Why do people blog?

So SG26Jul asked me a few questions about blogging. I realized that I dint really have ready answers so I took a day off from work and wrote the answers down. Since I believe that I am a storyteller and I like to create background on things, the answers would be a bit verbose. And obviously dotted with armchair psycho-analysis.

So why do people write blog?
There are certain needs that are innate to every human being. Hunger, sleep and sex are the ones that everyone more or less knows about. Apart from these, there are certain other things that humans have craved for ever since they discovered that thumb has a different axes than the fingers and found the tail missing. Off all of those, there is this need for expression that humans find hardest to curb. So they have tried to express themselves with whatever they can, on any medium they could, whenever their time permitted. Case in point, the paintings found in prehistoric caves.

Also, more than mere expression, most humans, at least the ones who think that they think, want to leave their thoughts and reactions behind. They want to chronicle and archive things that they saw or experiences they lived. And some want to test their understanding and get opinion from other people on what they had to say.

And thus, I believe, started the use of walls, mud slabs, bark, paper, typewriters and eventually computers. To express thoughts and idea, to store memories and to share views.

In the modern world when nobody has time and relationships have taken a more functional meaning than emotional, blogging helps people to take care of these three needs. More than that, on a simpler level, blogging gives people a platform that they can stand on and yell. Blogging gives people a ready audience. Blogging gives people a shot at their fifteen minutes of fame. Blogging gives a chance encounter with listeners. Blogging gives people a chance to stand up for a cause that they identify with. Blogging helps gather people who are like you and helps you get more social. Blogging helps you find friends that you can never find in real life. Blogging helps you build conversations. Blogging gives people closure. And trust me it does, blogging gives people a reason to exist.

Whats the deal about bombarding online visitors with opinions and personal stuff?
First and foremost, not all blogs are personal. They are just reactions to experiences. Second, a blog allows you to express your view on something. And your view could be flawed, could be wrong, could be spot on, could be whatever. When you put it on a blog and someone adds to it, your view may change. You may see your error, or you may reinforce what you were saying, but it adds value. Blogging allows experts to emerge. Earlier you required degrees and years of experience to cut teeth. Now anyone who has spent enough time on something can take on any so called expert. Earlier, without a blog, your thoughts could only reach a handful of people. Now you can reach people all over the world and get their feedback. Its all about the feedback loop. Idea is to create a lot of positive feedback loops around your life and if you can do that you would see yourself spiraling into a different orbit all together! Try it!

Why do people read blogs? What about peeping into strangers life?
Simple answer. Answer is actually a question. Why is Big Boss popular? What gives people pleasure when they see lives of second (even third) rate pseudo-celebrities crib (or fight, battle etc) it out in a closed house riddled with cameras? We are voyeurs. And we like to control. A big boss, a blog, it gives me a peep into someone else’s life. I can remain behind a veil and know everything about that person. It gives me a sense of power. Remember the way you played with your Barbie doll when you were a kid? You wanted to control everything about it? Ok, it may be too harsh (even arbit) to compare a blog and a Barbie but I hope you get the drift.

And thinking about this as a non-philosophical answer, people read blogs because of the same reasons why people write blogs. People want to meet other people who share similar views. People want to know opinions of others. People want to give feedback. People want to follow. In fact its easier to find people who are followers as compared to find people who are leaders. Every human being wants to attach themselves to a cause, to a leader. Blogs are yet another way to get attached to a cause. Sorry for drifting into armchair psychology again. Coming back, people read blog because they think that bloggers are real people, belting real things, real thoughts on the web. Because they see security in numbers. Because they want to get associated with more people who are like them.

Arent people self-absorbed and strong believers of their opinions?
You would be surprised to know that how fickle people are and how easy it is to influence their judgment. You would be surprised to know how many people are NOT self-absorbed deep inside. Everyone is looking for gratification. Everyone is looking for affirmation. Why do people spend hours in getting the right look? Why do people spend thick wads buying perfumes? Why do people like Baba Ramdev and Osho get those millions followers? Why do we want to know idiotic details about anyone who is famous? Everyone wants grounding. Everyone wants a base station. Everyone, though is self absorbed, looks for ways to avoid being proved wrong in front of others. All our lives, we live the way others want us to live. Why are rebels, called rebels? Why are they outcast? Why do we frown upon outcasts? Pertinent question. Why do people blog and do they really care what others say if they are self-absorbed et al. I wish I had an answer. I only have a rhetoric to offer.

