Boy some of you guys sure are smart, and witty, and you know big words and stuff…My reader feed gets regularly populated by deeply insightful academic dissertation of my favorite animes or topical parsings of the elements of a particular genre. Keep it up! It’s really fascinating, and I appreciate the enormous amount of work that obviously goes into those essays. We need these types of posts, so we can point to them when our medium of choice gets dismissed as irrelevant fluff with nothing of import to bring to the table.
Lately however, I have found myself drawn to irreverent fluff. Wait, that’s not exactly what I mean. Work is quite busy these days and my other responsibilities haven’t exactly been letting up either. This blog, which I love, has turned out to be a much more ambitious venture than I had first considered. It has gotten pretty time and effort intensive, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. After all, I do it to myself. I’m the one who can’t seem to resist constantly trying new things or taking up projects.
As a result, I get pretty exhausted by the end of the day. In every sense of the word but mostly mentally. Some days, I just don’t have the intellectual rigor to take on a challenging analysis of the impact and role of minority representation in anime or possibly a study on the subversion of toxic masculinity in modern shōnen offerings. I made up both of these titles and now I would really like to read them… Some days, I want to sit back and giggle at a lighthearted parody of fan culture or nod in agreement at a concise review of one of my favorite shows while enjoying all the pretty pictures. Some days I don’t want to think too much and that’s where frivolity comes in.
I’ve heard some of you bemoan (see, I know words too…) the fact that your posts aren’t “important”. That you’re not generating much-needed social discourse, that you don’t get tons of comments. Let me share a little something with you. On days that have been so long and so draining that even the prospect of watching anime seems like too much of a burden, a few top 5 lists and comical musings about a character’s hair color and/or underwear preference, are a the most welcomed distraction in the world. The reenergize me and make me smile. I truly enjoy them…but I never comment. Partly this is because I’m too tired to gather my thoughts up into an interesting comment and partly it’s because this was an exercise in pure enjoyment. I appreciate it, but I just don’t have much to say beyond “like”.
Poosibly in part because of the lack of discourse, there’s a prevalent misconception that lighthearted posts are somehow lesser. You know, easier to write, less researched, not as important. That these are fillers, haphazardly thrown together as an afterthought. I have even heard some of the bloggers who publish these types of posts worry that their readers will think less of them because they are not putting out sociological thesis every week.
Writing a good piece of fluff is an art. It takes careful consideration. The slightest misstep and you end up with an incomprehensible mess, an offensive piece of trash or even worse a boring post. You need to be able to flesh out your inconsequential content enough to give readers something to chew on but stretch it out just a touch too far and it will snap leaving you with nothing at all.
Making people smile is by no means an easy thing. There’s no formula to it, no agreed upon convention. It’s a painstaking process that may not require as much traditional research as a more probing journalistic piece but requires hearty amounts of introspection, as creating the proper rapport with your audience for this piece to work means writing from an earnest and open place. That is by no means easier or thoughtless.
Yeah, yeah, we all throw out filler posts now and then, but just because something is a top 10 list, doesn’t mean the author hasn’t poured their heart into it and just because you have to look up half the words in a post’s title, doesn’t mean the author didn’t just jolt down the first thing that came to mind. Once you practice a little, formal and technical writing is pretty easy and you can hide a very thin thesis behind a huge amount of words.
But if you take anything away from this, it’s that distraction IS important. I agree that there are a number of conversations we need to have. There are things to work out. I am a huge advocate of just thinking. The mind is a muscle that weakens and gets lazy with lack of use. If you never challenge it, if you act dumb long enough, you will find that you’ve become dumb. However, this means it also needs rest. It needs to take on surface level information from time to time.
A piece of writing that will give you a pleasant jolt, make you smile and feel comfortable for a little, is invaluable. And the bloggers talented enough to create such pieces should be proud!