Thursday, February 18, 2010

Why Blog?

Reya’s post yesterday about how Emily Gould’s young life had been pretty much ruined by Blogging caused me to wonder just why it is that I am writing post 1,893 in as many days.  I hope I’m not also suffering from some variant of the addiction that ultimately caused Emily Gould to crash.

After writing for almost 6 years, I have seen a handful of local Bloggers who reached the  triple-digit comment mark and seemed to thrive on their popularity.  But then most of them either quit or started over with a different, perhaps less popular, focus and began posting only sporadically.  Only Wonkette stands out as a local Blogger who became syndicated.  (I’m sure there are many others.)

I’ve never experienced that sort of fame and never will, but I have come to know what appeals to the larger Blog world and often it’s a post at someone else’s expense, even if that person remains anonymous.  That was the element that seemingly fueled Emily’s addiction -- the ability to bring someone to his knees with the click of a keyboard -- and in her case to be paid for doing so.

For me writing about someone else and getting “caught” is enough to make me physically ill.  I never knowingly do it.  But sometimes it just happens.  I could relate to Emily’s argument with her then-boyfriend Henry about his request that she delete or edit a post that exposed him and her reluctance to do so.  I’ve had that discussion with my husband, who inevitably finds my mention of him uncomfortable.  But I have always acquiesced to his not-always-calm requests.  For the most part I try not to write about family, feeling it is safer not to take a chance.  On the other hand, Jake has given me full license to expose him.

But just this week I wrote about someone else -- an English professor from decades ago  who recently resurfaced in my life.  Then an anonymous comment suggested that he might not like reading everything I had written about him.  I broke out into a sweat worrying about the source of that comment and quickly deleted the meat of the post, including 4 comments (my apologies to Kristin, Steve, LR, and the Anon one).  It is difficult to delete well-meaning comments.

So back to the question of why I write.  Especially in my retirement, it has added an element of regularity to my days that I enjoy.  Sometimes I do feel a little like a reporter looking for a story as I view the world through the prism of “Bloggable or not?”.  I do love the connection with my small band of readers, some of whom don’t even write a Blog.  For the most part, people make meaningful comments and don’t tell me I’m full of crap.

Another enjoyable element of Blogging is reading what others have to say.  After all, we each have a unique take on filling the blank page.  Lately I’ve come to realize that many of those on my link list don’t write often or at all these days.  So I would appreciate your suggestions of Blogs I might enjoy reading.

As long as I know I could go to sleep without writing a post if I had nothing to say, I am content that I’m not addicted to this pastime.  Most days still provide a nugget to chew on and share.  I hope I will know if and when that is no longer the case, when I will quietly pack up and move on.


Blogger Jamy said...

Some people have problems drawing personal boundaries. If you are one of those people, and you have a blog, it will be a problem.

You are not one of those people. (Neither am I.)

Also, if you do a good job of keeping yourself anonymous, you can pretty much cross all the boundaries. But, it's way too much fun to meet other bloggers and share the writing with friends, so a bit of discretion is essential.

(I am way more careful writing about other people and have changed personal details to make people less recognizable. I've offered to delete posts, too, but no one ever took me up on that offer.)

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This topic interests me a lot, as I'm sure you know, Barbara! Although I'm not a blogger, my work (and play) involves teaching, creating, and performing, all of which can bring up the same issues you've raised.

I could go on forever with my opinions on how the Internet, blogging, etc. are changing the "practiced ethics" of communication...

I think that people's real inner selves get revealed online perhaps more clearly than the writers realize. Some people just intend to put themselves out there as they are. Other folks use the Internet as a way to try to create an alternate online persona, which inevitably shows its cracks after time and under the strain of the effort to sustain the false image. Some readers see it; some don't. Same holds true for performers, politicians, spiritual leaders, etc.

BTW, the Anon comment on the professor post (which I didn't see in its original form) wasn't from this Anon! :-)

And: I'm glad you're still writing!


2:51 PM  
Blogger LiLu said...

For me, it's just simply fun. It's connecting with people all over. It's an excuse to road trip to Chicago and grab a beer with a friend I've never met.

