Why blog?

Why blog? This is an interesting question but I wonder how many of the thousands of active bloggers ever stop to ponder it.

When I first heard of blogs, I was dismissive. I guessed it would be like the letters columns of some popular journals, a place where the arrogant, the bigotted, the eccentric, the mad and the ignorant could spout merrily and be ignored by sensible folk like you and me. But I took a look anyway. Why not? And I set up a few experimental blogs to see which software was the best. And suddenly I had a blog and there I was blogging away like a good ‘un. Not only that, but people were apparently reading my blog and responding to it. Not arrogant, bigotted, eccentric, mad and ignorant people but intelligent, creative and witty folk who had intelligent, creative and witty things to say. Bing! Suddenly I was a member of a community.

If, like Jean-Paul Sartre, you think that “To do is to be” then blogging is self-complete. You blog therefore you are a blogger, a member of the blogging community, and that may be all you care about. On the other hand, if like Jean-Paul Sartre, Socrates, Bertrand Russell (just fetch a copy of Who’s Who in Philosophy and write their names here), you feel the need to enquire a little more deeply into what we do and why we do it, you may find, as I do, that there’s more to this blogging business than meets the eye.

For instance, why do we feel a compulsion to publish our maunderings instead of just thinking them in the bath and why do we think other people might conceivably be interested in them? Spend any time surfing “blog space” and I think you will be amused, intrigued and appalled by the mass of stuff out there. The arrogant, the bigotted, the eccentric, the mad and the ignorant are all there as I suspected but there are also intelligent, knowledgeable and entertaining people apparently giving us their wit and wisdom as a free gift. That’s quite remarkable.

Anyone can be a blogger. OK, it helps to be at least semi-literate but apart from that, it seems to me that qualifications are not required. To be a good blogger is another matter. At the very least you need to have a talent for writing. By this I mean an ability to express your thoughts clearly, creatively and attractively. In fact, you need roughly the same talents as a successful professional writer albeit practised in a smaller format. That’s just my opinion, of course. You may have other ideas and that’s fine: you probably have your own list of favourite blogs and they are not the same as mine.

That still doesn’t answer the question: why blog? I think there may be many reasons why people take to the wonderful world of blog. In such circumstances the safest approach is to apply the question to oneself and let others answer for themselves. All right, then: why do I blog?

Firstly, I love writing, by which I mean expressing my thoughts in words for others to read. Is writing a skill or an art? Whichever it is it is also fun. I find language endlessly fascinating and playing with language is a game I never tire of. Yes, I could write for myself (and I have done) but a special buzz comes from writing for others. It keeps you sharp, makes you think about your writing, whether you are making sense, whether you are entertaining your reader, giving him or her something to think about.

Secondly, blogging is a community, as I have said. Seeing comments added to your posts, commenting on others’, exchanging emails, all give a delicious feeling of a common enterprise. We are each doing our own thing but with an eye to one another’s labours. We are all different and have different insights to share. I learn from others so maybe they learn from me too. The blog may yet turn out to be one of the most important social adventures of the 21st century.

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About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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2 Responses to Why blog?

  1. baralbion says:

    1. To help sort out my own thoughts. If you’re trying to put some vague idea into words that someone else might read you go about it in a rather more disciplined way.

    2. Vanity. We all like to think we’ve got something worth saying and that others should pay attention to it.

    3. Fashion. We don’t want to be left behind.

    4. The possibility to exchange views with people of similar interests. It’s unlikely that such people live next door.

    This prompts further interesting questions. What is the difference between real and virtual interaction? Would you trust other bloggers more or less than you’d trust people you meet in other contexts? Are you likely to be more or less open and honest about yourself in a virtual environment? Do we construct an authorial “I” in our blogs that is different from who we really are? It is sometimes said that we may open our hearts to a complete stranger rather than to our nearest and dearest. But how many bloggers would be prepared to reveal the secrets of their souls in the blogsphere?

  2. SilverTiger says:

    A welcome reply to my post. I concur with certain points.

    1. I don’t blog in order to sort out my thoughts – (in fact the necessity of keeping the post reasonably short (length is a disincentive to potential readers), I often drastically curtail what I have to say, leading to a feeling I have dealt with matters superficially. I do agree that the need to “make sense” to the reader is an incentive to be clear and to resolve vagueness or uncertainty.

    2. I agree that I like the idea of other people reading what I write and finding it interesting, entertaining, amusing, instructive or, more generally, worth reading. Is this vanity? Maybe.

    3. I don’t think fashion plays any part in it for me. Just look at the way I dress 😀

    4. Exchanging views with intelligent and good humoured people, whether or not our interests are similar, certainly plays an important part. Even if such people lived next door I think I would still communicate online: it’s so convenient and you can make as many cups of tea as you like and you don’t have to tidy up the place before they arrive.

    The unnumbered section is particularly interesting. I know many people regard the online world as somehow unreal and a source of confusion, delusion and fraud but I do not. People might once have said the same thing about pen friends or about doing business by the new-fangled telephone but these things are now a normal part of life. Communicating online soon will be as well.

    I have reason to think that you can get to know people online pretty well if you spend enough time on it, though there is always the possibility of being taken in by con artists just as in the offline world. So I wouldn’t trust bloggers more or less than face to face contacts.

    I certainly choose very carefully what I reveal about myself. Utter frankness is not on the menu. For one thing, I don’t know who reads my blog or might read it in the future. When you publish your life there is always a possibility that this will hurt people and I wish to avoid that. I am therefore careful. Whether careful enough remains to be seen.

    I recently read some comments on writers’ blogs about how in their fiction the characters tend to “take over” and dictate the course of events. I think that when you write about your own experiences, whether or not you do so in the first person, you are inevitably the main character in your story. That character therefore tends to “take over” if for no other reason than the fact that you are selective about what you report this character to be doing and thinking. He is thus not-quite-you rather than completely-you.

    I was once a Samaritan volunteer so I well know that some people at least find it easier to talk to strangers. I don’t do so because I am aware that people are interconnected in unexpected ways and that a “stranger” often turns out to a friend of a friend.

    Email SilverTiger

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