This is something that's been plaguing me lately. I mean, people have been keeping diaries for years, but they've really only been publishing them to the world for the last five or so. There's a lot of hooplah all over the place about how blogging will change the world. Surely the same could have happened in the seventeenth century if everybody had just read everybody else's diaries?
(Seventeenth century RSS might have consisted of a bunch of poncey aristocrats standing around in knickerbockers passing diaries around in a circle..)
Knickerbockers aside, after giving it much thought, I've come up with a list of reasons why it is that people blog.
1. Ego Magic
Here's the secret
Psst! I'm not a journalist or an academic. I'm not going to present a measured argument on this one. I'm not going to do much research. Okay, maybe I'll poke around on google a bit. Basically, it'll just be the standard bunch of made up, unfounded stuff that I reckon...
In itself, that's one of the real drawcards for blogging. It makes you an authority. In a world where opinions are prevalent and social hierarchies sometimes mean that it's not 'acceptable' to get your point across, your blog becomes a kind of ego representation of yourself. You might not be able to actually tell your boss that you think his ideas are stupid, but you could come back to your blog and post:
'You know, sometimes, the best ideas come from people who aren't always listened to. More people would be able to learn more if they listened, and the world would be a better place.'
And in a weird way, your ego is fed by this - because you posted it out to the world, and nothing came back. Yeah? Well I'm going to tell the whole world. Everybody wants to be loved and respected. Your blog is like your own channel for you to talk at the world. And that makes you feel better about being you.
Ego-surfing at the gates of hell
Add to that the search engine syndrome of finding out just how important you are in the blogosphere, and you're in for some good ego-massaging (or some crushing ego realities.) There's always a bit of trepidation in doing this, but let's run the technorati search for my site...
Wow. Technorati is always really, really slow. But you can see here that there are about 12 people linking to my site. Almost without exception, I know all of those people. But then there's the odd link that tells me that people I don't know are reading my blog. More ego food. (Hi Patricea! Thanks for making me feel better!)
Just the other day, A very cool comment from a guy I don't know in response to a half thought out, squiggly post, totally made my day. And mean or nasty comments can make you really miserable. (But then, you can just delete them.)
Google lists my post on dishwasher trout as the number four hit for the search. (The number one hit is Stilly linking to my post.) That google should care about something you wrote all contributes to an individuals sense of self worth. Okay, so it can't be much, but why else would I be searching google for something I wrote myself?
Just as keeping a diary can be good therapy, Blogging is good for the ego. That's probably why there are so many self indulgent posts out there.