Crisis of Conscience: Why Do I Blog?

Before Christmas, I had one of *those* conversations. Fellow social media fans and bloggers will know this one well: Someone asked me about why I blog and I told them all the reasons I love it and the benefits it affords me. My response was countered with an incredibly dismissive comment; it was insulting, condescending and actually intended to be hurtful. In the moment, I had to remind myself that this person does not have a significant presence in my life, and that I had absolutely no need to impress or convince them of the merits of blogging or social media. However, that conversation still bothers me more than a month later.

What is it about blogging that makes people so dismissive, so quick to judge the author's use of their time? 

Would you roll your eyes because someone keeps a journal and then turns it into a book? Would you dismiss a professional from documenting their work habits or career learnings and making them available to colleagues? With the advent of self-publishing, anyone can produce an e-book or a website to document their musings. And they have the opportunity to make it public and share it with communities of interest, if they so choose. That entrepreneurial spirit has long been a key driver to our economy but for some reason it's looked upon with derision if the success is related to connecting online. Unless, of course, that success translates into huge monthly views and enough ad revenue to quit their job. Actually, on second thought, no. I can just hear the cocktail party conversation, "Oh, you're a blogger. It must be nice not to have to work. What does your spouse do?"

Does it even need to be said that social media use is wide-spread and becoming integral to the way we communicate? Maybe. For example, the percentage of us on Twitter is actually a small portion of the general population. And if you poll a room full of people at a tweetup or a blogging conference, I would bet that most of them have had this type of conversation at some point and time. Probably even recently.

I don't need to justify my blog to anyone but myself. However, sometimes a flippant comment can really get to me and in that moment, I need to remember all the benefits I get from blogging and social media. This time, I actually wrote them down.

I blog because:
  • it keeps my writing skills sharp which is important to my IRL job,
  • it keeps me up-to-date on technology and geek culture since I am constantly researching blog post ideas,
  • it gives me an opportunity to diligently work through theories and ideas as I craft my arguments,
  • knowing that someone on the Internet wants to tell me I am wrong makes me consider opposing arguments and act as a my own devil's advocate during the writing process,
  • it gives me a forum to rant on things that bother me about the tech, social media and geekery,
  • it provides me with lots of opportunities to meet other techs, nerds and geeks, even IRL,
  • in the last year, it has led to a fair number of speaking engagements, which I enjoy,
  • sometimes, it's an opportunity to have an impact, do good, or promote someone else doing good.
I always knew that I get a lot from blogging but seeing it documented makes me realize that I get even more than I might consider at any given moment. It's possible that no one will ever truly understand that but me. (Or maybe another blogger :) And I'm ok with that. This list will serve as a reminder to me whenever someone tries to plant a seed of doubt into my commitment to keep writing. In fact, I've saved it into Evernote where I store all my draft posts, so I can reference it whenever I need a reminder of why I blog.

So, what about you? If you blog or interact on social, have you ever really thought about why you write or participate in social media? Have you written your list of reasons down? Maybe you blogged it? (If so, please share a link in the comments.)