Thursday, February 26, 2009

What shall I be today?

I started this blog 3 years ago when I was in the middle of a 6 year long bout of chronic insomnia. I was having trouble with my dissertation and, consequently, had nights in which I never fell asleep. At all. I'd lie awake in bed, thinking, and get up once I saw light in the sky.

I'd usually force myself to stay awake and go to bed early but sometimes, at least once a month, I'd go two days/nights without sleep. I did my share of chemical experimentation when I was in college but nothing can compare with going without sleep for 40 or 50 hours. You enter a different stage of consciousness, between wakefulness and unconsciousness. I used to put away my car keys so I'd stay off the road...I think sleepy drivers are a bigger cause of accidents than drunk drivers.

So, I started this blog as a creative outlet, a place where I could put out random thoughts and ideas, sort out things in my mind. And it was mine alone, I think I wrote on and off for a couple of years before I had anyone read my blog and post a comment. I was frankly shocked. I know the Internet is about the least private medium that exists but I was lulled into thinking of this blog as a personal diary.

Against the common wisdom that bloggers want bigger & bigger audiences, I haven't known how to handle having people read my blog, commenting on my entries. In one sense, it is extremely flattering and I'm grateful for the interest and people taking time to read but most people act differently when they know they have an audience. Before, no one knew who I was so I was free to say whatever I wanted because no one was listening (that I knew about!).

Since Twitter, all that has changed. I'm engaged in conversation with a lot more people online than I ever thought imaginable...and because I wanted to fill out the Twitter bio and there is a website link, I linked to this blog. In a sense, that was inviting, maybe even advertising, for readers.

So I've been trying to sort out in my mind what this blog should be...should I continue with the personal stuff that is more intimate and of limited interest? Or should I focus my writing on a topic like Twitter or social media and try to make an intellectual contribution, linking to other blogs and participating in a larger discussion?

The common approach now in social media is to blend ones personal and professional lives together but this goes against all of my training as an academic. I don't think that people interested in my social critiques want to hear me complain about my cat.

But I could be wrong! Let the experimentation continue!

2 comments:

Rotkapchen said...

The beauty of 2.0 is that we each get to have our own voices and the fruits of our voices get exercised in ways they never get exercised in mind-numbing prescribed jobs.

Power to the Possibilities. You GO girl!

Jane said...

Liz,

Why not do both? I've vacillated over the value question as well, and have jumped on and off Twitter & other social media questioning relevancy and my part in it, and I think the lesson I'm coming away with is that it's okay to be eclectic. More than okay, it might be preferable.

I've found myself annoyed by people who use social media as nothing more than self-promotion, but I've been just as annoyed by those who tweet nothing more relevant than the contents of their breakfast. The ones I've found myself most connecting with are people that mix their passion and interest in work with a bit of the personal. So I've begun to do that as well, on my blog and in Social Media, and I feel much freer. I'm also getting to know some awesome online people. :-)