Silver Chips Online

The art of expression

Blogging Blazers find meaning and connections through public communication

By Sophia Deng, Online Managing Editor
March 20, 2009
Up until age 16, junior Maddy Ruvolo's parents forbid her to watch TV. Yet after she became ill with Dysautonomia all of last year, Ruvolo replaced her schoolgoing hours with "House" and the classroom with "The Office." As Ruvolo began to spend more and more hours in front of the television, she started to feel guilty about her lack of productivity. That is, until a solution emerged - blogging.
Xin Shan

Recently, blogging has become a dominant form of expression in the United States. Blogs, which are short for weblogs, are private or public online journals that can range from individual websites to discussion boards. The word "blog" was added into the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 1999 after the sudden Internet boom.

Ruvolo, who blogs about the TV programs she watches, is not alone in her hobby. In 2008 around 26.4 million people had begun to blog in the United States, according to the advertisement company Universal McMann. With the increased popularity in blog service providers, such as LiveJournal and Blogger, Universal McMann predicts that the blogosphere will only widen in future years. From web entries to YouTube videos to notes on Facebook, Blazers are finding no shortage of ways to share their life with the public.

Lifeline to the world

Since she started in April 2008, Ruvolo has written about over 40 TV shows on her blog, MaddysTV. "It's really fun," she says. "It's a place to hone my writing skills, and I'm satisfied to do something productive, even if it's not mind-blowingly great."

Unlike Ruvolo, junior Wylie Conlon chooses to blog on his Tumblr account about a collection of topics instead of one overarching theme. He enjoys posting photography and blogs about music and web design.
Ruvolo reviews popular television shows on her blog.
Ruvolo reviews popular television shows on her blog.

Conlon, who follows about 90 blogs and checks his own multiple times per day, believes that blogging has broadened his view of the world. "I basically get to see a lot of new stuff. Blogs keep me on top of everything I want to know about," he says. "I know the news before the news people do." After reading innovative blogs written by designers, photographers and artists from different countries, he has expanded his playlist to include musical groups such as the band Animal Collective.

Senior Elizabeth Porter connects through a different type of blogging - video blogging. Porter, who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer, shares her story regularly on YouTube.

By using her YouTube entries to communicate with people globally, especially others who suffer from cancer, Porter has gained support from all over the world. She currently talks to a 13-year-old from Australia, who has ovarian cancer, along with a former Blazer who had leukemia.

Reaching out

Instead of creating an individual blog or a collection of video blogs, junior Kathleen DaCruz employs a variety of Facebook features, such as notes, posted links and videos, to keep people updated about her life. "It's an opportunity to let your voice be heard and speak your mind," DaCruz explains.

DaCruz now has a collection of 19 notes, 67 links and 38 videos on her Facebook profile, ranging from philosophical notes and links to desired prom dresses to videos recording her wacky adventures with friends.

Although she knows that some things she posts, such as videos of friends, may be potentially embarrassing or corny, fear does not faze the self-proclaimed confident girl. "I'd like to think my life is an open book," she says.

In contrast, Ruvolo was not as confident as DaCruz was about exposing herself through blogs. With time, Ruvolo gradually grew comfortable with the open medium. "Now I'm proud of some of my contents, and I want people to read it," she grins.

Like Ruvolo, Porter was initially unsure about the potential reactions to her video blogs after her first post in January - she wasn't as confident in making her story an "open book." "I was scared at first," she admits. "I was considering taking it down." However, once a surge of positive comments poured in from neighbors, schoolmates and strangers around the world, Porter knew she was doing the right thing.

Various shades of blogging

Through his blog, Conlon has worked on multiple projects with people from around the world, including Taiwan. He is currently creating a web design project called Redraw. "It's a simple drawing platform that lets you 'redraw' other users' drawings and sketches, and it's meant to be useful for collaboration," he says.

Although DaCruz does not do work through her various Facebook mediums, she wants her posts to have more value than just surface-level amusement. Among the 38 videos DaCruz has posted, one includes her singing The Beatles' "Across the Universe." "When I put out a video of me singing, I show people a different side of me," she explains.

DaCruz has also used the videos to keep her friends informed about her life. In October, when DaCruz injured her eye and was out of school for two weeks, she constantly posted updates about her doctor appointments and the progress of her eye.

Even Porter, whose video blogs are more upbeat than a first-time viewer might expect from a cancer diary, has various purposes in her videos. Normally, Porter's blogs are more for information and entertainment, yet she is planning to post an emotional video with footage from the five days after her chemotherapy treatment. "I was very emotional. I talked about everything I was going through in the hospital and discussing all the things I was missing out on."

Profound impacts

Until her cancer treatment is over, Porter will continue to post videos on YouTube. With her five videos at the fingertips of millions, Porter is grateful for the opportunity to share her story. "I have no regrets," she says.

Ruvolo also considers blogging more than an new-age distraction. "I definitely am online more looking at blogs," she says. A self-described "pop culture fiend," Ruvolo, once out of the loop, is now a media and culture fanatic.

Whatever the platform, Blazers have found individual ways to express their feelings and interests online. "It's definitely important to express yourself. I don't know how people live without expression. Without voice, you are no one," DaCruz says.