Reading a few posts from across different blogs, I was thinking about what I personally get from blogging. I've written around this on different occasions and from different angles but wanted to try to really quantify it.
I feel compelled to write, to share, and there is an intense satisfaction in doing so. The sharing is a secondary but essential aspect; while journalling is a rewarding process it doesn't fill the same emotional gap as writing in public – at least for me.
The joy I get from building and tweaking the site goes hand-in-hand with the writing, I've mentioned the almost 'performance art' angle of this, but what really lights me up is the connections that blogging generates – even if fleeting, including:
- the comments and citations of others
- those who reach out via email and the ongoing conversations that fosters
- the connection to the wider blogosphere: either blogs I personally stumble across or those that are mentioned by others
I feel that when you have your own blog there is an innate curiosity, a pull to find others, and a desire to read the words of interesting people that goes beyond any other offline behaviour. Bix pulls a few threads together about introverts and extroverts, stressing the point that "introversion is not unsociability". I'm profoundly introvert but that doesn't mean I don't want to talk to people – it's how that happens, how I can control the context around meeting people. Walking into a room full of strangers and being expected to talk to them scares the life out of me, but sharing very personal experiences on the web and interacting with others on the back of it (generally on a one-to-one basis) is something I enjoy greatly. I will often initiate a connection when it's via the written word but come up with just about any excuse not to do so in person.
Bix also mentions of his time of "virtually non-stop tweeting" hoping he "must have been getting something out of it" else he fell victim to its (deliberately) addictive nature. While social media has certainly become more performative over the years, I saw it as another avenue of creating connection and feeding that curiosity. In February 2008 (no longer online) I wrote:
"Twitter is more the facilitator of communication rather than the end channel so it is probably better to take deeper discussion and analysis away from this environment in order to effectively extend a particular conversation."
Ultimately, social media became too burdensome to achieve that goal so I take the same approach with blogs: they are starting points that lead to connection and more focused conversation away from the public web.
The tagline for the blog at one point many years ago used to be "expanding my online world" which fits perfectly with this desire to connect with more interesting folks around the web.
Further to this, there is the feeling of being part of something bigger than yourself: the blogging "community". Even though blogging is a very singular pastime, the knowledge that there are others out there, just like you, who throw words at the web through some kind of compulsion to write and share – even if no one will read it – is profound. It reaffirms who you are and what you are doing.
Blogging is a lifeline, a connection to people and a world that might not be possible offline because of the reticence to interact and the fear doing so generates. I can't think of a better reason to do it.