I started blogging about two and a half years ago to give myself more opportunities in my writing. It’s been an interesting adventure, especially since I got a phone that has decent internet access and I can keep my blog up to date.
The main aspect of blogging that I enjoy is the interaction with other writers. I write something, say a review or short story, and people talk to me about it. Or, I see a post on another blog, write a comment, and then the blogger talks to me about it. Intelligent conversation, though here it’s in text form, is hard for me to find offline. Not because my friends are stupid, they’re not, but sometimes there are matters exercising my brain that they don’t want to discuss or have no interest in. Or they’re too far away. I also struggle to talk to people offline, being so shy and retiring in person (unless I know you really well or I’m very drunk) so this gives me a space to communicate.
I have learnt a lot by blogging; I’m not going to deny it, I live in a very small town, with very small town attitudes, and until a few years ago I was just as ignorant as everyone else. The world is large and diverse. By reading about other people’s experiences I’ve enlarged my worldview. I’m more interested in understanding why people think and act the way they do, why they hold their particular beliefs, how they got where they are. How can people be so blinkered when there’s all this knowledge, thought, ideas floating about, free if you just make an effort and look for the information? It isn’t difficult. Or maybe for some people it is? I don’t know. It can be scary, I think, confronting your beliefs and questioning them.
The freedom to write essays, like this one, is something I enjoy about blogging. Even if nobody reads it or the people who do read it think it’s rubbish, I’ve written about a subject I feel strongly about. It’ll help, I focus better on other commitments if I haven’t got almost-essays rattling around in my brain. Rather than letting things get to me I write them down. There isn’t space for these things on other social media, like Facebook, and to be honest, the chances of intelligent conversation are also tiny.
Writing is therapeutic for me. I’ve written in the past about my continuing battle with depression, though this blog is mainly for my writing and a place to put my book reviews. Writing about my illness helps.
Another thing I like has more to do with WordPress, rather than blogging per se. I like the Reader. I can find blogs by people with the same interests, educate myself, be entertained, and generally pass the time, by scrolling through the ‘Freshly Pressed’ and ‘Blogs I Follow’ lists. I can search tags and add the tag to a list. Then when I’m looking for posts on a subject I have a smaller selection to search through. You also get a much more rounded view of a subject or event if you read about it from different perspectives.
Things I don’t like about blogging:
I lose a lot of time getting obsessed by stats and worrying about what I should write to get more readers. I’m trying to wean myself off stat checking. Either people like what I write or they don’t.
I sometimes wonder whether anything I write is good enough to be read. Especially my book reviews. I have no formal background in reviewing. I like good books and I like writing about them. Sometimes I forget what an adverb is, and I know nothing about critical thinking or artistic ‘schools’. It’s even worse with music.
I have really low self-confidence about everything, my writing included. I’m not after sympathy or anything I’m just telling you what’s on my mind. Beyond my general low self-confidence there’s my utter terror that people will read what I’ve written. I know that’s the point, doesn’t stop me being scared.
Other than my lack of confidence, and the conflict that throws up when I’m blogging, there’s one other problem I have; when I’m looking through the topics to read about something or maybe find a new blog to follow, I have to wade through sludge. What I mean is I have to read a dozen blogs full of ignorance or unpleasantness to check whether they actually contain interesting information, to find one genuinely good, interesting and useful blog. For instance yesterday I went for an evening stroll in the’science’ tag; I had to get through the climate change deniers who think one cold winter in the US is proof that it’s all a hoax, and the religious nuts who believe a collection of myths is an accurate representation of geology, physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology etc, before I could hone in on the blogs providing real science news. Like the first transmission from the Rosetta probe.
Or, times when I’ve been looking for information on a subject I’m unfamiliar with, or am interested in people’s experiences of, I have to read unpleasant and insulting material, e.g. I saw something on Tumblr about feminism a while back so I started to look for blogs to get a broader view of matters and found some deeply vile comments and blog posts. There’s a lot of ignorance in the world already, it’s a shame people add to the confusion.
Well, I must be going, I’m off to college for the afternoon, then the library.
[And for anyone who objects to my characterisation of climate change deniers or creationists:
Yeah, I have prejudices, but I never lie about them and I don’t hide behind pseudoscience or religious privileges. Back up your claims with peer-reviewed research that adheres to the scientific method, or back off.]