existentialism

#MeetMatt and the meaning of #blogging

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It was more than a year ago since I put my thoughts into words after realizing the fact that I can no longer write the way I used to. Perhaps, it’s because I already abandoned the anger, the angst and the non-conformist attitude that defined my existence during my youth, during my Philosophy days as a student in San Beda College.

I became a grown-up.

The motivation that fueled my passion in expressing myself either in the form of poetry or prose was suddenly channeled into the Sisyphean reality of my more-than-eight-hours-a-day of “making a living” as a yuppie. I traded my metaphors and narratives with PR strategies, communications plans and other cost-benefit project proposals for the companies that I worked for through the years. And I want to believe that I became good at it.

I sold-out.

I stopped writing.

I am now making a living.

Until last week after having a small talk with a guy named Matt Mullenweg when our company, Globe Telecom, hosted him for a bloggers meet-up. Matt co-founded WordPress.com which is the popular blogsite that houses countless of blogs like this one under my namesake. This guy, who reads one chapter of a book every morning to jumpstart a creative day, paved the way to make writing available for everyone. This is a tribute for Matt for giving us WordPress.com.

Anyone can write but not anyone can get published during the pre-digital age. The limitation of the print medium because of commercial considerations made writing available only to the elite few whose hegemony discriminated what should be written and what should be read.

Writing exists to be read regardless of the form. Writing needs a reading channel to have its true form. It seeks an audience otherwise the thought behind it can be forgotten.

But thanks to digital mavericks like Matt who opened the door to those who aspire to be published. For as long as one wants to express individuality, shares interests and passion, or fights for a cause, a writing medium is readily available. People like me started to pound the keyboard and published our thoughts in WordPress.com and became writers in our own little right.

Anyone can now be read.

Anyone can now be published.

Anyone can now be a blogger.

That night after Matt’s visit at The Globe Tower, I shared a few cold beers with an old friend from San Beda who attended the WordPress community Meet-up and we exchanged some ideas about the event. Being a former campus journalist and a sell-out like me, he said that blogging has become the alternative press for many who can’t get thru traditional media. True, but I said that the basic principle of blogging is that it’s always subjective. Blogging is supposed to be based on the experience of the blogger with the thoughts made into words and then shared among us. However, a blog can go bigger than what the blogger intends and even bigger than the traditional press because of the reach of Internet.

Blog content nowadays can go beyond the experience and opinion of every blogger thanks to social media. Blog content no matter how subjective can project a perception of objectivity when shared and amplified using social media especially if readers can relate to it. Relevance of content can generate traffic and establish a fan-based of readers which can make a blog popular. Popularity means acceptance by the readers whose judgement can build content credibility for the blog and blogger. Content consistency is also important as it can slowly elevate the blogger into a subject-matter expert of the chosen topic or theme that the blog carries.

Blogging has democratized writing. It made editors and critics irrelevant. The opinion of readers is what matter most than the selected few in this digital age. Blogging has set writing free from the critics and editors. The number of likes, shares and comments (be it negative or positive) shapes the credibility of a blog. The readers will be the judge if the content is good or if it sucks.

In the Philippines, blogging has gone beyond personal. But this blog is already too long. I will tackle that in my next blog: The state of Philippine Blogging.

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Recycled Poetry: Old man & a cradle

There, in a darkened little room

An old man racks an empty wooden cradle while

Humming an out of tune lullaby

To calm his crying soul

His memory is slowly fading

Like the orange sunset every afternoon

He can only remember the

Sad thoughts of an absurd existence

And the illusion of a meaningful life.

He weeps as he struggles to recollect

In his dying days

The only happy moments he once had

When he was still being comforted

By the warmth of that old cradle

– Jocel de Guzman

April 12, 2002

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Recycled Blog: The Wake

(Preamble: Written when my Uncle Jaime died in 2000. Reading this again made me think of the pessimistic outlook I had. Time flies and so does the attitude. Read on.)

He died at the age 54. He lived a simple life, a silent life. After his mother passed away ten years ago, he became alone. No wife to love and no children to look after and take care of. His life revolved around his little sari-sari store in Angeles City and a pack of Hope cigarettes a day. His life was simple. His life was silent.

In his wake, there were only a handful of relatives and friends who mourned. No one was crying. The wake became a venueto  update their respective lives. It was a reunion. Not even a single word was mentioned to describe how he lived his life in their conversations. I think no one remembers or even knows.

While looking at his lifeless body, I asked myself if he lived his life in full? Was his life meaningful or absurd before succumbing into the world of the non-living? I could not tell since I’m also confused if my life has meaning at all.

His death affirmed the feeling of absurdity within me, the self-pitying awareness of my unhappiness. Nothing can be lonelier than to be conscious of the meaningless reality, to know that everything means nothing.

Being a yuppie at the age of 24, I think I’m already suffering from mid-life crisis and by the time I reached 48 or less, I would be in the same place as he is now, within a golden box surrounded by flowers and bright lights.

My life at the moment is being defined by more than eight hours of toiling in the workplace in one of the companies in Makati, brewed coffee and Albert Camus. Like my uncle, I’m not married and without social life. I can say that my life is less simple but more silent than my uncle’s and I’m only in my middle twenties.

This notion or feeling of absurdity was not preconceived but it’s the product of my unpleasant experiences in the past that I have no control of. Ironically, these said experiences created who I am now. The sad part is, I’m aware and my uncle was not. Because of this I’m struggling to live my life each to day to find that meaning or purpose of my life.

The death of my uncle made me realized one thing that I have equated meaning with happiness. Perhaps his life was without meaning but he was happy. He was happy simply because he was not looking for meaning rather he just lived life each day. He was already content with his little sari-sari store and he no longer desired for anything more. At first I described it as hopelessness but it was not, it was just his idea of happiness. Or perhaps it’s already the meaning of his life.

Jocel de Guzman
December 31, 2000
10:00pm

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