Sunday, March 25, 2007

Why Blog?

In the past couple of months bloggers Modigli and DCNats have retired their blogs. Modigli explained that the erosion of her blogger anonymity made her feel like she couldn't express herself as candidly as she had when her blog was newer. Blogger.com's new format caused the destruction of DC Nats' website. I hate the new blogger version, too. It's not compatible with my Apple Safari browser and causes me considerable inconvenience in order to post (like right now) or comment on others' blogs.

By the way: if I ever stop blogging completely, you can be sure it's because Blogger.com finally froze me out or my ability to access it through my Apple finally became impossible. Sometimes it's tough to get a post to go through, like right now.

So I look at these other blogs' endings and I wonder what keeps me going, especially when it's not technically easy for me anymore. Unlike someone who began her blog as a way to keep a private journal, I never wanted anonymity. I've been writing in a private journal for decades and don't need another one. What I wanted out of a blog was a public identity as a writer. My blog has a photo of myself, my full name and home city. When I launched my blog in June 2004, I even sent an email announcing it to everyone in my address book -- family, friends, friends of friends and people I couldn't even remember.

The realization that family members were reading and were occasionally offended hasn't stopped me. Knowing there are co-workers and former colleagues/friends/roommates/lovers reading my opinions and viewpoints doesn't slow me down. Of course there are people I'd rather not have reading, but if they are, well, I guess it doesn't bother me THAT much.

I don't know why others blog. I'm especially puzzled by those who try to keep their blogs anonymous. Besides anonymity being impossible to maintain (eventually SOMEONE comes across your blog and recognizes you and then it's just a matter of time before you're taking shit for your opinions), why would you put effort into creating a website and pouring your time and energy into maintaining it if you're never going to accept credit for your work? What is it that "anonymous" bloggers are trying to accomplish?

I think they want the freedom to say anything and confidentiality so certain people don't find out what they said. Expecting that from a blog is a very bad idea. If you want to be able to rant without accountability, join a support group or talk to a friend you can trust to not repeat what you say. Or write it down in a private journal. Blogs are public. That's all there is to it (the exceptions are websites you can put restrictions on so only certain people can read it. But can you be anonymous on those? I don't know).

The real reason I blog is for a sense of community and support. It's important to me that someone be out there reading. I began my blog when I was just coming out of a bad depression and was longing for more friendship and social contact. Writing in my journal helped me a lot and so did composing a few short stories and poems. But it was only when I began sharing those with others that I discovered the community that writing can bring. When I'm writing I don't feel lonely because I feel like I'm communicating. Even if it's the middle of the night with no one around, if I'm typing an email I feel like I'm actually with the person I'm writing to, even if they won't see it for hours. When I'm posting to my blog I have a sense of audience. I know someone will eventually read it. For me that's a powerful loneliness suppressant.

In the past year my blogging has slowed down because I've finally found a long-term relationship and I'm very happy with this guy. Happiness isn't as strong a motivator for me to write. My jobs have also changed a lot since I started the blog. In June 2004 I had a desk job with an Internet connection and little to do all day. That made for endless blogging opportunities. Then I was unemployed for a while and had even more time to blog! These days I just haven't made it as much a priority as I used to.

I don't know why DC Nats blogged (Joel?) or what motivates others. But it'll probably be a while until I stop altogether because I'll always need community and connection with others. And I can say "anything" here, right?

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