Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Something That's Been On My Mind

What entices someone to check out a blog? How come some bloggers have lots of readers? Do you think that what people write about (when they are describing their lives, daily activities, etc.) the truth or is it all fiction? I think people just want to seem more interesting than they really are.
This is from the first paragraph of Antsy's most recent post, and it was so apropos to what has been on my own mind that I had to quote it here as my conversation starter.
This topic has been on my mind because the other day, I overheard someone say, pretty dismissively, that they felt all bloggers were "posers." I of course bristled a little bit, because I feel I am pretty much the complete opposite of that, (i.e., I will admit to you now, shamelessly, that it is 3pm and I am still in pajamas because I was cleaning and didn't want to shower and then get sweaty. I have also eaten four meals today already. There, don't you think I'm cool?! Don't you think I must be such an awesome and interesting person, leading a life far more exotic and sexy than your own?)
I have been a part of the blogger community for over six months, and I now spend at least an hour a day updating my own blog and reading others. I've viewed hundreds of blogs by now, so I think I can say with some degree of perspective that I have encountered many boring blogs, but never one that I felt existed simply to make the author feel smarter or more interesting than they really were. Now, perhaps this was the case and I just didn't know it, but in general I think the opposite is true of blogs: People are more honest about their shortcomings and feelings of dissatisfaction with themselves because a blog is a far safer venue in which to reveal those feelings than say, a conversation with friends and family. I think some people do blog to look for validation, perhaps, but they are not so much "posers" as simply people who are in need of a little feedback or emotional release.
Now, that said, I do think some people's blogs are unforgivably boring. This is probably often the case of my own. But we soldier on. Are we on an ego trip, thinking anyone would want to read our rambling complaints and tiny triumphs? Maybe a little. But I think the main motivation is that we are looking for community in an increasingly unfriendly and isolated world.
For stay-at-home moms, of which there are a large number who blog or read blogs, this is particularly true. We just want to feel like we're not alone. And, when we've had a bad day, sometimes it's just plain cathartic to write about it. Better medicine than, say, hitting the wine or that old prescription bottle of Percocet, right?
Another comment I heard about blogging is that it's "fake," as in, a phony and surreal sense of community in which there is no real accountability or genuine friendship. Now, this supposition I gave a little more thought to, because I can see the point. Several of my commenters I do know personally, but that is because I made the choice to let friends and family know that I blog. Many bloggers do not do this, and so they have never met or spoken with the people who comment. Does this make the connection less valid? Do you guys feel that there is something lacking, even fake, about the relationship between fellow bloggers and blog readers?

10 comments:

clw said...

Yes some are boring. Mine probably is but I don't blog for others - I blog for myself. I find some of the best blogs do blog for that same reason.

Swistle said...

VERY INTERESTING. Now I will make a LONG COMMENT.

I don't even know what someone would mean by calling bloggers "posers." It seems like the wrong sweeping generalization, doesn't it?

I think a lot of bloggers write as a diary--but public. It's a place to work things out + a sort of clubhouse with other people reading + an outlet for writing. It can also be a way to talk with others about topics you don't want to discuss with people in your in-person life.

I think probably some blogs are fake, but not the normal-seeming ones. It seems like a huge effort would be required to maintain a fake persona, and it would only be worth it for something really wild. I doubt many bloggers are pretending to be housebound homemaker mothers.

I think it's cool right now to act as if online connections are fake or shallow or stand-ins for "real" connections, but I don't think it's true. I think they're different than face-to-face connections, but still valid ways of forming communities.

I do wonder why some blogs get very popular and others don't. I do know that some blogs just "grab" me and some don't.

jen said...

Mine is boring too, but I do it for myself. But I do love it when people interact. I never thought of it as "fake" but then again I don't have much high expectations of meeting the person and being bff forever either! "Poser" is the wrong word. Exhibitionist, maybe. But who isn't?

Black Sheeped said...

