a little east of reality

Thursday, July 19, 2007

benefits of blogging

I’ve been asked to post what I think are the benefits of blogging. I’ve been thinking it over for a few days and here is my attempt to sum it all up.

1. The Social Benefits

When I started this blog I had no intentions of writing for anyone but myself. It was kind of like keeping a diary that I didn’t mind people reading and I never really thought beyond that. But after a few weeks I realised that a blog isn’t really a diary, no matter how much it might sometimes resemble one. A blog is a conversation, because you’re deliberately sending something out to a potential reader, and it’s hard to sustain a conversation with yourself.

So I started making myself a part of the blogosphere, reading across the broad spectrum of blogs until I found something I felt like commenting on, and slowly I built up a group whose blogs I like to read and a group who liked to read my blog. I don’t think I’m ever going to be like Waiter from Waiter Rant, with his 200 comments per post, but I don’t really mind that. I just like getting enough comments to know that I’m not speaking into the void.

2. The Analytical/Introspective Benefits

I analyse everything. I always have and it’s a process I enjoy. I also like explaining things or writing them out. I often find that I make sense of things as I’m doing this, as if being forced to put words to what I’m thinking actually helps me understand what I’m thinking, or to see the flaws in it and where it needs to change.

3. The Wider Benefits

I know, I know, there’s a thousand truckloads of rubbish being added to the internet via blogs every day, but I can’t help but feel that as a whole the blogosphere still represents freedom of thought and expression. And there must be some truth to that, or China wouldn’t be trying so hard to control the access its citizens have to blogs.

It might seem a bit paranoid, but I sometimes wonder if the explosion of myspace drivel is an attempt to create white noise that distracts us from blogs of real substance, kind of like the big TV screens in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. People would rather be entertained or distracted than prompted to think, and those who have an agenda use that opportunity to control information in a way that’s useful to them. Bradbury was worried that TV would be the end of books, making people feel full of information, while actually giving them no real intellectual nourishment. The scariest part is that it is the people themselves who choose the pudding over the vegetables.

My own blog falls in both camps. I like to think, I like to make other people think, but some of my posts are pure fluff. The day that’s all the blog is might just be the day I finally quit it. Until that happens I’m adding my idea to the ocean of thought out there and collectively we sway the tides of opinion. I don’t overestimate my influence, but I do like being part of it.

Labels: ,