Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Portrait of a blogger


I didn't wake up one day and say to myself, "Tim you should become a blogger." I didn't have a clue what a blog was until about three years ago. It wasn't that I wasn't Internet savy. I'd had my own Web site since about 1995. But I was just oblivious to the whole Blog world until I stumbled into Blogger.com while running a search on Google.

Being familiar with building a Web site, the technology of how to start a blog didn't phase me. It was the why of starting a blog I had to wrestle with. What was the point? I browsed through several blogs before starting. Many were started by subject experts focusing on a single topic like politics or technology. Some were forums for hobbists. But the bulk of the booming blog rush seemed to be individuals just looking for a place to express themselves.

So I began my blog the way most people do -- with random posts about whatever popped up in my head. And that is pretty much the way it has stayed. I've toyed with theme weeks and reoccurring topics, but for the most part, my blog is random.

I did discover that blogging is the perfect vehicle for experimenting with words and images in a way that is spontaneous and almost limitless compared to traditional writing. And blogging has added a new dimension to the traditional writer-reader roles. You no longer simply read or write when you enter the blog world. You do something unique for writers who normally write in solitude -- you interact.

Blogs are designed so that you write and people can instantly comment. You in turn read their comments and you can respond. It definitely requires stepping outside of your comfort zone if you are locked into the traditional "I write, you read" model.

Blogging also has odd side effects. I don't know how many bloggers (including myself) have complained about blogger's block, blogger's depression and the pressures of blogging. I wouldn't be suprised to see a whole new branch of psychological study and treatment crop up targeted at bloggers.

I am shocked at how many people I have seen begin a blog, flourish and than panic and quit for no apparent reason. The Information Highway is littered with the broken down bodies of abandoned blogs.

Since my non-blogging profession is also writing, I have never really experienced the pressure some people succomb to when faced with writing in a blog on a regular if not daily basis. This is not to say I haven't suffered from depression and insecurity when it comes to blogging. It can be a major ego blow when you produce a masterpiece post and you are rewarded with a resounding "yawn" on the comment front. I have just learned that the only way to deal with it is to write another post.

I also have experienced what I call "blogger's rage" when bloggers clash over the equivalent of being flipped off in the comment section of a blog. The relative anonomity of blogging and commenting can lead normally rational people to say things they wouldn't dream of saying to a stranger in the real world. And there is sometimes a tendency for some blogger's to delude themselves that the virtual alter egos they have assumed is more than just a fantasy title and doesn't make them invulnerable. I think the solution for blog rage is similar to that for road rage -- learn anger management and never drink and blog.

Sure maintaining a blog can be challenging and intense. But it is also rewarding (in a strictly non-monetary way). Despite the pitfalls, I view blogging as a theraputic activity. And lord knows I can use all the free therapy I can get.

13 comments:

Madame Butterfly said...

Hi Tim,

I have been a huge fan of your blog for a little while now but of course you have been completely unaware of my presence. I have only recently started this blogging business courtesy of Whitesnake and have to agree that it really is therapeutic. And I have never been more in need of therapy than I am right now.

You are a legend and have what I like to call an ironic sense of humour. Always enjoy visiting your blog. Just wanted to share that with you.

Hayden said...

Does blogsteria begin with too-close attention to stats and evolve into a fascination with back-tracking lookie-loos to their lair? From there its'a short tumble to obsessively wondering if you only wrote a different way, or on a different subject, if people wouldn't stop and comment.

Then, there are lots of people who write well, but hate the process. I don't understand that pov, but I know it's out there.

Miss Bliss said...

Well, if your Blogger Portrait is anything like that of Dorian Gray, you may have stumbled upon the best way to keep your spirit young - to write.

Kindness (disarms the difficult) said...

I am just happy to be getting to gnome you...

Tim ID said...

Thank you very much Madame Butterfly. Welcome to the blog world. Think of it as one giant group therapy session. And remember, it can't rain all of the time. Take Care!

Hayden,
I like the term "blogsteria" (though it does sound like someplace Desperate Housewives live). Perhaps we need to develop our own list of psychological terms for bloggers. "Blogerrea" could be a term for a blogger who produces lots of crap. I know a few of those as well :)

Miss Bliss, it's not my spirit that is aging.

Kindness,
What is it about the gnome that brings out the puns in people? Hope your cats like him. :)

whitesnake said...

Are.....Yes bloggers depression...

Why don't you all blog off!

Hmmmm I just write about whatever is in my head and if it ain't there then it aint written..

Madame Butterfly...is my therapy.

Hayden said...

in re: blog terms: well, there's also the infamous habit some have of BUI.

Lights in the wake said...

The rusting hulk of my blog has been up on blocks in my front yard for about a year now. I did a couple posts of which I am moderately proud but the novelty wore off pretty quickly. As soon as it became a chore I was done. But I've never aspired to be a writer. I am content reading and commenting. I certainly appreciate your perseverance and talent tho. Keep up the good work.

Tim ID said...

Whitesnake, You have redeemed yourself in the world's eye by introducing Madame Butterfly to blogging.

Hayden, Ah yes, the BUI. Very similar to the CUI (commenting under the influence). I think we should collaborate on the Blogger's Desktop Guide to Online Afflictions and Maladies.

Lights, Perhaps I should change my identity to Tim-ex: Takes a flogging and keeps on blogging.

As for your brief but worthy venture into blogging...well I consider you the John Kennedy Toole of the blog world. You may not have been prolithic, but what you wrote is still appreciated long after you've left. I appreciate you hanging in there with me. Now that football season is over, I assume I'll see more of you.

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

Ditto on the free therapy!

Quite the handsome portrait - thy blogger self is looking quite regal these days!

Tim ID said...

JP,
What that old thing? It's just something I threw on for the portrait. :)

darlingina said...

Thinks You look so handsome in that Portrait Tim! I need blogger therapy. What do you recommend? i am much like Lights and prefer reading and commenting over writing myself as you can well tell. You Rock.
Hugs,
~gina~

Tim ID said...

Thanks Gina, I clean up okay :) Blogger therapy...hmmm...find your muse and be amused.