Blogging unsettles me because I associate it with narcissism. The feeling is exacerbated by the limited reach of this blog. However I have found reasons to keep blogging through introspection.
1. Contributing to the documented collective experience of humans.
The internet brought about an unprecedented level of communication between people and a lot of it is documented. Many people are unaware of the extent but it is safe to assume that anything that has been on the internet is on there forever. I find reviews particularly useful as they help me come to an informed decision about a new product I am considering purchasing. I find reading about others’ experiences helpful because it is more information for me to use in my own life. I don’t want to be only a consumer in these and other pieces of communication that benefit people. I want to contribute. Blogging is one way of doing so that balances the skills needed for entry, the time required, and the potential audience in a way that suits my circumstance.
2. Developing and maintaining skills related to writing.
There are benefits of blogging to me that provide the driving motivation to continue writing provided I set my expectations properly. I am not hoping to become famous though I certainly won’t deny that it’s nice to think about. Probably the most immediate and tangible result of blogging for me is improvements to my writing. If I don’t write I can’t continue to improve my grammar, use of vocabulary, and my voice. Rather than lament a lack of development I want to choose to be proactive and practice by writing regularly.
3. A combination of keeping in touch with friends, journaling, and learning.
I want to keep in touch with everybody in my life but that can become temporally prohibitive. There may also be cases where I have the time but my friend does not. These are cases where having a blog can be useful. Especially with useful titles and headers a friend can understand if a blog post is useful or not. My prior flirtations with search engine optimization also indicate that this is good for building a wider audience as well. Mysterious titles may be useful for self-aggrandizing but serve no further purpose. Additionally some thoughts come out better when written than when spoken in a conversation. There are benefits and drawbacks to both forms of communication and maintaining both lines can be helpful.
In the process of revealing various details of my life from my thoughts to mundane details like a new purchase I am also journaling. A quick Google search for “benefits of journaling” finds sources (many of them blogs!) that claim benefits of journaling. Anecdotally speaking I find that I am better able to process my thoughts and feelings, I have some sort of record I can look back on for future reference, and seeing my thoughts in writing often provokes further inquiry and insight.
I think that practically reasons 2 and 3 are what drive me to rationalize blogging as useful via reason 1. Still I think that the thought process is valid so I have no problem with crafting an experience that benefits me if it also serves to benefit others.
Now comes the difficult period of forming a habit so that I can reap the benefits.
It’s not foreign for me to contemplate the role blogging plays in my life. The allure of gaining Internet fame is ever-present but as a man understanding probabilities and likelihood I’m not going to quit my day job.
Maintaining a blog has become meditation. Like maintaining a journal I can take thoughts and parse them through writing. I’ve often sat down with a vague idea in my mind and as I write, the quest for the precise set of words to convey an idea with its subtleties acts as a sieve to remove the chaff from my thoughts, leaving a focused idea that I can develop further.
The hunt for wording is exciting. As an aspiring poet of (hopefully) above-average skill I’m drawn to the feeling of discovering the perfect word, not unlike the feeling of placing the correct puzzle piece in its rightful home. I reach back well into the recesses of my mind to access words I haven’t thought of in years sometimes and it sends waves of warmth down my spine as if I’ve found an old game I loved to play. My voice as a writer develops in tandem, and as cross-training helps in the physical realm, pursuing multiple forms of writing serves to improve my core strengths, benefitting everything I do.
I challenge myself to express ideas more concisely, to use metaphors that are uncommon or perhaps even brand new. I challenge myself to grow as a writer and to speak my ideas with the same intensity I have in thought.
Here’s an example. Just a few paragraphs ago I said, “…I can take thoughts and parse them…” That section of the sentence initially said, “…thoughts in my head…” rather than just “thoughts.” Reviewing it I wondered, “Where else am I going to have thoughts?” It hit me that unless I was expressing a specific way the thoughts are behaving in my head, such as a whirlwind of thoughts, it is assumed that the thoughts are in my head.
Revelations like that fascinate me, and as I write I have many kinds. Recently I looked at Gunslinger Girl critically and reviewed it. In the process I managed to distill my enjoyment into its component parts. With that information in hand I could then apply it to other things I enjoy and compare, or better yet I can predict more accurately if I will like something in the future.
Getting to know myself, whether learning about my preferences or developing my voice, is a reward for writing unparalleled short of winning the lottery and a lifetime supply of chocolate.
I’ve spent considerable amounts of time deciding what I wanted to get out of blogging. The thought process lead me to ask questions like “What exactly is the role of blogging in my life and the lives of others?” and “Does my voice even matter?” After much thought I think I’ve settled on some answers that work for me.
What is the role of blogging in my life?
To be honest I have delusions of grandeur about blogging. There are a number of resources that cultivate the idea that any blogger can become an internet phenomenon, achieving fame and fortune in one fell swoop. The truth is mundane, however, and without joining the circle jerk that is blog optimization I either have to be famous outside of the blog originally or have insight into a niche that relatively few others have access to for sharing. It takes time and effort and nothing can fully develop overnight.
Neither describe me very well.
For me, blogging has come to be an avenue of self-development and introspection. Through writing content I learn, grow, and use words that I don’t get to use frequently as an engineer. When I sit down and write about games I am playing, such as my impressions of Warhammer 40k: Space Marine or my experiences with choice in games, I am taking a passive enjoyment of video games and making it active. Through this process I have teased out what I like and dislike about video games, allowing me to do things like focus on the aspects I do like while being able to determine if any flaws in a game are deal-breakers for me. I engage myself with my passion of gaming by criticizing the industry, analyzing games, and looking to the future. There’s never a stale day as a result.