Do they care about starting debates?
They don’t. They just want to look good. They just want to be seen as standing for a cause. They just want to give themselves a reason for being. They just want to be happy about the way they are spending their time.

Ok, clarification. MOST don’t. Most want to just look good. There ARE lot of people who do it for reasons beyond self. There ARE people who are genuinely bothered and concerned about things. There ARE people who don’t want any mileage from what they do and they shy away from PR agencies and news reporters. There ARE people who do not goto Page 3 parties. Just that, I am yet to meet some.

P.S.: I am about to start something pro-bono! Its not a revolution but it is a public cause. Do I truly believe in it? Yes I do. Do I want to get famous? No I don’t. Am I a saint? No I am not. Why will I do it? I don’t know.

Why do people ask you to write a blog?
Simple answer really. You are super intelligent. You have the gift of the gab. You have a talent with words and language. You can express yourself well. You have an opinion on things. You are rational and emotional at the same time. With your emails, you reach out to a handpicked number of people. With a blog, you would reach out to lot more. Each extra person you reach out to, and gets into conversations with you, contributes to your learnings and experiences. As they say, a man is but a reflection of his experiences. And last but not the least, a blog would archive your thoughts and some day you may read back in time and see who you, your thoughts, your ideas, your view of the world changed over time. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, you have a moral responsibility towards the world, do it for all the other people that you will touch with your blog. Show them the path, o enlightened one!

Why do I write a blog?
To be honest, I don’t know. I have been doing this since 2004. Or may be 2003. I don’t remember. Its been a long time. Why did I start writing and why do I continue writing are two different questions. I started writing because I saw a friend write a blog in my college’s computer lab. It has to be 2003. I left that college in 2003. Anyways, those days, Internet was new to me. I wanted to have a page for myself on the Internet. I wanted to be famous. I started writing. Within days I realized I aint getting no famous for a mere blog. But by then I was hooked to talking out loud about things that mattered to me. I realized that I could rant and rant and nobody could stop me. It gave me adrenaline rush. Trust me, it did.

With time, it subdued. And then I realized how writing a blog has helped me. For beginners, it helped me structure my thoughts better. Every blog post took time to write. More I wrote, better I got at it. No I am not a JK Rowling or even a fraction of her. But I improved considerably. It made me think. Like this post. Every line has been thought about. It made me realize a few things about myself that I hadn’t thought of before I wrote this. Blogging helped me meet people and make friends with people I could have never been friends with. You know how boring I am in real life.

And on top of all the reasons, for person like me who likes doing a million things and cant stay with one thing for too long, this blog, has been the thing that I have done longer than anything else (apart from living!). Lets see how long this lasts.


And to end it, why don’t you try and write a blog for three months? And what about some feedback? See you in the evening!

3 comments:

SV said...

Not bad! Loads of armchair philosophy, sociopsychology and cultural commentary here. (PS: just because it's done from an armchair doesn't make it any less interesting!) Motivations for blogging are complex, and you've covered a good few here.

I'd like to add one more perspective. Most people who blog don't just blog. They also have Facebook profiles, Twitter handles, possibly memberships on a few discussion boards, just to name a few platforms. Cyberspace is an identity playground, where we get to construct aspects of our identity and then reflect on them. One way of looking at this trend is to say that the more platforms we use (and we are different people on each of them, aren't we?) the more fragmented our identity is. But Sherry Turkle (psychologist and author of numerous books on online identity) views it differently. She says that there is no unitary self. We all have multiple identities that we cycle through in a flexible manner, and gives as an example the fact that we can live parallel lives in multiple windows on our computers.

Research shows that as other social media platforms increase in popularity, personal blogs are actually declining. 140 characters is so much easier to express an opinion in than a long blog post, and attention spans are short nowadays. Nonetheless there are people who continue to blog because they find microblogging and other sites insufficient to elaborate on their opinions. When someone has something to say (like you do) it's usually worth taking the time to read it.

I'm glad I took the time to read this. So many more things to say but bad form to write a comment that is longer than the post! :)

s4ur4bh said...

Yep!

Valid opinion. Loved the bit about multiple identities. Hadn't thought like that.

Thanks for taking time to read this.

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