I recently gave someone some advice about starting a blog, not that I am in any way an expert, but who is? So, it has made me think, what should be in a blog? Of course this is an easy question to answer for those blogs that are focussed on one subject area, such as the law, or science and skepticism. But for blogs written as a more personal experiment, what should they include? And I guess more importantly, what shouldn’t they include?
The problem is, there are no hard and fast rules to blogging. It is and should be an open forum, a way of expressing yourself and letting others read and comment on your thoughts. I think it helps if you have an aim for blog, even if like me, you don’t always stick to it. I aimed to try and use my blog to reflect on my thoughts and experiences, in a way to be more skeptical. For me reflection is a great way of doing this, I consider things I have learned and experienced and then how they may have shaped my thoughts and feelings and enriched my life or opinions. Often, just writing the blog is the part which cements my thinking. Of course I can always change my mind, I try to remain open minded about everything, so as I gain more information or experience I can reconsider what I think about a topic. For instance, I have written about luck in previous blogs, but then I saw Prof Richard Wiseman at the Fringe of Reason in Edinburgh and now I feel I need to read more around the subject, the concept of luck (even with its lack of evidence/logic) may not always be a bad thing. I will read the books I now know exist and perhaps change my views.
My blog is quite personal, for someone who states they don’t write lots of personal information online, I obviously do. These blogs are my opinions, what could be more personal than that? However, I do consider when writing them if it would be detrimental to my career if a patient or work colleague ever stumbled upon them. So I do hold back a little. I recently told a fellow blogger that I don’t post these blogs on FB, only on twitter. I have told a few close friends and family members that I write a blog and it’s purpose, but I haven’t showed it to them. It is not that I am embarrassed, or am I? My friends know me, they know I have strong views, but many are not into social networking in a way I am, nor are they as into science and skepticism as me. It is like I lead two separate lives in a way, the friends and family I grew up with, and my new friends and acquaintances on the internet, the ones who have more of a passion for the topics which vaguely interest my “real friends”. The lines are blurred of course, there are friends who dip into both camps, the “real friends” one and the “online friends”/science/skepticism one. These things are never simple, so I don’t actively separate them. If someone asks me about my blog or shows interest then they are welcome to read it. However, I am aware that many of my facebook “friends” would have a different perception of me all together from reading these rambles.
That brings me onto to another worry, one which I considered before even starting this blog. Does writing my thoughts and feelings in such a concise way change people’s perception of me in a good/bad way? I am unsure. Many people who are lovely enough to read this have met me at various comedy gigs around the country, and I hope to continue meeting more people at comedy/skeptic events. But having a blog can’t help but give someone an opinion about me, how I think, how I write. I guess it depends what you think of the blog? I worry that in concentrating my opinions in blog form I give the impression that I am overly opinionated or pretentious? In reality I am not (always, I hope). I mean I have views on subjects, but when I meet people I am just like everyone else, a bit shy and awkward at first and reserved until I know someone better. Does a blog give the impression that I am bolder than I am? I find it easy to sit back and write thoughts and feelings from behind the protection of my laptop screen. I don’t see anyone’s reaction, yes I get comments every now and then, but without the immediate social interaction of seeing a person give me feedback, I can again sit back and reflect on what people think without over reacting, getting offended or coming across as aggressive if my opinion differs (plus in all honesty I usually just get lots of lovely tweets and comments, even when I expect more challenging opinions to be stirred). Don’t get me wrong, I think I can debate a topic in a rational and polite way in face to face conversation, but not necessarily straight away with strangers (I am not that confident at speaking in public with strangers). In face to face contact I like to find out how far someone can be pushed, or how strong their views are; if the differ greatly to mine, if they are a rational thinker, or easily offended; whether they have a sense of humour. This can usually soon be found out once you have spent some time with someone (and yes, occasionally from lots of online contact over a period of time).
So, what should a blog contain? I still don’t know. I write this one for me, it helps me to think, to vent thoughts and feelings and practice my writing skills (or lack of). With the exception of a few blogs about comedy shows I have seen, I tend to keep it vague, not too much detail about my personal life, but at the same time I accept that it is a very personal blog, after all it is how I feel or think about things. A blog is what ever you need a blog to be, often a recording memories and life, a look at a subject which interests/outrages you or a way in which you feel you can express yourself.
Thanks for reading this entry, please feel free to comment on it, or tweet me any thoughts you have, they would be much appreciated (I need them in order to learn, honest).