Saturday, January 06, 2007

Why Blog?

I have been mulling the fascination with blogging, and have come to the conclusion that I blog (maybe many of us blog) because it is instant publication gratification. (Parenthetically, I would say that posting photos is also instant gratification--sharing photos that I am proud of having taken.) Blogging is certainly a discipline for me--when I first began blogging, my daughter read the early posts and then warned me that I had better keep posting or she wouldn't bother to read my efforts.

Talk about pressure. No mother wants purposefully to disappoint her daughter.

What I found is that the more I blog, the more I think about things to blog. I find my thoughts organizing themselves into sentences that would sound appropriate in a blog. And the discipline of writing blogs, not necessarily daily, but with enough frequency, helps to sharpen my writing skills.

My writing style is no different in blogging than it would be in most anything I might write. Oh, I might be more formal were I writing a piece for publication in a professional magazine. Certainly I would be less personal. But as far as the reach of vocabulary goes, I would try no less hard to phrase my thoughts just so in a blog than in any other piece that carries my ideas out into the world.

In addition to the instant gratification that blogging brings, reading blogs appeals to the voyeuristic tendencies that many of us have. Over twenty years ago, I read a fascinating work called Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages by Phyllis Rose. Rose's thesis in part is that we are all fascinated by the intimate details of famous people. She held up for public scrutiny the marriages of Jane Welsh and Thomas Carlyle (not a good one), Effie Gray and John Ruskin (even stranger), Harriet Taylor and John Stuart Mill, Catherine Hogarth and Charles Dickens (controversial even today), and George Eliot and George Henry Lewes (the only normal marriage in the lot). Rose argued that we all want to know what goes on in people's private lives.

I am not sure that I go quite that far on why we read blogs, but since I am reading blogs of people unknown to me, I have pondered what the fascination is. Of course, I am struck by convergences between my interests and the interests of the blog writers I am reading. Perhaps I am drawn to the blogs I choose to read because they are writing about things I would inherently find fascinating. In a way, I consider these bloggers to be my friends--living at a distance from me, and people I will never meet, but nevertheless people about whom I care, enough to check out their writings on a daily basis making sure, yes, they are still there, still thinking, still caring, still blogging.


LauraHinNJ said...

Hmmm... yes you must be disciplined, especially when Blogger is misbehaving.

I'm not the least bit interested in the intimate details of the lives of celebrities - but my blog friends, well, I'll read whatever they have to say. Mutual interest makes the difference, don't you think? That's also what makes it feel like a friendship, although we haven't met.

Anonymous said...

I hope we do meet again sometime: I am your brother! Oh, you mean other people. Some sort of community does indeed form on the web. I don't know how deep it is, but my BIC-TALK experience suggests that it is real.

I'm using blogging to help prime the pump for teaching. It is a way to organize the stuff I say regularly in class, and do so in new settings without the constant pressure of a syllabus. (I often feel driven to places I never wanted to go on the silly bus.) It feels a bit strange knowing that anyone can read the blog. Sometimes I feel like screening readers, or at least comments (as you do). Then I think that I'm unlikely to have all that many readers, given the number of blogs out there; and my own thought trails are not the ones most people want to wander down. We'll see how long I can keep going. I have broken any number of good habits in the past 56 years.

Anyway, I enjoy your blog, and the pictures were wonderful. You've travelled more than I; but I did live in some of those places for longer than you! I'll have to get on the phone and have you teach me how to get pictures linked to my blog. Then I can show you some of what happens in our little world in the Great White North. (A foot of snow last weekend: sorry to make you jealous!)

KGMom said...

Laura--I agree on not being interested in the intimate lives of today's celebrities (I could scream every time the TV does a Jessica Simpson story), but I am intensely interested in lives of those famous from some time ago. For example, I enjoy biographies of historical people. So I was musing if blogging taps into some of that same curiosity in humans. How does the other "half" live?

Daryl--yes, I am sure we will "meet" again. And you know I am jealous of a foot of snow. Uploading photos isn't so difficult--what it can be is trying.
And, you, break good habits? Really?

Julie Zickefoose said...

Well-put, KGMom. I think that those of us who've been doing this for a year or more spend quite a bit of time wondering how it got such a hold on us. Thanks for putting your thoughts out. Do I care what Britney does? Not in the least. Do I care that Whitney is making a comeback, all shiny and new, her wig no longer askew? Nope. But I care about the bloggers who've given me a peek into their lives.

Mary said...

I've been looking at your archives, Donna. I like this post. Ditto what Julie said.