When I was about 10, my mom bought me a notebook that I could use as a journal. I still have all my old journals somewhere. I learned to enjoy recording the events of my day and my feelings. With each new journal, I remember feeling excitement at the expanse of blank pages there for me to fill. Of course, every time I go back and read them now, I cringe - and wonder if I should do the future world a favor by throwing them into my fireplace. Some things are just not meant to be saved for posterity. Anne Frank I was not. In recent years, I've felt too pressed for time to sit and journal. It feels stilted and slow because I can't write fast enough. Then I end up forgetting part of a thought. I thought about doing an electronic journal of some kind, and eventually I talked myself into starting a blog.
The question of why I blog has been on my mind quite a bit lately. I've seen numerous posts that mention various reasons, but one word has been bandied about fairly frequently in this context that makes me think twice - narcissism. I can't agree or disagree with that as a descriptor. I'm sure there are plenty who blog out of a desire for attention. That word has such a negative connotation that I wanted to take time to examine the reasons I do this. I know that on a basic level, it's something I do for me, but I truly don't think I'm narcissistic about it.
I started blogging in February of 2009 because I wanted to be open and honest with myself and others about some things I needed to work on in my life - it was an experiment in accountability. I didn't have a clear goal in mind, but with each new post, I realized that I liked the process.
I like writing out my thoughts, thinking through ideas and allowing my perspectives to evolve with the accompanying research that I would do when necessary. It became less about me and so much more about looking out on the world around me and recording the experience. My writing has often been about my immediate family, which is useful since I live so far from my father, brothers and their families. This is one way to reach everyone simultaneously with little bits and pieces of my life. Other times my thoughts lead me to write about issues that I feel strongly about.
When I started, I truly didn't care if anyone even read what I wrote. I didn't tell anyone what I was doing and I didn't promote my blog or track stats either. Recently, I decided that I wanted to give this more attention - to make it a point to write more regularly. Not because I have anything exciting going on. I don't. Seriously, my life is boring to anyone who isn't living it, though I like it just fine. But I love to write. I've been excited about writing for several weeks now in a way that I haven't felt excited about anything in a long time.
I guess I'm a bit of a voyeur, too, because I love to read other people's blogs - even if I don't know them. I'm interested in what they are experiencing because I can sometimes relate to it. And the writing out there...wow...there's so much talent. I could seriously develop an inferiority complex if I didn't keep reminding myself that I'm me and they're them and we all have our strengths - and I'm a work in progress. Just like them, moving at my own pace. Some of the posts I read resonate with me instantly. Some I find I can't relate to at all, but that doesn't mean that the next post by that same person won't hit a nerve.
It's a brave thing bloggers do when they write about very personal circumstances and allow the entire world to enter their mind and heart. The blogs that I go back to again and again are the ones that show a human element - exposing vulnerabilities in a way that is real and honest.
What value does the blogging community add to the world? My experience is that it's just that: a community, with all the same issues that we have in communities in our "real" lives. There are leaders, followers, those who watch from the fringe, some who join in the fray with passion, and a couple who like to stir up trouble.
The one great equalizer is that geography isn't a factor. I can read a blog from an Australian and interact with that person - each on our own time. It's the beauty of the Internet shrinking the world for us to see new possibilities.