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Compartments

Several months ago, I was having a conversation with Joey Alarilla about how the Internet and social media are causing a phenomenon which I want to call “compartmentalizing” your life.

This phenomenon is most apparent, but not limited to, bloggers who have started several niche blogs – compartmentalizing their life to food, technology, travel, politics, pets, etc. It is even almost correct to even say that the sum of these blogs equal the person.

Because the Internet is the new Forum Romanum, our lives converge in the most visible places, making what was once private, now very public. We now know what the family did for lunch, what we ate for dinner, where we went for the weekend, what we bought… all good. Very interesting. What you do with your blog is a masterpiece that no one else can copy even if you write about the same topics.

I also observed a behavior that spells a lot with our social psyche (especially with Livejournal users). This behavior has to do with pursuing something in real life for the pure unadulterated sake of being able to document it on blogs. Have you ever gone out of the way to document something because you want to share it to your readers? There is a term for this. It’s called feature journalism. It was what I was first known for before I started to write about technology back in the early 2000’s. It is something most young Filipino writers become good at, and end up honing their craft professionally as contributors to Meg, Seventeen, and other teen market publications.

Social media is restructuring the way we behave. We have divided our life into several niches and take on many roles that occupy a public figure. Especially if we blog. Especially if our lives are intertwined with the media. But let us not forget to take a look at our masterpieces from a bird’s eye view every once in a while because it helps us recall and be reminded of who we really are and where we began.

The “why” can be responded to with the marriage of the comfort level of certain topics coupled with the potential cash that contextual advertising can rake in. But are we really passionate about these subjects? I tell you, even if I’m a technology writer, there are just some things about tech I abhor writing about and these usually have to do with technical reviews of products. I’ve only done one – a 1,000 word piece on a Siemens brand phone for a website about three years ago.

My theory is that the more we compartmentalize ourselves, the quicker we end up burning out. Some parts of us suffer. In Seth Godin’s book The Dip, he mentions how Jack Welsh was inclined to sell GE if they were not even number one or two in the market. What’s wrong with being number four or five, he says? It burns out the funds to a division that’s doing so-so when the money could be used for something that could better well be number one. I believe Nick Denton has the same principle with his blog network.

When we compartmentalize, we satisfy the need to tell a story to the public. But we may also fall into the trap of spreading ourselves too thin, and not being able to maintain the Class A content we started with. This phenomenon, albeit trivial is something that I feel will matter in the long run as people start to realize that there is money in blogging. And it isn’t just about the money – it is really a phenomenon that shows how social media has changed the way we live our lives. We actually purchase, travel, eat, and live … to satisfy our readers.

By Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast, EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

8 replies on “Compartments”

Maybe. Reminds me of two fairy tales – One is the Nightingale and the other A Story Short. At the end of the story in the Nightingale the eponymous bird begged off staying in the palace with the Emperor opted to go about as he pleases and in a Story Short the storyteller is saved from death due to a shortage of stories by becoming a protagonist in a story. Both characters needed to live life , to step back so to speak, in order to tell about life.
The point to having a life is to live it for the sake of living and not for the sake of writing. Writing is wonderful but it only comes in second to living.

skye, true and well put.

i guess it depends on what your overall goal is. as for me, i have a blogspot account where i keep my real “personal” blog. heh. 🙂

I think the Internet is only an extension of how we already compartmentalize ourselves in daily life.

I’ve been drifting in and out of sex work for the last several years, and as a result, have developed a compartmentalized way of living. Maintaining illusions and lies for so long can do that to you. Depending on the situation, I have to deny, or turn off, certain realities about myself. I feel I never face anybody as a whole person, but always as a piece made up of several smaller compartments.

Your article caught my notice, because “compartments” is the name I’ve been using on my blog for more than a year.

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