Why Do We Blog?

Seeing as how I began this blog as an experiment of sorts – and as a project for a writing class – I’ve naturally been doing a lot of reading and thinking about why people blog. During my short time here in Blogland I’ve made the acquaintance with many diverse and talented bloggers. All are different in their own ways, and how they answer my question will no doubt be as unique and as individual as the faces and personalities behind the posts.

Most of my reading and interactions have been positive. Then I came across Andrew Keen’s book The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture. As the blurbs promise, it is a blazing polemic against us, the people blogging on a regular basis, adding our noise to the din that the author finds deafening and inane.

In his introduction, he writes:

At the heart of this infinite monkey experiment in self-publishing is the Internet diary, the ubiquitous blog. Blogging has become such a mania that a new blog is being created every second of every minute of every hour of every day. We are blogging with monkeylike shamelessness about our private lives, our sex lives, our dream lives, our lack of lives, our Second Lives. At the time of writing there are fifty-three-million blogs on the Internet, and this number is doubling every six months. In the time it took you to read this paragraph, ten new blogs were launched.

He goes on to decry the ways blogging, as well as other online collaborative (Wikipedia) and community (MySpace and Facebook) outlets, are conspiring to erode the foundations of both objective journalism and the entertainment establishments. He makes some interesting points. Consider how many people blogged about the death of Madeline Neumann over this past week. Much of the information in the earliest posts was inaccurate or downright false. Only as the details of the investigation began to enter the mainstream did posts begin to get the story straight. But, as in the case of my own blog post, accurate details weren’t the reason for posting. Regardless of the timeline or the details of who called 911 and when, my post was a personal reaction to the tragedy itself. I wasn’t reporting information, and I hope people who came across my post didn’t simply assume every jot and tittle I posted was scripture. Even linking to the AP article I read isn’t a foolproof assurance that everything at that stage of the unfolding story was accurate. His point? Many people do assume blog posts to be accurate, and end up believing lies. I concur.

So why do I blog?

As I’ve mentioned many times, this blog is a living memoir. What I write here pertains to me – where I’m at, how I’m living and what’s percolating in my noodle just prior to hitting the “Publish” button. In her essay collection titled Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith, Anne Lamott shares this story about a spiritual lesson she taught to a group of (mostly) attentive children in her church:

I’d been pumped up about the lesson the night before, when I saw an art project suggested in the curriculum materials that involved building a paper Wailing Wall with students, to teach them about pouring one’s heart out to God and about letting go. I’d also printed images from the Internet of men clustered at the wall, crowds milling around nearby, harder-to-find shots of women at the wall, multiple copies of one block of stone, and a picture of a young boy and his father in yarmulkes, pushing prayers written on paper into cracks in the wall. This is something I do all the time, shove bits of paper with prayers and names on them into desk drawers, little boxes, my glove compartment. I’ve found that when you give up on using your mind to solve a problem – which your mind is holding on to like a dog with a chew toy – writing it down helps turn off the terrible alertness. When you’re not siphoned into the black hole of worried control and playing fretful Savior, turning the problem over to God or the elves in the glove compartment harnesses something in the universe that is bigger than you, and that just might work. [Emphasis added]

I am an amateur in many ways. And I never pretend to be a professional when it comes to presenting anything on this blog. I blog to “turn off the terrible alertness,” a phrase I’m still grappling with.

Now it’s your turn.

Why do YOU blog? I’m eager to read your comments . . .


11 thoughts on “Why Do We Blog?

  1. I made a resolution to myself a while ago (when starting a blog was all the rage with my friends) NOT to start one myself until I had: a) a clear concise idea for a blog that I could state in one sentence;
    b) the idea was something that would sustain my interest for more than two weeks and that I wanted to learn more about; and
    c) was something that I’d actually want to read myself.

    I thought all that would take a few weeks. It took almost two years, but I’m happy with what I came up with and I’m glad I waited.

    Patience is a virtue? Pithy but true. Thanks for dropping by and chiming in. I appreciate your visit.

  2. I blog to express myself and communicate with other people. My posts, however, aren’t of the diary type described by that old curmudgeon you quote. Since I’ve been a writer forever, I tend to treat my blog like a newspaper column: I write about issues, or recent events, whether personal or public. I only tell personal stories when I think there’s a wider meaning to them. I dislike blogs that have little to say, that apologize for not writing more often, then go on to give the minutiae of someone’s life. Still, I disagree with the curmudgeon: I think most of the effects of the Internet are positive, and I think blogging is on the whole good for people. Liberating, in fact. For writers, it’s a way to bypass the terrible publishing industry that until now has dominated and controlled what people read.

    And that’s pretty much why I blog.

    Thanks for the visit and for your comments from a writer’s perspective. I have always loved writing, but seldom find the time to sit down and write without some sort of way to get immediate feedback or input. Some of the material on this blog was originally part of a manuscript for a memoir I was working on. But I decided to do the “living memoir” thing because I wanted the interaction to be here and now. And also because it makes me do the work of writing. Obviously nothing here is Shakespeare, but the scaffolding is there. Ha!

  3. Great post. The subjectivity of truth in the blog world while slightly irritating, can be highly entertaining. Why do I blog?
    I started blogging because 1) I like being heard, 2) After being out of school for a year I felt myself getting stupid and saw this as a way for intellectual accountability, 3) I foresaw a huge, monumental Philosophical/Spiritual world view switch coming (still hasn’t happened completely, but probably will) and saw this blog as an easy way accustoming my friends so that they don’t freak out once it happens, and 4) it provides a great community. i.e. the prayer you offered for my Gabs (who is doing great!) and the prayers I have offered for you in quitting smoking (been there done that–kind of).

