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.