Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Blogging blogging blogging

We had friends over for supper Saturday, blogging got on the subject and my friend (and reader) the divine Ms. M – who has been lurking for a while now – said something that has been trotting around in my head since then.

Basically, she was saying she would never blog because she’d feel uncomfortable about the amount of personal information being put out. For instance, she pointed out that I’m posting pictures of my house and things in it . Personal stuff, stuff that’s not politics or snarking celebrities. Like for instance, I suppose, talking about this conversation we had. Stuff about me. It would, she said, make her uncomfortable to do that.

Even though no one knows who I am – except for those I’ve met (this blog is impossible to find through my real name for instance) I still have information and stories about myself here that could, conceivably be found by total chance (i.e. for some reason someone I know is searching blogs and hits on mine and sees pictures I’ve posted and I’m busted).

Not that there’s anything I want to hide on this blog. Other than the odd comment now and again, I don’t spend my time snarking, or being nasty about people I actually know (other than the CFH once or twice). That’s why I have a journal…

Basically, she made me think (wonder) about why I do this. Beyond the basic “why do I blog” thing, it’s more of a “what exactly is the point of blogging” thing.

Why do I feel the need to talk about myself here? Obviously there is – to some extent – the “community” thing. I know between 10-20 people regularly read this, mostly other bloggers, some friends and family who lurk… But seriously, what would it change if I stopped? Not a whole helluva lot.

Are blogs a worthwhile form of expression or just the expression of a bunch of “self deluded exhibitionists”? I can understand, perhaps, a professional writer, like Ian who has said his blog is a writing exercise, it keeps him limber.

Actually, it's really simple. I love writing. I don't kid myself into believing that I'll ever write a novel or anything else that will be published. I’m not interested. Nor will I ever be a Dooce who lives off blogging. I'm just too damned lazy really. But still, I love putting words down. Playing with them, getting them to say exactly what I want even if I have to spend lots of time looking for that perfect word. And blogging allows that. A journal no one but myself will ever see just doesn't quite cut it. Besides, the journal is for whining.

I entertained a huge correspondence with friends when I was young, many many moons ago, some just a few miles away, some thousands. It wouldn't have been much more expensive to call most of them. But we wrote. Lots. I think blogging is my middle aged version of writing those letters, of chatting with someone, of putting the words down where they’ll stay, like they never will over the phone. Phones are for arranging to meet for dinner.

There is also, of course, the flattery factor. Knowing that people find me entertaining in my own right. There are people out there who don’t even know me and find me interesting enough to come back to again and again. I’ll admit it. It’s nice. Having these 20-odd strangers (who needs hundreds unless you have serious ego problems) come read what I have to say, yeah, it is nice. It’s validation of a sort.

So, do tell, what keeps you blogging, whether you’ve just started or are a long time fan? What is it that makes you keep opening Blogger and putting yourself out there for the whole world (or 20 people) to see? Use the comments, or blog about it. I’m really interested in your answers, and so, no doubt, is the Divine Ms. M…


geewits said...

Mine is a combination of many things. I've always been the type to chat up strangers in a bar, so part of it is like that. I like getting different perspectives on my thoughts. I love being able to look up the "whens" of my life. Like, When did I break my foot? or When did I meet Jazz?. It can also feel very relaxing, in the "getting something off your chest" kind of way. And because I have made my camera a part of my existence, it's fun to say "Look at this! What do you think?" I get a lot of positive feedback that makes me feel good and I feel like I've made some friends. I can understand Ms. M's concerns, I had those too and that's part of why I blog anonymously (although mostly because my husband asked me to), but if you are reading this, Ms. M, the blogging community is very nice and friendly, with very few exceptions and well, it's just something fun to do!

XUP said...

First, I need to write. If I don't write I can't sleep at night because too many things whirl around in my brain. Blogging purges them. Also, I like to read what other people are interested in. And, I like the blogging community & the people I've met through blogging virtually and in real life.

Rachel said...

awesome post ms jazzy-jazz. welcome back from your weekend, too.

I'm on my way out for a short vacation in Maine, and I will think about this question and post my own thoughts on my blog once I return.


ticknart said...

