Thinking of how blogs have changed my life …

A few thoughts on blogging … mostly off the top of my head, but some things that have been rolling around at the back of my mind for a while.

Wordpress front page(NB: Screenshot taken on 09/11/11 of what was on the WordPress page at the time – I’m not trying to promote / connected with any of those blogs)

I like blogs. I like blogging. I’ve been blogging for … ooh, probably 7-8 years now – and I’ve been reading other people’s blogs for about as long.

It’s personal blogs I like the best. Not necessarily a personal blog in the sense of “I post about what I did today – what made me mad/happy/sad – what I ate/drank/wore” – although definitely including those – but also blogs where I feel that the motivation behind the posts is that the author feels that these things need to be said. Not because they’re being sponsored or they feel they have to churn stuff out – but because they’re saying things that they think are important. In this post, I’m thinking about a particular subset of these – personal blogs written by people I’ve never met*.

I love blogs like this because they let you get inside other people’s heads.

Not very far, of course – a blog could never give you insight into everything about a human being. People are far too complex for that. But still – you get to see the world through another person’s eyes. What’s important? What’s not? What’s everyday? What’s rare? What’s common?

Blogs also give us (me) a chance to listen. To listen to other people with different opinions, people who don’t live in the communities we live in, people who see the world in other ways. And to listen to many of their inner thoughts – not just the surface of things.

Through blogs, I have read about the experiences of many sorts of people. Some examples of things I have read over the years:

  • a site about eating disorders – by and for people currently living with anorexia and bulimia, and not trying to fight them
  • the blog of the wife of an orthodox priest in the USA
  • a blog of a young woman recovering from an eating disorder, working part time and studying at college
  • a bunch of various feminist blog posts, including many from people whose points of view I didn’t really understand (e.g. I don’t understand how racism works in the USA as it seems to be very different from how it is in NZ / the UK) but were really interesting
  • assorted blog posts by people with disabilities (physical and mental)

These are all examples of things where I know that I really don’t understand that person’s experience. In fact, in various ways I probably profoundly don’t understand that person’s life. But I really appreciate the chance to come and listen.

I don’t always comment – in fact, I rarely comment; I tend to hang back and listen. (Especially if I think there’s a chance that I will put my foot in it and hurt someone by being thoughtless.) But I tend to have a few blogs that I’ll follow for a while, probably check a few times a week, and then after a few months some things might change or rotate round or I’ll stumble across something new … so it changes things up a bit.

But it’s just fascinating. The stories. I think that’s a big part of why I like reasonably personal blogs – you get people’s life stories (not in gory detail, but it gives you a context and a structure to hang everything else on). I like that. Seeing how other people live, how other people cope, in their own worlds, often in circumstances pretty damn different to mine.
*for all the lovely people I have met and whose blogs I read, please don’t feel slighted! It’s just that if I tried to talk about my blog-reading in general terms it would take forever … so I’ve focused on ones whose authors I haven’t met for this post.

Do you read many blogs? Personal ones, or corporate/professional ones? What’s your motivation for it?

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