There’s a subgenre of blog posts on the internet that are intensely interested in the business of writing and sharing blog posts. It’s kind of a weird thing. People who write blogs as a hobby spend a not insignificant portion of their mental resources on talking about how cool it is that they write blogs and what that means for them as citizens of the internet. There’s more than a small sense of elitism that you get from these posts–“I blog and that means that I am a serious person from the serious part of the web, not a passive consumer like folks who sequester themselves on the *shudder* social media networks!”
It’s a little obnoxious, but mostly harmless, I guess.
I write all this because I recently had a post on this very subject catch my attention while I was reading the news, and because I am just like every other person on the internet, I fell for the clickbait (if you claim to never fall for clickbait then you are a liar and probably not a good person). Here’s the post, if you have any interest in reading it yourself (I understand if you don’t click the link; most visitors don’t bother, and that’s totally okay). It’s over a year old, which is fine (the art of the evergreen post is a strange one that eludes me; I only ever seem to write them by accident, and then they annoy me for months or years as they dominate my web traffic over the more current posts that I actually care about that week), and it does have more than a little of that pretentious, “How great is it that you blog?” attitude.
Still, one salient point from the post did grab my attention, and I do think it’s a valid one (this is where I reveal my blogging hypocrisy because, you guessed it, I’m already waist deep in a meta post about the benefits of being a blogger; flee now; it’s not too late for you to escape to some other less self-absorbed digital island). The writer whom the blogger quotes (because how bloggish is it that one blogger extensively quotes another blogger making a point and then just reiterates that same point?) points out that the value of writing a daily blog comes from the intellectual exercise of picking a thing to take an opinion on every day and practicing defending that opinion in a public space. Realistically, most people will not care about your opinion (actual discussion in this space is so vanishingly rare that I just accept the majority of my posts will simply float unobtrusively in the ether of the internet for the remainder of human civilization without ever drawing so much as a passing thought from another person), and to expect otherwise is a vanity that only has the lie put to it in the most exceptional of circumstances. Still, the act of taking a position on an issue and breaking down for yourself why you hold that position is an invaluable one.
I began blogging because I was in the middle of a summer break where I was overcome with endless boredom; I had far too much time on my hands to just while it away playing video games and watching movies. By starting my blog, I gave myself an artificial structure around which to build a schedule for regularly formulating thoughts about something. In the four years that I’ve been maintaining this blog, I’ve run the gamut from thoughts on faith to video games and gamer culture to movies to politics and more. The only set rules for my blog are that I must do it on the schedule that I’ve set for myself and I need not constrain myself from whatever subject catches my attention. Generally I try to aim for posts that can be read in three to five minutes (a thousand words is not a bad goal) and I must remain mindful of my probable audience–primarily family and friends.
By traffic metrics, I’ve been moderately successful with my blog; every year I pull in more views than the previous year, and if I maintain my current level of output it’s conceivable that I could have enough of a web presence to consistently garner over ten thousand views a year before I reach my ten-year blogging anniversary. As a game of how many eyeballs can I draw to corner of the internet, I’m doing decently well for someone with no professional credentials that would justify attracting a large readership. Even so, that’s just a game, and it’s not the primary reason that I continue to maintain this blog.
The primary reason has to do much more with the mental health that I associate with regularly engaging in intellectual exercise. I feel better about myself when I take time to form opinions about things and express those opinions, even if I understand that most of the time no one will hear or care. The practice of trying not to be a passive consumer of culture is a useful one because it cultivates critical thinking skills in a way that’s not generally encouraged if you don’t take the time to produce your own intellectual product (I am aware that this is coming dangerously close to blogging elitism). Though most opinions on the internet are worthy of hard eye rolls (Sturgeon’s Law applies to all intellectual output, not just stories), it’s still good to celebrate when people take the time to try to reason through why they hold the opinions they hold (except for Nazis and white supremacists; any rationale that leads you to promote genocide as a solution to your problems is pure garbage and should be condemned in the strongest terms). Explaining why is a skill that I see so rarely exercised in my day job as a teacher that I’m always happy to see it being used by adults in a recreational capacity.
So yes, this post is hypocritical for its blatant indulgence of the undying idea that blogging is a virtue in and of itself, and I expect full and throaty rebukes to my elitism in the ensuing firestorm. Or no one will care, and I’ll have spent some time sussing out thoughts about a thing that I have a passing interest in, and I’ll feel better about my place in the world as a result. Either way, this was a worthy endeavor.