Why we blog

Now I know we bloggers are a self-absorbed lot, tending to go on just a bit about why we blog, the value of blogging, etc. I think that this is because blogging is such a powerful, transforming experience. Once you start out blogging, and get past that magic three-month mark (most blogs don’t) you have entered a world that is divided up, as someone put it the other day, into "bloggers and normal people". So it is understandable that bloggers tend to write in a fairly obsessed way about why they blog, what it means to them, and so on. (Me as much as any of them.)

Recently I have read three very good posts on this topic, all different, and all thought-provoking. Meredith Farkas of Information wants to be Free has posted a very uncharacteristic post about why she blogs — You may not be the person you think you are. This is an emotionally open posting, and one with which I identify very strongly. This is such a true and perfect description: "We all have a story of our life in our heads that informs who we think we are and what we think we are capable of. This story is based on experiences in our lives — successes, failures, traumas, and other people’s expectations. Often we will construct our story based only on certain experiences in our lives — those that provide confirmation of what we believe ourselves to be. There may be other experiences that contradict this view of ourselves, but we choose to focus on the ones that confirm our view. Someone who doesn’t have a high opinion of themselves may ignore all of the achievements they have attained and positive experiences they have had."

Meredith describes herself as a child and young woman in this context, and then discusses how all of it began to change for her when she started writing her blog. (Well, maybe meeting her future husband had something to do with it.) Her posting is really fantastic stuff, please read it if you can identify with my stab at describing it, as it is very coherent and moving. "I know a lot of people who are crippled by fear and self-doubt like I was. And this is why I am writing such a personal post. I want to tell those people to consider that the stories that constrain their lives may just not be true. They may be capable of so much more than they let themselves believe."

A completely different, and more cerebral, perspective on the personal value of blogging is provided by the wonderful and definitely not (in my book) grumpy old bookman, The whys and wherefores of blogging. Sparked off by an article in the Arts journal blog about why people bother to produce blogs, and, like me, taking the view that for him it is not about making money, he says: "I don’t mind admitting that it’s only recently that I figured it out. The answer is, it’s a continuation of a lifetime preoccupation, namely education. And it combines very neatly with another lifetime occupation, namely writing." Michael has been an educator in his professional life, and in his retirement, his blog is a natural extension of that. He says that being an educator is not fashionable, and he is probably right. But he is also right, in my opinion, to have identified that blogging is an education medium for oneself and one’s readers– one can learn a lot in the free sense of following one’s interests while roaming over the Internet, and then one can write about it — if well, in such a way that others will read one’s outpourings. Excellent.

Finally, the estimable Skint Writer has written a post called Defining Blogging . "This is an anonymous blog and when I began it that was the myth that I believed. Over the past six weeks, since I started blogging, I have learned that this is not the case. It takes a lot of effort to maintain a credible blog and that includes making the effort to post on relevant topics. This involves research, reading about what and who is already out there and taking your conclusions into account as you compose your witterings. This can be done consciously or subconsciously." For Skint, blogging is "just another medium", in which an elite will emerge, and everyone else will be left out of the party. I don’t feel so pessimistic, but Skint is a skint writer, which I am not (neither skint nor a writer), I am more of a self-expression sanity-preserving blogger, and I can well see that the experience and sensations are different depending on your own life position. As I mentioned to Skint, it is hard to believe that such a self-assured blogger has been at it for only six weeks, but there you go, he’s a natural, obviously.

These are three great posts, and I do recommend reading them — and the comments they have garnered as well, of course.

Jenny has just gone to bed, telling me that what she has been doing on her computer for the past hour is filling a mini-room maker room with as many Greek gods and goddesses whose names she can think of. She’ll show me the result tomorrow — can’t wait.