Saturday, December 17, 2016

Blogging: Is It All About Me?

     Last night B had a few of her women friends over for a potluck Christmas dinner. This morning she was telling me about some of the conversations that went on over the egg casserole, broccoli quiche and spinach salad. And several bottles of wine.

     There's one woman in particular who annoyed her. "All she does is talk about herself," B complained.

     It reminded me of a post I did a few years ago, about one of the dangers of blogging. Are we just talking to ourselves?

     Last night, whenever anyone at the dinner table brought up a subject, any subject at all, this woman felt compelled to present her own experience with the subject at hand -- and if she didn't have any experience herself, she'd go on at length about her husband, her children or some other relative. All without the slightest regard for whether anyone else at the table was interested, without any empathy or connection to other people's experiences.

     Someone in the group mentioned that she'd had a knee operation. "Oh, well, let me tell you about my husband and his knee operation," she insisted. "He had his knee replaced. It was awful!" And on and on and on.

     It reminded me of how an old colleague of mine used to make fun of people who were too self-absorbed, too caught up in themselves. "Okay, enough about me," my colleague would say loudly, imitating the person and mocking them at the same time. "Let's talk about you now. So ... what do you think about me?"

     Does this relate at all to our own blogging? I've seen comments in the media making fun of bloggers, referring to them -- us -- as a narcissistic bunch of people who insist on posting to the Internet every little detail of our lives, and how wonderful our kids are and how cute our pets are, without any consideration whether or not anyone else in the world was interested in our lives, or our children or pets.

     It made me wonder:  Is this what we retired bloggers are doing -- we Baby Boomers, who are incessantly accused of being interested in only ourselves, and what we are doing and how we impact American life?

     I am not criticizing anyone (least of all myself -- eeegads!). And I am not fishing for reassurance or compliments about my own blog. (Who me? Fishing for compliments? Never!) But there's nothing wrong with a little self-examination every now and then. And it makes we wonder: How do we talk about the issues in our lives, our day-to-day concerns as well as our more fundamental issues, without falling into the quicksand of self-indulgence? How do we include other people in our conversations? How do we keep ourselves relevant as we talk about our families, our ailments, our travels, our finances, our politics?

     The bloggers I know hardly ever talk about their kids. We do hear about people's travels -- but I like reading about trips to Hawaii and Ireland and Thailand and elsewhere (although they do make me envious). I actually don't think the important thing is the subject matter itself, but the way it's handled. Can other people relate to the experience, or are we just bragging about what we've done?

     What about nostalgia? Can we delve into the morass of nostalgia, or are we being self-indulgent Baby Boomers if we do that? I dunno. I like the occasional trip down memory lane. Don't you enjoy listening to Sinatra or The Beatles or Jim Morrison every once in a while?

     Anyhooo ... B told me I didn't have to leave the house when her friends came over last night. "These women are not as raucous as my book group," she assured me.

     Nevertheless, I didn't want to be holed up in the bedroom, in our little one-bedroom condo, while all these women were talking and laughing and eating and having a good time. So I went out to a movie. I saw Arrival with Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner.

     But I'm not going to tell you if I liked it. I don't want to be self-indulgent.


Anonymous said...

I've been into Connie Francis lately. I've been watching YouTube bios about her and listening to her concerts and music.
She was great.
It was horrific what happened to her.
Seeing Dave Clark again, brought back fond memories.
Seeing the Florida spring traffic in Ft. Lauderdale back in 1956 showed me that nothing has changed, since the release of 'Where The Boys Are'.
That movie is still the #1 teen movie of all time.

Personally, I love reading other people's blogs and all about their lives. It's when they put on airs (as if they think they are fooling someone) and brag about how great they are, how terrific they are at handling their retirement money and how everything is perfect peachy keen that I get the urge to gag. Life is NOT like that. Get over it already!

DJan said...

There are blogs I read that give me ideas for my own posts, and I do truly enjoy reading about the trials and tribulations that my fellow bloggers face. I learn something new every day from my virtual community. You included, Tom. :-)

Linda Myers said...

I try in my blog to connect in some way with readers. If I write about travel my goal is to have a reader feel like they're there with me.

I think of blogging as a discipline, not a self-indulgent display.

And there are many things I never mention in my blogs because it could be embarrassing to a family member or a friend. Or because it's a conflict I've got going on with someone. I'm more likely to write about a conflict I have with someTHING.

Sally Wessely said...

