Top 7 Ways Blogging Changes My Consciousness: Meta-Blog 1

As a new blogger and as a research psychologist, I’ve been very interested in how blogging has actually changed the way I think about things, how I feel, and the choices I make. So, I decided to start tracking my experience as a user of this particular type of social media by blogging about blogging – or meta-blogging. I’m my own little case study. Here’s my Top 7:

1. I’ve been shower blogging. That is, I rehearse blogs in the shower. When I have what I think is a good idea, I stand there and practice (out loud usually) how I would blog about it. Now, one issue with this is that I don’t have pen and paper in there for obvious reasons, so I forget half of it. Eighty percent of it, really. Even when it sounds SO brilliant. Then there’s the issue of shower logic. It’s like when you dream something and it seems so perfectly logical and genius in the dream, but then you wake up and realize it was gobbledegook. Shower blogging is kind of like this for me. And there is risk attached, too: if you get really carried away, you might forget to wash some parts of your body, so that you find after a few days that your right elbow or whatever is completely filthy.

2. I have a busier mind. Shower blogging is a symptom of this. Essentially, I find myself spending much more of my mental time zooming from one thought to another, time having an internal conversation with myself, and time skimming various streams and feeds (and here I mean, Facebook and Twitter – funny how these words evoke nourishment and natural, bucolic settings….maybe a picnic by a stream?). See, this is what I’m talking about. My mind zig-zags with all its loose associations. And I cultivate that to a degree, because that’s how good ideas emerge. I think this is fine and fun in many ways, but I’m doing it A LOT more than usual, and it tires me out a bit. And I worry that I’m less present for my kids and husband and friends.

3. I’m thinking more about being mindful. An interesting side benefit of having a busier mind is that I have a greater desire now to become a more mindful person – having more stillness in my life, and spending more time in the moment. I’ve started to make meditation a deeper habit in my life again, and I’m trying very hard to keep off all devices when I’m with my kids. I don’t want to be that mom who can only give 41.5% of her attention to her kids while she multi-tasks five other things. Don’t get me wrong, moms have to multi-task – Jeez, do we ever. But my goal is that when I’m with my children and spending time, they really feel SEEN by me, really engaged with and listened to and – hopefully – understood.

4. I keep better track of interesting ideas that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I really like this part of it. Just think how many ideas we just let go because we’re in the middle of something, or walking around, or have in the middle of a conversation and just forget. I try harder to hold onto some of these BECAUSE I think they might make an interesting topic for blogging. I’ll see if this yields anything, but already, I feel my intellectual life is enriched. As a scientist, I do this for my science ideas, but let other stuff go. I think this could be a mistake, and perhaps the ideas in one domain (e.g., science) will be enriched and in turn enrich my blogging ideas.

5. I write with an imaginary audience in mind. I can almost see their faces. Lit by the glow of their computer screens or devices. They are avidly soaking up my every word. Right….. So, essentially, I am becoming more self-centered. Is this any different from writing a letter? Maybe there is more pressure when the imaginary audience is a group or crowd? I think at this historical point in time, as a society we have a deep desire to be seen, to have our 15 minutes OR MORE, to be the next viral video or whatever, to be famous. Is blogging a way to satisfy this urge to some degree?

6. I feel cleverer. Emphasis on the “feel.” It’s pretty clear that I’m not cleverer. Although the process of putting ideas down on paper makes me feel like there is more going on up there in the old brain. I do a lot of scientific writing, and strangely enough, this does not make me feel particularly clever. Perhaps because it’s just what I do? Perhaps because with blogging, I’m using a part of my brain that has been rusty. Whatever the case, this feeling of being clever is very rewarding and I suspect it is part of my motivation to blog.

7. I feel more connected. I really do. And this is an interesting psychological phenomenon, because at this point in my blogging career, the nature of this connection is very tenuous. It’s literally in my head – an imagined web of connection, of shared ideas, of simpatico. I think for bloggers who have built a large community, this feeling is much more real. But, one has to wonder where this is all going. Online connections (that stay online) can be very emotionally satisfying, but they are more superficial and are not what the current psychology tells us is a “true” connection. They are quite a bit easier than other types of connection (i.e., face-to-face, long-term relationships and friendships), so some worry that we are withdrawing into these easier online relationships at the expense of our “real” relationships. I really don’t know if that’s the case. I don’t see it in my own life (although my husband claims I drift onto Twitter in the middle of a conversation. Oops). But this is something I’ll be watching!

8 thoughts on “Top 7 Ways Blogging Changes My Consciousness: Meta-Blog 1

  1. Thank you for this post, presumably you’re moderating comments so you’ll see this even though it applies to an old post.

    I stumbled onto your blog by accident (trying to do something else, naturally) and was intrigued. Like you, at the time you wrote this, I just started blogging too and also immediately felt changes in me, some of which are the same as you describe in your post.

    But the one not on your list than I’m finding fun is exactly that I have zero readers (nor expect to do any of the selling needed to get any). This means I can do something I haven’t done in most of my life, say what I want to say rather than what others want to hear. And I mean this in a very strong sense. Life is selling ourselves to others (or we have a short and unsuccessful life). Yet at the same time we’re real people with our own weird little ways which often turn other people off. So we learn to shave off the rough edges until we’ve achieved the minimum popularity we need, for jobs, mates, friends, whatever. I’m finding I’m like my own old pair of shoes, I’m quite comfortable with them, but everyone else finds them appalling. So I hide them in the closet and only wear them when no one is looking. And since my theme also involves growing older I’m tired of denying who I am just to please others enough (which I still do poorly) to get the few things I have to obtain from cooperation with others.

    So a blog with no readers is perfect, for me. I don’t need others to praise me on my brilliance and cleverness to believe I’m worthy of being heard, the echo of my keyboard is sufficient. But what’s cool about it, unlike talking to oneself in the shower (or in my case pacing around parking lots) is your item 5, the audience I imagine. Unlike a journal I can fantasize that someday some editor will stumble on my blog, discover its wisdom, insight and wit, and then publish my collective sayings as a best-seller and I’ll get an invite to the evening talk shows to further show off. The fact that this won’t happen doesn’t deter me from thinking by unread blog might be and therefore I’m not just wasting my time.

    So strangely talking in public is oddly liberating, as long as no one knows who you are, not a difficult feat in the Net with the millions trying to get attention while I hide in plain sight.

  2. Hi Tracy, Great post. I had a similar experience blogging for a year. My blog was a bit more personal, I think. But for me, I found that taking the time to express myself in what I hoped was the most effective way to my imagined public really helped me negotiate my identity with the world at large. In a strange way, it helped me get things off my chest in a more gentle way and become more like the person I wanted to be. I don’t know if that makes sense, but your post just had me thinking, and that part about having an imagined public was what made my blog infinitely more therapeutic than a journal. Anyway, hope you are continuing to have a fabulous time living and working in NYC. Take care, Mike Parker
    Oh, and here’s that blog…

    1. Great to hear from you, Mike, thanks for reading and for your comment! I really like your blog, especially the whole idea of a personal mythology and that Dune is a part of that for you. Nice! Hope all is great for you! Be well! By the way, Vivek still talks about your cat psychology comment (which he heard second hand from me) from the Hunter Psychology Research Convention these many years ago. Do you even remember that? 🙂

      1. Omg. I’m trying to remember the exact comment. You’ll have to remind me:) And I’m loving the blog. Please keep writing.

      2. It was a lady who started talking about how the research you were presenting didn’t apply to her cats. And you responded, well, I don’t know much about cat psychology…..and then continued in a very polite and kind way to answer her question. It was hilarious. Somehow you kept a straight face.

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