I've been blogging for a long time. My most popular blog was on Xanga, and I had a quite a few readers and tons of comments. I made myself post every day, and my blog was sort of fake. Not fake as in I pretended to be someone else, but fake as in I felt like I'd let my readers down if I didn't always act stupidly cheerful. Family read it and would react negatively now and then if I didn't spin something the right way. So I never dealt with any personal or negative issues. I never talked about depression or body issues. The blog was very on-the-surface. It was fun to have so many readers and commenters, but it wasn't real. So I closed it. And here I am.

I don't have as many readers or commenters right now, but I feel like I am myself and I can write about things that are bothering me. It's been helpful in dealing with my body image problems, that's for sure.

I suspect many blogs are fake, like mine was. Not SUPER fake, but sort of fake. For the readers. But I'm sure just as many are not fake at all.

That's what I think.

And for the record, I originally "met" my fiance through blogging. :)

Antsy said...

I've never really been into journaling, so for me, I think blogging is just saying what is on your mind, whether trivial or not, serious, mundane, whatever. Thanks for quoting me! It was fun to see what other people (and you) thought about it!

Mommy Daisy said...

Not fake (for most). It's a release for me. I've been looking for a way to express myself since I was pregnant for my son. Just something about that life change that made me want to talk about things, but not necesarily to my family or close friends. I like that blogging is it's own little community. And yes I think "real" connections, of sorts, are made.

Lisa said...

I just read blogs and don't have one of my own simply because it would be BORING. I don't have the amazing writing style that you do or the creativity to keep anyone interested enough to keep reading.

I've actually checked out all the blogs for people that comment here and find them all worth reading.

Keep up the good work!

Kelli in the Mirror said...

I will probably leave a long comment as well...

I find that I don't really care if bloggers are fake, in the sense that really they're somebody else making up all this interesting stuff. I don't think anybody really has time to do that. As Friday Playdate says in the tagline, "entirely true, but exaggerated for comic effect". Don't we all do that a bit? Black Sheep's comment was interesting though. I could see how that could become a problem.

As far as why I blog, I started just to keep faraway friends and relatives up to date. My blog has never been a secret and I'm pretty open about what I say on it most of the time. The blogging community has been an unexpected bonus that I love. I have to be careful of spending so much time catching up on my blogging friends that I forget what's going on in my house. My family gets jealous of the time I spend on the computer sometimes.

Maybe sometimes I'm boring, but when is life exciting all the time? And I have to say, I went a long time with no comments and no mention, and I do LOVE that now there are some readers and people who link to me and think I'm interesting. That's not the main reason I do it, but it is nice to know that somebody out there cares about what I write. :)

Also, this has been great since I don't keep a baby book up to date. I've gone back and read entries about things Gilly did that I had totally forgotten.

Erica said...

I will admit that my blog has "fake" days. Days when I start a post with the intention of being funny or witty. Days when I'm writing totally for the (supposed) benefit of my readers. I've never really considered it "fake," though. Just a different side to the personality of my blog.

I know there are lots of blogs out there that are complete fiction, but if I'm reading it and enjoying it, is it harmful in any way? I consider it much the same as reading a good book. You know it's not real, but it's entertaining nonetheless.

However, I do know of one situation where a blogger chose to exploit her readers with an UNTRUE story about her child dying and needing money for something or other. People actually sent her money and none of it was true at all. The really sad part was that when she was outed/confessed to lying and being an alcoholic, there were people who defended her and coddled her and said "there, there, you poor thing." Personally, I wanted to be beat her senseless.

The point is, unless you're using your fake blog for evil, it's ok with me if you make stuff up or make real stuff shinier and prettier than it is.

Wow. I guess my comment's long, too.

jim said...

i love that you blog, and i know that blogging does not make you a poser. now, instead of answering a frantic phone call and listening to a spastic recap of the day's mishaps (not that i don't enjoy listening to your stories, it's just hard during work), i can read about it at my own leisure.

it does seem that your thoughts are less abridged these days. i think that has to do with less of these types of things happening:
http://semidesperatehousewife.blogspot.com/2006/06/womens-work.html

anyway, i know you enjoy writing and you shouldn't be disheartened by some unknowing rando.