Interesting. Reading this gave me food for thought. I have been quite remiss about blogging lately. I've been analyzing why. I don't think we blog because we are self centered. Who wants to admit that for heaven's sake? We blog because we want to give expression to our experiences in life, and I personally think that is a good thing. I honestly think I know most of my fellow bloggers better than I know anyone else in my neighborhood, and I like my fellow bloggers better also. I like my fellow bloggers better than I like a lot of my family members. I think we self-select when it comes to becoming bloggers we follow because we tend to agree with what the blogger has to say, or we resonate with aspects of his or her life, or we are inspired by them, or we just plain like them as people. I like the authenticity that I find in blogging. A person must be a bit reflective to blog. This keeps us from being completely in the dark about our foibles, or maybe not. I like to think that is one thing blogging does for me.

Like Linda said, blogging is a discipline. It takes discipline to stay connected, and it takes discipline to write a post and to respond to other's posts. It makes us keep the old brain working. Like Linda, I don't write about the messy details in my life. Maybe I should. That might make for some good reading. HA

Stephen Hayes said...

As a blogger, I also write about myself, but not exclusively. I've encountered people who only talk about themselves and its quite annoying. Bus mostly it's how things are written, whether or not someone can use a personal situation to tap into a universal feeling.

Wisewebwoman said...

"Swimming in the Sea of Me" as one wag described it.


But I think it important to share the ups as well as the downs. The worries and shattered relationships. The sheer joy of life as well as the losses.

I chose anonymity 12 years ago for that freedom.

But I do breach it when readers write to me as many do.


Olga Hebert said...

Sally captured my response better than I could.
But also...the narcissists have to prefer Twitter because it is easier to get a large following?

christina neumann said...

Interesting post. I write my blog for me. i do it as sort of an online journal. I dont really try to be popular or 'with it'. I enjoy reading many other blogs and how people live there lives. There are some that are too full of rants about loving Trump, or on and on about stuff I'm not interested or they are very self indulgent so i ignore those. I like you blog because it makes me look at things differently and I appreciate that.
i started my blog as my journey with Mutliple Myeloma and it's still about living with a terminal cancer but since I'm in a remission ( yeah!!) i like to broaden it to just life stuff.

Anonymous said...

Ah, well, such is life. I like to blog, because I meet so many people that way. For instance, I met 2 Indian blog friends in New Delhi in 2012. I met 2 blog friends in Washington, DC in 2013. All in person, mind you.

Anonymous said...

Mostly I put my 2 cents in on blogs, anonymously though...I get a big kick out of what people divulge on blogs, I know where they live, what they have done for a living, their homes and their families, pretty intimate stuff I would say..Our little town where hunger and homelessness is huge, I get some ideas from the people who put their blogs daily..most are pretty into themselves, their wants and needs, no one else...It just propels me to try to help even more..interesting stuff. Your blog for what you say is sweet and kind, one blog the fellow is so cheap I just can't hack it anymore and I don't go to the blog, chicken and chicken and more chicken..really..happy holidays..and no humbug, to me the holidays are all year round when you think of others and help them! hidy ho!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

retirementreflections said...

Like Olga mentioned, Sally eloquently captured my thoughts. I see blogging as a sharing and as a reaching out. If someone's goal was purely narcissistic, there would be much easier ways for them to talk about themselves!

Mary said...

I read lots of blogs of various topics....many I truly look forward to every time they post, but I enjoy them all. I like to hear about people's lives and the feeling you get when you connect on an emotional level with something they posted or said or just their life's similarity to yours. Or things you might learn or where you might like to travel or encouragement from someone in similar circumstances. I think they are GREAT. Please keep up the good job and effort you all do! I, for one, am grateful.

Kevin in Virginia said...

Tom, I enjoy your blog through reflection: one can reflect on the experiences and insights you share and consider similarities in one's own life, and where your writing exposes something meaningfully different from one's own there's an opportunity to reflect on how we find and traverse the myriad paths we follow through life. There's very little you describe that's not quite familiar to me, despite the differences in our life experiences. I sincerely hope you continue to share your stories and musings for many, many years to come. Thanks for your clever, amusing and evocative writing. And ... Merry Christmas!

Carole said...

Something happens when fingers meet keyboard. It is almost magical. When you write from the heart, the words flow. And when you are done, it is deeply satisfying. It allows for a processing of our thoughts in a way that the spoken word cannot.

When I write, it's a way to connect with others as well. My life is richer through blogger connections. The kind folks who leave comments, and fellow bloggers all enrich my life in a way I never thought possible. Hope this happens for you too, Tom.

Dick Klade said...

I think is is "all about us," but not in a bad way. Through years of dealing with writers as an editor I learned that the way to any writer's heart is through a positive comment about the writer's offering. As writers, I believe we bloggers feel good when a reader suggests we've created something worthwhile. Writing really is work in the sense it takes more than a small effort. Work deserves a reward, and ours is approval. Like this: I appreciate all the good thinking that goes into your posts, Tom.

