It’s amazing how reinforcing blogging can be.
It reminds me of advice I used to read from “diet” experts about sharing your progress on social media: it holds you accountable.
Notwithstanding my many reasons for arguing against this particular advice — a) not everything needs to be on social media; b) perpetuation of the idea that weight loss is something that can be easily done as long as you have the willpower; c) encouraging unhealthy habits around food and exercise, etc. — there is some truth to this accountability aspect.
Except in my case now, I am not accountable to others. I am well aware of the fact that ever since I stopped promoting my blog and then later deleted my Facebook account, my comments have way gone down, as has my “readership.” It used to bother me, I’m not going to lie. Comments are the blog-equivalent of “likes.” No comments are akin to being the loser I always felt I was. I am being melodramatically satirical here. But there is some truth to this.
And yet even though I no longer receive the high of comments, my desire to blog has not stopped (though I have contemplated changing the name or going back to being domain-less). Honestly, the whole “telling people about my blog” thing was kind of new for me. I’ve blogged for well over 15 years and people I know IRL have only known about/followed my blog since 2016. As soon as I stopped feeling the pressure for my posts to be entertaining or beneficial for others, I began to write what I wanted to write again.
Oddly enough, through this process, I’ve learned how much utility there is in writing what I want to write. It motivates me to be accountable to myself, which really is the way it ought to be.
And yet a blog is a very public forum these days. I am aware of this. It’s this contradiction that makes blogging such an interesting beast. My writing is different when I blog, because I know that someone who follows my tags or spends a lot of time searching online might come across my blog and might even like what I have to say. But having an imagined audience does also force me to hold onto some writing conventions that I hope make me a better writer. Sure, I have really horrible posts that I regret writing, but sometimes I’m quite pleased with what I have written. Also, archives are a great feature that can’t easily be replicated with a hand-written journal. I rarely read old diary entries, but from time to time, I will read old blog posts. They’re accessible. They flow a bit more. It’s easy to see a chronology.
I guess that’s why I continue to blog, as futile as it sometimes seems. It’s an archive of my life, with all its cringe-worthy moments and insights I only realize are such after the fact. I see them as just the reminders I need at that very moment I read them weeks, months, or even years later.
And I love how I start off with one idea and then end up going somewhere else completely. I can’t do that when I’m writing academic papers.
So, who cares if I’m the only one who ends up reading that one post? In the end, isn’t that what blogging and social media all come down to? They’re an extension of ourselves, a way to proclaim “this is me,” whether anyone is listening or not. Sure, it’s good to be acknowledged and recognized by others, but sometimes a soliloquy is just as important.