In 2002 the terms Blog, Blogging and Blogger were more often than not pejorative. Traditional outlets like The New York Times didn't have much respect for bloggers and I can remember reading more than one op-ed predicting that blogs were a sign of the apocalypse. I suppose that if you happened to be a traditional reporter for a traditional newspaper at the time, they were probably right but, in any case, it's not without some irony that I reference an article published in the New York Times' OP-TALK section which, let's face it, is a collection of blogs.
The article, titled "The Best Way to Get Over a Breakup," reports on a recent study published in a journal called "Social Psychological and Personality Science" aka "Stuff a Thirteen Year-Old Knows" which shows that writing about a breakup can help a person get over it.
"Writing?" About a "breakup"? Tell me more . . .
The time-honored tradition of writing about a breakup is exactly how I began keeping this blog in the first place -- as an effort to define my post-long-term-relationship self. The article stresses that there's a fine line between self-reflection and self-indulgence and that dwelling too much on one's feelings can make everything worse. Although I'm pretty sure that's something I learned while keeping a journal in high school, I'll be the first to admit that it took time for me to find the balance when blogging. Eventually, though, I began to develop what the study calls "self-concept clarity" and, as time went on, the breakup became less and less important. I didn't stop blogging, though. When not writing about "feelings" I was writing about the minutia of my everyday life. But even that, according to the Times again, has its benefits.
A separate OP-TALK article from a few months ago entitled "How Keeping a Diary Can Surprise You" quotes psychologist James W. Pennebaker comparing writing about everyday things to making a bed: “Some people benefit because it helps provide a little structure and perhaps a self-evaluative tool.”
I'm sure I blogged even more regularly than I made my bed and, for me anyway, that was absolutely true. My schedule was "once a day and twice on Sunday," as they say and it provided me with useful mental housekeeping.
These days, however, I only ever seem to post once every six or seven months. It's a trajectory of output fairly typical of personal blogs, as pointed out so perfectly by my friend Elmo Keep in her article No One Cares About Your Personal Brand.
I've made a few half-hearted attempts at writing more regularly, but this time I'm determined to get the structure back -- to write for myself, for my own piece of mind, regardless of whether or not I have anything to say (as probably evidenced by the preceding paragraphs) and whether or not anyone has the patience to read it.