After reading the post entitled “Keeping the Fire Alive,” Dave Sherman added this comment:
…I have come to a crossroads in my own blogging. I am transitioning from a school district owned blog to my own personal blog so that I can write about more than just school related topics. I am struggling a little with this because does anyone really care about my interests away from education, and should that matter to me? Do we blog for ourselves or for others?…
Dave’s question is a pretty significant one…do we blog for ourselves or for others? I just hope my answer remotely approaches being as good as the question.
We blog for ourselves
For centuries, people have kept diaries in which they have recorded their private thoughts, thoughts for their eyes only. There seems to be something about the act of writing our thoughts on paper that clarifies those thoughts in our own minds. If I am forced to write it in such a way that it would be understandable to someone else, even if that never happens, then I am forced to make it understandable to me.
There is also a permanence about putting those thoughts to paper. They never change. We can revisit them, and in essence, step back in time for a brief moment. Later, if we choose to share those thoughts, the diary’s many entries paint a portrait of who we are and who we hoped to become.
Today’s blogs afford us that same opportunity with the added benefit of access from anywhere, ability to add media, and no chance of dropping it in a mud puddle or leaving it on the counter at the grocery store checkout.
We blog for others
By nature, we are interdependent creatures. Our society has reached its present level of advancement not because we are smarter or more resourceful than our forefathers. Instead, we are able to begin where they left off and lay the next layer on the foundation they have built. We have been the ultimate takers, reaping the benefits of their work.
On a personal level, any of us who have experienced success in the various arenas of our lives can surely point to someone else who made the road easier. Someone saw in us potential worth nurturing and went out of their way, doing what they did not have to do, to help spin straw into gold. We took very freely from their wisdom.
If balance is to be maintained, we must move beyond being takers and also be givers. We all have something to share, something to give back, and someone somewhere who has a need which matches perfectly with our gift. Our blogs offer an easy way for us to become givers.
Does anybody really care?
Perhaps the toughest part of blogging is knowing whether or not what we do makes an impact on anyone else. Of course, the same could be said of other venues. I am reminded of a workshop conducted years ago for a group of teachers, none of whom I knew at the time on a personal level. Nine years later when one of them became a close friend I was told, “You changed my life through that workshop.” The feedback makes all the difference, and it is that element that tends to be missing.
We must write as if what we say does matter, because that’s the only way that it will matter to us or anyone else. At the very worst, our blogs provide for us an outlet for our own creative juices. At the very best, they just might be changing lives, even in subtle ways, for people we may never meet. And in that delicate balance between being givers and takers, we may see ourselves begin to hold up our end.
Linda NaylorJanuary 30, 2010 10:07 am
As a teacher of writing to elementary students, I came to these conclusions as to why we write: we write to be able to read our thoughts at a later time; or we write to clarify our thinking about an issue.
I used the first reason to encourage my students to write legibly. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to read your own or someone else’s writing at a later time and not being sure of what they were trying to say! This can result in some humorous situations (like getting Brownie mix from the grocery store instead of Bounce dryer sheets) to situations in meetings where you are trying to read notes from previous meetings, or trying to read the doctor’s recommendations for care. Being able to correctly interpret a writing from another time is important!
The second reason, to clarify our thoughts, digs much deeper into who we are, how we learn, and how we share what we learn. The action of putting our thoughts in writing helps us to think through where we stand in regards to philosophies, feelings, knowledge, and so many other things. Many lift up reading as the most important skill we can learn, but critical, thoughtful writing is the step beyond that.
As Dr. Buck said, it helps us process what we have taken, and if we are fortunate to find someone who wants to read what we have written, it helps us give back to someone else.
Dr. Frank BuckJanuary 30, 2010 4:49 pm
Very thoughtful comments. I really had not thought about that first point, but it does make sense. I like what you say about the importance of writing. I think reading is the way we learn how the world works. Writing gives us a shot at changing the world. As our world becomes more interconnected, fueled by technology, our ability to communicate through the written word will become increasingly more important.