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A Defence Of Blogging (Post 1,000!)

How many times in the past year - few months, even - have you seen people threatening to quit LJ, or cut down, because it's pointless, or someone's annoying them, or (most often) because it's "not real life", and they think they should be doing something "more productive" or "worthwhile", rather than "wasting time" on LJ?

I'm going to set out why blogging is important to me, why I think it is part of my Real Life, and the multitude of ways in which it's enriched my life. My Real Life, which happens both online and offline, because both involve real people, lots of information, and real friends.



I first came to LJ two years ago because a bunch of friends I'd made on another forum were moving here. A couple of these people I'd met in real life; the others I'd only spoken to online, but I'd still count them as friends. Just because they're little people in my computer screen doesn't make them any less human. If it hadn't been for LJ, I probably wouldn't still be in touch with at least some of them, which would be a shame. I also wouldn't have met people through them, and they wouldn't have met people through me, which is the real beauty of livejournal - seeing people mix in your comments page like they would at a party, and sometimes get on well and mutually friend. I wouldn't be able to chat with people on the other side of the world about how dull work was today, or what the latest news is from their country. I wouldn't have got cinnamon tictacs from Germany and chocolate from Belgium. I wouldn't have anonymous_greg's wonderful CD, or dakegra's mix CDs. I wouldn't have swapped books and book recommendations with people - I'd never have read Michael Marshall Smith, Melanie Rawn, or tons of others.

Online, I get to talk to a much wider variety of people than I would offline, not just geographically (though that's certainly true), but people from different sides of ideological divides from me. It helps me remember that republicans, Conservatives, devout Christians and London media trendies are people, not The Enemy. Sometimes I even agree with them. I've also got friends whose journals tell me more about areas I'm interested in but don't know much about - editing and publishing, politics (both local and European), or writing reviews for publication, for example. Plus I've found friends who share my more obscure interests, like Diana Wynne Jones or early Alan Cumming comedy. Where else would I be able to have conversations about these things?

I've always tried to keep a certain interest in world news going, but there's not always that much available, or in a lot of cases, we just don't know that anything's going on, because it hasn't made the news over here. When I have friends posting about something, whether it be something political, or a natural disaster, or whatever, I'm much more likely to learn about it in the first place, much more likely to think about it in terms of the actual human cost, and much more likely to go and educate myself further about it. Even if it's someone I wouldn't actually call a friend, who I've maybe exchanged a couple of comments with, it shakes my arrogance and assurance that everything'll be OK most of the time, when they have to evacuate their homes or when major world events affect them directly. (I live in Scotland. Nothing affects me directly.)

All this is just derived from the people on my friendslist. I haven't even started on the communities or feeds yet. theladiesloos, for example, is a fabulous community. Women give each other advice on everything from wheat-free chocolate cake to serious crime, building up a sense of community, giving support to people who need it, giving honesty to people who need that. As someone who's never had very many female friends, it's been an absolute revelation.

Other communities give me updates on celebs I like, so I find out what they're doing without having to become obsessed. Or they give support for specific things - when a friend was suffering from depression, I got a lot of help from depression_uk on how to treat them, what to do, what would make it worse. Some are interesting from a professional point of view (bookslut, languagelog, and so on,) some just make me smile whenever I look at them (baaaaabyanimals, of course!) The huff_post_blog lets me know what the major American news stories are from mostly left-wing columnists' perspective. (I'm one of probably 5% of Brits who'd heard of Roe vs Wade before the New Orleans jokes came out.) metafilter finds me fun things, silly things, and sometimes deadly serious things. Some inspire me - to write, like hundredwords or open_on_sunday; to take more photos; to think about my beliefs and morals, why I've come to them and whether I still believe in them.

Finally, I get to regularly read the writings of famous (and famous-ish) people who I admire. On this list, I include officialgaiman (Neil Gaiman), gardenstateblog (Zach Braff), muskrat_john (John Kovalic), makinglight (Patrick Nielsen Hayden & co), and a bunch of others.

The benefits I've listed are the ones it's given me when it stays in the computer - I haven't even started on what happens when online friends become offline friends; the wonder of knowing that you have people all round the world you could call in an emergency; what it's like to go to a WorldCon, for example, where you know a bunch of people, and they know you, and you feel properly part of it. It's amazing. So, does LJ give me enough benefits to justify the amount of time I spend on it? No - it gives me more.


* This is unproofread and checked etc, and isn't meant to be about anyone in particular, etc, etc.

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Comments

( 31 comments — Comment )
miss_next
Oct. 22nd, 2005 01:12 pm (UTC)
Having squinted at all that very carefully (er, sorry - it must be my incipient presbyopia, but I find it a bit hard to read a lot of white-on-black text), I have to say I'm in 100% agreement... except, of course, in my case I'd want to substitute the phrase "militant atheists" for "devout Christians". ;-) As you know, it's not easy for me to get out much in the evenings, so I don't know what I'd do without the LJ Social Club. Long may it continue!
pickwick
Oct. 22nd, 2005 01:25 pm (UTC)
Hurrah!

(Er, sorry about the text!)
spiderpixie
Oct. 22nd, 2005 01:52 pm (UTC)
sounds good to me, just wondering, is there any particular reason why there are little lines through some of the text? Or is it just this computer? Or is it me? ;0)
pickwick
Oct. 22nd, 2005 01:58 pm (UTC)
Er, I can't see them, anyway! Will check when I get home!
nwhyte
Oct. 22nd, 2005 02:59 pm (UTC)
Amen to all of that!
pickwick
Oct. 22nd, 2005 03:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks :o) (You linked to it! Random people might read it! Eeeek! *grins*)
(no subject) - coalescent - Oct. 22nd, 2005 03:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sinclair_furie - Oct. 22nd, 2005 10:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pickwick - Oct. 23rd, 2005 10:52 am (UTC) - Expand
singinghels
Oct. 22nd, 2005 04:09 pm (UTC)
Quite agree, and what a great 1000th post!
pickwick
Oct. 23rd, 2005 10:54 am (UTC)
Thankee! :o)
glamhag
Oct. 22nd, 2005 05:29 pm (UTC)
I'm not exactly sure why you feel moved to defend blogging - but bloody good work that woman!

