I Blog, Therefore I Am
(Ming Pao) I Blog, There I Am. By Lam Hong-kei 林康琪. April 6, 2007.
"Apart from a bed in the house, I must have an Internet-connected computer!" Famous blogger Sidekick thus says how many netizens feel. Ten years ago, if you want to be a newspaper columnist, your writing may be less important than your relationship with the people at the newspaper. Nowadays, as long as you are willing to write, you can start a blog anytime and enjoy being a writer. You can mobilize strangers and win friends from all over the places.
Over the last two to three years, the Internet tools for blogging have made star politicians and young students all declaring that "Blogging is fun" (Blog Blog趣). Sina.com editor Poon Winghang (潘詠鏗) is a blogger too. He discovered the Internet in 1996 when he was still a middle-school student. On one day in 2004, he read about blogs in a computer magazine. He thought that it sounded fun and so he started a blog. He became hooked to the Internet from there on. How involved is he? "My computer is at the top of my bed and it is constantly turned on. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I might get on the Internet to browse a while before going back to sleep again.:
At first, Hang used the blog to record his daily trivia. When he saw comments from strangers, he was astonished that people would read what he wrote. But Hang no longer has the sense of surprised delight when he first started. Still, the readers' comments give him encouragement: "I publish a post and someone replies within 15 minutes. Sometimes, the comment is even longer than my original post."
The biggest difference between writing a newspaper column and writing a blog is that one can read the reader response immediately. Last June, Hang went past a newsstand and saw that a certain magazine had used a 14-year-old girl in wet clothes on the front cover. He was angry and he wrote an essay titled <Pedophilia even worse than molestation> and he asked readers to complain. He drew 99 comments immediately and other bloggers also brought up this incident and complained to the relevant authorities.
Many people think that when someone becomes obsessed with the Internet, he ignores the people around him. Hang said that does not happen. At most, the method of communication changes. "In the past, I needed to make about ten telephone calls in order to tell someone something. Now, all I have to do is write it on the Internet and all my friends will see it." Following the increasing popularity of blogs, even his mother and sister read it. So Hang has become more careful. He writes less about personal stuff and more about his cats. He said: "So many people read the blog. I cannot say bad things about people, so I can only say bad things about the two cats because they don't read the blog."
Dukedom of Aberdeen (blog recommended by Kong Shaolin)
Last year, in his final column with the Hong Kong Economic Journal, Kong Shaolin said: "We are all F.S Yuen and you can be Kong Shaolin too." He recommended several blogs, of which the Dukedom of Aberdeen was one. The "Aberdeen duke" Angus Ho (何漢峰) said that he started a blog because he loves to write. His blog is like his own column.
The "Aberdeen duke" is a movie fan. After he watches a movie, he writes about it and he gets more involved. "I would not be so involved if I don't write." Did he think about using the blog to meet friends at first? "I am more than 30 years old, and I did not think about making friends over the Internet." Nevertheless, he has met many like-minded friends over the Internet. Even the two cats in his home came from another blogger.
Just A Sidekick
We have already forgotten the nuisance of dialing a telephone in order to get on the Internet more than ten years ago. Nowadays, everybody has broadband access. For a fixed monthly fee, we can be connected to the Internet for indefinite periods of time. This makes it so much harder to stay away from the Internet. Sidekick thinks that she is a "veteran netizen" who recalled how she first encountered a news group in 1995: "I was using Windows 3.1 and the telephone access speed was 28K." It was expensive using PNETS to access the Internet by telephone as some people were spending one or two thousand dollars per month. Sidekick had her own method to save money: "I downloaded all the news group articles onto my computer. Then I disconnected from the Internet. After I read everything and I wrote my reply, I re-connected and uploaded my response."
Sidekick is smallish in stature and the first impression is that she resembles the icon on her blog. It turns out that the icon came from a netizen friend Babi who imagined what Sidekick would look like even though the two have never met. Later on, Sidekick placed the icon directly on her blog. Sidekick has been interviewed many times by the media and so her identity is no longer a secret. "Sometimes my colleagues at work read a magazine and learn about me. Then they come over and call me 'Sidekick.' I don't know how to react."
After becoming famous, she has more concerns when she writes. But Sidekick never thought that a blog is a personal space. "Mine is more like a community hall." She has raised discussion topics many times and netizens are happy to discuss at her place.
Sidekick's blog has 800 visitors per day. When asked if there is any unforgettable episode, she mentioned that she wrote a post about Internet plug-in's in February last year and received a comment from 'anonymous': "I want someone to offer me a reason why I should keep on living." When Sidekick saw that comment, she did not dare to delay and asked the other party to write a blog about his thoughts. She also asked other netizens to comfort him.
"Anonymous" then began a blog titled "To die well or live aimlessly" to share his thoughts about life and he asked netizens to give a reason to live. At the time, the netizens had different opinions. Some of them visited the blog to offer him comfort while others were sarcastic because they did not know if this was a true or fake case. Sidekick has never met "anonymous" but she had email correspondence with him for a while. After a while, "anonymous" disappeared. Someone sent an email to Sidekick to say that "anonymous" had committed suicide. Sidekick had mixed feelings that cannot be described in a few words. She wrote a post titled <Tens of thousands of "anonymous"> to ask people to treasure those around them.
"Netizens" are not just ordinary friends with Sidekick. Her "netizen friends" are no different from her real-life friends, and some of them are close friends. She said that this was not surprising: "There is nothing to be surprised about. Just like we can fall in love with our colleagues at work after a while."
In May 1995, Sidekick went to the "Hong Kong entertainment" news group to left word for the news group users to go to watch a move at Ocean Centre. More than 60 people showed up. The people at the discussion zone and the news group know each other better. Blogs revolve around individuals, but blogs can link and quote each other to an infinite degree. Sidekick is impressed by the power of the Internet.
Sidekick made an overseas friend through her blog. They have never met, but they chat on the Internet. "Sometimes I am crying and I am basically incapable of speaking. But I can still type and tell the other party. The other party cannot see me cry, so that saves the embarrassment and makes it easier to communicate."
In the beginning, Sidekick was afraid of exposing her identity. By now she has been interviewed many times. So Sidekick has "made the jump." Apart from putting her photograph on the blog, she even found a job through her blog. She smiled and said: "I may even use a blog to find a marital partner!"
Related Link: 徘徊在怕醜又唔知醜之間 Just a Sidekick