Maybe in some way, it keeps life exciting for me now that I'm "settled" here in DC, more or less.

Either way, I too know that I'll stop someday... when it isn't fun anymore. :-)

3:22 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I just keep coming back to the fact that it has to be fun. Sometimes, for me, it starts to feel like an obligation -- and that's when I back off. I think you're right in saying that as long as you have something to express, it makes sense to blog!

(I must admit I wondered about that post on the professor as well, so I don't blame you at all for deleting my comment. :) )

5:01 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

So do you think Jake really appreciates the way you broadcast to the world that he only gets to watch?!? Or does he just put up with it? I'm joking, totally ;)

I think that Emily Gould's life was ruined by blogging because of what she chose to blog about and her lack of respect for the privacy of others. It is sometimes very difficult to tell what a person might want or not want to read about themselves on the internet because even if no names are mentioned it might still be possible for someone to figure out who the person is based on the other details.

I guess that's why it is probably best for most bloggers to focus on themselves. What my blogger friends are comfortable with sharing about themselves is what I enjoy reading about. I don't want to know more than they want to share. But my perspective is more from a reading standpoint since I read a lot more than I write.

6:03 PM  
Blogger tut-tut said...

I'm liking the pithiness of Facebook these days.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I'm glad that you write, for whatever reason. Not so sure why I do, but I'm glad for the creative outlet as well as the opportunity to let friends and family in on my life.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Jamy -- I'm sure you have struggled with this from time to time because you often write about your relationship with other people. Has your family (mom in particular) ever complained about anything you have written?

Anon -- Yes, we will have to talk more about how this translates in the music world.

I did know the Anon whose comment I heeded and deleted was not you! Ii am grateful for that person's feedback.

LiLu -- You are a Blogger success story that just keeps going, perhaps fueled by the adrenaline of just plain fun. Brava to you!

Steve -- If you ever have advice about the appropriateness of anything I write, feel free to shoot me an e-mail. I sometimes need to be reminded.

Cyndy -- Jake and I have cut a deal. He has no complaints whatsoever as long as I keep making his homemade food and occasionally throw his kong for him.

Tut-tut -- For the most part, I just don't see the allure of Facebook. Maybe some day I will use it for something other than finding people!

Kristin -- I love knowing that every day when I click on your link, there will be something new to read. Keep writing!

9:47 PM  
Blogger lacochran said...

Congrats on your DCBlogs listing. :)

Jake? He's an attention whore. But an adorable one! So photogenic!

7:26 AM  
Blogger Malnurtured Snay said...

I want to feel important ...

2:20 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

LA -- Thanks for letting me know about DC Blogs. I would have probably figured it out from my stats, which inevitably go up because of the mention.

And yes, Jake is such a shameless attention whore, who begs to have his picture taken (and then demands a dog biscuit).

Malnurtured Snay -- You are absolutely correct. Just being able to self-publish with no one editing what you say is empowering. Not always wise, but definitely an ego boost.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Wow! You have been quite the prolific blogger. I could never find the time right now to post every day and certainly don't think that I have enough interesting material (or the inclination) to do so. I think I have missed all of the business of this Gould woman and the desire to let others have it via a blog. I like your blog. I like blogs that share someone's journey whether that be spiritual, educational, personal, etc. I do however think there are things that are off limits. For all the 'blog kin' and 'blog family' feeling I have to remind myself that this is a public forum where anyone can read what has been posted.

Keep it up. I am happy that you are my blog kin!

12:10 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Gary -- I too am very glad to call you Blog kin. You have given me hope for the future of education! I love reading about you and your kids.

9:30 PM  
Anonymous jamy said...

To answer your question--my mom never complained about what I wrote about her, but the very fact that she was reading made it difficult for me to write freely. She has respectfully agreed to NOT read my blog, though I did just recently share a post with her. It helped that while I was in Paris, I kept two blogs (the second was a "family friendly" one under my own name). That was more than satisfactory for everyone involved. However, I don't have the energy to keep both up, so I'm back to the one semi-anonymous blog. And, if my mom reads, what I don't know won't hurt me.

6:24 PM  

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