My own reasons for blogging bear almost no relation to yours... I like it because it's like keeping a diary, which I've never been able to do, but getting a response from it.

It's a good way for anyone to make their voice heard and their presence felt. People need contact.

That alone is enough to justify blogs.
pooka_joe
Oct. 23rd, 2005 05:51 am (UTC)
i think the catalyst for pickwick's stalwart blogging defence may have been that i mentioned yesterday that i am thinking of stopping.
my reason for thinking of this is very simply that when i meet my friends who blog in person i sometimes find it dificult to find things to talk about because it seems like we have discussed everything already. i am totally not bashing blogging. i appreciate the fact that i have somewhere to post stories and stuff of the Vampire game i am running (and thanks to pickwick for organising that for me)
it is a great way for people to make their voice heard. i'm just starting to think i would rather actually hear people's voices :)
(no subject) - pickwick - Oct. 23rd, 2005 06:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pickwick - Oct. 23rd, 2005 10:56 am (UTC) - Expand
carrie2004
Oct. 22nd, 2005 09:41 pm (UTC)
Nice.I feel inspired to write my own 'What Lj has given me' post. :)
pickwick
Oct. 23rd, 2005 10:56 am (UTC)
That would be cool! I don't think I've ever inspired anyone before!
pooka_joe
Oct. 23rd, 2005 06:00 am (UTC)
its fantastic you get so much out of lj. maybe i should investigate it further. to be honest i just occasionally post and read my friends updates (and as i don't have a long friends list, it doesn't take long). hope you realise when i was talking about stopping doing it i wasn't having a go at lj, it was more a worry that talking online was taking over from talking in person, and of the two i prefer the latter.

or it just may be my inner luddite taking over
strange_complex
Oct. 23rd, 2005 07:58 am (UTC)
I once heard a sociologist talking on the radio about text messaging. She said that she saw it as allowing people to exercise a very basic human need for simple, low-level and arguably inconsequential interactions with one another - the equivalent of the 'How's your father?' enquiry on the way across the village green to do your shopping. Texts are unobtrusive, because they can be ignored or switched off if busy. But they let us know on a regular basis that others are there and care about us. She described it as 'Space-Age technology for Stone-Age people', suggesting that our modern lifestyles can tend to underprivilege ordinary interactions with one another, but that we have invented mind-bogglingly clever technology instead which allows us to fill a very basic human need - just chatting to one another.

What I'm trying to say is that I think her comments would apply very well to live journal as well. It's a means of enabling that simple, and very necessary, human chatter. Sometimes the content can seem rather trivial, although often it's strongly felt, deeply thought-out and very sincere as well. But either way, it's always important, because it is helping us to fulfill our nature as social animals.

Once thing I've certainly gained from my journal is the discovery that I do actually have a lot of stuff to say. Sometimes I think I'll run out of things to post about. But while I will on occasion go quiet for a few days, there's always something else which comes up that I want to talk about. And perhaps most importantly, I find that other people are interested in what I have to say, and want to respond and engage in conversation about it! As someone who is competent enough at face to face conversations, but doesn't feel particularly adept at them, and often ends up taking a back seat and letting the other person (or people) drive the chat, that's been a really valuable discovery for me.

So, as others have said, thanks for a great 1000th post, and for prompting interesting thoughts and reactions from your friends list. Three cheers for live journal!
pickwick
Oct. 23rd, 2005 11:00 am (UTC)
That's interesting, about text-messaging and so on, and I think it would apply to LJ too. I use it a lot at work, because at work I sit at a computer with a pair of headphones, and some days apart from LJ have basically no human contact or conversation, and I think that would drive me mad!

*cheers*
caitirin
Oct. 23rd, 2005 09:42 am (UTC)
That was a fantastic post and I agree with you completely :). I love my journal and I use it for all kinds of things.

So, does LJ give me enough benefits to justify the amount of time I spend on it? No - it gives me more.

Absolutely.

Thanks for sharing :).
pickwick
Oct. 23rd, 2005 11:00 am (UTC)
Thanks!
dakegra
Oct. 23rd, 2005 06:18 pm (UTC)
as one who has considered deleting his journal on several occasions now, I think that's a bloody marvellous post. I'm going to add it to my 'memories' linkything so that next time I feel the urge I can read it.

Thank you.
pickwick
Oct. 24th, 2005 04:27 am (UTC)
Thank YOU! I don't think anyone's every memoried one of my posts :o)
(no subject) - dakegra - Oct. 24th, 2005 04:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - anonymous_greg - Oct. 28th, 2005 06:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
anonymous_greg
Oct. 24th, 2005 02:08 am (UTC)
Ohh, you wax eloquent! Very well said!

And I am more than a little chuffed at seeing my music mentioned in such a wonderful post. I am glad it meant enough to you to mention it. That means the world to me.
pickwick
Oct. 24th, 2005 04:26 am (UTC)
Oh, it's wonderful! (But then, you're pretty fab ;o))
(no subject) - anonymous_greg - Oct. 28th, 2005 05:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - anonymous_greg - Oct. 28th, 2005 05:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Apr. 2nd, 2011 02:38 pm (UTC)
gmc yukon xl bumper 489
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