Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pashtuns and Blogging - Part 3: what to blog about?

Part 3 on Pashtuns and blogging.

The question being asked currently, after "challenges to Pashtun bloggers," is: what should Pashtun bloggers blog about? My response is as follows.

Let's rephrase the question so as to avoid telling people what to do or what to blog about (but I'll discuss below why there might be merit in "telling" Pukhtuns what to blog about, considering the facts that we have the world's eyes on us and that we've to be very careful about what we write for the public). Remember that one of the purposes of blogging is for the blogger to feel free enough to write about what she/he wants to write about; others can only make suggestions if/when the blogger seeks them or might benefit from them. Otherwise, it's inappropriate to give the author the impression that she/he isn't writing about important subjects just because the subjects they're writing about may not be of personal importance to us as their readers.

So to rephrase the question: what should bloggers who are interested in hearing from their readers and others blog about? What should a blogger who feels like she/he needs some more ideas for blogging do? And then it's acceptable to offer them our suggestions.

Bloggers have the freedom and the space to talk about whatever they want to talk about. Whether other people like it or not, it doesn't matter. They can also write however they want to write. And that's why I insist that they don't necessarily need any skills to blog (I'll discuss below which kinds of bloggers might need good writing skills--but not all of them need good writing skills). We are bred in a society that limits freedom of speaking and thinking, and for some people, even their close friends and family members can turn against them if they express a viewpoint that is considered taboo or forbidden by most people around, and so, such people don't have anyone to share these thoughts with; the blog then becomes their best friend. So, when you blog, Pukhtano, remember: write whatever you want, think whatever you want, express it however you want--and if you want to write using a pen name (a name that's not your real name) or anonymously, you can do that as well. The power of writing is that you get to be whoever you've always wanted to be, whoever you want to be, whoever you dream of becoming. You can also experiment and write in different ways, using different names (I've been doing this, and I find it great!) until you settle on a name you like best. With each name, you can also perform a different personality! Can you imagine how exciting and empowering that must be? :) For me, qrratugai writes differently than Roshina who writes differently than Serenity who writes differently than Orbala! It's as though each of these names reflects a different phase of my life in the last 3-4 years, and I find that powerful and enjoyable. I still go back to qrratugai every once in a while, but I'm currently most comfortable with Orbala. Of course, not being consisten with your (pen) name can have its disadvantages: your readers might get distracted, since people generally tend to prefer consistency--but I haven't had any issues with mine, as far as I understand it.

But this post wasn't supposed to be about Orbala vs qrratugai vs the many other names I have online! It was supposed to talk about what Pukhtuns "should" blog about.

So, again, you get to write about whatever you want when you blog; others can only offer suggestions and feedback. What you write about depends on your character, your personality, your preferences, your interests, your expectations (in life, from blogging, from readers), etc.; it also depends on the reason you started a blog in the first place. And so:

1. If you started an informative blog, one in which you want to share information with the world on, say, Pukhtuns, then you'd write on Pukhtun society, Pukhtun problems (social, political, etc.), Islam and Pukhtuns, Pukhtunwali, and so on. You might choose to write about a certain habit of Pukhtuns that you find really beautiful--or one that you find appalling--or some practices of ours that you think are misunderstood by the media, whether Pakistani media or the Western media.

2.  If your blog is more of an outlet of expression of your thoughts, if you started blogging because you had no other way of expressing your thoughts--whatever kind: religious, social, political, personal, academic--then you would have a wider range of things to talk about in your blog. As I mentioned earlier, many people blog because they just don't have an audience in the physical world with whom they can discuss the stuff they blog about (I'm sometimes one of these people, and that's why my blog discusses all kinds of things and isn't centered on one or two subjects alone). You may then raise controversial questions and problems on your blog as well, because that's the best place to do such a thing. Again, you can remain anonymous or unknown to your readers, although you want to have some name that your readers can address you by, so there's no fear of being threatened or attacked for presenting dissent. I understand that certain governments can track writers/bloggers down via their IP addresses if the government doesn't like their views too much, but generally, I think blogging is pretty safe.

3. If your blog serves more as your journal or diary, that's totally fine as well. This way, you get to talk about your daily routine, something special or good or bad or nothing at all important that happened that day, something you learned, some trip you made to a friend's/relative's place, some poem you wrote or that you read that you really liked, or anything else you want to share with your readers.

As far as skills are concerned: Point 1 above is perhaps where you need "writing" skills the most. And by this, I mean more objective writing skills. You don't want to present one point of view and dismiss all others as incorrect or silly or unworthy of being shared. For example, if we want to talk about the origin of Pukhtuns, we should make sure to offer our readers as many theories as we're aware of and not just the one that makes the most sense to us. It may be acceptable from time to time to tell them what we think is the most closest-to-correct theory/viewpoint, but sometimes even that should be avoided. Those kinds of things, I think, belong in opinion blogs, not in blogs intended to be informative and objective.

For types 2 and 3 blogs, there's more freedom, and it doesn't matter what your writing skills are--weak or strong. Just write!

But, as I mentioned earlier, there might be merit in "telling" Pukhtuns what to blog about. Let's face it: the world is watching us, it's interpreting every move we make to its benefit (often to our disadvantage), and we have a history that needs to be told from our perspective. So we need Pukhtun writers who are witness to everything the Pukhtuns are facing today so as to be able to write it and make it available to the public, to the world, to the younger generations, to our children and great-great grand children. As such, we need blogs that center on Pukhtun history and culture and society and politics and religion and customs and everything else related to Pukhtuns; as of yet, there's quite a lack of these kinds of blog.

This doesn't mean that blogs that are more like the bloggers' journals are any less important or necessary than those that are on "more serious" topics or issues. But I talked about this over in the discussion on social networking among Pukhtuns.

Reminder: here's how to blog
- go to any of the following sites:,,,, and see which of the sites you like best to start a blog on; these are all blogging platforms.
- then open your blog there, select a template from the many options provided, and
- start writing!

And when you open your blog, please let me know what the link to it is so that I can share it on my list of Pukhtun bloggers.

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