    Maybe I just can’t resist the ethos of pop culture?

    I have gone through the initial stages of some major philosophical and spiritual changes and wanted to put those changes into words in a way that others could read and interact with in an up-to-the-minute fashion. So we are in the same boat here. And I’m glad Gabs is doing better! Thanks for the update.

  4. Do we still suffer from the illusion of “what is in print must be true”? I have to poke myself to remember that alll I read, in papers, in books, on line, on the back of cereal boxes are representations of opinions, some more or less based in fact, but all based on subjective assessment of facts as being presented. Why do I blog?
    i can no longer draw and paint my life-long loved ways of expressing my ideas and opinions. Also, i want a record of my ruminations for the younger generation of my family. Putting my blurbs in a public forum makes me assess the degree of honesty and candour, and yes, self-revelation i am willing to indulge in. Essentially we are private most of our lives, even with intimates. let them also read between our lines for a truth they might recognize as universal, beyond the personal. i want for any reader to recognize some of their own wants, passions, thoughts, fears, joys in my bits and pieces, and take from my example permission for themselves to want to be heard. I suspect we all want to know we are not alone. G

    Excellent insights. I find it easier to say things here, even if I know members of my family or friends will read it. Blogs can be very controversial conversation starters! And the idea of leaving a record is appealing as well. Thanks for chiming in.

  5. I blog to escape, to connect, and to find my voice.

    But mostly? To procrastinate.


    Find a voice is an excellent reason to blog. Only in Blogland can we try out stuff and get immediate response. And your voice is fine, Maggie. Even when you don’t write about corn.

  6. Thank you one and all for your insightful posts.

    I’ve added some personal responses in bold at the end of your individual comments.

    I appreciate your contributions to my blog.

  7. hey brian, it has been great to “meet” you in blogland, and i have been meaning to stop by and say hello on your blog but i’m not the best commenter in the world! it was interesting, though, that when i did you had this post because it’s all kind of fresh on my mind, too, “why am i doing this?” i have been writing for the refuge blog for 2 years but it is definitely a shared thing and not really a chance to establish a strong voice. that’s why i decided to launch the carnival in my head (that’s what it feels like) in january and it’s been pretty fun and challenging and interesting in all kinds of ways. i committed myself to it for 1 year and that’s it for now, just to see what it felt like to have a venue to say some of my crazy thoughts about church/community/relationships/life, things that matter to me. sometimes it’s hard, i feel kind of vulnerable, stupid. the guy you quoted at the top of this post sure does think so, too, hahhaha. but what’s been so interesting is how much hope & challenge & good thoughts have come from my time in blog-land. for the past 2 1/2 years i have found many others asking the same questions, trying new things, wondering, wandering, dreaming, and it is so fun, we have really become friends. some of us have had a chance to meet in person at different events and there’s just this lovely connection that has happened through this crazy thing out here called the blogosphere. anyway, getting forward to getting to know you in the months to come!

    I admire your commitment to blogging for one year. From all the advice I’ve read recently about blogging, this is the one thing everyone says is mandatory; nearly all successful bloggers (many, consistent readers) post at least once a day, if not more, for at least six months. It simply takes that long to establish a presence and work out the kinks. And I too find it a relief that there are others struggling with some of the same things I am. Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a thoughtful comment.

  8. oh and i meant to add my friend erin’s post “the spirituality of blogging” as food for thought, too. http://www.erinword.com/2008/01/spirituality-of-blogging.html

  9. I’m a new blogger. Thanks for your post.

    I’m also a reader. I hope to hit as many sites as the number of other writers who hit mine. It really should be this way (unless you have several thousand hits a day.) We can have conversation or we can have monologue. I feel that the church is having a monologue if she is not listening and hitting other sites. Blogging is not a chore. It’s not a bore. It’s uncoerced discussion because everyone who posts does so to be read. Likewise, we ought to recognize the value in reading.

    It is a community. It’s a place for one (as Nate points out) to keep current and flex and stretch cognition.

    Two major crisis await the ego of the teacher who is never the student: they will be the only one talking, and therefore, no longer relevant, and secondly, they will be lonely.

  10. This post raised interesting questions. I began blogging so my me and my siblings would have a place to post a weekly writing prompt about our lives and to keep in better touch. I knew I wanted a place to explore memoir, poetry, photography, and my appreciation for the place I live. There are many good teacher blogs, but I have shied away from that whole part of my life for now out of courtesy to my students and school. I am in a very small remote school. So far I have done more writing than ever before and met an amazing new circle of other writers and readers.

  11. I once read a story where a character went behind a sound proof door to scream until her throat was raw. It didn’t matter, because no one had heard her. Which, I guess, is why I blog. Nothing nearly so angsty as screaming, but still…

    I try to avoid letting the people close to me know what I think. Both from a fear of letting them down, and simply because it’s none of their goddam business. But I still want to talk about these things. I could keep a diary I suppose, but you can’t tag things in a diary, and no one except the people you know are likely to read it. Which is the opposite of what I enjoy. If the blogosphere reads my innermost disjointed ramblings, they aren’t going to care, or ring me up and try and talk about them. The most they’ll do is comment on them. I can live with that.

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