That is the question.
In this my third year of “blogging,” I have decided that it’s time to discuss “blogging” itself. I have had a website since summer 2013 when my friend Biff showed me how easy it is to do. Most of you have probably not ever blogged and view bloggers as self-absorbed blabber-mouths with an inflated sense of their own importance. Well, actually, maybe you don’t–but that’s how I felt, and so I assumed that others felt that way, and that is where I will start, or rather, that is where I started two and a half years ago…
When I wrote my first post, I can remember clicking the little “Publish” button and waiting for this imaginary something to happen because I had simultaneously spoken to the entire world all at once. I felt like the collective criticism of the world was going to descend upon me and laugh me off the face of the earth. I called my brother and some friends to look at my post just to get some feedback because the anticipation was killing me. Instead of something cataclysmic, nothing happened. I found that not only had I not spoken to the entire world all at once, but hardly anyone noticed. This is bad for someone trying to get hits on his website, but for me, I was relieved, and as time went by, I found that I felt more and more free to write what I want and click that “Publish” button. I have come to the point where I enjoy having my websites (nathanruffing.com is my other), and they have proven very useful. To take it one step further, I will go so far as to say that if you use the internet, you too should blog!–or at least dabble in blogging, or at least have a simple site. The following is why.
- A website is an extremely efficient way to communicate and organize. I used my site for an event over Thanksgiving, and it worked great. Facebook works too, and so does group e-mail, but a website has an advantage over each. With a site, you can adjust it after sending the link, which you can’t do with a group e-mail. Some people do not have Facebook, and you can reach those people as well. You definitely want to be able to reach the Facebook hold-outs, they are the coolest people out there. Just ask them!
- A website gives you elbow room on the internet. Let’s face it, these days we all spend some time on the internet. Even those stubborn technophobic Facebook hold-outs who just got a smart phone use the internet. So wouldn’t it be nice to have some of your own space here? “It’s just virtual space!” you say. Yes. Correct. It’s just a virtual internet too, but you’re on it. It must have some value. Own, don’t be a lifetime renter. Having your own personal space, that elbow room, allows you to direct your information seeking efforts so you don’t get lost in the black hole that leads to the end of the internets. If nothing else, you can set up a page with a list of your favorite links as a starting point when getting your news from the internet. Click the link. I do just that with my website.
- Having a website gives you a behind-the-scenes perspective on the internet. Ever watch the behind-the-scenes of the making of a movie? It changes how you see that movie and you understand it better. Do you get your news on the internet? Does the person writing the news know more than you know? Maybe he should actually be reading what you have to say. The main difference between him and you is that he has a website, or access to one, and you don’t. Admittedly, that is a little oversimplified. He may be a professional. As an on-site journalist, he may have first-hand information that you can’t have because you’re not there. However, there is a whole bunch of junk information out there and you are much better equipped at recognizing it if you supply some of the junk yourself! I do. Click the link and buy something, dang it!
- Blogging gives you a voice. Have you ever played a game where you aren’t allowed to speak for an extended period of time? It’s frustrating, right? Have you ever been frustrated by the stupid things people say in public forums? “I heard so-and-so said such-and-such on Twitter. What an idiot!” Twitter user or not, you’ve seen tweets. You can’t stop them. Twitter is free. You can’t escape them. Tweets are part of the news these days. Don’t fall into the trap of helpless frustration! Believe me, no matter how many followers one has, they are frustrated too. Dear Twitter Idiot, a million people may have read your tweet, but it still only took those million people 10 seconds to read your 140 characters, and they moved on to the next tweet with little more than a nagging feeling of neglect that you didn’t even bother to use punctuation when speaking to millions of people. Dear Frustrated Mute Listener, find your voice! Blabber on! Look no further for an example. This is me blabbering right here! Look! An excessive exclamation point! Where? Right there! You can too. If you are my friend, I will even go out of my way to read and promote your unlimited characters, but you have to take that first step.
- Last and certainly not least, blogging is a journal. Maybe you want to sit down for a few minutes each day / week / month and reflect. Journaling is a timeless activity. I argue that blogging is an improvement on journaling. Journaling is for hermits. In a journal, you may write some of your deepest secrets feeling the security that nobody will ever read it. How do we know that people write secrets in their journal? Because they wrote them down and somebody found their journal and read them, duh! With blogging, hopefully you’re smart enough not to publish your deepest secrets (I don’t recommend drinking and blogging, bad idea). Blogging is journaling with 3.26 billion of your closest friends keeping you honest. There is an imaginary force of motivation knowing that someone might be reading that keeps you to your routine of a few minutes of writing. So thanks for keeping me honest. The best is when somebody in real life tells you he has read your blog and makes some comment on it. It’s kind of a rush. It’s like a tiny piece of that tidal wave of criticism that you felt on day one–but not criticism at all–and you become a little less self-conscious, and a little more bold each time.
To blog! That is the answer.