Social Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

To what degree is writing a blog an exercise in narcissism, and to what degree is it an exchange of information?

Asked by elbanditoroso (33059points) November 29th, 2016
10 responses
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I read recently that a massive percentage – like 97% – of all blogs that people start, die within six months, and 98% disappear after a year.

Another article (I’ll post the URL if I can find it again) made the observation that the number of blogs that have more than 10,000 views per month (which is a really low bar) is something like .5%. So 99.5% of all blogs have extremely minimal readership.

Why to the bloggers (for that 99.5% group) write their blogs, if their audiences are so low?

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Zaku's avatar

You could try asking some of them. The lower the traffic they have, the more likely they may be to notice and respond to your question.

But it seems to me that sometimes the purpose could require as little audience as oneself, one’s friends or acquaintances, or just anyone who might find it interesting.

I have often read blogs on technical or niche topics, which are just trying to share with anyone with similar interests, even if it’s only a few people. Like some annoying bug, or some obscure or just not particularly popular topic.

And of course, I’ve seen many of your and other Fluther posters contributing a blogsworth of content here, and a lot of it’s just jokes and idle curiosity.

Narcissism per se is a pretty steep charge, particularly as the only alternative on the table. (I might suppose an actual narcissist would be inclined to be the sort who would require 10,000 views per month to deign to share his information, though even then that wouldn’t directly indicate narcissism for a person who has that attitude.)

I’m still pretty surprised at the “it has to be shared with others, and as many as possible, to be of any value” concept. Seems to me that’s just one measure of value, certainly not the only one.

Even the bloggers who are trying to gain a very large audience, might be doing it as an experiment or attempt to succeed at that. It would make sense for such people to give up if/when they aren’t satisfied with their statistics.

Mariah's avatar

I write in my blog and nobody reads it.

It’s like a journal to me. A journal that has a vague chance of somebody seeing it and maybe leaving a nice comment, which makes the whole exercise feel a lot less pointless than writing in an actually-private journal. But at the same time, I’m not doing it solely to get readers. It’s a cathartic outlet.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

It depends on the blog and the writer. If you’re just blogging about your life and daily events, it could very likely be narcissism. However, using @Mariah as an example, she has unique experience. Her health problems make her an expert on her condition and someone who has just been diagnosed or is going through something similar would find her experiences immensely helpful.

I’ve been an award-winning university teacher for many years. I teach in a mode that many people are only just having to come to grips with. I’m working on a blog to help lecturers and tutors to make this transition. To share our experiences and knowledge. We have over 35 years experience to draw on. I’m also going to use it to disseminate outcomes from research I’ve done and that we are a team are doing.

So it really does depend on the content. @Mariah, you need to promote your blog if you want an audience and I do think your thoughts and experiences are valuable to other people. You need to write often and use social media to get your ideas out there. Share your new posts through FB and Twitter. You do have something important to say.

Mariah's avatar

You are very charitable towards my blog but it’s certainly not all about unique experiences or life pro tips or anything like that. I definitely blog about having Crohn’s, but a lot of it is shit posts about my day to day life, e.g. “grr I went to CVS to get the $2 per pill medication my doc wants me on and one of the pills had the gall to be missing.” Really, not ground-breaking stuff. But I don’t consider it to be narcissism because nobody reads it and I’m not asking anybody to read it. If I thought my ramblings were super interesting and that everyone should read, that might be narcissism, but it’s really just a journal. Not something I want to promote. I’d have to put effort into writing real things in a coherent way if I were to do that – and that is something I have toyed with. Thanks for your support though, @Earthbound_Misfit!

Pachy's avatar

I write a movie review blog for pleasure and with virtually zero desire or expectation of its being read (although sometimes if is). I just enjoy writing about movies that touch me.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@Mariah, but that’s an important perspective on what you’re experiencing. People can get the technical details elsewhere, but you live with Crohn’s on a day-to-day basis. For someone who is struggling with a new diagnosis or perhaps down because they’re having a bad time, knowing you’ve been through the same thing or what you’ve done to resolve a situation, or the meds you take and your experiences – just what’s happening in your life – matters. That you are working, have a relationship, and are living a normal life might lift someone’s spirits.

When you were first diagnosed and when you’ve been through really tough times with your Crohn’s would it have helped to hear about the experiences of someone who had been there and survived? I would imagine when you were very sick and young and unsure where you would end up or what your life would look like, to see someone who has been through similar might have been a great comfort.