I started blogging to keep in better contact with friends (Some of them, or maybe all, weren't very good at e-mailing, but would read things I wrote.) and to delude myself into believing that I was using it as practice to someday write for a living. Since then it's sort of turned into the only hobby I have that doesn't involve watching TV and feeling disgusted with myself every time I watch CSI: Miami.

Now, I'm not sure what it is. It's something that I do and I do pretty okay.

As for Ms. M's concerns about personal stuff posting, all the people who blog post what their comfortable with. Everyone finds their balance. I'd never share where I live. I posted one picture of myself way back in the day, but I'd never do that again. My real name appears a couple of times, but again that was early on when only people I know in regular life were reading.

It's like being personal at work, you find your balance and everyone who doesn't like it can go screw themselves.

Ian Lidster said...

My motivations initially were the ones you suggested as my motivations; that it keeps my writing somewhat limber. And, like you, aside from the fact I've done it for a living for years, I still love writing. And writing directly to an audience that will respond, should they so choose, is especially enticing. Not from an ego perspective per se, but to know I still have some skills in that direction.
Added to which I have met, electronically at least, people like yourself whom I really like, at this level. And the few bloggers I've met realtime have proved my instincts were not wrong. I think most of us present ourselves much like we are in the same manner that most fiction writing is essentially autobiographical. We can really only be who we are.
However, I sometimes get hesitant about revealing too much of myself and I have sometimes regretted getting to (inadvertently) familiar and to have had something I've stated playfully being taken much too seriously.
Much food for thought, my erudite friend.

Em said...

I started because I enjoyed reading other's blog and wanted to give it a try. I'm not a writer, but I liked the idea of giving it a try. Since then, I like the community of bloggers that I correspond with or that visit my blog while I visit their blog.

As for personal stuff, I share some...but not so much that I care if I get outed. I don't use my real name. And I've not posted photos of myself just cause, well, who wants to see me? LOL But I'm comfortable sharing some stuff.

VioletSky said...

I'm new to blogging and have often pondered that very thought. Why would anyone blog? I like writing and when I can't sleep I like to jot down the many and disparate thoughts that rumble in my brain. And really, I can write as little or much of my persoanl life as I choose. And if someone finds my writings interesting enough to read them and come back for more that is all the better for my impoverished ego. I've made some new friends and no one other than the bloggers who read me know I do this.
And I agree: journaling is for whining! So these are my happy thoughts.

A Happy Downtowner said...

Jazz, your post inspired me today so wrote a loonnnnng one! lol

I think blogging and how you choose to blog is a personal decision. Nobody is right or wrong for putting any information they choose. I'm one of those who have embraced technology and made it my friend. I love the communication aspect of it. And like many other bloggers, I've made good blogging friends through my visits to their blogs. Not everyone will like me and vice versa. I'm ok with that, the world of blogger is a big one that we can all co-exist relatively peacefully.

Susan Tuttle said...

A wonderful food for thought post - I have similar reasons for blogging.

For me, blogging allows me to live my life in a more meaningful, artful way. I begin to view my surroundings and daily experiences in a different light - the ordinary can become extraordinary.


Josie said...

I think blogging is a great way to communicate in the 21st Century. It's a way to exchange ideas, and to meet with people "face to face" albeit in another dimension. We do truly get to know one another. I'm not a writer, so I have no compulsion to write, but I love exchanging ideas. My blog is fairly transparent, as well, and I'm okay with that. It hasn't been a problem so far "knock on wood". So when people visit my blog, they get a pretty good idea of who I am. Occasionally I will post something that folks with disagree with, but what the heck - it's my blog.

The one thing I have learned about blogging is that I have found the more people are different, the more they are the same. We all have some sort of commonality. And that's why blogging is fun.

Jazz said...

Thanks everyone for your responses. I loved reading them all.

Jocelyn said...

I view it as a sandbox, where I can play--and not for a hypothetical audience. There is something that makes the writing effort more genuine when real people--and not just dear old Mom--might be reading it.

Ev said...

Yeah...what you said. And sometimes I can use my blog as a bully pulpit for my grown kids and they never know they've been manipulated. :-)