Blogging also provides new perspectives. Because the nature of the beast is to be public I take time to consider what other people might think of what I blog. This takes me out of my shoes and into others’ shoes, seeing my thoughts with an angle I personally may not have. On top of that I have people who leave comments with thoughts that may not have crossed my mind at all. Taken together my ability to mature myself improves every time I go through the experience of blogging.
What is the role of blogging in the lives of others?
Does my voice even matter?
I think the simplest answer for both questions is that readers will answer this for me. If people find my words to be appealing they will come to the blog and seek more. If they do not, they will not. That’s all there is to it.
As long as I am benefiting from this endeavor it will hold value for me and I can continue without feeling as if I’m wasting my time.
What does this mean for this blog?
I have thoughts occasionally of halting this blog and doing something else. What kept the blog alive was the uncertainty in the “something else” I’d be doing. Now, with some thinking behind it, I can say the blog has positive value to me and I will continue writing for it.
Interestingly, in this re-imagining of blogging as something very personal I find that a lot of successful blogging tips still apply. For example, one of the most popular tips for blogs that I’ve seen is to write often. I think that’s also useful for me because when I go long stretches of time without blogging I find I’ve spent less time processing what’s been happening in my life. Like keeping a journal for some, blogging slows things down and helps me deal with things in life.
You’ll definitely see more from me and I hope it’s entertaining and useful for you.
If you’re a blogger, what are your answers to these questions? If you’re not a blogger, is there anything else in your life that plays this part in your life?
Previously I questioned the value of my posts. Even more fundamental is my reason for blogging. There are a lot of reasons for people to blog. I don’t have any delusions of being relevant to millions of people but if several people benefit I would not complain.
However, my first and foremost reason for beginning to start this particular blog is to create a small but sure revenue stream.
There was a time when I had “pure” reasons for blogging. I had a blog with xanga and this served as a vessel for sharing my thoughts to primarily my high school friends. Back then I had no ideas of making money or even internet stardom with the blog.
My ambitions have changed since then. Currently I definitely would enjoy making some money off this blog. I would also not mind getting a decent readership who I communicate with.
Is that a bad thing? It doesn’t seem like it as along as I’m putting out decent content and not trying to game the system. Time will tell if it works out as intended though.
Every time I set out to write a blog post I run into a problem. What is my post worth?
Sometimes I find something interesting and want to share it. Would it be worthwhile though? Won’t my readers just get it from somewhere else? Who am I to think that my little blog is the one that’ll introduce a reader to something interesting when they have so many other resources?
Then there are the times I have the inspiration to create a post entirely of my own thought and I question the value people would get from it. Perhaps my epitomes are old news for my readers. Perhaps it’s not relevant to them.
What’s the point in blogging then? What role do I play when I share something I’ve found, and what role do I play when I write my own thoughts down?
Oddly enough I think this post began with simply considering the option of concocting an original post or sharing something interesting I’ve found. The process of writing transformed the idea from something mundane to philosophical questioning of my own worth as a blogger.
Either way I think it’s interesting – and I’ll continue to post things I find as well as my own thoughts because whatever the meta-blog-ical value is, I’d still like to create a successful blog that I can eventually make some money off of.
It’s been a while since I last posted. I apologize for that. The frequency should become more consistent now because I’ve dedicated 30 minutes of my morning to writing a blog post. My thought is that this will help me think about something other than school for at least 30 minutes or day. Even if the post is about school though it will probably be from a different angle. Either way it will give me a routine of updating. Furthermore I’ve made a slight tweak in the format: I’m not doing the “in _________:” part of the title anymore. It was getting cumbersome I think.
On my way home from a doctor’s appointment the radio was on and inspiration hit! I was thinking about the songs and how a lot of them try to convey a certain message but end up providing much evidence for the direct opposite. Take for example, my first post in “What Songs Really Mean”. Check it out and let me know what you think!
(I’ll still be posting here regularly, I just now have a very focused blog also that I hope will do well)
- To Ellie’s comment on the hydrogen harvesting bacteria post asking if I’ve continued cooking and if I’m home: Yes, I’m back home from the summer apartment. I will be moving back in to my dorms in about a week and a half. Unfortunately I haven’t done much more cooking, but I have done a lot of other things. Mainly I’ve de-stressed and de-cluttered my life and started studying for the GRE. Still, I will be trying at least a few more times.
- Following up on Blizzard’s attempt to mandate real name disclosure on their forums: Blizzard has implemented a Real ID system but made it optional. This seems like a tenuous compromise between anonymity and full accountability but the fact that it’s optional makes it pretty decent I think. Oddly enough upon further inspection, it seems the Real ID system was optional from the beginning. I’m startin’ to think that this whole hullabaloo was just another over-reaction by the collective entity known as “the Internet.” It’s probably the only downside of such an open and free communications platform – a lot of people who are unsuitable for mature debates, rational thought, and appropriate responses to changes are allowed to contribute.
- Related material on the sumo wrestling GIF I found: I think this speaks for itself:
That’s all I have for now. Like I said before if you want something in particular looked at again or if you have questions let me know.
My name is Benny and I’m a rising senior in college at the time of writing. I have an eclectic set of interests and often don’t pursue any interest as far as I’d like because I lose the motivation or perhaps just don’t know what to do with it. Programming is a good example. Thus, I have created this blog to catalog my diverse interests to primarily keep track of it for myself and also hopefully to see if anybody out there in the world wide web has any input for me.
We’ll see how it works out, eh?