I’m not suggesting you write only about your health, but you write about your life and your health is a major part of that. And I totally understand that you don’t want to promote it. That it’s a journal and more a way to get your own thoughts out. I’m not suggesting you should promote it, just that if you want a wider audience you’ll need to do that and I do think you’d find more people are interested than you think.

josie's avatar

Blogging these days is sort of like speaking in the NE corner of Hyde Park in London. It is a place where people have a chance to get shit off of their chest, which is healthy.

Americans these days are generally intimidated by standing on a box in public and speaking their mind. For plenty of reasons not the least of which political correctness has made a target of anyone who is not left leaning. Fluther is a good example of this.

With that in mind, blogging is a good thing. It allows people to say stuff without knowing that you are boring people or without getting beaten up, and thus is a good pressure valve.

Mariah's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit Thanks again, and you of course have a point. My only concern with that is that my blog is disproportionately about the negative things in my life (because I use it for catharsis) whereas I feel new diagnosees really need to hear optimism. I would want to cater my speech to them a little more if I were writing with that audience in mind. Of course they need realism too, but I’m not sure my blog accurate conveys the good side of how my life has improved and stuff, because I just use it to complain so much. Haha!

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Well you’ve had good reason to complain. I do hear your point and I’m in no way suggesting you have a responsibility to share info with anyone. This is just evidence of the different genres blogs can call into and the various motivations for writing one.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I really think you judge way too harshly.

I don’t think narcissism has anything to do with it most of the time. I think people are using blogs to simply write for the sake of improving their skills, using the blog as a repository of their writing. This also makes their efforts available to the public for objective criticism. If the critiques are positive, they are encouraged. At the same time editors of small publications search the web for new writers, popular writers and pick up the ones they like. That’s how what’s her name who wrote 50 Shades of Grey and, no matter what you may think about her writing, she ended up with a best seller right out of the gate, two other books in print and three extremely lucrative movie deals.

As to exchange of info, there are a lot of people using their blogs to keep their friends and families informed of their status in lieu of Facebook. I follow many blogs written by individuals and families who are circumnavigating the earth on sailboats and cyclists biking around the world —sometimes in the most godawful conditions. They blog a few times a week, complete with maps, charts, photos and describe their daily experiences. These are very informative to other sailors and cyclists as to what obstacles they can expect in remote areas, etc. But most of all they are just damn interesting.

These serve as a personal journal of their progress as a future keepsake for the grandkids and exposes them to editors. I know of three women who are partially funding their circumnavigation through their photography and many sailors are doing the same writing intermittent articles about the places they go and their experiences for sailing, boating, food, general adventure and travel magazines, both on the internet and hardcopy. Solid western currency is a godsend in some of the places they go and spends very well.

One of my favorites is written by a Canadian woman, a grammar school teacher of only a few years in teaching, who opened her blog describing how her husband came home from work one day and asked her if she would like to spend the next few years sailing around the world. She describes how she had never been on the water at all and his only experience was sailing small dinghies on Canadian lakes when he was a kid. It took some convincing and a lot of research on her part and she decided to do it. A bloody recipe for disaster.

So, they flew down to Florida, bought a 52 foot sailboat, went sailing with the captain/teacher for a couple of weeks, parked the boat in the Keys, and went back home, quit their jobs, put all their stuff in storage, sold their house, flew down to Key Largo, stocked their larder, boarded their boat, and off they went into the Caribbean—with their four kids ages 2 through 9!

She wrote about the experience from Day One, the day he came home and pleaded to go sailing, how they planned it intricately for a year before buying their boat, details on their studies, prepping, stocking the larder, handling the kids all the way up to now when they are still exploring the Caribbean and prepping to pass through the Panama Canal into the Pacific. They both are writing for mags and she is getting paid for her nature photography. Nobody thought they would get through the first month, but they had an amazingly steep learning curve, confronted mechanical problems, the finer legalities of entering foreign ports of call—and at the same time she is home schooling her children through the Canadian school system. These people—all circumnavigators for that matter—are totally amazing. They are doing just fine now that they have a couple of years experience.

So, don’t judge too harshly. Many blogs serve a purpose far beyond massaging the ego. You can avoid the internet flotsam and jetsam by searching for specific types of blogs in subjects you are interested in.

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