Monday, May 4, 2015

Why I (Still) Blog

Now I quit my job and work at home again, my procrastination has come roaring back. Last night I  dreamed about trying to get to the airport on time--a sure sign of anxiety.
So I'm instituting a regimen: I'm going to [try to] blog for only about half an hour in the morning, and then start work.

Today, I'm going to start with the question I asked  Cheryl, blogger of Bread and Bread, who had asked readers for a prompt--a topic she could write about for half an hour.
I asked her why she still blogs in this age of Facebook (FB) and other social media options.

I especially loved this part of her response:
"The internet reminds us that [we] all exist in the same world, however cacophonous and unsettling the juxtaposition might be. The world itself is cacophonous and unsettling."

I'd love to read other people's response to this question too:
WHY DO YOU (still) BLOG?


So, why do I still blog?

Well... why did I ever blog? Connect, only connect, right?
I started to blog (in 2003) because I wanted to connect.
But connect how?

Connecting with strangers!
So fun!
Blogging is communal. (Used to be more so, when more people blogged). It satisfied my curiosity about other people, like a real-time reality-show version of reading novels and diaries, like watching a Behind the Scenes/Making-Of documentary.

Connecting with myself.
It also partly satisfies my curiosity to see myself as I might appear to a stranger––or to myself, if I didn't know me–– like trying to catch myself reflected in a store window.

There's some impulse in people with verbal brains, like me, to extrude words so we can see ourselves in them. Oh dear, that sounds weirdly Freudian, like the process of excretion, but there it is.

A-ha! See! Like that ^ I just surprised myself by how I said that. It's an old idea, that we write to see ourselves, but the image of extruding words---kind of gross, like a machine--that was new to me.

At first blogging felt like an extension of writing to pen pals, which I'd started doing when I was twelve.
But after a couple years it freaked me out to realize how much broader blogs broadcast. I shut that first blog down after a week in which both a coworker's boyfriend and a friend's mother, people I barely knew, told me they liked it.

Remembering this helps me realize how far I've come from old expectations of privacy and visibility. What freaked me out then is normal now. I don't think this is good or bad, it's just different. Well, maybe I think it's mostly good, in my experience, which is why I returned to blogging in 2007, here.
(I slowed down a lot a few years ago, but that's cause I got busy when Marz moved here, not because I was quitting blogging.)

Card Catalog, St. Paul Public Library, 1958
I also blog, in part, because I have a librarian's instinct to gather bits and bobs and put them in order, like with like. Blogging lets me assemble, present, index (catalog), and archive these things so I can find them again.

And other people can find stuff too. I like to see what search terms lead people to posts here.

Sometimes it's easy to see what I'm gathering, like playing a child's matching game (though the meaning that emerges may be more complex).

It pleased me,  for instance, to cross-reference Jessica Walter from Play Misty for Me with Jessica Walter from Arrested Development, as I did yesterday.
Or, while it wasn't quick, it was fairly straightforward (though sometimes surprising) to search out and bring together the Sixties design roots of Star Trek.

Other times, patterns emerges slowly from what feels like chaos:
while I can't stand to do a long sustained project about the suicide of my mother (I tried last year, but it was too hot), I've written shorter posts about her over time. I can gather them together by their tags, and sometimes I read them all to see what patterns form.
Blogging is a short form that you can stitch into a long form.

Does any other social media site have a searchable index and archive? FB sure doesn't.

FB is too much social whirl for me anyway. Too much like a party with lot of people, most of whom I'm not going to develop deeper relationships with. In fact, on FB, I lost friends! FB is like a dressing room where  you see people in their underwear under fluorescent lights. And yet I couldn't stop staring.

But FB can lie in the other direction too: I felt like I always looked better there than I do in the round.
As Cheryl writes, FB can be "such a Museum of Look at My Own Awesomeness." Yes. 

I've made real friends through blogging. Marz, of course, is the most dramatic example:
we first met on a Shatner fan blog, then met up in person in Spain to walk the Camino, and then she came here on the Greyhound bus with her backpack to check it out, and four years later, to my delight, here she still is.

But there are several other people I've met on the blogosphere who've become important to me, now mostly on e-mail. Just this weekend I was beta reading a memoir for a blog friend, and I've promised to read one of another writer's too.

OK, that was an hour, not half an hour, so I'm going to stop here, though I could spend all morning on this. I feel like it's a bit mechanical sounding, to begin with... And it's incomplete! But that's OK, I can add more tomorrow.


Merisi said...

"FB is too much social whirl for me anyway. Too much like a party with people, most of whom I'm not going to develop deeper relationships with."
Love that, so true!

May blogging continue to be a source of joy for you,

Fresca said...

Merisis in Vienna! Hi, I haven't seen you in ages---I sure wish I could join you for some of that coffee and pastry you post!

Michael Leddy said...

“Does any other social media site have a searchable index and archive?” That’s a really important question. If you use Pinboard or Delicious to tag your posts, it’s like making your own card catalogue.

Your response to that prompt is prompting me to write one too.

Frex said...

MICHAEL: Can you tag your posts in FB too? (I'm not on FB anymore, but I didn't see how you could.)

I'm eager to read what you have to say about blogging!

Zhoen said...

Many of your reasons, a searchable diary, that I share with friends only in this universe. Writing practice, companionship - I have more readers now than ever. A place to share, but very selectively, slowly.

I may try MLs idea though, I like card catalogues.

Michael Leddy said...

Fresca, I have no idea, having never used FB. But Elaine says No.

Fresca said...

MICHAEL: Yeah, I haven't been on FB for a couple years, but I thought not. Thanks for checking.

Cheryl said...

Ha, blogging as an "anal propulsive" act. Yes, I can see that. But I'm so glad you're doing it and that I've gotten to discover your blog!

Fresca said...

CHERYL: Thanks---I'm glad you're blogging too.
As a new mother, you are getting up close and personal with such propulsive acts, I imagine. :)