel good about cutting off one's foot to fit the shoe.
For example, I wrote an article about cats and I described the deceptiveness, selfishness and ruthlessness of cats in lively fashion. Unfortunately, this article fell into the hands of an editor known as "Old Cat" and an article that praised the virtues of cats was printed instead. When I think that the words that I write have to be trampled by several people before being published, my heart aches. Actually, when I was an editor, I also trampled upon others in the same way. I remember clearly how I felt. Therefore, there is a principle in my blog in that my posts must be different from that which is published in the printed media. I wanted to write those words that the editors were not used to, or else I would lose interest in writing altogether.
But I discovered that this space is very huge. I am not limited by the printed media and I can let myself go. When I think about something, I write about it. When I want to write about something, I write it. I don't have to have a topic in order to write. I don't have to conduct any news gathering. There is no style or format ... it seems to let people go back to the original state of creating popular literature. Therefore, when we look at the language on blogs from the viewpoint of traditional media, we find that blogs lack a refined system. Even if a bunch of celebrities were invited to start blogs at a certain website which wants to set a Guinness world record, this does not alter the grassroots nature of blogs. Blogs offer people the space of a different means of expression. When people use a laissez-faire approach to use language afresh, the magic of blogging shines through. You do not know what kind of new language will be created in the future.
Therefore, when I write for the printed media, I seem more to be writing for the editor. When I write for the blog, I seem more to be writing for myself. It is very hard to write for the former. For example, when I write the music column at Lifeweek, it takes two to three hours to write a 1,700 word article. Before that, I have to spend several days to think about the train of thought in the article and to gather relevant information. When I write, I have to weigh the choice of words because I don't want to write poorly. But when I write a 1,700 word item on the blog, it is basically only 20% longer than the time it takes to type in the words. I don't have to mind the language or logic. I will write whatever my thoughts lead me. Whether you like to read it does not matter. The magazine represents a brand, but the blog represents only me. When I think about how I choose the words, one is very tiring whereas the other is very easy.
I do not think about whether a blog post will be used by the media. In fact, my blog posts are being used by more and more media. If I think about the possibility that the media may use it, I could not have maintain the same blogging style, or at least it won't be written under the same state of relaxation. I hope that I can record my ideas when I am in a state of relaxation, because I have written too many words while not being relaxed.
Previously, my signature on the blog was this: "Some people stare into starry space and contemplate the deepest problems; some people stare up at the ceiling and they can even become thinkers; I can only look at the display monitor and ponder purposelessly ..." An era without computers produces thinkers easily, because people need to go through deep and complicated thinking in order to understand something. With the computer and the Internet, everything becomes easier. The Internet is actually the external hard-drive for the human brain and we can obtain information from it at any time. Therefore, computer networks are the biggest reason why people don't have to think. If we look at how the Internet went from its initial appearance to its popularity today, we will easily find that the Internet provides people with entertainment content most of the time. The entertainment includes words, photographs, sounds, videos. Everything from text to multi-media revolves around entertainment. Each time that Bill Gates introduces a new version of the operating system, he emphasizes that his system is even more suited for entertainment. The Internet lets writing become lighter, and the Internet also liberates the traditional media from its stodgy, serious and formal language by offering another means of expression.
I like to record the funny things in my life and tell others about them. Someone asked me, "Why did you originally think about recording the sayings of teacher Han Qiaosheng?" My reply was very simple -- because I lacked a sense of humor, whereas his sayings were just right for me to learn what is humor. When I tell people about those sayings, they will be quite delighted. If I don't know something, I can learn it. This thing known as humor sometimes cannot be learned, for it is another kind of sense of awareness about life. But at the least, you should become someone who can understand humor. Therefore, it is a delightful thing to record the funny things in life and tell others if you have the chance. Besides, it trains you to understand humor. In any era, it is more popular to communicate happiness than to communicate sadness and bitterness.
The pressures of life force people to adapt themselves. I do not want to get even more burdened than I already am. When I have nothing to do, I find something to relax myself. First of all, when I blog, I don't think of it as a burden because this is something that I want to do. Secondly, I hope to write some funny stuff, because the process of writing is when I relax myself. Actually, people are always thinking about entertaining themselves, most of the time based upon outside entertainment -- music, movies, television, games ... but very seldom do people entertain themselves inside their hearts and minds. Writing a blog is such a method for me. If I can entertain other people as well, then I am even performing a public service.
From what I can see, a blog is just a tool for recording in the digital era for those who wish to express themselves. In ancient times, literary folks would write words like "Number One Mountain Under the Means" on the face of stone cliffs; other people may write "I was here" on a brick wall. No matter what, this is just about how people are changing their ways of making historical records, no matter if it is on blogs or on bamboo slips.