“Blogging is just people showing off”

This was the reaction someone had to the discussion the other day about the benefits or otherwise of blogging. I hadn’t heard it expressed so vehemently for a while but it used to be a very common reaction in the early days, especially in Britain for some reason. Perhaps it is just not the done thing to have opinions in public, maybe it is “who do you think you are to assume people want to know what you think”. I remember an elderly relative saying “Oh yes blogging, that’s just people expressing their opinion”. Well, yes, and…?

There seems to be a feeling that bloggers are seeking attention, that they should keep their ideas to themselves. Presumably we should leave expressing ideas to the professionals – whoever they are?! I suspect that there is a good deal of projection going on in the stronger reactions. No one is making them read this stuff!! Besides blogging is so varied in its manifestations that blanket statements about what it is or is not are nonsense. I understand the wariness of people seeking attention but for me the joy of blogging is the conversations it kicks off and the relationships that it has helped me to form and sustain.

I’d be interested in some of the naysayers reactions to my teenage daughter Mollie’s blogging. To my eyes she is bravely, and articulately, working out the world in public. Testing ideas, opening them to wider scrutiny, “finding her voice”. Should she keep her ideas to herself and revert to passive consumption of the content generated by professionals? Should children be seen and not heard? Should she carry that attitude into adulthood?

4 thoughts on ““Blogging is just people showing off”

  1. Hi EuanI’m not a blogging naysayer so mine is not the opinion you are seeking. But Mollie’s blog is great. I particularly like the post "the other option". So revealing, and should be compulsory reading for anyone involved in guiding teenagers with their post-16 choices. (Just for the record I have a nearly-20-year-old who chose "the other option" and who is thriving in a way she would not have done at university). My middle daughter (now 17) was diagnosed with epilepsy last year and has used blogging as a way to work through some of the associated baggage (http://www.little-epileptic.blogspot.co.uk). In a way I am relieved that the frequency of blogging has tailed off – as it indicates to me that she is not allowing herself to be defined by the condition. And that does touch on some of the wider issues associated with teen-blogging – the permanence of the record.But that reservation aside, I’m with you on this. I hope your post elicits some responses from the sceptical, because insights into that scepticism would be valuable.

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  2. Permanence of record for teen bloggers is a concern, but it’s our concern. Will youthful indiscretions and visibly working out the world really count against them so much in years to come? On balance, I’m happy that my 15yo son is video blogging about the things that are important to him on YouTube. Great blog Euan, thanks for posting.

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  3. I think my reaction to the statement "blogging is just people showing off…?" would have been "you make it sound like a bad thing."

    I’m not a naysayer, but I am one of the ‘professionals’ you refer to.

    Anyone with an opinion should be encouraged to blog. It doesn’t matter if you don’t attract an audience of millions, very few do. But the process of blogging, of articulating your thoughts, of being able to look back months or even years later and see what you wrote, can be hugely beneficial in many ways.

    It can bring you into contact with new ideas and opinions. It can help you clarify your arguments. It can even help improve your use of language. And I’ve never interviewed (as in ‘for a job’) someone who blogged and considered that to be anything other than a big tick in their favour.

    Blogging isn’t showing off. Maybe tweeting your blog posts is. But there’s nothing wrong with showing off – or ‘marketing’ as it’s sometimes referred to.

    It’s fairly clear to me that anyone who thinks it’s just showing off is, indeed, just projecting their own insecurities and isn’t someone to be listened to intently.Sean Fleming (@flemingsean)

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  4. My first reaction at that statement was "wow, how weird and anti-social", but on reflection, I’m not all that suprised. I totally understand when you say that the joy of blogging for you is the conversations it kicks off and relationships it helps you form and sustain. This is a big part of the reason I read and comment on others’ blogs (the other is getting insight and inspiration from other people’s ideas) But I think until you have had the experience of making a genuine connection with someone through blogging, it’s quite a difficult thing to comprehend. Commenting regularly on blogs is something I only started doing regularly after I made such a connection once by posting a blog comment.The other thing I think it’s very difficult for non-bloggers to understand is the personal benefit gained from narrating your thinking in your own public space. It’s very much as you state in your ‘Blogging angst’ post – blogging makes you think more deeply, to be more observant – everything becomes a potential blog idea! But also, for most bloggers, it’s not actually about a narcassistic goal to get hundreds of hits on their site (or, "showing off") – it’s actually about writing in order to develop your thinking, test and experiment with ideas, working out loud to expose the potential flaws in your thinking, and to refine your ideas. Doing it publicly not only allows you to share these thoughts in progress – and thereby inviting others to contribute or benefit, but also forces you to articulate and reflect on your own thinking. Again, these are very difficult benefits for someone who hasn’t done it first hand to comprehend.Thus, they simply see it superficially as "showing off".

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