Bob Lowry said...

The blogs that don't add any value to the reader's life disappear after a time. , Blogs that preach about the "one way" to do things also wear out their welcome pretty quickly. The ones that blend personal experiences with life lessons and options to consider tend to prosper.

Anonymous said...

Worrying about being self-indulgent in YOUR blog can be a little like naval gazing. What's the point. I write because I am.

I love Amy Adams but don't like sci-fi.

See my kids next Monday...all of them plus a baby. So many now we eat at a restaurant.

Kathy @ SMART Living said...

Hi Tom! Really good question. Why do we blog? Why do we write? I've answered this in a post a couple of times so I won't repeat myself. But I also believe that with over 76.5 million blogs on Wordpress alone and billions of posts available, the only ones that stand out offer a unique voice with something worthwhile to say to at least a few people. In the "sea" of all that, I tend to believe that we all find blogs that speak to us in the same way we find friends that resonate with us. The blogs that I follow (like yours) tend to come from people who I would enjoy sitting down and talking to as much as reading their ongoing posts. That, or I read sites that offer me interesting and educational information. While I agree that a lot of bloggers are just rambling about things I don't really care about, there happen to be some of those in my circle of friendships/acquaintances and even family. Why should blogging be any different? If they annoy me too much I move on, and would expect the same from my readers! ~Kathy

Snowbrush said...

When Peggy has a party (her clothing button collecting club mostly), I serve as an informal butler but I don't stay in the room all the time (it not being necessary to hover). Because I do what I do, Peggy can just relax and enjoy her friends.

Anonymous said...

What an interesting question! There are all types of blogs out there and I have seen many, many that I would label self-indulgent. Those that are have few followers and probably disappear quickly. They seldom, if ever, comment on other blogs and rarely, if ever, respond to a comment on theirs.

My favorite part of blogging is generating, reading, and responding to comments. I love to get a discussion going and interacting with my readers and other bloggers. But, I realize that every post isn't a winner, nor will every topic be of interest to everybody. Just like Kathy said, if I am annoying or uninteresting to someone, they can choose not to follow.

Tom Sightings said...

And Stephen, you do it very well. I too agree with Sally, that we look for blogs that match our temperament and interests -- ones that give insights into different kinds of lives, but often universal problems ... or delights (cue grandchildren!). It's also nice to see a sense of humor, and I also do like an occasional different approach, even different opinion ... although for my taste a little bit of opinion, esp. about politics, goes a long way.

Jono said...

Seems to me that most of us write about the general us, and also stuff. Besides, how can you get to know someone unless they tell you something? I find other people and their lives fascinating.

Jeanie A said...

This post is definitely for thought. I write a small blog about my retirement experiences and I never thought of myself as narcissistic. I enjoy reading many types of blogs. There's nothing wrong with writing about life and experiences as long as the writing is good and the content feels honest. As other commenters have said, I enjoy reading about other people's experiences. By the way, I'm not one to comment very often, but I love this blog and am one of your regular readers.

Tom Sightings said...

Thank you, Jeanie, good to know you're here.

DDD said...

I agree with Jeanie. I enjoy reading a variety type of blogs. Most bloggers have great writing ability and can express themselves well. Although I do not blog, I am guilty of being is a lot easier to see others fault....thanks for another great post.

still the lucky few said...

Great topic! Actually, few bloggers I visit are self-absorbed in their writing. Usually, if they do write about themselves, they are self-deprecating and funny. I appreciate that! So, no worries...bloggers wouldn't survive if they were self-indulgent navel gazers—no one would read them!

Savoring Sixty said...

Very interesting topic. I do think there are blogs out there that are truly self-absorbed. (I hope my blog does not appear that way.) I write for me. It is my outlet and my passion. It is also my desire to give my children some insight as to who their mom really is, my perspective on things, and my thoughts on life in general. As I age, I would love to know how my parents saw life. I have so many questions for them now and would love to know their thoughts and ideas. If others read my blog and can in some small way relate, then I am elated! By the way, I am new to your blog and have enjoyed reading it very much!

Adam Feigeles said...

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Denise said...

I blog because I have always loved writing, but never enough to make a living out of it! Lately, I've been writing about family history. This is purposely for the kids, although they may not be interested now. And not just mine, but my cousins' kids and grandkids.

I have written "about me" as I tackled the cancer journey. But usually, I have to have a topic. I haven't written in awhile because nothing has MOVED me. But, last weekend, my high school's championship basketball team of 1970 got together to be inducted into an Athletic Hall of Fame. Well, it may not be award-winning, but SOMETHING has to be written.

And I'm tired of hearing about knee replacements.