Why do we blog?
I think I’d like to explore why we blog. From a learning theory perspective, apparently we blog because reflection is an important part of learning. I have often found myself writing blog-length posts on Facebook and before that I was often very active on web forums. I found that writing these posts challenged me to think about the issue in question, chrystallize my thoughts on it, and invite feedback on that. Initially, I probably didn’t know I was doing this, and at this time I likely was a lot more combative and avoided hedging my ideas. I likely actually came across as somewhat of an obnoxious and combative type. A troll perhaps to some degree.
Nevertheless, it sharpened my debating skills, helped me build arguments, write more cohesively and, quite frankly, helped me become a better writer altogether, perhaps. It certainly helped me become or even remain the creative writer I had been in school. Which leads me to my second point.
Writing something to put out there, especially if you’re being creative in your writing as I would often try to be, segueing off the initial topic of politics, football, or film into fictional analogies and long verbose often tongue in cheek rants, means that you’re putting yourself out there. People can read and judge what you’ve written. They might be impressed. They may be unimpressed. That was the challenge that it became for me. To build cohesive, persuasive, entertaining bodies of texts.
I still make these posts. They appear less on web forums where I feel the anonymity afforded by screen names can lead to people being more easily inclined to insincerity and hostility, and more on Facebook. On Facebook, it’s you and your online personality is then indelibly linked with you as a person. Maybe that has been a good thing for me, and maybe it has been a bad thing at times because, I suppose I am still that person that is writing to challenge myself and persuade and impress others.
So, why start writing a blog now?
Two years ago after I’d arrived home after the long train journey through Asia and Europe back to the South Wales valleys via London and my first degree graduation ceremony, I wrote a long, detailed, and what I thought was an entertaining account of that journey. There were pictures, naturally, and accompanying commentary telling the story of my trip from Beijing through to London. I posted it on a web forum, primarily for Expats living in Thailand where I currently reside (more of that later). I received a great deal of positive feedback, though that was as recognition of the journey as much as the story that I told about it, and I shared it with friends.
A few months later, as the owner of the forum became embroiled in some legal disputes regarding forum content that related to some unsavoury expat characters, the forum was promptly and without warning pulled from the World Wide Web. All of the posts, including mine, were now stored temporarily elsewhere. I managed to retrieve the text and I still have the images, of course, but that was a wake up call for me. Spending hours of our lives on creating content for someone else’s website that builds their ranking for the Google search engine metrics or adding your considered thoughts to Facebook, a platform where such content is so fleeting in its accessibility to both you and potential readers, seemed a terrible waste.
This is mine. What I’m writing is mine. I do appreciate that right now that may fall into a legal grey area as I post it on a free WordPress blog, but at least I will, until I invest in hosting it myself, have control over it.
But is anyone going to read this?
I suppose that this is where the reflection aspect of blogging comes in. Even if, as I plan, this blog may in later posts provide evidence of what I do professionally and serve as somewhat of a more interesting and engaging CV, this blog can serve as a journal. A journal for self-reflection and a journal for me to do what I’ve been doing for the 700 or so words above. Write about where I am and why. I’ve often enjoyed going back and reading the posts I made in the far distant past on web forums, so it’s entertaining, but also it would be helpful to go back and look at my thoughts to gauge how they’ve changed and why. Maybe, I’ll add info and ideas that I’ll later forget. This can serve as a helpful repository for those.
So, this blog is for me probably more than anyone else. Apparently people can make money from them. I’m fairly confident that my content will be too self-referential, reflective, self-indulgent, and possibly even niche to be something that would attract anything remotely approaching the type of readership that would generate income. I’d be happy with a few like-minded people or a few people to argue with. Maybe I’ll always have that bug. Debate really does help us figure things out though. It pushes us to search for information to support our ideas and be presented with the information that will help us rethink them. It’s great when you’re wrong because that means you’ve learnt something. That would be something for another blog though.
In helping me collect my thoughts on why I was starting a blog, I found these two links helpful: