Taking Private Thoughts Public: Why Some Bloggers Blog

Hello, my name is Matthew Perry, and I’m a blogger.

I confess, I do not read many blogs (below, I’ll give a list of ones I read–it won’t take long), I myself do indeed blog: I blog here and I blog each Monday at a sports blog called Burgundy Wavea blog for my beloved Colorado Rapids.

I often wonder why or any of us who blog do, well, blog? If it’s our job, then there you go–that paycheck is an awfully nice incentive. But most of us do not receive a paycheck.

Through Blogspot, WordPress, Squarespace, and other free (or not-so-free) platforms, anyone may sign up with this service and begin posting.  And post we do. Sure, picking just the right domain name is key, requiring a lot of thought (and for a few bucks, you can purchase a slick domain name that doesn’t have xxx.wordpress.com or the like behind), but no matter.  Having that wide open space of an empty blog template is an opportunity to let our thoughts fly.

Ah, yes!  The content. Actually typing out the blog post itself.  What should we write?  Why should we write it?  My intent is not about what we write, but why we write what we write in such a public place–choosing this over, say, a journal or a simple, private, word-processing program.

  1. Some write to inform.  My friend John Divito has a blog that’s written once a month to inform his ‘followers’ about what’s happening with his next steps in ministry.  He informs, then asks for prayer–always lacing the post with Scripture.  Other blogs do this, serving as news outlets.
  2. Some write to sharpen their thinking.  This stands as a significant reason as to why I write, but not the only one.  But I have to ask myself, “Do I need to write on such a public forum to sharpen my own thinking on a matter?  Could I not just pull out my Moleskine or legal pad, or type on a word processing program?  Why do I or any other bloggers feel the need to put these private musings out in public?”
  3. Some write to work out that which stirs in them.  Many times, when the fingers hit that first keystroke, something’s a-stir in the heart and mind of that blogger, and as the writing commences and continues, clarity breaks through the fog (#2 was an intellectual fog, this is an emotional one).  This, again, is difficult in such a public forum.  What’s stirring?  The purple mountains majesty that we in Colorado see out our window every day?  The awful/ awesome movie we saw last night?  The angst we have over an anonymous figure, public or personal?  A passage of Scripture?  A passage of Elizabeth Barrett Browning?  What’s stirring, and (again) why share it publicly?

In taking private thoughts public, what are done inherent dangers?

  1. Inevitably, bloggers seek to draw attention to themselves.  I’m not saying that the motives are always bad–but sometimes they are.  We want to be read.  We hope someone reads us.  Why else would we put our thoughts on the Internet for the world to read?  Some draw attention to themselves in hopes for a response, some affirmation, some attention.  We all love and, yes, need encouragement.  But do we write to engender sympathy when the tone of that post is more melancholy?  Do you write to have people complement us for that scrumptious turn-of-phrase in the second paragraph?  Again, I’m not saying these are the motives of every blogger, but this can certainly come into play, especially given the public nature of this forum.
  2. Some write to draw attention to others.  From venerating to venting, when some write blog posts about others, they (obviously) fall into this range.  Sadly, blogs that have a benevolent tone receive less hits than those with a malevolent tone.  Blogs that have a thread of hurt, melancholy, and even identifying the person that caused the hurt and melancholy (named or otherwise) lures readers who possess a mix of sympathy and morbidity, waiting to see what’s next and, sadly, what train wreck awaits–thus increasing hits.  This doesn’t interest me as a motive.  The only time this happens on this blog is when a public official takes to Scripture or aims to interpret Scripture in a way that is out of bounds hermeneutically (so, hopefully, this will fall into the next category). In fact, writing like this would be better shared in a journal/diary, along with close friends who love and understand.
  3. Some write to help others.  Springboarding off #3, do we write in an effort to help others?  Sorting through your thinking and emotions in a public space can be (can be) helpful if the true end goal is to help others sort through similar issues. This is a fine line, isn’t it? If this isn’t approached deftly, blogs that step past informing about personal ministries or about (in my case) correct understanding of the biblical text could turn into the sad sympathy blog, or the angry soapbox blog–but it can all be under the ‘look-at-me’ umbrella, if as the aim may be to help others.  For while helping others, do we deep down hope readers will say, “Wow!  Look how insightful that writer is in helping others!”  Even this can feed a blogger’s pride.

My goodness, is there no hope?  The narcissistic, self-promoting aspect of gaining a following and building a platform is fraught with danger.  It’s a question every blogger must ask themselves: why do we voluntarily write on a public space?  Is the end goal to truly help others, or to bolster our standing before a watching world?  Writing in journals or other private modes may serve as a more appropriate outlet.

Pride can be a subtle sin. Is it Christ we want others to see …

… or us?

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One thought on “Taking Private Thoughts Public: Why Some Bloggers Blog

  1. This is very interesting and matches up with some of the thoughts I’ve had with the question, why write on a public forum? Thank you for addressing this issue.

    Please keep blogging!

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