The Power of Blogging

The Power of Blogging

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The Power of Blogging


Hey guys,

Working on my essay for my writing class. I can't think of what to write. Any ideas? Please comment with some (appropriate!) suggestions.

Sunday, October 03, 2004
Still don't have any good ideas for that essay. Btw, all your suggestions sucked; you guys really let me down...j/k =)... Anyway, I think I might write about diaries. But it seems to boring. Whatever, I will try it out and see how it goes.

Monday, October 04, 2004
Essay on dairies is not going very well.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004
I give up on diaries. They are too boring. I need a new topic. What can I possible write about? I cannot find anything worth saying, or can I? I have an idea...

Thursday, October 07, 2004
How about this...

The Blog
Undoubtedly, you have noticed the urge to "blog" that has swept across the web and been ingrained into the online culture. Chances are that you or one of your friends owns a LiveJournal or a Xanga . Can you remember how many friends you are connected to on the Facebook ?

Nowadays, our society is more and more concerned about privacy; yet, strangely enough, many people opt to share their personal thoughts in a blog rather than keeping them private in a diary. Many young people (since they have all this time and nothing to do with it) keep personal blogs and write about their day-to-day experiences, complaints, and (maybe) furtive thoughts. Sometimes, there are poems, prose, songs, and more. But, what makes blogging truly revolutionary is the idea of allowing readers to contribute and to comment.

A Fad?
At first glance, blogging seems like the latest fad; it is the cool thing to do, because everyone else is doing it. All your blogger friends are having tons of fun, and since you didn't want to be left out, you just had to start one too. But, if blogging were just a fad, people would stop doing it just as quickly as they started (as is the case for the tried-it-once-and-that-was-it type of fad). Eventually, everyone would stop updating, and blogs would become extinct. Instead, there is an ever-growing, devoted following of hardcore updating-daily bloggers.

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Few people know how blogging really started, and even fewer know why it is as popular as it is. Could it be that blogging is not just a fad? Can it in fact be purposeful? Why do people blog? Why do people read other people's blogs?

Reflection
Some people keep blogs to hone their writing skills. Even though blogs are meant to be spontaneous, with writing comes reflection. In order to write about your life, you have to think about it and about how to tell others about it. Nowadays, most people do not reflect on their lives very much. We are so busy and lost in what we are doing that we rarely sit down and think about what we are doing. Putting words down on the blog forces us to observe our lives from an outside perspective. It gives us a chance to explore what we feel and how we think. By blogging, we can briefly escape from the present and see ourselves situated in the grander scheme of things. Day-to-day events, however major they seem, are swept away by the flow of time.

On the other hand, recording the events in our life also allows us to revisit and relive the past. Each entry captures a moment in time, along with the associated emotions. Moreover, our past experience also guides us toward the future.

But nothing I have said thus far distinguishes a blog from a diary.

Self-Therapy and Venting
As human beings, we are social animals, and one of our primary needs is to have people listen. Blogging serves as a vent, but unlike a diary, it is one that others will read. We can pour our emotion onto the web; we can rant, because we cannot do it in real life. Often, when we want to say something in real life, we cannot find the right people to talk to or the right way to say it. For instance, if you are a teenager, you don't trust anyone--not parents, not teachers, and sometimes not even your friends.

The blog allows us to say things that are socially awkward or unacceptable, which we normally would avoid saying in face-to-face conversations. In the blog, we assume a different voice. It is the part of us that we normally suppress and hide away. Like our own Mr. Hyde, it may be ugly, but it is just as real as we are.

Thoughts with too much emotion are usually better suited for blogs than for conversation, since emotion can be more controlled in writing. These emotions usually tend to be negative (anger, worry, sorrow, etc.), because these are the ones we cannot easily express to others in person. Blogging allows us to confess these secrets and negative emotions, which we have to suppress in our daily life. It is a lot easier to confess on a blog than face-to-face with someone. Our guilt is absolved and our burdens are relieved once we let it out. The fun part is that we don't have to be as responsible for what we say, since we can hide behind an alias.

Unlike a diary, there is a chance that somewhere out there, some stranger will read it and sympathize. To know that there is a nameless, faceless listener (who may care and sympathize) is a source of comfort for some. Nevertheless, blogging is still a highly personal thing. Though it may seem like a dialogue with a computer or our friends, it is really allows us to sympathize with ourselves. Regardless of whether our friends truly care or understand, blogging remains a way for us to comfort ourselves.

Sharing and Community
Sharing is what makes a blog genuinely different from a diary. Through a blog, we can share our perspectives with others--friends, friends of friends, friends of friends of friends, and the rest of the world. Blogging transcends all kinds of boundaries, particularly those of geography, culture, and language, allowing for the formation of communities among people of diverse backgrounds.

We occasionally want to share our thoughts and experiences with others, so that they can understand us and help us understand ourselves. Other times, we need to talk about our problems and seek support. A lot of blogging sites come with extra features, like "eProps" and "Comments", which allow readers to respond to your entries. Though the comments may seem trivial, when we are in need of such comfort, these words go a long way.

At first, it seems that bloggers are very self-centered. Why do they keep talking about themselves and their problems? If they have so much time on their hands to complain, why do they not do something about their problems instead? But that is easier said than done. Sometimes people feel trapped and isolated.

The most important thing is that we know we are not alone in our problems. There are thousands of people just like us. Online, we might not really know the true identity of other bloggers, and we may not really care, since we will almost certainly never meet them. Yet we can sympathize with them in every way. Why, their lives must be just as boring as mine, if they have time to talk about the trivial details in their lives and I have the time to read it!

When we realize that we are part of a greater collective, it is an amazing feeling. You strike one bell, and the others all resonate with the same note. Even if all the bells come in different sizes and shapes, their sounds complement each other. In that moment, our problems don't seem so big anymore, in the grand scheme of things. "Why, there are others just like me who had the same problems. If they could handle it, I can too."

The Impact and the Future of Blogging
Blogging has not been around long enough for us to see its long-term impact, but blogging is not so different from the rest of online culture. Some believe that blogging detracts from genuine social interaction, and bloggers are ridiculed for not having real friends. There may be some truth to this. In purpose, blogging is just that--the opposite of normal social interaction. That is what people need--to be able to say the things they cannot usually say. Thus, the things we say on the web and in public are usually separate in voice and content. The danger is, then, that this could lead to a polarization in our social interaction. The hope is that blogging makes us bolder so that our face-to-face conversation becomes increasingly more open, but it may be that it makes us more timid so that we push more of our face-to-face conversations into the online world.

Of course, not everyone blogs. Most bloggers are young people who have the time to write entries every day and who have problems to be writing about. As we mature, we are better able to handle these problems and assume more responsibilities, so that we outgrow diaries and blogs. Still, blogging is something many of us depend on to help us cope with others and ourselves. Until we find a better way, blogging will stay around. Though it is a new medium, just as unstable as a writer's mood, the future of blogging looks bright. It will live on, refine itself, and perhaps evolve into the next innovation in online communities.
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