Your Blog is Not for You

I would like to dispense with a persistent pretension / fiction that circulates in blogworld – the “my blog is for me” myth. Believers of this myth will typically say something like the following:

My blog is for me – a space to explore my feelings, to work through my life and make sense of it. It is an exercise in self-discovery. I write what I want to write about, and if other people read it and get something from it, that’s great, but that’s not why I’m doing it.

Your blog isn’t mainly for you. The act of writing may be for you, and may bring you perspective / clarity / catharsis / whatever, but when you take your words and heave them up onto the Internet instead of keeping them in a private journal or scrawling them on your cell wall, you are doing that because your blog itself is a social device by which you hope to affect or interact with others. People’s motivations for blogging vary, but whatever their reasons, it’s not as though bloggers just happen to be keeping a collection of personal writings and couldn’t care one way or another if anybody else stumbles across those writings. They are leaving their writings out so that somebody else has a chance to pass by, leaf through them, and possibly develop an interest in them. Much like the neighbors who leave their shades up at night, bloggers want people to notice them.

People maintain the “my blog is for me” stance because they don’t want to deal with the pressure that would come from acknowledging to themselves and to others that they are in fact publishing for an audience when they push content into a globally accessible forum. If you believe that your blog is mainly for you and that you are largely indifferent to how it is received by others, this is probably because you want some emotional cushion in case people seem to dislike what you write, or worse yet, don’t notice it at all. If recognition and affect aren’t part of your recognized goals, then you’ll have no reason to feel badly if these aren’t achieved. If these do happen to come your way, you can nonchalantly say that you’re glad if somebody else likes your work, and then quietly savor your real feelings, both for the sake of decorum and as a hedge against the dreaded day when people might stop finding you interesting.

I’m starting this blog because I want to be interesting, and I will judge its success by the kind of interest it generates. (I’ll save the self-analysis of why I want to be interesting for another time.) I don’t really expect to be interesting, because there are lots of people out there doing this kind of thing and many of them seem more interesting than me, but I want to give it a shot, and I am prepared to fail if that’s in the cards. If I do fail to be interesting, then at least I’ll get a little practice writing, which is something I haven’t been able to do for a while.

Let’s see how it goes . . .

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