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.
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