I left the blog world for six months and that’s what I came back to. Footnotes. The first time I saw footnotes used in a blog post, I thought they were a cutesy quirk of the blogger whose post I was reading. Fair enough. Maybe I wasn’t able to understand how they improved the posts, but I couldn’t fault the blogger for thinking outside the box. With so many nearly identical sites out there these days, I’ve learned to appreciate even the smallest strokes of originality. But much to my disappointment, the idea wasn’t original at all. Every other blog I visited had footnotes in the posts. Talk about lame.
The problem doesn’t lie in the footnotes themselves. After all, countless books have been utilizing footnotes for years to inform us naive readers about crucial facts that don’t quite flow with the rest of the text. The problem lies in the way bloggers use them. Footnotes in posts are more dizzying than footnotes in books to begin with. The jump from the superscript of the note to the actual note and back again is quite a doozy. It’s tolerable the first time, but when bloggers include five, six, seven, or more footnotes, the result is just plain irritating. What book has more than two or three footnotes every couple of pages (which is about the length of an average blog)? None that I’ve read, that’s for sure.
The fact that these footnotes usually consist of the blogger’s pitiful attempts at being funny doesn’t help the matter. I can’t say I enjoy being distracted from the main point of a blog just to read a short comment that could have easily been included in a sentence as an appositive (or omitted completely). I know you think you’re funny. I know you want to look “random” but feel the need explain yourself afterwards so no one thinks you’re a weirdo. I know you have a lot to say but don’t have the writing skills to include it all in a cohesive paragraph. I can figure these things out without footnotes.
Surprisingly, however, I am not completely anti-footnote. The internet is full of bloggers from all over the world. As an ignorant American, I am unfamiliar with many of the customs in other countries. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing footnotes that explain certain holidays or foods or places. I could easily do a quick Wikipedia run, sure. But a footnote could potentially save me thirty whole seconds. That’s at least three hours in teen time.
Even if that blogger you admire for no good reason is using footnotes, just say no. Work on your writing skills and learn how to incorporate your occasional asides directly into the main body of your blog. If that doesn’t work for you and you absolutely need to use footnotes so you can look uber kool, at least make them interesting and relevant. Don’t be lame.