Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why I Blog

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother with blogs, why I even bother posting these things online. There is, after all, a potential harm in posting all of your thoughts online: people can read the undeveloped thoughts that you may want to disown one day. Of course, in most cases this does not particularly matter, most blogs are born in obscurity and they usually live and die there. Mine in no exception. This still leaves the question of why I blog in the first place: what is gained by posting my thoughts online that is not gained by writing them and, say, leaving them on my computer?

Recently, when starting this blog, I had a reason to go back over earlier blogs and read what I had written over the last few years. In the course of doing that, I found at least one thing that my blog provided me: a written record of my thoughts over the years. I could read all the posts I made when I was deconverting, the ones I wrote when embracing nihilism, and all the little blogs that spoke hypothetically when I was actually trying to make sense of some idea. Why couldn't I get that same benefit by just writing in a journal or just writing on my computer?

The benefit lies in this: by having a blog I know that there is a possibility, no matter how remote, that I might have to defend something I've written. Consequently, I only post my writings that meet a certain standard of quality. Over the years, I've deliberately tried to lower that standard for various reasons, but the fact remains that when something is posted on one of my blogs, its something that I judged was good enough to have associated with me at one time. Years later when I review my blogs, I know what ideas I chose to associate myself with, and which ideas I chose to let rot in a file on my computer somewhere.

Why do I write at all, though? Why is it that whenever I don't have a blog, I start wanting a blog? What is the purpose of writing in the first place? It's clear that I don't write for the reader's sake (what readers?), I write for my own. I gain two things by forcing myself to keep a blog: first, I gain an opportunity to be productive, and consequently make myself a more productive person; second, I gain an opportunity to take my thoughts and refine them into coherent, written expression, which consequently makes me a clearer thinker and a better writer. These two reasons are why I always feel that I am in some way leading a better life when I'm actively blogging as opposed to living without a written record; they are both opportunities to progress.

I browse the internet, and I come across other blogs that people have built for themselves. Sometimes I walk away feeling superior, other times I walk away convinced that my time would be better spent digging ditches than filling the internet with my chatter. If there's one hope I have from seeing other people's blogs, however, it would be that at some point I will have become productive enough and clear thinking enough that I can consistently produce blogs that some handful of people would find helpful and interesting. Having the audience is not the goal, having the audience is evidence that the goal has been attained or that the goal is being attained.

Of course, if I ever actually had an audience, that would mean explaining why I once called my blog The Daily Bullshit....

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