I almost never say, “I’m working on my blog” or “I have a blog” partly because I dislike the word itself. It sounds like a word you should use to describe the creepy crawlies living under a log. Now you can say, “as snug as a bug under the rug” and you can say “a little black blog under the log.”
Oh well. Nobody asked for my opinion. Because you know, if they had asked, I would’ve told them.
So, um, I’ve got a blog. In addition to my issues with the word, I have come up with five downsides to blogging.
Number One: It’s time consuming to write. You’ll syphon off precious minutes from your day in order to work on it, spending way more time than you intended in the first place. Even someone who likes writing will be not perfectly satisfied once it’s all written down and will have to start revising. In fact, probably the more you like words, the more apt you’ll be to keep fussing with them – here’s a better word, and here’s a clearer way to explain that, and hmm, is that grammatically correct? And then of course one thought stirs up another and the post gets longer by the minute. Meanwhile, the pancakes are getting pretty black on the one side.
Number Two: It’s time consuming when you’re not writing. Anyone on social media is on it even when they’re not. Instead of thinking about what’s in front of you, it’s so easy to slip away into thinking about that unwritten blog post. I liked Chesterton’s description of Napoleon attending an opera, because I could relate, even before I started ‘blogging’ (it’s even worse as a verb than a noun):
. . . Napoleon would fall into a fit of apparent boredom at the Opera, and afterwards confess that he was thinking how he could get three army corps at Frankfurt to combine with two army corps at Cologne
– G.K. Chesterton, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Chapter 5
Which is not to say I’m Napoleon (do I even need to say that?). These blogs and social media things can negatively affect your ability to absorb regular life. It’s like you go from being a guest at the wedding to being the photographer at it, and you’re seeing everything with one eye through a funny lens. And those who blog about their everyday lives can wind up in an unusual place where the incidents in their real life exist almost in service to the blog, as a source of material.
Number Three: It causes a loss of privacy, which Dorothy Day refers to in her autobiography as “that greatest of all luxuries.” I came across a comic strip called “Grand Avenue.” The boy and girl are walking home from school. She says, “Mr. D caught me passing a note, so he read it out loud to the class. I was so embarrassed! It was mortifying to have my personal thoughts broadcast to everyone!” He asks, “What did the note say?” and she responds, “See for yourself – I posted it on Facebook.” So true. With a blog, it’s not just your friends who know what you think. Now anybody who cares to do so can glimpse into your mind, and those who dislike you will find exactly what they’re looking for – you’ve given your head to them on a platter.
Number Four: You can offend people. In one-on-one conversation, you get to filter yourself, and you can choose your words depending on your context. So when you’re with an ultra-sensitive person, you may soften your points, or, more typically, you’ll avoid the topic altogether. (It’s either that or you realize that you’re a really bad candidate for a book club.) I wouldn’t say in front of certain of my relatives that I don’t like abstract art, for fear of hurting feelings, but welcome to my blog, where I’ll devote 1000 words to the topic. And to make matters worse, you have no idea whether you’ve inadvertently offended someone because you’ve now said so many things in front of who knows which people.
Number Five: You could be wrong. The great thing about conversation is that you get to bounce your observations and conclusions off other people and compare it with what others have found or figured out. You can be corrected where you’ve missed something, or confirmed in your thoughts. It’s fun:
‘My idea of good company, Mr. Eliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.’
‘You are mistaken’ said he gently, ‘that is not good company, that is the best.’
– Jane Austen, Persuasion, Chapter 16
But blogging, even when inspired by these conversations, is still a solitary process, and you’re limited to your own thinking abilities and experiences. And so as you write, you can thereby spread incorrect and even unfair impressions and conclusions. Mind you, this assumes you’ve got readers, which assumes you’ve admitted that you’ve “got a blog.”
[May 19, 2015]