23 August 2010

On Blogging: or, I'm Not That Self-Important

Why blog?  I'm asked that whenever the subject arises with people who don't write, or even read, blogs.  Part of it is that pervasive sense that the offline world has of everything online being an inane exercise in narcissism.  Part of it, though, I think stems from the fact that most people are averse to self-examination.  Even if you're not terribly introspective, the nature of blogging forces one to consider their own experiences.  The very act of composition requires organization on a level more involved than that of verbal storytelling.

Clone Troopers
I don't mean, of course, to suggest that my blog has been particularly deep or high brow.  Most of my posts this month have been scans of sketches I've done over the years of Batman and Star Wars characters.  I've reviewed movies and books, posted set lists from concerts I've attended and even posted some checklists of action figure lines I liked.  I've also espoused my views on political topics, chronicled some of my experiences with Crohn's disease and reminisced about various parts of my youth.  In short, you'll find in this blog the same kind of fare that you would hear in the course of a conversation with me.

So why do I blog, if it's the same kind of stuff I would just talk about?  I have an answer to that, and a follow-up question.  My answer is, I enjoy it.  I don't get to converse with people as regularly as I'd like; one of my friends is out of town regularly with his archaeological work, others are teachers inundated with lesson plans, conferences, etc. and some are parents with the scheduling restrictions that go with having young'uns.  By blogging, I can put forth my part of a conversation, and allow others to find and respond on their schedule.  I keep up with the blogs of friends who maintain them for the same reason; it gives me a chance to find out what's on their mind, as they see fit to "put it out there."  And it's not just a private conversation; the nature of blogging means anyone who finds my remarks is welcomed to respond with whatever questions or remarks they might have; there is a communal aspect to this that I enjoy.

My question, then, is why so many people are of the mind that certain subjects are perfectly acceptable for verbal conversation, but somehow become a waste of time in print?  I touched on this in my recent blog about Twitter, but it seems even more relevant here.  There seems to be a sentiment that only professional writers should put pen to paper, and then only about Important Things.  I personally think this comes from the reluctance too many people have to actually read and write.  It's as though "regular" people just talk about things; if you bother to write about their thoughts, either they must be important or you think too highly of them.

My wife once remarked that she doesn't feel the need to read my blog because she expects I'll just talk with her about whatever's on my mind.  To a large extent, that's true, but I have to say I feel like she's missed the point of why I have the blog.  It's not merely to substitute for verbal conversation.

I enjoy the way that composing a blog entry allows me to explore a subject, but to revise my remarks until I get them right.  There are some topics I think are best suited for discussion in written form; for instance, my recent post about how my grandfather used to take me to a comic book shop every other Saturday.  I can talk about that, sure, but it felt more appropriate in written form.